All writings herein serve to open up the world towards knowledge that matters, to piece together the greatest philosophies of living, and to expound ways towards
the path of freedom, happiness & choice.
The human condition is characterized by a compulsive and obsessive personal relationship to thought. At its best, thought is a symbolic representation of reality; at its worst, thought takes the place of reality. Our thoughts describe and interpret both the external world and our internal experiences. To conceive of a life lived any other way is incomprehensible to most people. Thought tells us who we are; what we believe; what is right and wrong; what we should feel; what is true and what is false; and how we fit into this event called “life.” We literally create ourselves and our lives out of thought. Further, we associate the end of thought with sleep, unconsciousness, or death. It is this very personal relationship with thought that is the cause of all the fear, ignorance, and suffering which characterizes the human condition, and which destroys the manifestation of true Love in this life.
As long as your experience of self and life is defined by the mechanical, conditioned, and compulsive movement of thought, you are bound to a very, very limited perception of what is real. But imagine a relationship to thought that was impersonal. This would mean that you were no longer compulsively defining and interpreting yourself and your experience by the movement of thought. If this were the case, you would no longer be limited by the conditioned perspective of thought. Suddenly your entire perspective would shift away from thought to that which was the very ground and source of all thought. A source which, because it wasn’t being compulsively interpreted by thought, would be experienced as it actually is for the first time.
Why is this so important? Because when you are able to perceive this Source, you are actually in direct experiential contact with the truth of your own being. Out of that contact the possibility is ripe to suddenly awaken to who and what you really are – the Self – pure consciousness.
The Self is the context within which thought arises. Manifestation in the world of time arises as a wave out of the ocean of eternal consciousness. But the human condition is defined by a very personal and compulsive relationship to thought, which makes this realization impossible unless you are able, either suddenly or gradually, to let go of the compulsive need to know and understand with the mind. You must become more interested in the context within which thought and all experience arises than in the false security of thought itself. Most people find this very difficult because facing the context, which is prior to all knowing, is literally stepping into the unknown, which is the last place most people want to go. Why? Because thought always seeks security in itself, which is the known.
Fear and insecurity always wait for any and all who dare to probe the depths of the Unknown. The true seeker of liberation must have an uncompromising desire to discover Eternal Truth, a desire that outweighs any tendency to hesitate and contract in the face of fear. It is only when the fear of the Unknown is openly embraced that it begins to transform into the positive energy and intensity necessary to awaken from conditioned existence.
It is not uncommon in the presence of a powerful teacher, and under ideal conditions, to have a glimpse of enlightenment. But all too often most seekers are unwilling to surrender to the overwhelming implications of that revelation. The profound intimacy and vulnerability inherent in true freedom marks the destruction of the ego’s boundaries to such an extent that all beings and all things become the content of one’s own Self. To most seekers this is simply too much because the limitlessness of the Self leaves no room for any separateness from the whole. It is this complete lack of separation from the whole which is the very definition of selflessness and love.
The aim of spiritual practice is to discover in your own present experience That which the movement of thought never touches. This does not mean to suppress the thinking mind, nor does it mean to attempt to understand by using thought. What I am pointing toward is the Unknown: the already, ever-present, silent-still-source that not only precedes thought but surrounds it. You must become more interested in the Unknown than in that which is known. Otherwise you will remain enslaved by the very narrow and distorted perspective of conceptual thinking. You must go so deeply into the Unknown that you are no longer referencing thought to tell you who and what you are. Only then will thought be capable of reflecting that which is true rather than falsely masquerading as truth.
What I am talking about is a condition where the mind never fixates; where it never closes; where it has no compulsive need to understand in terms of ideas, concepts, and beliefs. A condition where you are no longer referencing the mind, feelings, or emotions for security in any way. What I am talking about is the complete surrender of all separateness until liberation becomes a permanent condition, and you are forever lost in the freedom of the Absolute.
(Him: Next to Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti seems to be the most recognized teacher on the topic of consciousness in the US. His teachings seem to be easier to understand compared to many others’ on the same subject. To learn more from Adyashanti, kindly visit: http://www.adyashanti.org)
I recently watched a video of David Wilcock & Graham Hancock sitting down together, discussing data around a subject which mainstream archeology has yet to successfully publish.
