What are we to ourselves, in our own immediate experience?
We can approach this through logic or direct noticing. Only the latter is transforming, and in some cases, we may need a bit of logic before we even try noticing.
Logic and what we are
So how can we talk about it in a clear, simple, and logical way? Here is one attempt:
- We can agree that consciousness is required for any experience. Without consciousness, no experience.
- We cannot experience anything in itself, we can only experience how it happens within consciousness.
- What we experience not only happens within consciousness but as consciousness.
- To ourselves, we are this consciousness.
From this follows a few things:
- This human self happens within and as consciousness, as does the idea that we are this human self.
- To ourselves, we are awake no-thing full of the world as it appears to us.
- Since our world happens within and as what we are, it’s a seamless whole, it’s one.
And also something practical:
- Noticing this and allowing our human self to reorganize itself within it is transformative.
- All of this is an ongoing noticing and exploration.
So to ourselves, we cannot be anything else than consciousness. It’s inevitable.
We just need to notice, or think about it strictly logically.
Of course, it may be that this consciousness is dependent on this human self and that this human self in that sense is primary. But what I am talking about here is what we are to ourselves, in immediacy. (It may also be that consciousness is primary and continues before and after this human self.)
Noticing what we are
For this to be transformative, we need to notice what we are.
And as I often mention, the two easiest approaches I have found are two forms of inquiry: Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.
We can also notice it through Living Inquiries or The Work of Byron Katie, and sometimes also following long meditation or prayer practice.
Becoming like a child
For both the logic and the direct noticing, we need to become like a child.
We need to set aside, for a moment, what society has told us we are. We need to find some receptivity and curiosity. And most of all, we need to find intellectual honesty and be brutally honest with ourselves.
The true nature of what?
To ourselves, our “true nature” is this awake no-thing full of our world. It seems the most basic of what we are.
And yet, is that the true nature of all of existence?
If we are honest, we may find that we cannot really know.
To us, the world happens within and as what we are, so this inevitably seems the true nature of all of existence.
There are, at least, three possibilities:
It is possible that consciousness is dependent on this human self and that all of it goes away when this human self dies. It’s also possible that this consciousness continues before and after this human self, whether or not it’s the true nature of all of existence.
And it’s even possible that our true nature is the true nature of all of existence. That all is – to use those labels – the divine, Spirit, God, Buddha Mind, Allah, and Brahman.
Most of modern science would say the former. Mystics of most or all traditions would say the latter.
And there are some clues. Near-death experiences suggest this consciousness continues before and after this human life. Synchronicities, ESP, sensing and healing at a distance, and so on suggests that the true nature of all of existence is the same as our own true nature.