Openness: “… It is only when we meet life from the unknown—and that is what silence really is, an open-ended unknownness—that we can really listen to what is true. And only the truth will set us free …” ~ Amoda Maa

silence unknownness openness amoda

Adversity or suffering is an “organic” part of the human condition and despite the discomfort and/or the issues it brings, it typically also offers an opportunity for growth or breakthrough … and …

Turns out, this opportunity is fundamentally “baked into” the “awakening” or self realization journey … Why? … because awakening only happens in the “crucible of life” … it’s all about fully accepting and meeting life with one’s current circumstances – just as it is. As the Zen Master Dogen aptly reminds us: “If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it? … or as we’ve noted elsewhere: if not now, when? if not here, where? and if not you(me), who? … or as Rumi reminds us:

In the future, in the distance are illusions.
Taste the here and now of God.

This present thirst is the real intelligence,
not some back-and-forth mercurial argument.

Of course, this meeting of life – right here and now, in this moment – is ultimately an invitation to embrace openness … As Amoda Maa says in the opening of her upcoming book (Falling Open In A World Falling Apart: The Essential Teaching of Amoda Maa, release date Oct 7, 2020): “I invite you to reject nothing, welcome everything, and surrender into the deepest falling of the open heart.”

Indeed, exploring such openness is always timely but that’s especially true now … because we have a choice to meet the ongoing “2020 mayhem (continuing spread of COVID, ensuing economic collapse, and social unrest)” with more “mindful balance” and depth while also fueling our journey of self discovery (navigating all of these “life matters” provides a real “grist for the mill” for us – both individually and collectively).

Of course, the unfolding self discovery journey can be terrifying (yet exhilarating) – is certainly not easy – but it is the only terrain for real transformation. As Joan Tollifson also reminds us in her summationIn-testimonial of Amoda’s book:

“I love that Amoda Maa includes and works with our humanness, rather than attempting to ignore or bypass the messiness and difficulties of everyday life. … Amoda invites a falling open into ‘the groundless ground of unbroken presence,’ the openness that allows everything to be as it is. Paradoxically, this is exactly where genuine transformation happens. There is a gentle tenderness in this book. The words come from the heart, from clear seeing, and from the openness that the book invites the reader to discover. Amoda encourages ‘listening to the deepest truth in you, listening to that which is prior to narrative and prior to reactivity, listening to the silence within—and then moving from this silence. Or not moving at all.’ Falling Open is a beautiful book that I very highly recommend. As Amoda says, ‘This book is a transmission. Do not read it. Feel it.’ Yes!”

So, this post starts a series which will take a deep dive into such openness … such “falling open” … but before that …

As we’ve done since the emergence of the “COVID norm” …. we’d like to commend Go Fund Me for continuing to organize various pertinent campaigns addressing the current urgent needs. All of these campaigns are worthy of our attention … but for now we are highlighting TWO critical ones that we are supporting personally and also as Stillness Speaks (through donations):

We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then …

… please visit  Frontline Responders Fund’s Go Fund Me page … and help deliver crucial supplies to the frontline responders …

… and/or visit  America’s Food Fund Go Fund Me page and help feed the neighbors in need …

And, we again, express our deepest gratitude to 1) the COVID-19 Frontline Responders (all the healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, hospital/medical-services staff – firefighters, law enforcement, volunteers, and any/all the people involved in keeping the “system-at-large” functioning for ALL of us) … and 2) Go Fund Me for organizing such campaigns …

THANK YOU – the ease in our lives would not be possible without your dedication.

Now back to Falling Open in a World Falling Apart … where, in the Introduction, Amoda invites us to embrace an openness that “… meets both sky and clouds equally and allows a deep listening to what is essential  …” and she reminds us that this deep listening is available to everyone(you/me) “… in the midst of your ordinary life—whatever your circumstances and wherever you are on your personal journey of spiritual unfoldment. It is available to you when meet this moment with curiosity instead of conclusion, when you welcome your feelings into the softness of your heart, and when you slow down enough to allow silent awareness to reveal itself to you  …”

openness falling open amoda maaIndeed, this openness – if followed earnestly – potentially leads to the “… dissolution of the tight knot of ego  …” which, as Amoda posits, “… doesn’t necessarily happen in one fell swoop. It is more likely to be a gradual process of unfoldment—a weaving in and out of the open spaciousness of being and an often indiscernible erosion of resistance to what is. Your journey of awakening is unique and is unlikely to look like mine—there is no path but the path you are walking. But wherever you are on this path and whatever your circumstances, in every moment the freedom of openness is available. And the personal and global crises we experience in today’s world offer a potent opportunity to turn our allegiance from the war with reality to the silent awareness that is always here  …”

No wonder she closes the Introduction with: “… I invite you to fall open, even when your world is falling apart  …”

So, in this multi-part series we will explore this “falling open” through excerpts from her book … but …

Even before we delve into some of the pertinent topics and questions covered in her book … there is a natural – and burning – question: is any of this relevant ?given the ongoing “2020 mayhem” with no end in sight …

Here’s Amoda’s answer (the book’s “epilogue” titled: A word for this very moment) …

Openness: A word for this very moment

When I embarked on the journey of offering my teachings in the form of this book, I had no idea the world would almost literally fall apart as the book developed. Certainly the world has always been subject to turbulence, but seemingly overnight it has changed dramatically and many people are facing immense challenges and overwhelming fear in everyday life. I’m often asked in discussions lately if these teachings are of any relevance now.

