Awareness can function in a wide variety of ways.
- Identified with content
It can be identified with its content – with the body, sensations, emotions, thoughts – and function in a dualistic way. There is an inner and outer, me and you, body and mind, birth and death, right and wrong.
- Distinct from content
It can become aware of itself as distinct from its content, and function in a more transdualistic way. It sees all inner and outer phenomena as part of a fluid seamless whole.
Awareness can function in a way centered on the small self – in either of the previous situations. When it is identified with its content, there is little choice. And when it awakens as distinct from its content, it can still function centered on the small self (and usually does, so it can be effective in the world).
- No center
Awareness can also be aware of itself as distinct from content, and function without being centered anywhere. Everything and nothing is a center. For me, this has occured during sitting practice, and I am not familiar enough with it to say much more – although I suspect that it can still function through the small self – it is just that the small self perspective is not there anymore. In a way, this is God functioning in a self-aware way through a small self. And it is a little one-sided as well, excluding the view of the small self.
A more fluid and inclusive approach is to move freely between an emphasis on Big Mind view (which does not have any center) and small self view (which is a center). This way, we know that awareness (the “true me”) is not any self or anything separate from anything else, and we also allow ourselves to be fully human. There is a fluidity, freedom and fullness in this – and there is also no endpoint – it is a continous process of fluidity, embodyment, exploration, intimacy with the many aspects of existence.