A Gift of Presence: Spacious Presence
By John Mark Stroud
Here I AM sitting in front of my computer staring at the blank white screen, reveling in its empty beauty. I feel the gentle rhythm of the body’s breath coming and going. I hear the sounds of water bubbling in the fountain behind me. There’s a gentle breeze caressing my skin, dancing with the hairs on my body. My fingers are resting on the keys, waiting. Waiting for Love to express itSelf.
This moment is already full to overflowing…
I wait. I then express my reluctance to my friend and playmate, Cindy. She smiles gently, and offers a few suggestions. None of the things she offers feel right, so she asks, “What do you want to tell to those who will read this article?”
“I don’t want to tell them anything,” I reply. I want to show them. I want to share the experience with them directly.” With that, she goes back to her knitting. It’s her meditation.
I wait. The cursor flashes like a silent metronome, announcing its readiness to be moved into expression.
Still I wait, allowing the power in the silence to just be. Then I feel it. A friendly and familiar movement arises from within. I feel it, I know it. If I had to express that knowing in words it would be, “Just tell it like you KNOW it.”
OK, I can do that. As I move into agreement with that inner knowing, a soft inner flow begins. I trust where it will take me. Where it can take us together.
Why has it taken me so long to write this article? Honestly, I am loathe to add more characters called “letters” to a page. I am loathe to create more words to express ideas and concepts, or wax on about these things that Jesus has already shared in so many texts with the most amazing clarity. He has done so in A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, and he even beautifully spoke the words aloud via his chosen channel in The Way of Mastery.
I have especially loved the instruction to “lay aside all thoughts” and simply BE as exemplified by ACIM Lesson 189:
Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
Yet the time for reading, writing, or talking about Christ Consciousness is finished for me. It has been finished for some time. All I can truly do now is BE. And how I am moved to simply BE leaves these pathways and individual journeys within them in the rear view mirror. My inner compass is fixed upon the I AM and the magnificent unknown as it unfolds right here and now. That compass guides me perfectly without the need to circle back to any of Jesus’s pathways.
I have come to know and appreciate words for all their beauty, for their ability to inspire and invoke within us deep remembrance. They can encourage us, call us, even seduce us into the process of Awakening. But words themselves are, frankly, inadequate substitutes for the felt knowing that is our true birthright. Ideas and concepts have a place, but knowing through direct experience — that’s the bomb! The only way to go. No ideas to promote or defend. No metaphysical concepts to try to understand. Just my own direct experience, because my experience is my true knowing.
This brings me squarely to the purpose of this article, what I call Spacious Presence, and what Jesus in ACOL calls the Spacious Self. In ACOL, Jesus introduces us to the concept of the Spacious Self in Day 12 of the Dialogues. Notice that this comes just after he resigned as our teacher. The Dialogue begins with:
“Now we listen to feelings. Now we listen to feelings and understand what they have to say to us. Now we listen with a new ear, the ear of the heart.”
Wahoo! My heart sings with joy. My weary mind sighs with relief that it may lay aside its need to learn, and to thereby earn its way into Heaven. My mind has come to know its only real safety is in not knowing, or even needing to know. Now it remains open, and is effortlessly filled with the knowing of the heart. The heart’s knowing just is. It’s always simple, and it is free from knowledge based in learning, time, need, or outcome.
Long before I actually come across his references to the Spacious Self in ACOL, Jesus taught me how to attune my awareness, or enter into, Spacious Presence. And to my surprise, he used the doorway of my body to access that communion. The very body I had been trying to deny, having encountered the ACIM workbook Lesson “I am not a body, I am free.” I could not help but laugh when I recognized that the very thing I was trying to get away from contained the doorway to All That Is. Ha-ha-hah! The joke was on me.
Some take the position that the body is an illusion, insisting that it is not even really here. How then, can the body contain a doorway to the Eternal? The first choice is to let go of all we think the body is, along with our past experiences with it. This is not always an easy task. But it is what moves us into a felt communion with, and ultimately AS, the One Self in Unity and Relationship. By changing our relationship to the body we can allow it to become our partner, even our teacher.
