I, Awareness, cannot be enlightened. I am already the light that illumines all experience. Nor can a separate self be enlightened for when the separate self faces the light, it vanishes, just as does a shadow when exposed to the sun.
— Rupert Spira
(image source: Guillem Marí)
What is the Self? Countless people have asked themselves this question and there have been numberless answers. But as these answers have all been observations expressed in words. What does that mean? All answers on the question “What is the Self?”, when formulated in words can only be from the relative point of view, from a dualistic point of view. It can only describe an object from the point of view of the subject. It is not by an intellectual, empirical and dual approach that the Self can be revealed. But the Self is that through which all is known. It is similar to the eye that can see the manyfold appearances but it cannot see itself. It can see itself as a reflection in a mirror but it can never see itself directly.
This example can be found in the story about the tenth man. Although this story might seem very simple with nothing really interesting to tell us, it is really quiet profound when put into the good context with some understanding.
There were ten men travelling to a very distant village. On their way they encountered a river they were obliged to cross. As the river had a strong current, they decided to join their hands to cross it. But on their way they lost their footing and they had to swim on the other side. Later, on the opposite bank they reassembled and decided to check if everybody had crossed the water. Each started to count the number of men who have arrived and they could only find nine. They concluded that one of them must have drowned and they were bemoaning their loss. Meanwhile a monk passed by and asked them what had happened. They explained their story to the monk, who quickly recognized their mistake. He asked them to line up and count aloud their number as he passed by and hit each of them with a stick on the shoulder. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… At the end, as he hits the last man and this one calls aloud ‘ten’, they thus realized that they were ten. What had happened is that each man had counted the others and forgot to count himself.
This story illustrates well how the Self is always there but it happens to be overlooked. We cannot see it as the eye cannot see itself. Every attempt to see it will fail as the mind will try to grasp the Self as an object. It is only by turning inward and resting on the thought “I am” that the thoughts, the mind, will be dissolved and eventually our essential Nature, the Self, pure Awareness could be revealed.
Tempus Fugit… Time flies… When I watch the date of my latest post I must admit that my writing becomes very rare these times. Being too much involved into mundane concerns I find my blog standing still. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once said “God never forsakes one who has surrendered.” These days I work very hard to acquire some knowledge to help people in most difficult mental situations. We are the world that we have created and we are the only ones that can change ourselves and hence, change the world. The change is not out there. It is not in time or in space. It is in this present moment, in this precious moment… Have you ever found a solution in the future or in the past? Where is the solution to our problems? If you go deep into it you might say that the solution is always in the present now. But what is the size of this present NOW? Can we measure it? Is it a second, or a fraction of a second, or may be a fraction of a fraction of a second? We can continue like that endlessly, dividing this fraction into new fractions and still we will find a lapse of “time” with a beginning and an end. How tiny is then NOW? Is it measurable? If you really go very deep into that question you might discover that NOW is beyond time, immeasurable… infinity. It is the gate to love, compassion and empathy as it destroys all distance. In NOW there is no space anymore. Time and space always come together. Empathy occurs only if we listen with our whole being. It is not listening that is in the ears, neither the understanding of listening that is in the mind. It is the direct reflection of what is here right now in our awareness. There is not the tiniest amount of space possible between awareness and its content. We create that space in time with our preconceived ideas and judgments. Empathy and compassion occurs when there is no space and hence no time; in this precious, vast, infinite present moment that is the NOW.
— Personal reflections
Going out in the world as an individual and visiting an abandoned house gives me the sensation that I am close to those objects outside of me. I can touch them, I can smell them, I can see them and I can hear the noises around me. But what does the perceiver really perceive. Are the perceptions and sensations my body and sense organs deliver, really the world that is there, outside of me? Where do these perceptions and sensations really appear? Where do they come from? What makes me perceive something as beautiful that somebody else perceives as ugly? Is it me that creates this world or am I only perceiving the world? Am I the world that I create? Who am I?