It concerns a civilization which potentially existed at least 12,000 years ago.
A possible civilization with technologies and a level of intelligence that far exceed its time.
Below is the description of the May 2010 YouTube video:
“Bringing together two inspirational investigators of our hidden past and uncertain future, this unique dialogue between David Wilcock and Graham Hancock takes us on a roller-coaster ride through the wonders of ancient civilisations and into the mysterious nature of reality itself. What is the Ark of the Covenant? Why is its loss the greatest riddle of the Bible? Has its final resting place been found? What do the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza teach us? What was the function of the Osireion and other megalithic sites of unknown origin found throughout Egypt? Were the high knowledge and magic of ancient Egypt brought to the Nile Valley by the survivors of an earlier civilisation around 12,500 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age? The possibility of a great lost civilisation Atlantis by any other name was the focus of Graham Hancock’s book Fingerprints of the Gods and the dialogue considers the evidence for this exciting idea – including out-of-place artifacts and technologies, ancient maps of the world as it last looked more than 12,500 years ago, and the mysteries of the Mayan calendar. Join Hancock and Wilcock as they discuss Angkor in Cambodia, Baalbeck in the Lebanon, underwater ruins submerged by rising sea levels all around the world at the end of the last Ice Age, the alleged monuments and a gigantic sculpture of a human face on the planet Mars. The dialogue concludes with a paradigm-busting investigation into the full mysterious spectrum of reality.”
Now, I’m not the kind of person who’d invest time into speculations, opinions or claims.
The reason why this interaction intrigued me was because of the large amounts of solid facts provided throughout the discussion.
If you’re interested in truth rather than news, I highly endorse it for your viewing.
With time, us humans are able to eventually resolve more and more mysteries.
I hope this video adds value to your life in that sense:
A friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook that she saw a red light passed by at an unusual high speed in the sky near her area.
She was determined that it was a UFO. Here’s a 20-yr old lady brought up in a good family, well educated, has a healthy social circle and she could make sense that the object which flew past in the sky was just not normal. Times are changing, people are beginning to be able to openly talk about things which were in the past deemed ‘psychotic’ – even when the facts supporting the subject is vast.
Her action piqued my interest into searching for some of the latest videos uploaded on YouTube regarding UFOs.
Needless to say – there were lots of them. Documentaries, clips of reports & incidents, arguments, interviews, presentations, there were resources sufficient to convince just any kind of people to believe that there are intelligences that are not from within earth. One only needs to be open-minded enough to spend time watching the videos to learn all one needs to know about this topic.
I always secretly have an invested interest in topics like these. Main reason? I like to unravel truths and history that humans have yet to discover, or have been forcibly hidden away from by certain authorities. That’s how my curiosity works – I perceive that new information provides new avenues of solutions to problems we couldn’t solve in the past. If we can leverage on them with a positive intention, many good things can take place.
I mean, can you imagine what would happen if we knew that humans aren’t the only beings in this entire universe with conscious will & intelligence? How would we live life differently given this understanding? We have been fighting ourselves in many ways, sometimes for matters so small they seem pitiful when seen from a higher perspective. If we knew that we are not alone in this universe, can you imagine how much more willingness people would have in caring and loving for each other? We’d be much closer as one family despite our physical, cultural or social differences.
So good information or knowledge is worth being shared.
There are many more ‘intense’ videos on the subject of UFOs and extra-terrestrials at YouTube. Documentaries up to hours long, interviews that comprise of people with credible status, home-video shots of live events, you name it. But the video I’m going to share with you here will be much more ‘gentle’ in tone instead – to make it an easier watch for people who are still skeptics on this topic.
Here’s a description of the video:
“For the past few years Anthony Woods has somehow recorded videos about UFOs on a scale unprecedented in history. Over one year in the making, this program tells the remarkable story of his efforts to record some of the most extraordinary UFO footage ever seen.”