Yes. They were made for these unprecedented times in which, individually and collectively, we so obviously are facing the unknown. Everyday routines and choices that we long have taken for granted are no longer safe or secure. Our daily habits, our lifestyle, our jobs, our recreation, are all changing. For some there is uncertainty about financial security, for others there is fear around physical survival, and for yet others there is loss of friends and family. The global economy, planetary resources, social patterns, the basis of our health and wellbeing are all on shifting sands. And there is a lot of confusion, a lot of conflicting reports—a lot of information and a lot of misinformation—in the news, in social media, and so on.

openness covid economy collapse protests amoda maa

But more urgent and fundamental than the changes we see in the world is the contagion of fear that underlies the unconscious human condition. This fear has always been at the root of psychological suffering, but now it is amplified because we are so connected through information highways and world events that impact us all. Fear actually isn’t rooted in the reality of now. It is the result of coming to a conclusion about the future. It’s what happens when we give our attention to the drama of thought, when mind flaps about on the surface looking for something to be concerned with because it cannot rest in the unknownness of now.

When faced with the intensity of collective fear, we may go crazy with believing our thoughts to be reality or we may be forced to go inwards and ground ourselves in what is deeper than the seeming importance of form or thought. The real question is not how will you cope with your life, but how can you meet life—this life today, not the imagined life, not the future life, but this very moment—from a deeper place than your habitual narratives or anyone else’s. Can you meet life—now and now and now—as openness? I’m talking about the very immediacy of your experience—wherever your location, whatever your circumstances, whatever your state of health, somewhere that is closer than all of that.

What is closer than economic collapse? What is closer than social breakdown? What is closer than any loss? What is more intimate and direct than any thought? Right here, right now—if you stop and listen, if you stop and feel—is the warmth of your body, the ebb and flow of your breath, the pulse in your belly. Right here, right now—if you stop and soften—is the simplicity of being.

openness simplicity being amoda

This recognition of the truth of your innermost nature is not a spiritual palliative. It’s not about denying what’s going on in the world. It’s not about sticking your head in the sand. It’s about meeting reality as it is, not as you imagine it to be. It’s about waking up out of the dream of separation and returning to the sovereignty of your innate wholeness.

Forgetting our true source as one being-ness is what keeps us in a divided internal state and in a divided world. This unexamined belief in a “me” as a separate entity leads to the mass hypnosis of fear and the loss of our true inner authority. But in the midst of adversity is an immense opportunity.

Right here, right now—is your chance to remember who you really are, to be rooted in that which is more constant than anything that can be lost or anything that can break. This “that cannot be lost and that cannot break” has been with you ever since you took your first breath and will be with you until you take your last. It is your essential aliveness. By aliveness, I mean the naked fact of “I AM” that is always here—that can never be taken away from you. No one and no event has the power to take this, your essential nature, away.

milky way Quiraing naked fact i am amoda

So yes . . . my teachings are made for these times. And beyond, because their core is timeless.

A new landscape is before us, a terrain never before traversed. We are called to take one step at a time, gentle yet firm, neither looking backward to how it was nor looking forward to how we imagine it could be. We are invited to befriend the unknown, to get right up close and intimate with an openness the mind cannot possess.

Often we may feel overwhelmed, confused, enraged, as we experience inner and outer worlds crumble and fall. Often we may feel as if we’re walking through the valley of death, our hearts broken open and the suffering of humanity pouring in. But as we keep still, perhaps we feel the silent goodness that runs through it all, an undercurrent of aliveness that is always here and so easily missed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, so easily bypassed by the acquisitive mind.

sunrise still amoda

Perhaps now—in the midst of this uncertainty—we are naked enough to be touched by the impermanence of the world, the insanity of giving our allegiance to fear, the futility of holding onto the known at all costs.

Perhaps now—in the mess of a world shaken to the ground— we are down on our knees enough to be humble enough and grateful enough and kind enough to attend to what is more essential than our cherished beliefs and opinions and ideas of right and wrong.

Perhaps now—as we fall into this unknown moment—we will be resurrected into the verticality of being and walk this new terrain as warriors of an open heart.

Perhaps now we will be rooted in our true immunity of presence, in our true authority as love, and in our true birthright of freedom.

