Every human being is that spark of consciousness coming into this dimension. It comes and then goes back into the source. And something takes something back to the source like a bee going back to the bee hive with some nectar. Not accumulated knowledge or anything like that but something takes back. That’s as far as I can go right now with this. And that comes out of an intuitive tuning in.
So to know who you are beyond concepts embrace the “not knowing” in yourself. And then you’re getting closer to the essence of who you are. Let’s see if you can get a limited understanding of what this not knowing is…thoughts subside for a moment but the strange thing is there is something that is still present there. I say something but it’s not something, but language is limited because language is about the world of things. Thoughts subside and there’s something even when you’re not thinking, you’re actually present. And even if you were not perceiving at that time…you could say, ‘yes I’m present because there’s sense perception happening.’ Even if you close you eyes and even if you put ear-plugs in or there’s total silence. We can even try it now. You close your eyes. All visual sense perception have become obliterated. And there’s no noise going on either. So before you were aware of visual perceptions and you are aware of this voice and now there’s neither visual perceptions nor auditory perceptions for a moment.
You are still there. The amazing thing is even without reminding yourself about your past or your future, your present life situation or your name or looking at your body, there is something that is still present. You know that, but it is not differentiated. It doesn’t have a history, what is still present. It has no past and no future to it.
You can’t really say much about it. You can’t define it further because it is what Buddhists call empty. It’s emptiness. It’s formlessness. It is formless consciousness. If you find that in yourself and it’s always there underneath the movement of form which is thinking and emotions and even sense perceptions. Underneath, it is always there. If you find that, even the most unprofitable life, people who have messed their whole life up, has become redeemed because you have found the one thing that really matters, yourself.
Of course you can’t stay there indefinitely in that space. At some point the world of form returns. But what is possible is not to lose connectedness with that dimension. In other words and this is the ultimate spiritual practice until it becomes a natural way to live. In the background you can sense that spaciousness still even while you’re perceiving things.
Let’s go there again very briefly, close your eyes. No more visual perception. No more sounds. What’s left? A sense, there may be some thoughts left, but if you’re very alert, the alertness will obliterate the thoughts, too. So there are no thoughts left in that alertness. Alert!
What’s left. Can’t define it, but you are still there in that formless simple presence, you are actually being the essence of yourself. And it is that which gives you your sense of identity. Even when you associate your sense of identity with your life history and memories. That your memories get mixed up with the essential sense of beingness that is the formless empty space in yourself. That is the primordial “I,” the timeless “I.”
And that is your identity. In the unawakened unenlightenend state that primordial consciousness, formless consciousness, gets mixed up with the memory of who you are. And so you get a diluted version of who you are and you think you are your past history, your memories and your ambitions and your fears. But if you disentangle your sense of beingness, which is the essential sense of identity, if you disentangle that from thought and we’re doing it here, if you disentangle your sense of identity from thought, what is left then you can actually experience…I’m saying you experience it but that’s not right because language created-subject object divisions…you experience yourself as the subject, the subject experiences itself, the subject experiences itself as formless consciousness. It is that which is the very foundation for your identity. The preciousness that you are.
The preciousness that everybody feels, there is something there that is so wonderful. It’s “I,” but it gets mixed up with form and then people get some form identity.
So it’s vital to disentangle consciousness and form which usually are mixed up together. And once you’ve disentangled it you may want to do that quite often. But ultimately it’s living a normal life without losing that awareness of the essential formlessness of who you are in the background even while you’re perceiving forms. You are looking at the flowers, you’re looking at other human beings, you’re dealing with things without losing yourself in the forms anymore, because you still have in the background an awareness of the formlessness. In fact the awareness is the formless in the background. No matter where you go you are essentially a field of formless consciousness experiencing the things of this world. And the field of formless consciousness is also experiencing the person.
(Source: Eckhart Tolle, April 2010 Webcast)