Even identification as “spiritual” things such as awareness, Spirit, oneness, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman etc. actually involve body identification. Any identification requires sensations associated with images and words, so it is a form of body identification. For instance, when I explore “awareness” or “I am awareness” I find an image of awareness connected with subtle sensations in my head, and also other imaginations and sensations making up my experience of awareness or being awareness. Any identification involves body identification, also when it’s a “spiritual” type identification.
– from a previous post
To rest or abide as awareness means to feel what awareness feels like. Of course, awareness is not itself a feeling, but it elicits a particular feeling tone or presence. It is a bit like asking someone what the sun feels like on their skin. The sun is not itself a feeling but it gives off warmth that you can feel.
In the same manner, awareness elicits subtle feeling tones in and around the body that are sometimes called presence, openness, stillness, silence, or intimacy. To abide as awareness means to take note of these subtle feeling tones of awareness, to rest in the feeling and experience of them. This can draw you more deeply into the core of your being, the realization of which can only come by grace, which means spontaneously.
Yes, and it’s the first step. As this becomes more familiar and a new habit, there is another step: notice that these feelings are sensations, and also notice which images and words are associated with it. Then, we can recognize more clearly that everything is already resting as awareness, independent of content and independent of any particular feeling.
For me, in my immediate experience, the body is part of the mind.
My body is part of my mind since it’s happening within and as awareness. All bodies, and any experience, is like that.
Also, anything I think I know about “the body” is created by the mind, by stories, by sensations and an overlay of images and words.
In both of these ways, the body is part of the mind.
So if I say my body tells me….., or my body feels….., I really mean my mind.
My body tells me….. –> My mind tells me…..
When someone asks me how I am doing, it’s not always easy to give a simple answer.
The reality is that any moment is very rich.
What’s here now. Right now, I notice…. quiet joy, enjoyment, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, sadness, fear, dread, love, discomfort, contractions, a sense of boundlessness, and much more. It’s a bitter-sweet experience, where both ends of many polarities are included.
And when I think about any situation, it’s similar. For instance, when I think of my ex-wife, there is love there, a wish for her to do well, some regret, a twinge when I think of her with someone else, a knowing I wouldn’t want to share my life with her now, sweet memories, slightly uncomfortable memories, and much more.
Richness of views. There is also a richness of views that all co-exist. When I look at my situation now, and my history, there is a wide range of views that all have some validity. I can find tragedy in missed opportunities. I can find privilege. I can find adventure. I can find mistakes and poor judgment. I can see it through a “spiritual” story of opening, initial awakening, dark nights, and situations perfectly set up to further the deepening. I can see it as a moving story of the hopes, failures, achievements, and losses of a typical human being. And again much more.
There is always one more facet of my experience here and now I can notice. There is always one more view that makes sense and has some validity.
Happening within what I am, and reflecting who I am. Taking a slightly different angle, I see that my field of experience – as it is now – is what I am. It’s all happening within and as what I am. It’s the richness of what I am now. And from yet another angle, I see that any quality or characteristics I see “out there” in others or the wider world, is something I can find in myself. I wouldn’t recognize it “out there” unless I already knew it from my own experience and who I am. In that sense, there is an immense – and very real – richness to who I am, if I only look and see.
Awareness, love, ground. It’s equally true that I can find where everything is awareness, love, form, and ground.
The awareness, love, intelligence is here, and it seems I can find it whenever I look. Whatever happens, this field of experience, is awareness, love, intelligence. Or, at least, those are the words that seem to fit the best.
The content of experience is here, as described above, including quiet joy, sadness, satisfaction, slight discomfort and more. And I can find a similar content of experience whenever I look. This happens within and as awareness.
At the same time, there seems to be a “ground” (void) here that awareness and its content happens within and as. And that too seems to be here whenever I look. This is perhaps what it’s most difficult to find an appropriate word for. It’s a nothingness that allows for awareness and the content of awareness. And it seems surprisingly tangible?
When I say that “everything” happens within this, that “everything” includes any sense of a me or I. That too happens within what a thought may call awareness, love, form, ground. It happens within what “I” really am. In a sense, there is one “I” that all this happens within and as, and another “I” or “me” that happens within this (the human self, sometimes an apparent doer, observer etc.). And really, all of these – awareness, love, intelligence, form, ground – seem all facets of the same.