What’s interesting about Anthony Woods is that he’s the man with the most self-captured videos on UFOs. And on top of that, the videos he had taken were also much more credible than most videos that exist because of their clarity, and time recorded (daylight). He had captured some of the clearest videos involving UFOs that seemingly defy the laws of physics, and also incidents that irrevocably proof their existences in terms of their arrival in fleets.
Here is the video – hope you’ll find it interesting:
Words from Former Canadian Defense Minister, Paul Hellyer on the same subject:
CNN reporting declassified UFO national archives by the UK Government on February 2010:
I recently received a question from a nonduality believer.
Nonduality believers believe everything is one in this world, that nothing is separate, and there is no you and me.
Not as an idea, concept or philosophy – but as the truth.
Yes, some of the Hinduism or Buddhism crowds do adopt the same thinking as well.
The only difference is nonduality came about from a philosophical standpoint – through a method of self enquiry, questions that prompt one to answer who one truly is, what is real/not and so on.
So I read some of the things several of them talk about, and decided I had to oppose – since from a logical point of view, I don’t agree with some of the things they say.
Note: I believe in the idea of nonduality, not the spiritual sense of it as supported by Hinduism or Buddhism believers.
Here is a response in return to a question I was asked:
“What occured to excite your passion for society?” – After I opposed the group by stating their fully invested belief in nonduality as a ‘spiritual believer’ is delusional, can be harmful to the world, and I reasonably represent the society in whole: citizens of different countries, people of different hierarchies, humans of different races when I say that because one has to be open-minded enough to include everyone’s way of thinking, before one could decide that one’s idea is the absolute.
They are hung up on the concept that real life is an idea, and that the everyday truth is we are not different individuals, but just that – the same awareness.
The nature of your question alone is worth investigating.
Those who are aware of nonduality will not have to ask
another of what one thinks cause you’re non-dual in the
first place isn’t it?
And if you don’t have a passion for society, you’re
passionate for only yourself? – such is the behaviour
of most spiritual believers.
They take a teaching and make God of it, when the
real lesson is to serve people better in all sense.
My passion isn’t for society.
It is for free society – for truth, happiness and choice.
This is hard when the cycle continues where spiritual
believers impose unconscious ideas on others, creating
a situation like other religions have – which cannot be fully
proven and is only based on mere perceptions or belief.
Labels are easy to attach.
By altering truth, one doesn’t change the truth.
By naming an idea truth, one still doesn’t make it one.
Not unless by universal nature, we can accept it fully by
means of observation and proof.
Spiritual teachers of the Hindhu and Buddhism religions
often scold their followers when they try to seek truth
out of what they were told.
They say, stop thinking and just accept it.
Followers tend to have a weaker mind, thus easily
receiving what they were told.
The spiritual sensation they experience eventually comes
from a relieve of stress, of their mental attachments –
But that solves only the way of thinking, not the problem itself.
People who put an end to life at the “spiritual sensation”,
or at the thinking part, are thus stuck in a delusion where
they can perceive things differently in almost everything
This brainwashing can be easily done by anyone with
authority, rendering the world unequal, and repeats the
cycle of mind control, where real problems cannot be
solved because people are stuck in their heads, and
not aware of what IS on the outside.
The reason for my ‘objection’ raised in this thread –
Is to remind readers that the means is not the end.
Believing that it is still doesn’t make it the end.
Maybe it could to one who believes it fully in perception,
but when the story ends, only a lie was lived – and chances
are this would result in nothing but pain.
What kinds of pain?
1.) A general dissatisfaction with life whether in health,
wealth or relationship
2.) A feeling of waste, of doing nothing worthy or useful
in the world
3.) A sadness that is too late to be exchanged for the better
Life has to be lived through a genuine way.
Most people run from it because they are either
lazy, they fear society as it is today (all the more
the reason for people to be aware, so we can actually
improve upon things), or they have a negative hate
for something in life – and instead of coming off on
top of it, they deceive themselves of the challenge
and avoid it as long as they can.
So to the person concerned:
I embrace society because it is part of what IS.
Because I prefer to accept the world as a whole
instead of filtering things off based on my internal
beliefs and perceptions.
Life is best lived when it is genuine.