To assist my skeptical mind, Jesus asked me a few questions.
“Is your mind always present in the now moment?” No, of course not. It’s here for a moment, then it’s reviewing last week, skipping forward to next year, or just asking what’s for dinner. It can be all over the place, but hardly ever here, now.
“How about your body?” he asked. BOOM. Revelation and its knowing swept through my Being. Without hesitation, I knew my body IS PRESENT ALL THE TIME. And I also realized its presence was effortless. No thought, no strategy, not even a choice was required to keep the body from running to the past or future. Like it or not, my body was always right here, right now. I could not even imagine a way to change that. The body is always Perfectly Present.
Jesus made it clear to me that the body was a Master of Presence. “Are you willing to allow it to teach you its mastery?” he asked. “Yes, yes I am!” was my eager reply.
He then went on to show me how to use the power of the Light of my Awareness. We all possess an individual awareness that hears our thoughts, is aware of our hunger, is aware that our toe hurts. This Awareness is also aware of Itself. This Light of Awareness is within each of us. It is actually an aspect of the Source Light. It came into Being when God said, “Let there be light.” The very Light of God has been within me since the dawn of creation. I have never been apart from it. I was convinced I was a body only because I had cleverly used my light to show me nothing but a body, limiting my awareness to five physical senses. That was a brilliant creation to experience separation — an amazing expression of my freedom — but that’s another story.
Under Jesus’s guidance, I had identified the two things I needed to enter into the Spacious Self. My body was the doorway. And the light of my awareness had the power to move me over the threshold. You have these, too. Right here, right now, we each have all we need to enter into Union and express that Union in relationship. I have enjoyed much time in communion exploring, playing, and abiding as the Spacious Self.
I am grateful to be past the time of learning and its need for teachers. I have no need or desire to teach, but I am eager to share in Unity and Relationship. To have more friends to play with! Not to share more words or concepts, but to share in a direct experiential communion with and as the Spacious Self. To KNOW like you have never known before. To FEEL beyond the need for beliefs.
Editor’s note: Beginning January 1, John Mark and Cindy Stroud are offering an online group experience of attunement to the Spacious Self that they call “Beyond Belief into Presence, The Claiming of the Spacious Self.” There is no charge. If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know.
Following a successful career in business, John Mark plunged into darkness, emptiness. Unexpectedly in 2011 he experienced a spiritual awakening that radically changed his life. He found himself being clairaudient and he received extensive tutoring from Jesus.
You can still “attend” the first-ever ACOL Online Conference!
Everything was recorded and is still available–Click here!
You can still get BONUSES including a free subscription to Miracles Magazine
You can still get AUTOGRAPHED Books Available nowhere else!
HOLIDAY SPECIAL: ACOL 25% off! Click here!
Please visit the Brand New Website: www.MariPerron.com
Looking for an EXPERIENCE of the SPACIOUS SELF? Check out John Mark’s article (in this issue) and offering
Interested in both ACIM and ACOL? Please subscribe to Miracles Magazine
We’re looking for volunteers the ACOL Tech Team to assist with social media, video, & more. Please contact Rose, email@example.com
ACOL Groups often share deeply. Many groups are available, either in-person or by phone or internet. Find out more here.
By Paula Hardin
You are at the Humane Society
Heart skipping a beat
Eyes lighting up
And a cage door opens
Wandering the beach
Free from brain spin for the moment
Ahh yes . . . there
Just for you
Sauntering in a bookstore
Remember those times?
Aisles, shelves, loaded with promise
Suddenly the beckoning
And you pick a book
Or it picks you
That happened online recently
And my universe
Opening-opening-opening me (ouch)
To a fresh new world
Not yet mine.
Paula Payne Hardin appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show when her first book, “What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life? Choices in Midlife” appeared in 1992. She is also the author of “Love After Love: Stages of Loving” (1996). Hardin directed Midlife Consulting Services and the David K. Hardin Generativity Trust in Chicago. Hardin has trekked around the world from the Himalayas to Zimbabwe. Now an Elder, she enjoys kayaking, cats, writing, and her extended family.
