Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Choiceless Awareness

The internal dialogue is always commenting and judging and planning. It contains a lot of thoughts of self, a lot of self-consciousness. It blocks the light of our natural wisdom; it limits our seeing who we are; it makes a lot of noise and attracts our attention to a fraction of the reality in which we exist. But when the awareness is one-pointedly focused on the coming and going of the breath, all other aspects of the mind/body process come automatically, clearly into focus as they arise. Meditation puts us into direct contact - which means direct experience - with more of who we are.

For instance, if we watch the mind as though it were a film projected on a screen, as concentration deepens, it may go into a kind of slow motion allowing us to see more what is happening. This then deepens our awareness and further allows us to observe the film almost frame by frame, to discover how one thought leads imperceptively to the next. We see how thoughts we took to be"me" or "mine" are just an ongoing process. This perspective helps break our deep identification with seeming solid reality of the movie of the mind. As we become less engrossed in the melodrama, we see it's just flow, and can watch it all as it passes. We are not even drawn into the action by the passing of a judgmental comment or an agitated moment of impatience.

When we simply see-moment to moment-what's occurring, observing without judgment or preference, we don't get lost thinking, "I prefer this moment to that moment, I prefer this pleasant thought to that pain in my knee".As we begin developing this choiceless awareness, what starts coming within the field of awareness is quite remarkable: we start seeing the root from which thought arises. We see intention, out of which action comes. We observe the natural process of mind and discover how much of what we so treasured to be ourselves is essentially impersonal phenomena passing by.

We discover we don't really need to ask anyone any questions, we needn't look outside ourselves for the answer. As we penetrate the flow, the flow is the answer. The asking of the question is itself the answer. When we ask, "Who am I?" who we are is the processes asking the question.

By not being addicted to thinking, we discover that we usually notice only a bit of the extraordinary activity of consciousness; attachment to thinking has blocked the rest. Thinking mind is quite other than the choiceless, open awareness that allows everything to unfold as it must. Thinking is choosing thoughts, it's working, it's measuring, it's planning, it's creating a reality instead of directly experiencing what's actually happening each moment.

When we attent to ongoing mind we see that even "the watcher" becomes part of the flow. The who that's asking "Who's watching?" is another thought-flash we see go by; there's "no one" watching, there's just awareness. When the "I" becomes just something else observed in the flow we see we're not different from anything else in the universe. The true nature of being becomes apparent because there's nothing to remain separate, nothing to block our totality. We see that what moves on thought into another is the exact same energy that moves the stars across the sky. No difference. We are natural phenomenon as full of change as the ocean or the wind, a product of conditions.

We see that the nature of consciousness works a bit like the hand of God in the famous Sistine Chapel painting which reaching out to give life to a waiting being, a being about to receive the spark. Moment to moment we're receiving the spark. That spark is consciousness, the knowing faculty, the perception of which arises from the contact of awareness and its object; from sight and the tree seen, from hearing and the music heard, from touch and the earth felt, from taste and the water tasted, from smell and the flower smelled, from thought and ideas imagined. Moment to moment, consciousness arises anew in conjunction with each object of the senses, including the minds sense of imagination and memory. This the arising and passing away of all that we know of our life experience. For mindfulness to enter this process is to discover genesis moment to moment, the continual creation of the universe.

Interestingly enough, it is this act of creation which is the greatest cause of misunderstanding in our life. Or to be ore precise, it is our identification with this ongoing process as "I" which becomes the problem. It is the wrong view of this natural unfolding which forms the basis for most of our drowsy blindness and illusion. Consciousness results automatically from the contact of awareness and its object. This "knowing" is the result of a natural process which exists of itself without necessity of a "knower," or any added "I" which somehow supposes responsibility for this essentially non-personal process. This interposed "I" keeps us from participating in the direct experience of this flow, the direct experience of the universal nature of our being.

Aurobindo said, "to be fully is to be all that is." Experiences come and go. If we identify with them, claim them as me or "mine" by judging or clinging, if we stick to any part of the ongoing flow we don't see that what we call "me" is constantly being born and dying, it is a process of awareness and object coming into being and passing away hundreds of times each minute.

As awareness more deeply penetrates the flow, we experience that our natural condition, our natural state of being which some call the wisdom-mind or Buddha nature, is like the sun which always shining, always present, though often obscured. We are blocked from our natural light by the clouds of thought an longing and fear; the overcast of the conditioned mind; the hurricane of "I am".

Stephen Levine ~ A Gradual Awakening, (Awareness, pp.2-6)

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