It’s interesting how we can have an idea of awareness as somehow separate from its content, so we can imagine – and feel and experience – that we are resting as awareness, split off from or distant from its content, and use that as a way to avoid feeling what’s here. We don’t recognize that we attach to an idea. We also may not recognize that awareness is its content. Whatever is here – feelings and all – is awareness.
More subtly, we may genuinely rest with and as what’s here, although with the intention of using it to not feel whatever uncomfortable feelings are here. We may bring attention away from the uncomfortable feelings, and do it in a slightly compulsive way.
Again, nothing is wrong here. It’s perhaps even natural to have a phase like this, or to dip into it now and then. And it’s good to notice. And perhaps inquire into.
Can I find…. Awareness. A boundary between awareness and this uncomfortable feeling? The threat in feeling this feeling? The feeling itself? Someone afraid to feel it? How do these appear in images, words, and sensations? Can I find any of them outside of these images, words, and sensations? Are these images, words, and sensations “it”, what I am looking for?
This can lead to a more relaxed resting. A resting with what’s here as it is, including any (initially uncomfortable) feelings. I can rest with it. Feel. Allow.
At some point in the process, it can be helpful to notice all as awareness.
This sound, this image, this word, this sensation, it’s all awareness.
It happens within and as awareness.
Even what seems most solid to me – this tension, contraction, discomfort – is awareness.
When I look for something that looks real and solid (Living Inquiries), and it’s unfindable to me, it’s often easier to notice this.
It may seem that the images, words, and sensations themselves are real and solid, so I can look for them. And it may seem that awareness is a “thing” so I can look for that too.
Whose stuff is it?
When something appears in my awareness, perhaps something that feels uncomfortable, where does it come from? Is it all mine? Mine or yours? Humanity’s? Does it matter?
For me, it’s a yes to the three first and mostly no on the last.
It’s all mine. (a) It’s all happening in my world. It’s all happening within my awareness. It’s all happening as what I am here and now.
(b) It’s all reflecting what’s here in me. If I recognize it “out there” it’s because I know it from myself. It’s reminding me of what’s here in me, in my human self.
So it’s all mine as (a) what I am, that which all happens within and as for me, and (b) who I am, this human self.
It’s mine or yours. Some of it seems more clearly mine. It’s familiar to me. It’s from my own background, my own history. It’s familiar hangups, wounds, traumas. Some of it may seem more like yours. It’s familiar to you.
This is how we conventionally differentiate between mine and yours, and it can be quite helpful in some situations. It can, for instance, be used to prioritize.
And it’s all differentiated by my thoughts, somewhat arbitrarily, and based on my own assumptions. (And perhaps even fearful or wishful thinking, in an attempt to uphold a fearful or wishful identity for myself.)
It’s all of humanity’s. The more I am familiar with the dynamics in me, and also in others, I see it’s all quite universal. It belongs to humanity. It’s shared, and also personal since it appears here in me.
Does it matter? Not really, most of the time. If it’s here, I can take care of it. Can I find love for it? What do I find when I examine the beliefs responding to what’s here? Or even creating it? What do I find when I try to find the threat, or the deficient self, or the compulsion?
This is a commonly recognized analogy.
In modern physics, they discovered that what initially appears solid is really mostly space, and looking even more closely, even the “particles” are really energy and also space. It’s all space.
When I look, I find the same in my own experience, as so many have before me, and so many do these days too. My field of experience is mostly space. Images, words, sensations, sounds, taste, smell all happen within space. Space with no findable end.
When I look more closely, even these – the images, words, sensations, sounds etc. – have space within them, and are space. It’s all space.
More accurately, it’s all awareness, and space, and appearances within and as – made up of – awareness and space.
It can be very helpful to notice this. Especially for appearances that at first appear quite solid, such as strong emotions, or physical pain, or contractions, or suffering, or seeking, or neediness, or a sense of me or I. Anything identified with will, at first, tend to appear quite solid. And when I look, I notice the space around it, and the space within it, and even the space (awareness) making it up.
Some people take this analogy quite literally and make it into something solid (!). I find it more helpful to see it as an analogy.