John Mark & Cindy, Looking forward to the new online group experience Y’all are offering of attunement to the Spacious Self, “Beyond Belief into Presence, The Claiming of the Spacious Self.” Aimee & I often refer back to the 1st BBIP group experiences to refresh our memories of the wonderful break-throughs we’ve had through your sharing & “not” caring (ha, ha) whether one’s agreed with you or not. I see that Love is straightforward and has no apologies to make. Love loves. That is what Love does. Love you guys so very much. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for being that which you are! Woo Hoo, 17 days and counting down.
Great post Mark. The idea that the body is always present hit me, I think, just like it did you: BOOM, haha. The Courses use language that I’m aware of, but not really familiar with. Expressions like “the light of awareness.” These terms kind of leave me grasping for meaning because they haven’t been part of my everyday experience. I just get an image of a light bulb going on and off. But then you offer the comparison: mind is usually everywhere but, but the body can only be here,now. Light of Awareness! Thanks again.
You are saying what I also have thought. Strictly speaking I’ve so far never encountered anything I could call “awareness” or “consciousness.” All I experience is thoughts, memories, imaginations, feelings, and sensorial impressions. Awareness and consciousness are but words saying that the described experience is there. But awareness and consciousness as a something existing besides the experience I have yet to encounter.
Alhough it is also true that one can direct one’s attention to a particular part of one’s experience it seems. Which is what John Mark shares for example in that audio clip on YouTube.
The soul has been described by the mystics of old as that which has the faculties of reason, memory, and will. Which they say must be changed into faith, hope, and love. And will be with the grace of God.
I just send in a request to participate in the January meeting.
For now enjoying this sharing:
“Episode 8: How to “Hear” Guidance with John Mark Stroud”
Interesting comments below that audio clip on YouTube about how to “Hear” Guidance… ; )
After I posted something below that audio on YouTube and logging out, that posts disappeared. YouTube shadow banned it. So I’ll copy it here, as it appears for me when I’m logged in, otherwise not even I can see it.
The Spanish mystic best known for his book Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross, also wrote about hearing voices. He says that unless the voice brings its own virtue with it, that is the voice we can and will trust completely. Like when it would say “Love Me”, instantly a divine love would be felt. Or “Fear not” right away all fear would be gone, replaced by a deep delicious divine peace and certainty.
All other voices we better not heed even if they would come from God, because we might misinterpret them. And they might even not come from God… but from the devil, who can also make himself appear as an angel of light. And if from God, our soul will profit from it even when we don’t heed it. So the safest is only heeding the voice that brings God’s virtue with it, which we will do anyway when we hear it he writes.
All of that he explains in chapters 19-22 of his Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 2.
Lodewijk, your comments are showing on Youtube OK. Thanks for the link, I’m listening to the podcast now. I checked the comments and saw yours there. Relax brother, you’re not shadow banned.
If you compare the text I posted here about what St. John of the Cross comments on hearing voices with what appears below the YouTube clip, you’ll see that they are different. The one appearing there is also shorter than the one above.
First I copied the above text on YouTube, but -as said- it was no longer visible after I logged out. And only I can see it after logging in. The public can’t see it at all. That is a trick called “Shadow banning.” To let the poster believe his or her post is placed for the public to see, while it has been hidden. But that you discover only when you go there again not logged in.
That is why I always copy the URL on my clipboard, log out, paste the URL in my search bar, go back to the video. choose to view latest, and see if my post appears or not. Especially when posting links -even to other YouTube clips- YouTube censors out a lot. So in case such a post does not appear when I’m not logged in, I post the text with title to the clip again, but without the link. Then the post is allowed to be seen by the public.
To me it is a sign now that instead of posting I better dedicate my time to following the advice both Johns give for hearing the Spirit of God, the Voice of our God-Self.
And thank you much for your concern. <3
Not “First I copied the above text on YouTube” but “First I wrote the text on YouTube, and then I copied it here while logged in on YouTube so I could see my post.”
