It’s impossible to understand or grasp awareness with the mind, because the mind arises within the awareness that we are. And the mind can only understand things that arise within it. So, we cannot ‘think’ what we are, because what we are exists before thought, before emotion, before the physical form. It is the space of awareness in which all thoughts, emotions and forms arise.
So the mind can only lead us to the doorway of what we are. And when we reach that doorway, we must leave the confines of the seeking mind, and use more of a direct kinaesthetic route through the doorway, and into what we are – we must sense and feel our way into the awareness that we are.
This sensing and feeling is much easier once we have seen through the ego and its games of resistance, seeking and suffering, because we are no longer distracted by them, and no longer identified with them.
When we have stripped away everything that we are not – all the stories of ‘me’ – we discover that there is really nothing left.
I am nothing…
And yet, I’m still here.
It’s very obvious that something is still here – something conscious and aware – looking out through these eyes. It is the awareness in which the ‘self’ arises, in which all thoughts and emotions arise – all the elements that create and sustain the ego.
So what is it, that is aware and conscious?
If we explore awareness directly, we can sense and feel that it is very intimate – a fundamental part of us, and very immediate. In fact, it is so immediate – so close – that it is often overlooked completely, at least by the seeking mind, who judges it to be far too obvious, and far too simple. But it’s right here, an awareness that is conscious and alive, silently watching, right now. Awareness is how we perceive the world around us, and how we experience our physical body and senses. Without awareness, we would not exist, because awareness is the space in which everything happens. Without awareness, there would be no thing and nothing.
Awareness is impossible to describe with words, because words belong in the realm of mind, thought and emotion – which all arise within awareness. But we can do our best to convey the qualities of awareness using words as pointers – we can say that it is infinitely spacious (but doesn’t exist as a form in space), exquisitely alive (but not a life form), timeless and eternal (but always present), silent and still (but unconditionally accepting of all movement and noise that arises within it).
Awareness is part of us, and yet we happen within it, so we are both the awareness itself and that which arises within it. And as we perceive the world through awareness, rather than with the mind and its stories of polarity and separation, we can sense that the same awareness is present in everything – in every single form that arises within it.
That same awareness looks out from every pair of eyes, sighs through every forest branch, unfolds in every petal, and whispers through every feathered wing. Everything we ever see, hear, touch, taste and encounter – it all arises within the same awareness. It’s all one and the same – different forms, crafted from the same formless clay of life.
What do we see, if we perceive the world through awareness, rather than through ego and its stories?
If we look at everyone around us, we see that same awareness reflected back at us from each person we encounter. There is nothing dividing or separating us – we are each other – because we are the same awareness, in which all of life is expressed. We are part of that same oneness, expressing itself as different forms. And that same awareness is not just in other people, but in everything around us – gracefully weaving itself into all the forms of each new moment.
Awareness is the creator and witness of life, as well as all life forms, and as we realise this, we understand the true meaning of oneness, of wholeness.
And how can that wholeness be anything other than unconditional, deeply accepting, and embodying love as its creative force?
With this insight, we experience a glimpse of the unconditional love, acceptance, wholeness and fulfilment that we’ve been seeking all our life, and we touch upon the absolute truth that we already are what we have always been seeking.
As we plunge even deeper into awareness, we also discover that it is a quality of unknowingness, a mystery, which cannot really be named or identified at all. To live in such a state of unknowing, without the mind’s scaffolding of labels and beliefs, is extremely terrifying to the mind. But as we move beyond identification with the mind and ego, we can sense the freedom that comes with this unknowingness.
All we can really say about awareness, is that awareness simply is. It’s not something we can ever understand.
Likewise, awareness is not something we can ever ‘have’. Awareness is what we are. It is the conscious space in which everything arises. It is the silent witness to the grand theatre of our entire life. It is the absolute creator, the architect of life, the life force, and all life forms… nothingness, becoming everything.
We don’t need to understand awareness or try to ‘get’ it. All we need to do is stop, at any moment, and pay attention… feel and sense our way into the awareness that we are, and embody the profoundly beautiful and perfect mystery… of awareness, conscious and alive, becoming aware of itself.