Even this analogy can be noticed as happening within space, with space within, and as space.
I went to a talk at Spirit Rock tonight, and the teacher mentioned that it doesn’t matter so much what the attention is on as long as we are aware of what it’s on.
It reminded me of bi-directional attention, which has been interesting to me since the initial opening.
Attention can be on something within content, within form, an image, a word, sensations, taste, smell and so on.
Attention can also be on awareness itself. It can be on content of experience as awareness itself.
It’s not really bi-directional. I notice I wrote that since that’s how I thought of it back then.
Now, it’s more just a noticing of form, and awareness as – or making up, or constituting – that form. I can feel a sensation. Notice the space within and around it. And notice it all as awareness. And the same with an image. A word. A sound. Taste. Smell.
I can also explore what seems the most as “me” or “I”, and notice that too as sensations, images, perhaps words. Feel the sensations. Look at the images, words. Notice the space within and around it. Rest with it. Notice all as awareness. Rest with it.
This is a form of mindfulness that makes sense of me.
When I write what and who we are here, I mean something quite specific.
What I am is that which my whole field of experience – as it is here and now – happens within and as. It’s what I sometimes call awareness, or love, or even Spirit. It’s all there is, in experience, here and now. It’s always here, since it’s what I am. It’s very obvious. It’s very mundane. It’s easily overlooked that that’s what I am. And when that awakens to, or notices, itself it’s sometimes called awakening. That can seem quite extraordinary at first, and then that too becomes quite ordinary in a good way. (That’s why I tend to not use words like Spirit, or Brahman, or other fanciful words, since it often appears much simpler than that. Those words can be a little misleading.)
Who I am is part of content of experience. It’s this human self. It’s the emotions, thoughts, body, life of this human self. It’s the idea of a me or an I. It’s the idea of an observer, or doer. It doesn’t really have fixed boundaries, since it’s what a thought says is me, or I, or who I am. The boundary is somewhat flexible and fluid.
The wider world is the rest of content of experience. It’s what a thought says is “other” in a conventional sense. This boundary is also somewhat flexible and fluid, and can be experienced as more or less solid, more or less real. (It isn’t really real, since it’s created by thought as a way to navigate in the world.)
Who I am, and the wider world, is what makes up content of experience. And that happens within and as what I am. It happens within and as awareness. Within and as love. Within and as Spirit.
These can be seen as two, or three, or one. It all depends on how we decide to talk about it, and where we decide to draw imagined boundaries.
And the boundaries can be experienced as solid and real, or ephemeral, or just a thought with no substance beyond that. That depends on how clearly it’s seen, and even felt. It depends on how much “velcro” is stuck to those ideas. How much associated sensations seem “stuck” onto the words and images creating the boundaries.
When the associated sensations seem stuck onto the boundary images and words, the boundaries can seem quite real. When the sensations are felt as sensations, the images recognized as images, and the words recognized as words, the boundary images and words are recognized as just an imagined overlay, which has a practical function only. It’s not “real” beyond that, but it does help us navigate in the world, and communicate.
Oneness can also be understood in different ways.
One is the very immediate and practical oneness, where this field of awareness-experience is recognized as one. (Any ideas or even experiences of being a separate self is recognized as happening within this field, as any other content of experience.) The world is one, since it’s all recognized as happening within this field of awareness.
Another is the oneness of the world as a whole “out there”. (I realize that this distinction may seem subtle, or even unnecessary, but I find it helpful to differentiate this from the first one.) The world is one, and Spirit, or God, and I see that partly because of immediate experience, and partly through synchronicities, ESP, and more.
A third, which can be part of the previous one, is the oneness of the world as described by science. The universe was one field of energy at the Big Bang, and this field of energy partly condensed down into simple particles, which then condensed into heavier elements. We – and everything – has the same origin. We are quite literally star dust, as is the Earth as a whole. The Earth and the Universe is one seamless system.
Awakening is when what I am notices itself. This is an initial awakening, and it can also happen regularly and on a more ongoing basis. This noticing and recognition can clarify and become more stable. And who I am, this human self, can – and will? – reorganize within this recognition. It’s invited to heal and mature within this recognition, and align with it. That’s an ongoing process, and it doesn’t “end” as long as this human self is around.