I stand passionate for a life lived from an open
view on life – unfiltered by thoughts, ideas or
That is when our heart’s true feelings can be
And when we will feel most ‘spiritual’ despite
the outcomes in life because when can do that,
we are most connected and is most one.
This is part two of a two-part post. Monday’s article explained that you are not your mind or your body, but the aware space in which your mind and your body (and everything else) exist. You’ll have to read the first part to understand the context of this post.
So if you are in fact the space in which all things happen, how come you don’t always notice this space? Why does it often seem like it’s just the things that exist? If the space is you, wouldn’t it always be apparent?
Not necessarily. Think about it: you are that space, so when you are not aware of that space, it only means the space is not aware of itself. But it can still be aware of the things happening in that space, without seeing what it is that is aware. It’s a major oversight, but it is also the normal state of human existence — complete identification with form, with things.
We usually don’t recognize the space in which the tangibles of our lives happen, so we figure we must be one of those tangible, perishable things, or some combination of them. The thing, or collection of things, that we normally think we are is called the ego.
When you lose sight of the space that contains all things (including your ego) you are lost in things. You have lost sight of yourself, and the play of things seems to be all there is. Things become supremely important, because they’re all you have.
That’s a shame, because all of those things are doomed by their very nature. They’re nice when they’re around, but they are fleeting and perishable. So it’s no wonder that when we become identified with things we feel a persistent uneasiness. They are all fleeting — very certainly, inarguably, on their way out, and some part of us knows that. When life is only a race to manipulate material things into the most preferable arrangement possible before you die, it feels like a losing battle. It is.
This is how most of us live, utterly identified with our thoughts, under the impression that life is nothing but things, and that we are nothing but one of those things.
Any time you are aware of the ego, you are disidentified with it. When you don’t recognize the ego as the ego, you have mistaken it for yourself and you are again unaware of who you really are.
What is really happening is that you experience thoughts that say they are you, that say you are only a creature, and so you remain unaware of the space in which they (and all other thoughts and forms) happen. So you take at face value whatever those thoughts say, because they appear to be you. This is a major sticking point for many people: they cannot accept that they are not their thoughts. They cannot imagine that the voice in their head isn’t them, and that it isn’t necessarily trustworthy.
It actually is the voice of the ego, a self-perpetuating, free-associating collection of thoughts that tries to define you with concepts — I am 29 years old, I am a mid-level office worker, I’m not as good as Jim, I am better than Al, I have big plans but I fear I won’t realize them, I embarrassed myself at work today, I never get a break, I am really good at driving in reverse in my car, I am awkward with people I don’t know, I am a terrible dancer, I eat healthy, I don’t have enough money, I do have enough money but I spend it poorly, my kids are well-behaved, I look good in these jeans and I look frumpy in those ones…
It’s nothing but thoughts of I, Me, and Mine all day long. It changes throughout your life as you continue to think, and becomes hideously complex over time. Managing it is a nightmare. Impossible really, but we are doomed to spend our lives trying if we cannot become aware of the ego as it is: a transient collection of thoughts. When you become aware of it as such, you are regarding it from a distance, and you can’t remain identified with it.
Meditative adepts and people in the habit of self-examination learn sooner or later that the mental chatter in their minds is not who they are. When you observe it for a while, you quickly realize it is an uncontrolled, impulsive source of opinions that never shuts up and cannot be depended on to give you an honest appraisal of your situation. Many call it the “Monkey Mind.” It doesn’t take too many meditation sessions to see that it is something you can observe just like you can listen to sounds or watch your own breath. It is something “out there” in your field of awareness which can be watched like any other form, and thus cannot be you.
This is not about changing beliefs
People have known this for a few thousand years. Those best able to teach it to others have become some of the most well-known people in history.
Here’s Eckhart Tolle, talking about one of those people:
What you see, hear, feel, touch or think about is only one half or reality, so to speak. It is form. In the teaching of Jesus it is simply called “the world,” and the other dimension is “the kingdom of heaven.”
As far as I’m concerned Tolle has compiled the clearest, least cryptic description of the teachings dealing with form, space and the human condition caused by our evolving consciousness. If this post holds any interest for you at all, read his books if you haven’t yet.
