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)
The Known, the Knower and Knowing
From the Known to the Knower
Thought considers Me to be a separate self, born into a world, moving around in space and time and destined one day to disappear. As such thought considers Me an object, a mixture of thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions, sharing their limits and destiny.
In this way thought overlooks My essential nature and considers Me a body/mind – a man or woman, tall, short, hungry, sad, happy, intelligent, twenty five years old, etc. – that knows or experiences objects, others and the world. However, one simple look at experience shows that I know the body/mind just as I know the world. I am the Knower of experience; the body/mind is known.
Qualities of the Knower
I know thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions but am not Myself made out of thought, feeling, sensation or perception and am therefore said to be empty, silent, transparent. I am present and aware and therefore known as Awareness.
As such, thought likens Me to open, empty space in which all appearances arise. Like physical space I am not affected by what does or doesn’t take place within Me and, therefore, peace is My nature. Peace is not a quality of Myself; it is Myself, ever-present under all circumstances.
Like empty space I have no agenda with appearances. It makes no difference to Me whether the mind is silent or not, whether the body is young, old, healthy or not, nor what is happening in the world. I allow all appearances unconditionally and impartially.
Thought likes and dislikes but I neither like nor dislike these likes and dislikes. Thought resists and seeks but I neither resist nor seek the end of resistance or seeking. Being empty, I do even not know resistance and am, therefore, causeless happiness itself.
Like empty space, I do not share the qualities nor the destiny of the objects that appear within Me; I do not move and change when they move and change; I do not appear nor disappear when they appear or disappear; I am not born and do not die. The body and mind are always on a journey but I never undertake the journey with them. They journey through Me but I never journey in them. I am the unchanging and ever-present Knower of all that is known.
From the Knower to Knowing
However, by thinking of Me as the Knower or the witnessing space in which all appearances arise, thought is imagining Me separate from appearances. In fact, I am more like a screen, one with and intimately pervading the image that appears on it. In fact, the image doesn’t appear on nor is it pervaded by the screen. There is no independent image present to be ‘one with’ or ‘pervaded by’ the screen. Only the screen is truly present. The screen is the appearing image. ‘Image’ is another name for screen.
Likewise, although the body, mind and world seem to exist in their own right, they owe their apparent reality to Me alone. ‘Body,’ ‘mind’ and ‘world’ are just the names and forms that thought gives to Me when I have been overlooked.
The character in a movie is only real from the viewpoint of one of the characters. The image is only real, as such, from the illusory viewpoint of the image. From the true and only viewpoint of the screen, only the screen is truly present and real. There is no real character there; there is only the screen.
Likewise, I am all that is truly present and known in all experience. All that is known of the body, mind and world is the knowing of them and I am that Knowing. It is only thought that abstracts a ‘knower’ and a ‘known,’ from the seamless intimacy of Knowing or Experiencing. However, the body, mind and world are never known or experienced as such. So we cannot say there is the knowing ‘of them,’ but rather that there is only Knowing. I am not the knowing that pervades all experience; I am the Knowing that is all experience.
Just as, relatively speaking, we do not see objects, we see only modulations of the sun’s light, so in reality we do not know objects as such, we know only modulations of Knowing. Only Knowing is truly known and it is Knowing that knows Knowing. I am and know Myself alone. This absence of distance, otherness or separation is love. True knowledge and love are identical.
The Imaginary Separate Self
It is thought that superimposes a subject and an object upon the seamless intimacy of experience thereby seemingly veiling the peace, happiness and love that lie ever-present and always available at its heart. With this apparent veiling, I seem to be lost or forgotten and, as a result, an imaginary self, made of Myself plus the belief that I share the qualities and destiny of appearances, comes into apparent existence. This imaginary inside self is always on a mission to regain the experience of peace, happiness and love that seems to have been lost when My nature is apparently veiled.
To this end the imaginary inside self undertakes a great adventure in the imaginary outside world, in time and space, without realizing that these are its own creations. Like the character in a movie who travels the world looking for the screen, the imaginary self travels the world seeking peace in circumstances, happiness in objects and love in relationships, without realizing that it is already made of the stuff for which it is in search. I am already the love with which I am longed for.
Frustrated by the inevitable failure of its search, the imaginary inside self devises all kinds of strategies such as stilling the mind, disciplining the body and shunning the world, in the hopes that I will be revealed as a result.