Awakening then has three aspects. One is the initial recognition. Another is an ongoing clarification and “stabilization” of this recognition. And the third is the reorganization of our human self within this recognition.
All of them are ongoing. The awakening is here and now. The recognition and noticing is here and now. The reorganization within it is here and now.
There is no “end point”. Any idea of an end point happens here and now, within this.
This awakening doesn’t exclude or eliminate the full range of human experience. It doesn’t preclude sadness, grief, pain, anger, joy, hangups, wounds, trauma, or anything else that’s part of the human experience. What we are already allows the full range of human experience, although it often happens without us being conscious of it, and we may be in conscious opposition to it.
Awakening also allows the full range of human experience (since nothing else is possible), but there is now a conscious recognition of it, and often a more conscious alignment with it.
We are still very much human. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. We make mistakes. We have a limited understanding and perspective. We have our preferences and likes and dislikes. We make assumptions. We give bad advice. We don’t know how to do any number of things. Our understanding is faulty.
So there is a full allowing of any experience, as it always is, although now recognized more clearly, and perhaps aligned with more consciously. We experience the full range of human emotions and experiences. And there is an invitation for a healing, maturing, and reorganization within this. Things do change for our human self when awareness recognizes itself, and itself as this field of experience.
Some ways of relating to deficient selves:
(1) You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love. (I need your strength.)
(2) Notice how it’s made up of images, thoughts, emotions, sensations. For each of these, I see that what I am, fundamentally, as that which doesn’t come and go, is not that.
(3) Inquire into these images and thoughts, see what’s more true for me.
(4) Notice it’s love, it’s devoted to me, there to protect me. (And it’s strategy may be innocently misguided.)
(5) Notice it’s love, awareness, presence. It’s no different from anything else, including any appearances of a me or I it’s happening to or that’s noticing. It’s all happening as awareness, love, presence.
(6) Dialog with it. (i) Ask it for it’s wisdom. What would you like to share with me? How would you like me to relate to you? What can you contribute to my life? (ii) Ask it for it’s fears. What do you fear? (These can be taken to inquiry.)
It’s all about noticing what’s already here. It’s here to protect me. It’s devoted to me. It’s love. It’s strategy may be innocently misguided. It’s made up of images, thoughts, emotions and sensations. What I am – fundamentally, as that which doesn’t come and go – is not this deficient self or it’s components. It has genuine wisdom to share with me. And it has fears to share with me, which can be taken to inquiry to find what’s more true.
All of the traditions that came out of India – Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism – center on the idea of reincarnation. This is just as fundamental to Indian mythological thinking as our idea of Judgment, Heaven, and Hell is to our tradition. The notion is that the soul – what I will call the reincarnating monad – puts on bodies and takes them off, over and over again, as a person puts on and removes clothing.
– Joseph Campbell
There is an appearance of a human self here. There may also be the appearance of a soul – an alive presence, personal and impersonal, infinitely wise and kind (and this soul may reincarnate in other bodies after this one, or not). And there is identification with (or as) this human self, with this soul, or a softening and release of this identification. It’s all reality appearing as a human self, a soul, identification or softening/absence of identification. It’s all the play of reality.
Two ways of using the phrase awake to itself…..
These are very simple when recognized, and very difficult to talk about.
First, anything happening in experience is already awake to itself as form. Something happens, and it is awake to itself as form where it is.
(Only a trick of the mind makes it appear otherwise. There is a mental image of an observer, usually located in the head area. Another image or story that makes it appear that awareness only belongs to this image of an observer. And yet another image or story of this observer being aware of what is happening in experience.
Since the observer gestalt is identified with, it is not recognized as form, as content of experience as any other content of experience. The doer and observer gestalts become the eyeball that cannot see itself. And form is not recognized as awareness since awareness is interpreted as belonging only to the observer.)
The other meaning of awake to itself is that what we are can be awake to itself as ground. Identification is released out of the doer and observer gestalts since all is recognized as already awake to itself where it is, since doing and observing is recognized as happening on their own without any doer or observer, and the doer and observer gestalts are recognized as content of experience as any other content of experience.
When form is not recognized as already awake to itself, what we are is not awake to itself either. Awareness is interpreted to belong to the observer image, and the observer image is not recognized as simply another content of experience.