There is a lot we could learn in this vein from religion, if only we could avoid becoming lost in its forms — its stories, dogmas and symbols. Religion has become so mired in form it is difficult to find this teaching in it. But it’s there.
Don’t worry about convincing yourself that space is who you are. It’s quite contrary to the conventional explanations of who we are and not everyone is going to find it immediately meaningful. That will happen automatically when you are aware of it. There is no convincing that needs to happen. It’s not a matter of changing your beliefs. It’s only a matter of becoming aware more often. Most people will flip back and forth between awareness and identification with form, with the periods of awareness gradually lengthening and becoming more frequent.
When you are paying attention to space, rather than becoming preoccupied with the objects in that space, everything suddenly appears to be in its right place. The whole arrangement of things takes on a faultless beauty. When you are lost in things, you can’t help but see them in terms of what they mean to the interests of your most treasured thing — your ego.
In the article Die on Purpose, I hinted at what happens when you look at the moment as if you aren’t there. You become able to see the moment just as it is without evaluating it in terms of what’s in it for you or not in it for you. This is egoless awareness, and a moment of egoless awareness is always a moment with which you can find nothing wrong, because there’s no “you” to suffer from any unpreferable circumstances. This is the intrinsic beauty and perfection of the universe talked about by mystics and seers, which sounds like mumbo jumbo to anybody who’s never experienced it.
This is not a metaphor
In the last post I likened the space between the stars in the sky to the aware space that is your true identity. The space out there between the stars sounds like the perfect analogy for the aware space we are. But it is not an analogy! It’s no metaphor at all, it’s the same thing. It must be. There are no qualities in which it differs, because it has no details in which it can differ. It is empty, it can contain all manner of forms, it remains unchanged and undamaged by the forms that come and go within it. It is eternal and timeless.
And, evidently, it has the capacity to be aware. Not just aware of the things in it, but eventually, of itself.
This sounds a bit far-fetched. We tend to think of space as dead, inert, lifeless. How can space be aware of itself?
Space gave rise to form. The current scientific theory for how this happened is called the Big Bang, but we don’t know for sure. It’s taken billions of years, but here on earth, form has given rise to consciousness. One of those forms is what you see when you look in the mirror. Human beings are conscious forms, and humans have the capacity to be aware of space itself.
Using form as its tool, space is becoming aware of itself. And that brings us to today.
Almost all of us are unaware of space — our true nature — most of the time. We are at the stage in our evolution where individuals are beginning to become aware of space in bits and pieces, here and there. Some people have been able to completely disidentify with form and we describe them as enlightened or liberated. I would guess some of these people were: Jesus, Lao Tsu, and the Buddha, to name a few, but many other regular people become aware in smaller intervals, even if they don’t know what is actually happening.
“The religions of the world are the ejaculations of a few imaginative men.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Religion is the (often misleading) collection of forms that have come to surround this teaching: stories, institutions, rules, mythologies, conventions, political ideas, idols and symbols.
The world’s religions have a poor track record of bringing people to awareness of who they really are, even though I honestly believe that was their shared original purpose. Because of our very strong tendency to identify with form (and overlook the emptiness in which form happens), the major religions have become preoccupied with beliefs, moral codes, political allegiances and other thought-forms, and the message has been all but lost.
As the teachings spread, institutions developed. Like all institutions, they became heavily focused on form, as evidenced by the elaborate ornamentation found on cathedrals, the immense wealth accumulated by medieval churches, the completely unenlightened focus on punishment and threat, the characterization of God as some kind of supernatural dictator, the demonization of questioning one’s beliefs, and the willful antagonism of scientific progress.
Churches have become a fantastic model for accumulating material, worldly power. More than anything, they have encouraged people to identify with their beliefs and their thoughts, making it much more difficult for them to become aware of anything but the world of form.
You are the Subject, not an object
The arising of space consciousness is the next step in the evolution of humanity. Space consciousness means that in addition to being conscious of things — which always comes down to sense perceptions, thoughts, and emotions — there is an undercurrent of awareness. Awareness implies that you are not only conscious of things (objects), but you are also conscious of being conscious.
