Imperience: Understanding the Heart of Consciousness presents a brief, contemporary version of timeless spiritual knowledge and intuitive insight. It includes a view of absolute reality that can help the reader develop a feeling for the nondual nature of consciousness and all beings within it. Understanding this clarifies the aim of spiritual practice and brings us closer to awakening our heart of consciousness.
This is not merely a theoretical description. Within these pages are also included practical suggestions for awakening conscious awareness in both deep retreat and daily life. Through the practices of meditation and contemplative inquiry, anyone can learn to look within and see firsthand what is true.
Part One describes the domain of absolute reality and the origins of human consciousness in order to provide a perspective of who we are in relation to the whole of life. Part Two examines the primary elements and functions of individual relational beings to help us understand the nature of our own mind and body. Part Three offers some practical meditations and reflections on spiritual life that can help guide our journey. Part Four illuminates the nature of awakening consciousness, or imperience.
Imperience is our umbilical connection to the heart of divine consciousness, the absolute, or god. Imperience awakens the light of awareness and allows our personal consciousness to know its source. It is through imperience that we feel unconditional love and compassion in our hearts, and can share in the joy of others. Imperience is how we sense our true conscience -- how we intuitively know right from wrong, even before thought arises, and before we turn to conditioned feelings or outside opinions for guidance and support.
Imperience is our intuitive “experience” of consciousness. Imperience differs from experience in that there is no subject or object. It does not happen at a sense door, but in consciousness itself. Imperience is fundamental to our ability to know our experience, in the way that light from a projector allows us to see what is on the movie film. Imperience is another way to speak of conscious awareness, which is an aspect of mind distinct from the mental process of the brain. Imperience is sensed in our blood and being and serves as the basis for feeling our conscience and all other matters of the heart.
We regard profoundly wholesome qualities of being like love and compassion as matters of the heart, and when they are awake in us, we imperience them throughout our entire body and being. The depth of these feelings reflect their source in divine consciousness, which we are able to sense most directly and personally in our blood. Because our blood is most concentrated in our chest, this is where we feel love and empathy most prominently, and why we consider these qualities to be matters of the heart.
The heart of divine consciousness is shared by all beings. This book is not to endorse any particular being or spiritual tradition as supreme, or any dogma or belief system as essential to the realization of enlightenment. There is actually no specific need for any religiosity or even religion. Whether we are persons of faith or no faith, spiritual practitioners or not, we can benefit from understanding the fundamental nature of mind and matter, and the core principles that govern them.
Awakening our heart of consciousness requires no specific material objects, rites, rituals, beliefs, or intercession. Everything we need already exists within our own body and mind. We only need to understand how to consciously engage the faculty that awakens us to our divine source. While we have physical sense bases to experience the sense worlds in and around us, likewise, we also have the innate ability to imperience consciousness directly.
There is a glossary at the end to clarify key words, as some may be used in a way which differs from other spiritual writings. Words are symbols we use to communicate and convey meaning. If a topic is subtle and profound, our language needs to be especially precise. Our common usage influences the way we understand words, but this can also lead us astray when describing intuitive spiritual principles. We need to look deeply into the meaning of the terms we use or our understanding becomes self-limited. Even when we use words correctly and believe we understand them, we might miss nuances of meaning that are important for deepening insight.
For instance, the words mindfulness and awareness are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Mindfulness is a mental activity that engages our attention in observing our experience as it happens. Awareness is a function of consciousness, a different faculty from our mental life. Unlike mindfulness, awareness is not an active doing of mind, but an awakened presence of being. Awareness and mindfulness often arise together and can be difficult to distinguish, but knowing how they differ can be key in understanding the very heart of consciousness.
The words path and way often mean the same thing but can also have very different implications. Because we take a path from one place to another, it’s common to speak of a spiritual path as though the goal were somewhere else and apart from us. Divine consciousness, however, is already here and now by its very nature, and requires no distance to travel and no time to arrive. Even though a worthy path can be useful for spiritual development, ultimately we need not a path to, but a way of, awakening conscious awareness in the present moment. Whatever way we practice, it must be rooted in the premise that to gain the knowledge that liberates the heart, we must be willing to look within our own mind to see first-hand what is true.
I have shared these teachings freely in the spirit of generosity offered to me by my teachers, and have never requested payment for serving. I dedicate this book to all who have supported the spiritual life for myself and others through any and all means of practice. In this spirit, I offer this book for the benefit of all beings and the world we share.
Imperience: Understanding the Heart of Consciousness presents a brief, contemporary version of timeless spiritual knowledge and intuitive insight into supreme being. It does not, however, endorse any particular supreme being or spiritual tradition—including any rites, rituals, beliefs, dogma, or intercession—as essential to enlightenment. Whether we are persons of faith or no faith, spiritual practitioners or not, we can benefit from understanding the fundamental nature of mind and matter and the core principles that govern them. This understanding supports us to look within our own minds to see firsthand what is true. Because consciousness itself has no material reality, it cannot be experienced objectively, only imperienced directly within our own being. Imperience is how we sense conscious awareness and awaken intuitive insight into the dharma (truth) of nonduality and the very heart of consciousness.
About the Author
Erik Knud-Hansen became devoted to spiritual practice in 1972, beginning years of intensive meditation, monastic training, and helping to establish several retreat centers. As a teacher in the Buddhist lineage since 1985, he shares ways of awakening reflecting the primary traditions in which he trained—namely Buddhism, Taoism, and Advaita Vedanta.
Contact Erik at www.erikknudhansen.com