Absolutely beautiful John. Thank You so very much for sharing with us what You have come to directly Know and your excitement in to the adventure of all that is yet unknown, waiting to be known. Have fun playing.
“a subconscious fear” instead of “an subconscious fear” and “Life” instead of “LiFe.”
Part of the crucifixion; experiencing being a human making mistakes, and then feeling stupid for it. Wanting to edit in the correction but not being able to do that. Light frustration.
While in truth all the while being the One Who never makes a mistake.
What we dislike about ourselves and others and situations is dislike -unlike- how we, others, and situations really are. While what we morally approve of and thus like is like to how we all and situations really are. Thus our conscience always points in the direction of Who and How we and situations are in truth. Thank God.
Thank you Mark for mirroring so beautifully my own longing to just be and rest in God, This morning I just felt that I had gone to my into words and thougts and felt a deep longing to just rest more in love, truth and peace. So thanks for a beautiful reminder. Love from Anne
I say “Thank God! Finally!” After 50+ years of studying and oftrying and, and, and…. i can let go of all my efforting! I willingly acccept this invitation, thank you John Mark!
For some of us a relentless barrage of words, thoughts, memories, some painful, evoking guilt, imaginations, physical sensations, tension in the body, trembling out of an subconscious fear, yawning, drowsiness, boredom, suggestions to get up and do something less unpleasant than sitting in contemplation, by seeking distraction, entertainment… all that even though one knows with full conviction from past experiences that one’s real Being is infinitely great, courageous, wise, creative, pure altruistic Love. That one in truth is the One as whom we gave our Life for the souls of the humans we seem to be. That also these souls would enjoy what as God we enjoyed by coming to our divine Self and LiFe in the souls. As the divine inheritance as God we willed they would receive, and by receiving it would give it to us as God, so as the souls and God we would experience being the One, thus extending our original perfect divine happiness to this world and the souls, who would be immortal and forever increase in enjoyment of Who their true Being is and as Such are doing.
Yet knowing all that with certainty of mind, the experience is still one of purgatory for some of us. Then one can remind oneself:
“For I determined not to know any thing in you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
~1 Corinthians 2:2
Note that in the original Greek a word is written meaning “in” which has been translated as “among.” But even taking it literally, historically, Jesus was not as one particular person crucified among the Corinthians. So it is written for anyone who reads it, and more precise for the Christ-Self in us. That we have the courage and love needed to sit through it, for as long as God wills the experience to take place. It is not hell any longer, because in hell there is no hope. Yet it is not heaven yet either, but the change from hell to heaven, a passage which has been called “purgatory” because the Love that is our true Self turns everything that seems different from It into Itself, as fire does with wood. In this case the cross one still experiences being to oneself and others as a human.
I just read with loving interest your article on spacious presence….I’ve been a devout student of ACIM for years and am now on my 4th reading. I’ve just begun ACOL and am so happy I did! It is a lovely companion to ACIM . Thank you for your insight.
Oh my, I didn’t know what to think. I am 74 and have been on a spiritual quest for 30 years or so with some starteling experiences but no lasting state of peace or contentment. I’ve studied almost every spiritual avenue known to man and in these later days have been overwhelmed and disallusioned with the “Enlightenment for sale” marketing, most of it out of my financial reach. So as you can guess I’m a little skeptical about this and what attracted me was the “no charge.” Please know that I have no problem with people having the money they need and understand full well fees for services. When it came to Spirituality it seemed like a Spiritual Barker had been let loose at the Carnival Midway and lost all sensibility or reason. I’ve seen courses for thousands of dollars and one prominent in this “Enlightenment movement” said to me, “You can’t afford me!” She was right nor would I pay her the fees she ask if I could. I do know enough,by now, of spiritual principles to know things of the Spirit are not in the Market Place. So after listening for guidance I decided to take a little spin with you as my heart yearns for companions and to know, (experience) God’s Love for His creation and not continue to study and attempt to earn it. So here we go. With Gratitude, Charla
Exquisite description of my growing experience… I have longed to find a way to express where I’m at (and moving into more and more) and you do it perfectly. I will be providing copies of this sharing for many others. Thank you!