And when what we are is awake to itself, form is recognized as already awake to itself.
My wife had a recent shift into recognizing all as happening within awareness, as awareness, and being the same or neutral. (One taste, as they call it.)
It reminded me of how this can have three distinct flavors for me:
There are two distinct forms of clarity.
First, the clarity inherent in awareness itself. The clarity of awareness, independent of its content. Dullness, confusion, contraction, spaciousness, bliss, mental clarity or anything else, it doesn’t matter. There is a sense of everything happening, happening within and as clarity. Stainless. Shiny. Clear as space itself.
This clarity is a given so it is easy to overlook. And it is difficult to talk about, partly since it is so familiar, so inherent in awareness itself, and because it somehow hovers on that border between what is content of experience and not.
Then, there is the more conventional form of clarity: mental clarity. The opposite of dullness or confusion, and very much within content of awareness and experience. It is the clarity of thought that is there when the body-mind functions well.
Since these two are independent, it can be interesting to explore how even within mental dullness and confusion, the clarity inherent in awareness itself is right there, as much as any other time.
The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.
– Meister Eckhart, Qui audit me
And which eye is that? This squishy eyeball?
No, it is the eye of awareness. The single eye…
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
– Matthew 6:22
… that never sleeps.
If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease.
– Seng Ts’an, Hsin Hsin Ming
Awareness is the eye that sees God – as awareness itself and all that happens within, to and as it. And it is the eye that sees our human self – happening within, to and as awareness as all other form.
It is the single eye and when it notices itself, all becomes luminous… and not only metaphorically. There is an immediate sense of luminosity of this body and all form. A luminosity of Ground, awareness and whatever happens within, to and as awareness.
It is the eye that, when it notices itself, never sleeps. Never gets lost in its own content. Dreams of an I with an Other, and belief in any other story, cease.
I am in Antarctica with my wife and a group of other people in their twenties and thirties. We ice skate, kayak, row in inflatable boats, swim in dry suits, and overall have a great deal of fun. There is a sense of being completely at home in this clear, brilliant, stark and immensely beautiful place on earth.
We are here together for a few weeks before heading home, and I realize that I would like to stop over and experience the deserts in Australia on my way home to Norway.
I help one guy with his skates, and I notice he is buoyant somehow. It turns out that there is an anti-gravity effect around him, which helps him in his professional ice skating.
A quick look at death and what continues…
First the obvious one: Our human self, with its personality and quirks, dies. It is gone forever. At most, some of its influences on others and society continues for a while, but then that is gone too.
And another one, which takes a bit of looking: What we are, this awakeness that all form unfolds within, to and as, is free from form, space & time. It is that which form, time and space unfolds within and as. It is always and already here, whether it notices itself or not (temporarily taking itself to be a portion of its own content). This one is not “personal”, it does not seem dependent on this human self. It is existence itself, temporarily functionally connected to a particular human self.
As Big Mind, that which goes beyond and embraces all polarities, it continues on independent of any individual self. Or rather, it continues to allow form to unfold within and as itself.
Finally, maybe the least obvious one: Our soul self. This alive presence. This one that is not quite personal and not quite impersonal. Not quite in time and not quite outside of time. Not quite located in space, and not quite outside of space. This too is content of awareness, so it is possible to either identify with it and make it into an “I”, or see and appreciate it as just content, similar to the human self. If something continues on an “individual” level, and if there is a vehicle for – for instance – rebirth, it seems that this could be it.
(And finding myself as awakeness, it doesn’t quite matter. Continuing or not are just two different flavors of awakeness itself, two flavors of experience.)
Two general ways the word consciousness can be used…
First, as awareness and its content, recognized as no other than awareness itself. This awake void arises as form, it allows yet is inherently free from any and all forms. It is also inherently and already free from any sense of I and Other, which only comes through making stories something more than just thoughts. This is Big Mind, Spirit, Brahman, whether it is awake to itself or not.
Then, filtered through beliefs in different ways.
For instance, we can filter out pure awareness from its content, and call this pure awareness consciousness. Seeing is consciousness, but not the seen.
Or we can use consciousness to refer to awareness and its content, but just a region of its content. For instance, it can mean a combination of awareness and what is inside the boundary of the psyche, such as thoughts, feelings and so on.
