Tag Archives: Awareness

What is Awareness and What is it Good For?

When you feel depressed, awareness does not cheer you up.

When you screw up at work, awareness does not say you’ll do better next time.

When you yell at your kids, awareness does not help you calm down.

When hit a car in parking lot and drive away, awareness does not forgive you.

When you are unfaithful to your spouse, awareness does not justify it.

When you steal some bread from the grocery store, awareness does not take away the guilt.

When you lose a loved one to cancer, awareness does not bring them back.

When you have spent your last penny, awareness does not put money in your account.

When your desperate for a spiritual awakening, awareness does not make it happen.

Awareness is always just…..there.

Doing nothing. Helping no one. Changing nothing for the better.

It is the source of all inaction.

Instead it is infinitely loyal. It will never leave you no matter what despicable act emerges from you. It knows nothing about judgement. It knows nothing of worthiness. It knows nothing about evil. It knows nothing of heaven or hell. It knows nothing about death. It knows nothing about suffering.

It knows nothing.

Absolutely squat.

It is not there to heal you. It is not there to make you live longer. It is not there to make others love you.

So what in the world is awareness good for.

There is one way to find out. And that is to align with it. Be a witness to your perceptions. Open yourself up to feel whatever is brought to the forefront in the field of your observation. Let it wander. Do not focus on any witnessed feeling as more important than another. Allow this freedom to dwell in your mind and body.

If you are walking, listen to the pebbles crunch on the ground as feel the pressure of each step. Notice your head moving from side to side looking at the trees. All of a sudden you turn off the road and onto a walking path. Why did you do that? You don’t recall making that choice. Now you notice each leg moving one after the other. You’re not actively choosing that either.  A random thought pops into your head that you should eat healthier.

Why?

You didn’t decide to think that. Things are happening and you don’t seem to be involved in any part of the process.

Soon you start to notice everything. The way your tongue is resting in your mouth. The way the cool spring breeze is making your eyes water just ever so slightly. The rising of your stomach with every breath.

Then it suddenly strikes you.

I am none of this.

Such intense witnessing has released you. You begin the understand the role of the witness. Your dreams. Your hopes. Your struggles. Your judgement. Your accomplishments. Your failures. Your suffering. All of these things are not “You”. They have simply been witnessed by “You”.

Now, even more dramatically. All of the ways in which you have defined who “You” are begins to fade away. The simple gap between something being inherent to your identity, to simply being observed, causes a cascading avalanche of the former self into oblivion.

Ultimately the realization hits. The me that has ruled this life, does not exist. There is no meat to this ego. There are no obstacles for me to overcome. There are no requirements for my existence. There is nothing that was there before.

There is only awareness.

Am I in control of my thoughts?

There is no difference in being aware of a tree and being aware of a thought.

So why is it so easy to align my identity with the contents of a thought and not the condition of the tree? The tree could be beautiful or ugly, tall or short, alive or dead, sturdy or weak, and it does not affect the “I” in any way.

A thought on the other hand can be kind or harsh, pure or impure, moral or immoral, and the “I” is always drastically affected. We align our identity with the thought and then cast judgment upon it. This judgment will either make us want to hold on to that thought or run far away from it as fast as we can. This conditioned reflex to become one with the thought is based solely upon the following statement.

“I am in control of my thoughts”

In the pursuit of our own bliss it now becomes imperative to either prove or disprove this statement above. In beginning this investigation the first and most obvious question is this: Who is this “I”?

If we are going to know the “I” we must first understand our own capacity to ‘know’. Knowledge in the conventional sense is perception analyzed with thought to create concepts. The bottleneck in this process is perception itself. What can not be perceived can not be turned into a thought, and thus not turned into a concept.

Digging deep into the act of perception we can see that there are actually three things required: the perceived, perception, and the perceiver. In the example of the tree we can understand that the tree is the perceived, eyesight is the perception, and then what is the perceiver? My first instinct is to say that it is the brain.

But is my brain also perceived? I can’t see my own brain, though I suppose I could with some major surgery and a mirror. I could also touch it through similar means. So then, can the brain be both the perceiver AND the perceived? I mean, it is the brain that translates what has been perceived through eyesight into an image.

So the brain must be a part of perception and NOT the perceiver.

