At our core, there is a nascent insight about our true nature: that we are small, open, and vulnerable, that we have no way to protect ourselves, to avoid what harms us or to hold on to what we love. We begin with knowledge, not with ignorance. And that knowledge is relational, not individual or isolated. That knowledge is given to us. And yet we reject it – or at least we try to. Although this insight often manifests as a feeling, it begins as a perception, an accurate perception of reality. But it is typically the last accurate perception we ever have. Immediately we seek to avoid this perception through an ever-expanding series of delusions and projections. We ordinarily expend a tremendous amount of effort trying to avoid facing this insight. Through construction and perpetuation of ego, we turn this insight into confusion and cling to an ever-widening sphere of ignorance. We run away from wonder and love and in their place seek confirmation and comfort. We run away from enlightenment, from nirvana, from God within us.
But these substitutes for awakened heart can never satisfy us. And when we look deeply we can see back to the original insight. We can recognize our attempts to avoid this perception of ourselves as small, open, and vulnerable as ground zero of all our suffering. We may seek to run away from awareness, but we cannot, because the flame of its lamp is always burning within our hearts. We can recognize that core feeling of humility, of awakened heart, as the gateway to enlightenment, to nirvana, to the kingdom of God. We can train ourselves to stop trying to run away from this wondrous and loving reality. We train ourselves to stay. To rest. To let go of any attempt to cover up our hearts but instead to open them still wider and keep them always open. That is the path of liberation.