What do we find when we suddenly become self aware? What are the actual elements we have to work with, not the ideas or concepts we have read or been told, but the actuality — the palpable, experiential elements of our world?
First we discover that there are thoughts arising and passing away in a spontaneous manner. There is no evident causality to these thoughts. We have the idea that we are causing these thoughts, that we control them, but do we? Try to control your thoughts… Let us say that I hold in my hand a lovely and fragrent red rose. Can you see it? Smell it? Now, please for the next five minutes DON’T THINK ABOUT THIS RED ROSE. You are in control of your thoughts aren’t you? Or are you?
We also find that there are feelings that also arise, these are thoughts in a way, but they are qualities of sensation, attraction, aversion, body feelings, what we call emotional feelings, anger, hurt, love, fear and so forth. These feelings are arising and passing away – also apparently without causality.
There may be causality but remember we are looking for clues in the actuality of our direct experience, in this moment, here, now. Not in theory. Not as a philosophy.
Is there anything else that we can find? We have thoughts and feelings arising and passing away, but there is something else as well. There is a macro-thought, a thought that wraps around all these other thoughts and feelings, that give them context and a reference point. This macro-thought is the sense of “me” ness, the sense of a center or identification.
This sense of “me” makes fear into my fear, anger into my anger, love into my love. It is this sense of me that gives these thoughts the appearance of continuity and coherence. It is from this sense of “me” that we act and, significantly, it is for this sense of me that we act. This “me” is the center of the universe because it is the center of our universe.
This central thought of “me” is the source of our striving and the basis of our conflict. It is what divides us from everything else.
The irony is of course that the “me” sets out to resolve these problems. It decides to transcend itself, enlighten itself, get better, be better, do better. But, it only knows how to do one thing – as the song goes- “I Gotta Be Me”. The me can only be self-centered. Whatever it discovers, whatever it comes to , whatever it learns through its beliefs, philosophies and religions it converts to its on use, its own enhancement, power and position. Now I am not lost, now I am found. I am better. I am enlightened. I am spiritual. Finally.
I am sorry to say, it is the same old “me”. This central thought, this macro thought that wraps around all thought does not change its nature. How could it?
We try denying the “me”. We become renunciates. We become very austere. We fast. We pray. We don’t give in to the idea of “me”. It is God’s will, or the guru’s will. We give up the small shrunken “me” and get in return a huge, glorious, truly spiritual new and improved “me”. The “me” is still there, it isn’t going anywhere.
We seem to be stuck. There doesn’t seem to be any way out. No way out. This could be a clue. If there is no way out, there is no action, nothing to do, no place to get to , no better way to be. There is just what there is. What there is appears to be thoughts and feelings arising and passing away accompanied by the sense of identity or me—that’s it. We have become aware of the bare actuality of our existence. There is no movement away, just awareness of what there is.
This is another clue. Awareness. There is awareness of all of this arising and passing away. All this stuff is happening in this field of awareness, including the sense of “me”. But, if we are aware of the “me”, then who is aware?
Is it possible that awareness is taking care of itself? Does the view need a viewer? Or can the view, awareness simply occur without an center, an identity, a “me”?
When we look into awareness itself, we can find no attributes. It is silent. It is apparently limitless. It is not contained or containable. It is without obvious expression. It is without the “me”.
When we go into awareness, we must leave the “me” at the door. Consiousness contains the “me”, but the “me” cannot contain consciousness.
There is no spirituality in consciousness and no search. These are attributes of the world of thought, of the me. When we go into this awareness, we come to the end of the spiritual search.
This is not enlightenment. by the way. This is our natural state, the state which you and I reside in right now. This is the field in which thought and all its permutations plays itself out. It is the field in which this talk is taking place. It does not require mediation, instructions or practice. It is current and is always that way.
The expression of our life then becomes not the search for this awareness, the self looking for its cessation, the me looking for something more or better. Rather the expression of our life becomes the very expression of this consciousness, which is by its nature inclusive, connected, undivided, wholistic – by its nature it is what we might call love. Our expression becomes that of a dialog, the movement of the apparent two as one.