Douglas Harding’s method is a simple way to become aware of the Subject, rather than only objects, as we normally are. The face in the mirror is that of your ego, an object. The clear, aware space that you are looking out of is the Subject. It is who you really are.
Unconscious behavior is what happens when we are unaware of space, and become identified with things, with form. When a person is only aware of things, and not the aware space in which things happen, their life becomes a hopeless attempt to manipulate the play of form, of concepts and material things. Money, power, status, gratification and other forms become the only recognizable reasons to live. But they are only part of the picture.
We’re lost in thought, lost in form. Without awareness of that vital dimension of space, we have no perspective. That lack of perspective is responsible for all of humanity’s problems. What else would cause people to invest so much energy finding more efficient ways to kill each other and decimate the planet’s ability to support us?
Evil? Some mysterious quality of “badness” that infects (mostly other) people? The concept of evil is a weak, baseless explanation for why humankind causes itself horrendous problems as efficiently as it does.
Our lack of perspective is the human condition, and we are very gradually getting past it.
I realize this is another long, heavy, mind-bending post, and it if you find any meaning in it, it may take a while to internalize. I have received an overwhelming response to this series in comments and emails from people who want me to keep writing about this topic. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so from here on in I’ll approach it in smaller pieces, and space it out.
You may also notice I didn’t describe any techniques for actually cultivating awareness in this post. That’s a huge topic and I’ll talk about it in the future, but I do encourage people to investigate it on their own. Nobody who is only interested enough to read a few blog posts about this is really going to benefit much, but I hope I have piqued some interest in a few people.
Eckhart Tolle’s books are brilliant, plain-language treatments of this teaching, and are a good place to start. Email me for any other suggestions, or ask questions in the comments.
One more thing. Reader Tom K linked a brilliant lecture in one of his comments that explains this far better than I have (though he goes much much further with it.) It blew my mind and I’m sure it will do the same for some of you. It’s in six MP3s:
Thank you for following along in this series, I hope you’ve gotten something out of it.
(Him: It is official. This website fully endorses David from Raptitude.com’s teachings. It is not only concise, the author’s expression is also genuine. He makes effort to state as much facts closest to his examination. And makes no strong effort to influence others to his thinking. Here is a writer who allows his readers to make a judgment by themselves. I can’t ask for more. If you do feel like learning more from the author, kindly visit http://www.Raptitude.com.)
Okay, this post is the last thrust in our trip down the proverbial rabbit-hole, which so far has looked at what the ego is, and how the late Douglas Harding can help us answer that big, big question — who are you, really?
I had no idea what I was getting into. Back in October, I arrived at an island retreat called Hollyhock, to take what I thought was a five-day course on Buddhism. I didn’t know we would spend those days in uninterrupted mindfulness, without speaking, and that we’d spend about six to eight hours a day in formal meditation.
After the initial welcome at the main hall, our teacher led my group up the pat to our meditation hut in the forest. On the way there, he stopped us and told us to look up. It was a still and clear night, much darker than we city dwelling visitors were accustomed to. I had never seen stars like that.
“Please be aware,” he said, as we all stared silently, “that you are seeing.”
He repeated himself. I was transfixed on the stars, but I remember thinking, “Well, duh,” when his comment registered. Of course I’m aware I’m seeing. How can you see without being aware of it?
His comment echoed again in my head a moment later, and I realized what he meant. For the first time, I recognized that I was normally only aware of what I was seeing, and had taken for granted that I was seeing at all. My awareness had become preoccupied with the content of existence, not the fact of existence itself. Suddenly, it struck me as so peculiar that there was stuff out there to see at all, and especially peculiar that there was something present — me, evidently — to see it. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me there was anything odd, or at least curious, about this arrangement.
In that instant, the stars became more real, more imposing, though I can’t say their appearance changed. It was something like admiring a photograph of a tree, and then realizing you were looking at a real tree. This experience definitely had an effect on me, but I didn’t grasp its relevance right away.
A day later I would. Our group was sitting in a warm, circular hut in the woods, in total silence, the evening of the second day.
