Insights Into Awareness and the Nature of Reality
We all know the experience of being told about Enlightenment and Awareness, and then trying to find it. The search for enlightenment will take a lot of spiritual seekers a lifetime. We think we have it for a moment and then we lose it. We cling to it when we have it, and hold onto the feeling of it because we are afraid of losing it again. This comes down to the common misperception that awareness is a state of being or a feeling, when it’s not. Awareness is not something you can find or lose. You have always been and will always be aware and, in a sense, enlightened.
This search for what is already the case takes people to talk to gurus in India, doing Ayahuasca, practicing yoga and meditation. These things can be great fun, but they are not necessities to become aware. You are already and always aware.
Notice that something is reading this text right now. Awareness enables this. Awareness sees, experiences, knows.
The Nature of Awareness
Awareness does not have a form of its own – it is formless and empty; it is not a certain feeling or experience. Awareness can be identified with every experience and appearance, but it is not the experience or appearance. Since it is formless it is always here, ready to wrap its all-encompassing spaciousness around all that is appearing.
Awareness can experience itself, but it never becomes bounded to any single experience. You could say that awareness is inseparable from the experiences it is having – that they are one and the same thing. All objects and appearance you see are awareness.
Every appearance and experience you have is a projection inside of awareness, like in a dream. When dreaming we most often think that what we see are solid physical objects, but when we wake up we easily see that they were merely projections inside our mind. Likewise, in regular waking life every object, appearance and experience is an illusory and empty projection – somewhat like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
and The Matrix
. I will explain this further in a bit, including the science of it.
Awareness is spacious and can be likened to empty space, or the sky, where clouds and weather appear. It is the container of every experience and is therefore itself without any particular form. The weather of the sky does not affect the sky itself, just like an appearance does not affect awareness.
When you are watching a movie, you are watching a projection on a white screen. You may forget that what you are watching isn’t real, but if the projector stops for a second and you see the white, empty screen you are reminded that it is just a movie. What happens in the movie does not affect the screen it is projected on, just like an appearance does not affect awareness. It remains untouched.
When you meditate, or relax your mind for a few seconds (take a deep, meditative breath and reboot
), you give away your biased understanding of the world and you experience pure awareness. You give away your thoughts and knowledge – your prejudices – and you see the clear, empty space that you are – awareness itself. You see that you are the movie screen and not the movie; you see that you are the clear spacious sky and not the changing weather.
When you see from the point of view of pure awareness, you are resting in the eternal and timeless present moment – the Now. Awareness is beyond time. It enables our experience of time, or the illusion of linear time. It moves seamlessly from one completely independent and separate moment to the next one, making it seem like we move in time. Think of it as a movie, where each frame is separate and independent from the others, but it flows in a seamless and continuous manner.
You are this timeless, formless, limitless, expansive, all-encompassing, empty, peaceful, eternal awareness. Become convinced of it!
Physical Reality is Empty Space
When scientists look closely at the world they find more and more empty space. The distance from the nucleus of an atom to its surrounding electrons is more than 60 000 times bigger than the radius of the nucleus. If you imagine the nucleus to be the size of a bowling ball, the electrons would be expected to be 13km (8 miles) away. This is just a thought experiment though, since these particles have no edges.
When quantum physicists look even closer, they keep finding smaller and smaller building blocks and more empty space. “Matter” actually seems to consist of tiny vibrating strings of energy. You are not touching the chair you are sitting on; you are levitating on an electrostatic field!
Albert Einstein even said that physical reality is an illusion. He could not wrap his head around how two particles, light-years apart, can act in the exact same manner without any physical way of communicating (quantum entanglement
He called it “spooky action at a distance”. This can be understood by assuming that everything is a projection emanating from the same source: Awareness.
It is time we too – like science – change our paradigm into understanding the empty, spacious nature of physical reality. It is time to loosen up our definitions, ideas and firm beliefs about the world consisting of physical and solid objects. Molecules can be seen as just empty shells – projections of empty awareness, in empty awareness. If you put aside your ideas about the world, all objects can be seen as the same infinite, empty, spacious, intelligent field of awareness. A tree, a mushroom or a rock consists of specific molecules on one level and of pure empty awareness on a deeper level.