I am the screen and the film projected on it. As long as I know that I am the screen and the film, I know that I am the perceiver and the perceived, hence I don’t “know” anymore. As soon as I forget the screen and believe the manyfold appearances on the screen to be different from me, I start to name them, to like them or to dislike them. My vision gets veiled and I fall into the confusion called ignorance of the true self. With that ignorance rises all the suffering inherent to that wrong belief of a world outside of me, apart from me. At the same time the belief that I am a body or I am a mind comes into being. Both, the belief of an outside world and the belief that I am a body and/or a mind always come into being together bringing about all the thoughts and hence the suffering inherent to that illusion. This illusion brings about distance, it brings about suffering, it brings about all negative emotions like attachment, aversion, pride and jealousy. But, behind this illusion is a pristine unborn, unchanging consciousness that has never been affected neither by the illusionary outside world of thoughts, neither by the suffering the thoughts generate themselves. It is the ‘I’-thought that separates itself and creates this world of suffering because it has forgotten its true nature and believes itself to be the body and/or the mind. It has forgotten that it is the screen and the scenery playing so beautifully on it. And it is only in moments of beauty and love that the veil opens a little bit, like the clouds sometimes open up and make visible the ever present and pristine sky unaffected by them. Be-ing… is meditation, is awareness. It is not awareness of something. There is nothing to be aware of. As soon as there is something to be aware of, there is ignorance of the true self. The true self IS pure pristine awareness. It is the screen and the film. The screen has no limits. It is vast radiant space, unborn, limitless and indescribable. How can we find the screen? We can only find the screen if we do not search for it. If the mind searches it, it is damned to never find it. Because the mind is thought and always arises in duality. Atman, which is Brahman, is beyond duality and can never be found as something, as an object of perception or thought. It unveils in pure pristine awareness, which is meditation, oneness, which is love and beauty in its purest essence.
(Please let me know if you find some errors or misinterpretations in my text. English is not my mother language and I do my best efforts to be clear, but I guess that sometimes I make mistakes or use words in wrong contexts. Thank you for reading my blog.)
Don’t think that only sitting with the eyes closed is practice. If you do think this way, then quickly change your thinking. Steady practice is keeping mindful in every posture, whether sitting, walking, standing or lying down. When coming out of sitting, don’t think that you’re coming out of meditation, but that you are only changing postures. If you reflect in this way, you will have peace. Wherever you are, you will have this attitude of practice with you constantly. You will have a steady awareness within yourself.
— Ajahn Chah
(image source: http://www.yamashitariki.com)
Thich Nhat Hanh
Let us be at peace with our bodies and our minds.
Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves.
Let us be aware of the source of being,
common to us all and to all living things.
Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion,
let us fill our hearts with our own compassion—
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be
the cause of suffering to each other.
With humility, with awareness of the existence of life,
and of the suffering that are going on around us,
let us practice the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth.
— Thich Nhat Hanh – in Singing The Living Tradition – #505
(image source: viewonbuddhism.org)
It is only through silent awareness that our physical and mental nature can change. This change is completely spontaneous. If we make an effort to change we do no more than shift our attention from one level, from one thing, to another. We remain in a vicious circle. This only transfers energy from one point to another. It still leaves us oscillating between suffering and pleasure, each leading inevitably back to the other. Only living stillness, stillness without someone trying to be still, is capable of undoing the conditioning our biologoical, emotional and psychological nature has undergone. There is no controller, no selector, no personality making choices. In choiceless living the situation is given the freedom to unfold. You do not grasp one aspect over another for there is nobody to grasp. When you understand something and live it without being stuck to the formulation, what you have understood dissolves in your openness. In this silence change takes place of its own accord, the problem is resolved and duality ends. You are left in your glory where no one has understood and nothing has been understood.
— Jean Klein – I Am
(image souce: o-meditation.com)