Sitting for hours is tough work. The idea is to simply watch what’s happening, and there is quite a bit going on. Without the regular distractions of music or traffic or television, you can’t help but notice how much the body and the mind are really up to.
Your awareness fills with the chaos of dozens of sensations happening at once: the aching of your knees, the pressure of your bum on the cushion, the rising and falling of the breath, itches, tingles, weird digestive processes you never paid much attention to.
And thoughts! They come out in full force. They’re loud and pushy, and they just won’t stop coming.
There’s so much going on it’s hard to stay aware of it. You easily lose yourself in the stuff that’s happening. Suddenly you find you’re in the midst of an imaginary argument loosely based on a real argument you had a week ago with your friend. Your mind is saying what it wishes it said then.
Then you snap out of it. Whoops. Stay aware. You return your attention to the breath. For a moment or two, you’re fully with it.
Then your knee-ache gets more demanding, so you direct your attention to the feeling to try and observe it. You’ve been sitting too long on a hard surface, and the knee is tightening up. You know it will throb later, like it did after last session. You notice the intention to adjust your position, and flinch as you almost do it automatically. But you know you should stay put. You think about getting a good meditation cushion when you get home. You also make a mental note to remember to keep the thermostat down, it’s getting hot in here…
…and like that, you’re lost again. You return the attention to the breath, vowing again to stay aware.
After not too much of this you can’t help but notice all these feelings and thoughts are constantly coming and going, and it never stops. Whatever arises seems to come into your awareness from nowhere, and it changes a bit in its texture in intensity as you watch it. Then it eventually recedes, or gets crowded out by something else, until you can’t detect it anymore. It leaves no trace, and by then there’s a new thought or a new feeling, or many, and you forget about it.
During an hour-long meditation session, a whole load of weird stuff parades across your awareness. It’s just a big, maddening show with no plot, and this insidious tendency to keep changing its form.
From my week of meditating in Hollyhock, I learned two major realities about life:
#1: Your whole experience in life is a only a constantly changing arrangement of thoughts and sensations. There are unlimited forms it can take and all forms are constantly giving way to new ones. Whatever it is at any given time is just a combination of the five senses and thought.
#2: It is incredibly easy to get lost in the details of all those things, which makes you forget #1.
All of life seems to be just a constant turnover of “stuff,” in this way. As Winston Churchill said, “Life is just one damn thing after another.”
When you sit with your eyes closed, this is very apparent. It’s like you’re watching all sorts of things happening on a blank screen: thoughts, bodily feelings, sounds, emotions, and it’s so busy you forget you’re watching it. There is so much chatter, particularly from the mind, that it’s really hard to sit and watch it at all. It really makes you want to get up and read a magazine, or grab a beer.
But now and then, you catch a space between the thoughts and sensations, even if it’s really brief. You actually see (or sense, somehow) the blank “screen” on which all of this stuff is projected. It doesn’t take too many meditation sessions to get a glimpse of it. So you know it’s there.
And it makes sense. You can’t watch a movie without a screen. You can’t have “things” without some space for them to happen in.
What is the screen?
It’s pretty clear that this combination of sense perceptions and thoughts is constantly rotating, constantly turning over, constantly giving way to other things, throughout your entire 70- or 80-year existence in life. It’s just one big moving scene, not unlike a movie, only that it’s three dimensional and it includes tastes, smells, feelings and thoughts, in addition to sights and sounds.
But the space in which all the action happens — and the fact that there is a space in which all those things happen — does not change. It’s always there. It is the only constant in life. It is the only part of your experience that is present all the way through from birth to death.
Think about it… there is no thing that stays the same throughout your life. Even if you look down at your body, can you honestly say it is really the same body you had 10, 20 or 30 years ago? We all know that the cells that make up the body are renewing themselves constantly, and you have to admit you don’t look like you did ten years ago. Sorry.
Clearly your body is a thing too, coming and going throughout your life. You can call it yours, and you are in charge of it, but it isn’t exactly you. Which is a good thing, because clearly it’s just passing by, and going downhill for most of the ride. In this sense it’s no different in any fundamental way than a car that drives by you on the street, or a loud sound that comes out of nowhere, and fades. The only real difference between them is how fast they come and go.
