This word, Querencia, has gained some popularity in the spiritual community. It is Spanish and means that place where you are your most authentic self. This is the place from which you draw strength, the place where you feel truly at home.
The word as a bullfighting reference was popularized by Ernest Hemingway, who explained that this is the area of the bull ring in which the bull feels strong and safe. Here the bull makes his stand. The need for every person to find a place of strength, and the benefit of doing so, is obvious.
Finding the best place to stand is comparable to being in one’s comfort zone. The implication is that strength flows from, or is related to, authenticity. For this reason the idea of Querencia has been applied to many fields of endeavor, including spirituality, counseling, interpersonal relationships, and business. When you find your place of Querencia, you just stand there.
Drawing from the martial aspect of bullfighting, there is also a clear application to military strategy. Military history is replete with examples of battles which were won or lost because of terrain. Choosing the place to fight is sometimes as important, if not more so, than choosing when, or if, to fight.
However, the aspect which most intrigues me is the idea of taking a stand in the place where you are most yourself. From the introspective approach of the spiritual seeker, this directly touches on the question of who we are, that is, what is our essential nature? If at the core of our being we are most ourselves, then what are we really?
I think the best answer is that at the innermost level, our true self is pure Buddha-nature, and whatever seems other than that is an accretion which covers and obscures our true self.
We normally think that to be on the spiritual path is a good thing. However, the Buddhist Dzogchen master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche has made an analogy which turns this completely on its head. He explains that Buddha nature is like gold, but that this gold is obscured, so that this nature is not recognized. What is unique is that he defines the ground as gold and the path as the obscuration.
He said, “The ground is likened to pure gold, while the path is like gold that has fallen in the dirt and is covered by defilements. In this context, the path means the state of confusion. Buddhahood, the realized state of all awakened beings, means not straying onto the path of confusion but recognizing the state of the ground as pure gold.” (Jewels of Enlightenment)
This means that although we follow the path of practice, or dharma, at the earlier stages of our spiritual journey, there comes a place where practice becomes unnecessary. Doing gives way to pure being. There is no need for a path because there is nowhere to go. Once someone sees his or her pure Buddha nature, the dharma is finished, and there is no path. This is the ground of being, and upon this spot we merely have to stand.
This also reminds me of the New Testament verses, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” (Gal. 5:5) and “having done all to stand.” (Eph. 6:13) There is a level of attainment in the Christian mysteries beyond which nothing further needs to be done. The only need is just to stand in that awareness. Just standing is Querencia.
Although one continues to serve, perform religious rites, and help others, these become acts of love, not requirements. In a sense, as important as such activities are, it is no longer necessary to do them. This insight leads to the “actionless action” of the fully liberated person.
Being most yourself also reminds me of the word Ipsissimus, which refers to the highest grade of attainment in the Rosicrucian lodges. Ipsissmus literally means “He who is most himself.”
Assigned to Kether, the first sphere on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, this level of consciousness is beyond duality and all binary thinking.
Aleister Crowley wrote about the Grade of Ipsissimus. Regardless of your opinion about him, and whether you believe he really attained this grade, what he had to say is of interest. He wrote in One Star in Sight, “The Ipsissimus is wholly free from all limitations soever, existing in the nature of all things without discriminations of quantity or quality between them. He has identified Being and non-Being and Becoming, action and non-action and tendency to action, with all other such triplicities, not distinguishing between any one thing and any other thing as to whether it is with or without conditions.”
“The Ipsissimus is pre-eminently the Master of all modes of existence; that is, his being is entirely free from internal and external necessity. His work is to destroy all tendencies to construct or cancel such necessities. He is the Master of the Law of Unsubstantiality…. The Ipsissimus has no will in any direction, and no Consciousness of any kind involving duality, for in him all is accomplished.”
When the great tantric master Padmasambhava was nearing complete realization, his master sent him away and told him not to return. Later his master came to visit him and asked, “Aren’t you going to prostrate to me? Aren’t you going to present your realization to me?”
Padmasambhava replied, “This is not not prostrating, and I do not have even a tip of a hair’s worth of understanding to offer you. It is now like the trace of a bird flying in the sky.” (“The Treasure of the Lotus Crystal Cave” from Treasures from Juniper Ridge)
This was sufficient evidence of his complete realization. This position of non-duality, free from abstraction or mental constructs, is pure Buddha-nature. To understand this is to be beyond binary thinking. This is the position on which we seek to stand. This the ultimate Querencia.
~ Niysah Iyahu
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