In time, the activity of seeking and resisting that is the separate self may, through exhaustion, frustration or intelligence, come to an end and, as a result, the peace of My true nature shines for a timeless moment as it truly is. This dissolution of the activity of seeking and resisting is the unveiling of My presence.
In fact, even that is not true. I am eternally as I am, independent of what thoughts and feelings do or say, never truly veiled by the activity of seeking and resisting. In fact, I never cease to be aware of Myself and, therefore, never really become aware of a separate self, let alone an object, other or world, as such. Therefore, the separate self is only a separate self from the imaginary viewpoint of a separate self.
From My viewpoint, which is the only real viewpoint (and which is not really a point of view) there is never any real veiling or forgetting of Myself. The entire adventure of the separate self takes place in a bubble of thought and feeling whilst all the while I am at rest in and as Myself.
Like the wave that reaches the shore and, ceasing to be wave, is revealed as ocean, so the seeking/resisting thought comes to an end and, losing its name and form, stands revealed as Myself alone. It doesn’t become Myself; it is always only that, just as wave is always only ocean. Only its temporary name and form seemed to make it something other than ocean. The fuel of all desire is already the happiness for which it seeks.
Love and Freedom
Like the moth that longs for the flame but cannot experience it, so all the separate self’s activities are designed to find Me alone, but I am the one thing it cannot know or have. The only way the separate self can know Me is to die, just as the moth can only know the flame by dying in it. That death is the experience of love, the dissolution of self and other.
However, for the flame, there is only the flame; for water there is only water; for Myself, there is only Myself. Veiling, forgetting, searching and finding are for the self that thought images Me to be, never for Myself, the true and only self that is. Whatever the limited qualities of the body and mind that thought superimposes on Me, I stand eternally free, untouched but intimately touching all seeming things, lending them My reality, thereby giving them seeming existence.
It is upon Me that thought superimposes the witness and the witnessed, and then further invests My witnessing presence with the qualities and destiny of a body/mind, thereby downgrading Me to a separate self. But all the while, I stand naked and alone never actually being, knowing or loving anything other than My eternally free self.
For thought there are three possibilities for the self – to be the known, the Knower or pure Knowing; to be a person, a witness or pure Awareness; to be something, nothing or everything. However, I never truly am or know anything other than Myself.
— Rupert Spira – Dutch Nonduality magazine “Inzicht” (year 2012, issue # 1)
(image soure and text source: non-duality.rupertspira.com)
Enlightenment could be defined as the absence of resistance to what is, the total intimacy with whatever is taking place without any desire to reject or replace it; so intimate that there is no room for a self to separate itself out from the whole, to stand apart and look at the situation from the outside, to judge it as worthy or not worthy, good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable; so intimate that there is no room, nor any time, in which a separate self could take refuge inside the body and so finds itself without boundaries or borders pervading the whole field of experience; so intimate that there is no ‘me’ on the inside and no object or other on the outside, but only seamless intimate experiencing; so intimate that there is no room for a ‘self’ and an ‘other’, a ‘me’ and a ‘you’, a ‘this’ and a ‘that’, a ‘now’ and a ‘then’. So utterly now and here that there is no time for time and no place for distance or space.
— Rupert Spira – Presence: The Art of Peace and Happiness
Our self is ever-present now and we do not experience a succession of nows. This present now is the only now there is. The now in which the body was born is the very same now in which these words are appearing. It is the only now there ever truly is.
For this reason our own being is said to be eternal. This doesn’t mean that we last forever in time. It indicates that we are ever-present now. There is simply no time ever actually present in our experience in which our self could exist, other that this present now.
Our self did not appear at a particular time and will not disappear at a particular time. There is no time present in our actual experience in which something could appear or disappear. There is just this ever-present now and this now is not a moment in time; it is timeless awareness, our true nature.
Our culture has lost this knowledge and therefore equates the eternal with the everlasting. However, these two belong to completely different realms, one real and one imaginary. ‘Everlasting’ is related to time and denotes something that supposedly lasts forever. ‘Eternal’ is related to the timeless and denotes that which is ever-present now. It is not about life everlasting. It is about eternal life.
— Rupert Spira – Presence: The Art of Peace and Happiness