These books are not the whole truth. The whole truth is bigger than what can be said. Their aim is to point the way to truth, to help you see more clearly into the heart of life's experiences. Since love is the flower of truth, they also aim to help you find a deeper experience of love. Love is possible in even the greatest challenges and difficulties.
Seeing clear to the heart means that you have found a perspective without fear, from which to look upon your circumstance. The heart has no fear in it, except in the older meaning for that word: respect. It has unlimited respect--for yourself, for others, for life, for the Source of life. When you can see without fear you make wiser choices. You discern more accurately the nature of the conditions you face, because you can assess them in a way that seeks only an enhancement of life, an inherent fulfilling of qualities that are always latent within life and in the process of revealing and actualizing themselves. Like you. This does not mean that life will be without suffering. It does mean that what suffering there is will count for something, being directed usefully to improving factors and conditions that eventually lead to less suffering, as opposed to generating experiences that promote more suffering. And in learning from the suffering you experience, you eliminate the need to learn the same thing again through suffering in the same way.
Seeing clear to the heart opens you to your intuition, because it is a kind of seeing that is not narrowed to just the subject upon which it gazes. It is an open kind of seeing, with direction and focus tempered by nonclinging and nonresistance. With the cultivation of direction and focus come many benefits that are important: self-motivation, attention to the present, penetration to deeper layers of experience and learning, development and expression of creative impulse, accomplishment of sequenced goals, and a lessening of the predilection to distraction. With the cultivation of nonclinging and nonresistance come significant qualities of being too: openmindedness, nonjudgment, compassion, inspiration, healing, unconditional acceptance and love, communion, unlimitedness, and peace of mind.
Seeing clear to the heart means understanding the essential nature of the phenomenon you are addressing. It also means that you see it without bias and with full acceptance. It does not mean that you condone it or that it would be wise to engage in perpetuating or changing it. Seeing clear to the heart means seeing the core of this experience in only the light of goodness. This is not to be confused with comfort; sometimes goodness takes us on long, hard journeys. Seeing clearly, we comprehend the greater fulfillment had through such hardship.
Seeing clear to the heart means not filtering your experience of what is, through reactions to it, beliefs or opinions about it, or desires with regard to it. This is easier said than done, though it must be understood that one need not free oneself of reactivity in order to see clearly. Being aware of reactions as reactions allows space in which to see what is there besides reactions.
The aim of these books is to help catalyze and support your journey to the heart of your being. Seeing clear to your own heart is a way of living that transforms your sense of who you are and what life is all about. Each chapter of each book is but one of the many facets upon this jewel that is your own central nature. By paying enough attention to any one of the facets, perhaps you will begin to see the jewel itself. Many people have responded to these contents, when I have presented them in lectures, workshops, or retreats over the last 20 years, as if deep down they already knew what I was saying. But they could not quite put it into words. Upon hearing it, they recognized something about themselves more clearly, and could live from that place more easily. They were able to see more clearly to their heart.
Another use for the books is as a reference for situations and conditions you find yourself experiencing or wondering how to deal with. They have been written to facilitate such use, and therefore need not be read in order. Trust that you will be drawn to the best starting and continuing points, and go directly to those places. The heart is not ordered linearly.
Seeing clear to the heart may unfold like the peeling of the layers of an onion. There is advantage at every stage, for with clarity there comes a deepening of insight. Insight is always valuable because it reveals the true nature of a thing, and this allows you to make the most appropriate decisions possible. An analogy: if you are on Pluto, looking at our Sun is like looking at a very bright star. Yet insofar as your gaze is directly at the Sun, you can be said to be seeing clear to the heart of the solar system. If you are on Mercury, closest to the Sun, looking at the Sun would be an experience of such brightness from an object of such size in the sky that it is difficult to imagine it. It might be like standing beneath the explosion of a thousand nuclear bombs set off a thousand feet overhead. Obviously much more detail about the Sun would be apparent. Again, looking straight at the center of the disk of the Sun, you could rightly be said to be seeing clear to the heart of the solar system. Just because Mercury happens to be closer to the Sun does not alter the fact that an observer on either Pluto or Mercury sees to the heart of the solar system when they look directly at the Sun. So it is with your own seeing clear to the heart. Sometimes you will be much closer in to the core of the experience than at other times. What is essential is that you look toward that center. It can be seen from any distance, if your seeing is acute enough. In the end you will benefit.
The books could also be utilized as a series of studies, examinations, or experiments with hypotheses to be tested about yourself and life. Sections are short so as to avoid weakening the information by offering too many words. The books are probably best read one chapter or even several pages at a time, followed by taking the ideas and techniques presented and contemplating them, trying them, or applying them to your daily life situation. Please do not distract yourself with trying to gather too much information at once. The object is to see more clearly to the the heart of each matter as well as into your own heart, not to become lost in collection of more information about how to get there.
These books aim at simplicity. They are meant to inspire you to recognize something you alrerady know at a very deep level. They are not meant to be academic tomes that scientifically describe certain facets of reality. Use the words and ideas to awaken experiences that are beyond what can circumscribed by words and ideas. For ultimately, the truth about what you are and what life is can never be adequately described by words or with any idea.
©1999 Mark Shafer