This last version is also the most common one. After all, it reflects how it appears when we believe in the story of a separate self. Interestingly, it is also the one that is most contrived, forced and arbitrary, since it is filtered through the most layers of stories.
Science fiction is great for nudging us into questioning our assumptions and ask ourselves questions we didn’t realize we had.
One of these questions is what is a person? And the next question: who, or what, am I?
The Tuvix episode of Star Trek Voyager brings these questions up when Neelix and Tuvok, through a transporter accident, becomes one person, Tuvix. When the doctor finds a way to bring Neelix and Tuvok back, it brings up questions of the rights of this new person, and also of the two he is made up of. Is it OK to “kill” Tuvix so Neelix and Tuvok can come back? Is he a person in his own right? What about the rights of Neelix and Tuvok to live? Where did Tuvok and Neelix go? Where did Tuvix go after Tuvok and Neelix came back?
Other Star Trek episodes also explores this question, for instance when a duplicate of Riker is found, and when the whole crew of Voyager is duplicated by a sentient ocean.
It all brings us back to the underlying questions: What does it mean to be an individual. Who, or what, are we really?
From the view of the unmanifest and manifest, of awakeness and its content, the basics of this is not so difficult. The awakeness or awareness is always the same, just pure awareness. But the content change. First it is Neelix and Tuvok, separately. Then a new person called Tuvix, and then back to Neelix and Tuvok separately. And whatever memories and traits are transmitted through these transitions are transmitted through the world of form, through whatever memory patterns and traits continued through the transitions.
If Neelix took himself to be Neelix, a portion of the content of awareness, then he would experience himself as dying in the transition, or at least being mixed up with another person. And if Tuvix took himself to be Tuvix, he would experience the transition back to Neelix and Tuvok as a death, or possibly as continuing only as a memory within Neelix and Tuvok.
But, if awareness was awake to itself in both Neelix and Tuvok, it would look a little differently. Awareness is awake to itself as awareness, independent of its content, and realizing its own content as itself. First, there is Neelix, then Tuvix, and then Neelix again, a little changed. Or Tuvok, then Tuvix, and then Tuvok again, also a little changed. But all of this happens within and as awakeness itself. It all has the same basic identity as awakeness.
There is no “I” inherent in either of them, only the play of awakeness itself, manifesting in always new and different ways as it always does.
There are (at least) two main ways of relating to distractions, especially in the context of any form of body-centered, psychological or spiritual exploration.
One is to see distraction as a distraction, and bring attention back to wherever the practice tells us it is supposed to be. This can be helpful in its own way, although can also easily become a subtle battle and create an I-Other split (I as stable attention and the belief that stable attention is desirable, and Other as distraction.)
Another is to work with distraction, see how it is a gift, and follow its invitation for exploration. When attention is distracted, it is only because a story comes up that is seen as juicy, charged, and is believed in. Distraction is then a very valuable sign post, pointing directly to a belief. So we can take its invitation, allow it to go to the belief, become more conscious of the belief, take it to inquiry, and also be with whatever emotions it trigger in a heartfelt way. In that way, distraction becomes a precious teacher and pointer.
The first approach has its benefits in encouraging mindfulness and stable attention, but it also does have an element of struggle and working against the grain. Distraction very easily appears as a disturbance, an Other.
The second is in many ways a far more skillful approach, going to the root of what is behind distraction, investigating it, and allowing it to fall away. Here, distraction becomes a support.
In the absence of a belief in a story, there is no draw for attention to go to the inside of the story and be absorbed into it (unless it has a practical purpose, for this human self in the world). It arises as anything else, is recognized as a thought, and is free to live its own life, which is brief when it is not fueled by beliefs. It arises within the naturally clear awareness, as as a brief form of awareness itself.
Just as this human self falls asleep, and wakes up, some of the layers of how we are put together are revealed.
As I sometimes listen to radio before falling asleep, it is especially noticeable.
The three clear shifts I notice, over and over, are…
- Voice and understanding (regular awake functioning)
- Voice but no analysis
- Voice, and any other sensory input, fading out
And the reverse as I wake up, where the fading in of sensory input is most noticeable.