It is not just when zooming in we find empty space. By zooming out into space we seem to find an increasing proportion of empty space as well. The distances are mind-blowing.
Exploring Our True Nature
Awareness is there before and after every experience and appearance. A thought appears to awareness, then it disappears. Awareness is unchanged. By experiencing the empty, illusory, holographic nature of the universe and seeing that awareness remains eternally unaffected by all appearances and experiences, you too will know that you are truly untouched.
On the level of awareness, you are always unaffected by any projections shown to you. Awareness is unaffected by feelings, thoughts and fears. They are simply appearances that appear and disappear out of emptiness, from emptiness.
This absence of solidity – this emptiness – is awareness and it is all-encompassing. It is nothing, no thing, and yet it is all things, everything.
So what is our true nature, you may ask? The first step in the exploration, in our self-realization, is to think and feel that we are “something” – that we are limited to the physical body and mind. This is the point of view we have had for too long, and for too much of the time. This is the default human perspective, but it could benefit us to see from other points of view as well.
If you explore further you will come to the understanding that you are in fact not the body and the mind, you are the awareness which knows the body and the mind. That awareness is not made out of a thing – it is nothing, at least from the mind’s point of view, since it only knows things. The awareness we are is emptiness.
If we then explore further, we will find that the awareness is always here – you are always aware and present. Being aware is inescapable. Since awareness is not contained by a vehicle such as, say, a body, it is limitless – it is infinite and not bounded by anything perceivable to the mind. Awareness knows itself to be eternal and without boundaries.
The next step is to go back to the world of things, observing as awareness, and ask yourself what the relationship is between awareness – nothing – and the things – something. What is the relationship between that which sees and that which is seen?
They are completely inseparable. They are in fact the same thing. You see, we never experience anything directly, we simply experience being aware of things, or simply being aware, or just awareness.
In that sense we come to the realization that we are the substance of all things – that we are everything. The concept of “being everything” includes the assumption that things can come into being, and disappear. However, awareness does not experience things, it is just experiencing. It is aware of a thing appearing and disappearing, but the appearance is a projection of awareness onto itself.
Hence I-Am-Everything becomes I-Am.
Again, with I-Am there is a suggestion that there exists such a thing as I-Am-Not, hence the Am falls away.
What we are then left with is just I, which is awareness, or I-I, awareness aware of itself.
Awareness being self-aware, or I-I, is the deepest realization of Self that we can have before venturing into the Unknowable, the eternal Tao, Infinity, Beyondness, the One or the Absolute – that which cannot be experienced in the traditional sense.
“The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.” – Tao Te Ching
This Beyondness is not within the scope of this article and will be covered in a later article.
Because awareness is ever-present and part of every experience we have, it is important to know about its nature. By continually recognizing it you will deepen your sense of Self and drastically accelerate any meditation practice you might have. Become convinced of your true being. Let every experience confirm awareness to you – let every experience be your teacher.
View appearances as objects in a vast space. View them as different points of view, different perspectives, in an empty sky of awareness. See that you can choose to focus on one point of view – one object – at a time, as well as the formless awareness they exist in.
All of this will become easier and more natural to you with time. Soon you will be able to recognize the ever-present awareness even in hectic and intense situations – you will find permanent peace within.
Brian Greene – The Elegant Universe Very (!) popular-sciency video on string theory, 11 dimensions and parallel universes with several renown physicists. Interesting and entertaining. Brian Greene also wrote a book by the same name.Quantum Entanglement (Einstein: “Spooky action at a distance”) Short video
There is a lot of information out there on what science knows so far. If you are interested, search and dig deeper. It seems to me that science is catching up to “spiritual”, “esoteric” and “occult” wisdom, more and more. We live in exciting times!P.S. *Check out our course 5 Steps to Inner Peace *
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