Who is this damned perceiver then? The celebrated YouTube guru Mooji knowingly points seekers by asking “Can the perceiver be perceived?”. Nisargadatta Maharaj says “The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.” Initially this leaves us with a most unsatisfying conclusion. If I can not perceive the “I”, then I can never truly know who I am.

Getting back to the original statement we are examining, if I can never know the “I” then it would be nonsensical to assume that this “I” is in control of my thoughts. In fact in not knowing the “I” it is meaningless to lay claim to “my” thoughts at all.

That leaves us with “control”. Can thoughts be controlled? Do you know the next thought that is going to pop into your mind? It seems that we often get the thoughts we want the least. Through resisting a thought, that for all intents and purposes appeared randomly in your consciousness, we empower it. Continual resistance trains your brain to think your most undesirable thoughts at a most distressing frequency. It is only when you give up this control unequivocally that you release it.

A resisted thought is like a prisoner in our brain.

Eckhart Tolle rhetorically asks “What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is?” Such a thought is being denied it’s own existence and therefore can not run it’s course into nothingness. It is the nature of things to come and go.

The idea of control is problematic on many levels. We can’t define that “I” who is doing the controlling; the thoughts that I want to control can’t even be “my” thoughts without a known “I”; and any attempts to control thinking seems to have a substantial negative effect.

Lets modify the primary sentence in question. Lets toss out the first word “I”, and along with it the last two “my thoughts” as we know them to be either false or unknowable. The middle phrase “in control of” seems to be rife with issues so lets drop it as well. That leaves us with just one word, “Am”. Seeing a similarity to ‘Amen’ I performed a quick etymology check revealing it’s intended meaning as “so be it” or “truth”.

Let us conclude with the only truth to be found in our initial sentence; Am. There is an obvious temptation to use the phrase “I Am” which is extremely popular in spiritual texts and discussions. But in this context I see “I” and “Am” as two words carrying the same meaning. There is no “I” apart from being, and no being apart from “I”. Perhaps the best way to express this is to write it: “I, Am”.

I Am Aware That I Am Aware

Having spent the last couple of days pondering awareness I had the urge to write down what I was feeling in the format you see below. Starting each sentence with “I am aware” and then following with the feeling. Pretty basic as you can see.

I am aware that I am sick

I am aware that I am tired

I am aware that I am frustrated

At first glance it appears that I am two things. Focussing on the first sentence “I am aware that I am sick” I appear to be both aware and sick. I don’t suppose being one precludes being the other. I can be aware and be sick without implying a duality of some sort. Unlike the duality Eckhart Tolle noticed while on the edge of suicide (“I” can not live with my “self”).

But can either of those aspects exist without the other?

First of all, can I be sick without being aware? If I am not aware that I am sick then it is like I am not really sick at all. I could theoretically still have all of the symptoms of being sick (i.e. stuffed up nose, headache, and watery eyes) but it would go unnoticed. And if I don’t notice when I am feeling unwell then it must continue that I wouldn’t recognize when I am feeling well. In fact, if I am not aware then it is conceivable that I wouldn’t notice anything! It would be no different than if I didn’t exist at all.

What about the possibility of being aware without being sick? At first it seems like a simple question. If I am not sick I can still be aware that I am feeling well. But the deeper question is this “Can I be aware if there is nothing to be aware OF?” It is essentially asking if awareness existed prior to the beginning of the universe. Those who speak of awareness with the utmost certainty describe it as timeless. They say it has no end because it has no beginning. One can therefore assume that the existence of awareness does not depend on some form to be aware of.

Before there was the universe, there was awareness. There may be no greater description of the purpose of existence than to say it is awareness searching for itself. That to truthfully utter the following words is to take comfort in having fulfilled your destiny.

I am aware that I am aware

That looks an awfully lot like I am that I am. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I am aware that I am awareness.

But what does this mean in how I live my life? I can easily say that I am aware that I am sick but that still gives me no comfort. Isn’t achieving an inner peace the goal of all of this contemplation anyways

What if I say I am aware that I am aware that I am sick.

Woah! I am either on to something or two steps away from the loony bin. I guess the final judgement comes down to whether or not a realization helps you live a better life. The only choice that I am left with in all of this is where do I choose to dwell, or place my attention. In the awareness, or in the sickness.