Each of these shifts are relative sudden, happening over maybe just a second or so, and a very clear shift – from understanding to just the sound without understanding, and then the fading of sensory input to an absence of these. For the sounds, it is just as a relative quick volume fading, from normal volume to zero, and then up again to normal as this human self wakes up again.
This helps me see how much energy goes into analyzing and making sense of input. At some point in falling asleep, this energy and attention is just not available anymore, and the sensory input remain but with no analyzing of it at any level. They are just sounds, but not even known as sounds. There is not even the most basic level of analyzing, such as adding labels of sound, voice and so on. Just the pure input and awareness.
It also helps me notice awareness as distinct from its content. First, the thinking mind falls away. Then sensory input themselves fall away, fading into an absence of any input. But even then, there is awareness that this takes place within (and as). The awareness remains as the thinking mind fades out, and it also remains as sensory input fades out.
Sometimes, it goes out with the thinking mind, or with the sensory input.
Other times, it remains as those two goes out, and then itself goes out a little later.
And some other times, it remains throughout the night, even through the dreamless sleep phases, without any content apart from itself as pure awareness.
When awareness experiences its own nature, it sees itself as empty of any characteristics. In words, the closest we may be able to come is to describe it as clear spacious awareness, void, deep silence, etc.
When it is exclusively identified with (or temporarily blindly caught up in) the small self – the body, emotions, thoughts and the habitual processes of this small self – there is a case of mistaken identity. And this has a cascading set of consequences.
- Awareness has its base, its center of gravity, in the body and personality. It percieves the world from this base, and experiences a strong separation between the body/personality and the rest of the world.
- Awareness then functions in a dualistic way, differentiating well while overlooking the fluid seamless whole.
- It perceives absolute – or mostly absolute – boundaries between self and other, body and mind, earth and humans, creator and creation, right and wrong, etc.
- It perceives itself – as the small self – as one little object in a world of a large number of unpredictable objects. This leads to fear, power-over, accumulation, etc.
- Biologically, the small self is programmed for aversions and attractions – this is what helps the individuals and the species to survive and evolve.
- Awareness gets blindly caught up in these attractions and aversions, and adds a set of thoughts, values and ideologies to go with these attractions and aversions.
- One end of most or all polarities is then seen as “good” while the other is “bad” or “evil”.
- Whatever arises – in the inner or outer world – that does not match this ideology is either repressed or done away with.
- The perception of the inner and outer world is fragmented.
- Awareness is blindly caught up in – and believes – in thoughts. And there is inevitable discrepancies between the inner/outer situation and these thoughts.
- This all causes suffering.
When awareness awakens to its own nature, it has found a “ground” distinct from the small self. From here, it can see all phenomena – in the outer and the inner world – as aspects of a seamless whole. It now functions more transdually. And this has a cascading set of consequences as well…
- The awakening to the nature of mind can unfold into various degrees of awakening into Big Mind, that which is beyond all dualities. When it awakens to Big Mind, its “ground” or center of gravity encompasses the absolute and the relative, the nature of mind and the world of phenomena.
- There is a softening and less blind attachment to the small self and the habitual processes of the small self, they seem less important. There is a sense of overview, detachment and perspective. This opens up for choices beyond habitual patterns and the habitual likes and dislikes of the small self.
- The small self is seen as a vehicle for the nature of mind or for Big Mind. There is an enjoyment of all levels of the holarchy, of all the russian dolls – from the nature of mind to the body. There is a new enjoyment of engagement in the world, and a freedom to be more fully and wholeheartedly engaged in everyday life.
- The awareness of distinctions as well as the fluid seamless whole opens for spontaneous… Joy – from a sense of belonging and connection, compassion – from no separation, humility – from clear(er) perception, gratitude – from belonging to such a rich Existence.
- There is a spontaneous wisdom that comes up, especially concerning the differences between being a small self or having a small self. The first comes out of exclusive identification, and brings dualistic perceptions. The other comes out of recognizing the nature of awareness, and brings transdual perception.
- The recognition of no separation brings power-with, and an appreciation of flow in all areas of life.
- There is a resting in the clear spacious awareness, and a detachment of thoughts. This also leads to a more fluid and porous self-identity, which allows anything arising to be more fully experienced.