The present is always fresh. And we find ourselves as the eternal present – that in which time & space unfolds, when we come to ourselves as formless awareness, as space & awareness. That which, when we are exclusively identified with our human self appears as the context of what is, and that which we find as ourselves when we awaken to/as the Witness. From this ground, what is happening is always new, different, fresh. Sometimes shockingly so.
When I am exclusively identified with my human self, caught up in and identified with thoughts and abstractions, then just about everything seems old and stale. I have been there before. It is just the same old, unless it is dramatically different. It has to be quite remarkable to shake me out of my complacency and subtle – or less subtle – cynicism.
Last week, my partner and I had dinner with a friend. During the conversation, when she was talking, I shifted into a sincere interest in what is – in particular the smells and sights. Although I had been present prior to this as well, there was still a quite remarkable shift. The colors became more deep and vibrant. All the details of her face came out as if lit up and magnified. Everything became more alive and vibrant. It was a little shocking, and I found myself pulling back a little from it – a part of me was concerned that it would seem odd to my conversation partners.
So one of the doors into finding ourselves as the Witness is through sincere interest in what is, in the smells, sounds, sights, tastes, movements of what is. It shifts us out of being caught up in abstractions, and into ourselves as formless awareness within which it all happens.
Of course, this is exactly what is done in the many forms of mindfulness practices out there, from various forms of yoga (for instance tai chi and breema) to various forms of contemplative and meditative practices (for instance shamata).
Abstractions within the present
And when we become more familiar with ourselves as the space & awareness within which it all happens, we can also allow ourselves to be more absorbed into what happens – including abstractions. We can go into abstractions fully, yet within the present. Within ourselves as formless awareness, inseparable from the content.
Coming to what is, as it is, with no “I” anywhere, there is even more fluidity. Here, there is a freedom to become absorbed into anything arising, within the context of the ground and as the ground. There is just this eternal present within which and as which space & time unfolds, and an absorption into any aspect of what is.
There is the fluidity of absorption into emptiness, into abstractions, into movement, into smells, into sensations and so on. One aspect comes to the foreground and the rest goes into the background.