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 presence@onewhowakes.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.

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The Beckoning

By Paula Hardin

You are at the Humane Society
Heart skipping a beat
Eyes lighting up
The recognition
And a cage door opens

Wandering the beach
Free from brain spin for the moment
Ahh yes . . . there
Tumbled smooth
A Stone
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
Turned other-side-around
Lighting everything
Lightening everything
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.