Thoughts are things too. They have no mass or visible features, but they arise just like other sensations. They have a form. They have details, therefore they are things. If you sit and pay attention to them, they arise in very much the same way as aches, tingles, sounds and tactile sensations do.
All things — all forms — whether we’re talking about thoughts, sensations in your body, the bark of your neighbor’s dog, or a bird flying by the window, all arise in awareness, in a boundless space. There has to be space for these things to exist. This space has no form of its own.
Think for a moment about the stars out in space again. The stars have form: they have color, they emit heat, they have size and shape and mass. They do stuff, and eventually they change into other forms, red giants, black holes, supernovas. They are contained by space, which is empty.
It seems like a paradox. Space isn’t a thing, it’s an absence of things. It’s no thing at all. But it is there. It is real. You can perceive it; you can be aware of it. But your mind can understand it only in terms of what it is not. The stars occur within that space. If there was no space for them to happen in, they could not exist.
But the space itself has no features at all. Yet it persists, and its presence is 100% necessary for the existence of all things.
Life is full of things, but it is more than things. It’s space too. Space permeates every corner of life, because no things can exist where there is no space. That means it permeates your body. As we talked about previously, if you could keep zooming in on your body, you would see cells, then molecules, then atoms, and eventually empty space.
Who you really are
So if life is just impermanent things arising and fleeting in space, what are you?
The conventional way of thinking of yourself is as a body, with a mind attached to it somehow. But experience shows us that both the body and the mind change completely, many times over throughout life.
The only constant in life is the space in which all those things happen. It’s the same emptiness from which thoughts emerge, the emptiness in which stars sit and burn, the emptiness that accommodates everything you’ve ever seen, heard, or touched. Every sensation, every perception, every thought, comes and goes. The space in which they happen is featureless, boundless, has no taste, smell, or texture of its own. It looks like nothing. Like space. It is timeless and imperishable, which you could describe (if you happen to like the word) as immortal.
So who are you, in the Big Picture?
You are the screen.
You are the empty, 3-dimensional screen on which this greatest of all shows is projected. You are the space in which all of this happens.
When you consult spiritual or religious sources about what you are, the answers are remarkably consistent. Ancient and contemporary sages seem to agree, and the answer to that question is always something like, “You are awareness,” or “You are consciousness,” or “You are emptiness.”
My experiences, both in and out of meditation, lead me to the same conclusion. Sitting there watching what happens, I can’t help but notice that only the background to all that “stuff” — the space in which that stuff exists — is constant throughout my life, so what else could I be? How could I be any of the fleeting, changing, arbitrary things I have been aware of?
It is clear to me now what is meant by “You are awareness,” though it was once just a cool-sounding concept. I’m not trying to convince you of this, only suggest that you might discover the same thing (perhaps you already have) and in the mean time you might want to look into it for yourself.
(Him: David from Raptitude.com still hasn’t cease to amaze me with the clarity in his writing. Because of how clear he can express upon a subject, even some of the most sophisticated subjects we have on philosophy/spirituality/personal development can be easily understood by the average person. If you would like to read more of what he writes, please kindly visit: http://www.Raptitude.com.)
Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can
change the world, are the ones who do.
– Steve Jobs
“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.” — Mel Gibson from Braveheart
“Nature is about balance. All the world comes in pairs: yin and yang, right and wrong, men and women. What’s pleasure without pain?” — Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
“For just one night let’s not be co-workers. Let’s be co-people.” — Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
“It’s not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day.” — Kevin Kline in Dave
“Whatever you fear most has no power over you. It is the fear that has the power.” — George Clooney in The Men Who Stare At Goats
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss author of Cat in Hat
“We can’t retract the decisions we’ve made. We can only affect the decisions we’re going to make from here.” — Jamie Foxx in Law Abiding Citizen
“Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes people have got to have their faith rewarded.” — Christian Bale in The Dark Knight
“We’re going to live like we’re telling the best story in the whole world. Are you ready?” — Rachel Weisz in The Brothers Bloom