My friend, do not miss this opportunity.

 ~ Amoda Maa (October 2020)

Indeed, this opportunity is not to be missed … Amoda reminds us that the “task of tasks” on our journey of self discovery is to “find (or more accurately realize)” That which is “more intimate and direct than any thought” … That which “cannot be lost” … (or in Rumi’s words That which is closer than breath” … or Papaji’s words “here too” – when walking in the messy/noisy/not-clean bazaar area, in Lucknow – India, with his “students”).

In Falling Open In A World Falling Apart you will find ample “food for the soul” to undertake such a journey … because it explores, in-depth …

topics like: “… the essence of openness … living as an open hand … trust on the path … boundaries … welcoming everything … power of tenderness … end of seeking … transforming reactivity … mechanism of separation … unpacking love … discovering your true authority .. presence … art of listening … meditation …art of being fully awake and human … living in the paradox … mastering life …” and more …

and questions like: “… My deepest longing is to be free, but the search for freedom seems to be endless. When will my search come to fruition? … My world is falling apart, nothing makes sense anymore. I’m afraid. What should I do?  … Is it important to have a sense of trust on the spiritual path? … How do I protect myself from harm if I’m open all the time? And how can I learn to be open if I have a history of trauma and abuse? … What does welcoming everything mean? …  How should I deal with fear when it shows up? … What about really dark emotions, like rage and shame and grief? … {despite all my seeking} I’m still longing for inner peace, but nothing seems to help. How can I move beyond this impasse? … Is there anything I can do to stop {reactivity}? … But how can I trust life enough so I can open to it? … I have been meditating for over forty years, and still I have a sense of separation. How can I know oneness? … Often, when I experience a deep opening to love, it is followed by a closure into fear – why? … I have experienced many ‘aha’ experiences, moments of seeming realizations of absolute truth, but still this openness you speak of eludes me. Am I missing something? … Does the mind have any useful role in the human life? … Is there anything I can do to change my life {or the world}? … what should I do when I get caught up in my thoughts? … How do I come to know this presence as my natural state? … Acceptance sounds like resignation. Is there a difference? … I’m willing to listen, but my partner is not. He just wants to complain. How do I deal with this? … Do I need to have a dedicated meditation practice in order to awaken? … How can I function in the world without getting lost in it? … Does my personality continue to exist after awakening? … Is the world an illusion? … Is there a place for compassion? … How does this apply to those in political power who might not have our best interests at heart, to those who are amassing power for themselves at the cost of ordinary people? … What stops humanity from waking up fully? … What’s the point of awakening if there is nothing we can do to save ourselves or save the world? and lots more …

Above summary gives you a sampling of the “gems” in this book … that are offered in a very relatable format of focusing on highly relevant topics (e.g., openness and boundaries, OR transforming reactivity) that are unpacked through many of the burning questions (e.g., How do I protect myself from harm if I’m open all the time? And how can I learn to be open if I have a history of trauma and abuse?, OR Is there anything I can do to stop {reactivity}?) encountered by most seekers.

In addition to the above “epilogue,” the remaining parts of our series will cover excerpts from 3 of the 28 sections.


Stay tuned for … the next part … where we will continue this deep dive into openness via an excerpt from the section The Essence of Openness … which is from the chapter Falling Apart or Falling Open?  …

May the insights offered here help you embrace openness … and …

And may you remain safe and healthy as you navigate this global crisis …

All italicized text above (including quotes/text in the blockquoted segments – except Dogen & Rumi) is from Falling Open In A World Falling Apart: The Essential Teaching of Amoda Maa … and is published here with Amoda’a generous and gracious permission.

Amoda’s Stillness Speaks Teacher Page will be coming in the future … please visit Light, Body, & Awakening (Part 1 of a series exploring her book Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening In Every Moment) for her brief BIO including her website … and click here for her current events.


Dogen’s quote: Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing, by Larry Chang (Author, Editor).
Rumi’s poem excerpt: The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems by Coleman Barks.
Images (edited & Logo added): 1 & Featured) Hiker on the trek in Himalayas, Annapurna valley by MyGoodImages, 2) Cover page for Amoda’s book, 3) Composite of a) European Union flag ball smashing a USA dollar by InkDropCreative, b) Coronavirus COVID-19 by Photocreo, and c) Black Lives Matter – Century City Protest – June 6, 2020 by morrisonbrett, via WikIMedia, CC BY 2.0, 4) Holywell Bay reflections by andyfox, 5) Breathtaking view to milky way over Quiraing by Shaiith79, 6) Beautiful sunrise on Praia do Camilo beach by merc67, 7) Matterhorn and reflection on the water surface during sunrise, by biletskiy_e. All except 2 & 3c are purchased from depositphotos, and are for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post). 2 is provided by Amoda with permission to be used on our website and other digital assets.


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