Years ago I had the opportunity to practice yoga and meditation all day long. I had saved enough money to be on my own for several years and had no financial commitments. I prac-ticed hatha yoga, pranayama and meditation religiously all day long. But after a few months, a nagging thought began playing itself out in my mind. Day after day, practice after practice the mind would revel in how flexible and strong the body/mind was becoming. I was able to do advanced poses and sit for long periods of pranayama and meditation. But the mind began to doubt the sanity of the achievements it was reveling in. I realized that no matter how strong, how flexible and advanced I became in my practice, an accident or death would take it all away in a split second. I saw the truth that I would forever be insecure with whatever I ob-tained. And I became obsessed with trying to understand: "What is it, that when it is unders-tood, everything is understood? And what is it, that when it is understood, it can never be lost?"
We can never go to the Truth as we would go to an object. Our desire to want It, to achieve It, to obtain It, to be recognized, to be admired, to be somebody, is going away from It. Is it poss-ible for our spiritual practice to reflect this understanding, moment-to-moment; during body movement, during breathing, during meditation and during our every waking movement? Then everything is fuel for the fire of awareness. Once we understand this way of living, noth-ing distracts for awareness has no concern what moves in it. Awareness witnesses everything without judgment or concern.
This simple activity of being aware forms the new and solid foundation of our search for Truth, for a lasting security free from fear. When we spend time with all of the physical and psychological movements within and around ourselves, and see them as objects in awareness, with an openness that lets them be as they are, they begin to change and dissolve. Living in the attitude of being aware brings the understanding that anything beheld in awareness, with-out anticipation or expectation, is purified of its grosser nature. And as it purifies, its hidden nature unfolds.
As we live as awareness, opposites are no longer resisted, but allowed to be. And as opposites co-exist, we see them as complimentarities-two ends of an intact stick-two ends of a unified whole. And as their complimentary nature unfolds, we realize the Unity that underlies all complimentarities. Here we realize that freedom from the pairs of opposites actually means that we are no longer interested in manipulating them. We find ourselves as a center of awareness that is witnessing both ends of all spectrums. This freedom from the pairs of opposites is the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now on earth as it is in Heaven just as St. Thomas informs us in the words of Jesus when he writes in his Gospel:
And they said to Him:
Shall we then, being children, enter the Kingdom?
And Jesus said:
When you make the two one,
And when you make the inner as the outer
and the outer as the inner
and the above as the below,
and when you make
the male and the female
into a single one
then you shall enter the Kingdom.
I am reminded of the aphorism in Christianity of "the day of last judgment". I don't know about you, but I always wondered about this as a child because of all the things I'd done. I was concerned with this 'day of last judgment' because there were a lot of things I was going to have to pay dearly for. But then it occurred to me that 'the day of last judgment' arrives the moment we have our 'last judgment' towards ourselves. And when we have the last judgment towards ourselves, all judgment empties out towards all others as well. If I have no judgment inside, then I have no judgment to project outwardly onto the world. I have no judgment to project out onto you. Then I have just entered into the day of last judgment. When there is no judgment in here I don't see any judgment out 'there'. You can judge me all you want, but you are really only judging yourself. Bring an end to judgment and we enter the kingdom of heaven.
This understanding of "no-two-ness" is the essential realization of meditation. Ultimate Reali-ty is a Unicity and our natural vision is total. By this I mean the vision that we are born with, that we intuitively know is here, waiting for us as our natural birthright, is a vision that sees wholeness everywhere, in every moment. It exists before the mind splits and makes a differ-ence. Our vision knows no separation or boundary until the mind, through thought, conceptu-alizes and creates separation. Luckily, fear and insecurity co-arise with the conceptualization of separation. Fear is here to remind us that the mind has split the One into two. Fear is not the problem. It is part of the solution.
The realization that separation is the product of a split-mind is at once the realization that this sense of separation and conflict is only a mental aberration and is therefore illusory and not ultimately real. Separation is caused by thought. Conflict is caused by thought. And trying to get rid of separation and conflict by further thinking fails even before we begin. Seeing that conflict, and unhappiness, and feelings of separation are not real but illusory, and only move-ments of the mind, is the beginning of their dissolution and the resolution to our problem.
When we shift from trying to change ourselves to listening and being aware, awareness ex-pands. Awareness is not the product of the linear split-mind but is multi-dimensional and all encompassing. It includes all objects whether they are perceived to be outside, such as the trees and the people around us, or inside like our thoughts, emotions and body sensations. All objects are within us. All objects are in ourselves-which-is-awareness. We are not in the body. The body is inside us. We are not in conflict. Conflict is inside us. So when we do our spiritual work, can our practice reflect this fact? We need to stop, at every opportunity, and feel our multi-dimensional nature and feel how everything is living within this all-expansive, all-inclusive awareness.
Living in awareness is not a strategy. Awareness is not concerned with us becoming better people. It's not a strategy to change ourself. Why do I say this, because awareness is what we are. We are only doing what we are already always being. Living in and as awareness is not is not self-manipulation or a strategy for getting better.
So can we do this now? Can we live in and as awareness in this moment, even as we are read-ing this treatise? The fact is, we are always being awareness. It is what we are. It is not some-thing that we can do. All we can do is realize this already present reality. So, can you open up to awareness and feel, as awareness, out into the space in front of you, to the right, to the left and behind you simultaneously. Go underneath, go above, feel inside and feel outside. Feel the space in and around you in all directions simultaneously. This is not something we can do with the mind. Mind cannot enter here. We can only be non-conceptually living this-as-awareness. When we live this way we realize we are not inside the body. The body is inside of us. Conflict is inside of us. Feel the impact on the body/mind when you say, "Pain is present in this head" rather than, "I have a headache", or "hunger is present" versus "I am hungry". When we live as awareness, all movement of body, mind, speech, thought and world appears within what-we-are-as-awareness. The world is inside us; we are not in the world.
I have lived with chronic pain all my life. As a child I realized that if I didn't separate from the pain, the pain disappeared. But I also found that with the slightest movement of the mind, which is time, pain rushed back in. I think this was the beginning, as a young child, of my learning how to meditate.
I learned at an early age that freedom from pain comes when we don't separate from it. The mo-ment we separate from pain, we have pain. When we live in and as awareness, awareness pervades pain. Sensation is present before mind names it as pain. Then we realize pain, as sensation, is inside us. It is not who we are. Pain then becomes part of the continuum of our experience, but we are not confined to this one experience.
Living our multi-dimensional awareness, where is the sense of "me"? There may be the subtle feeling of "I" but the "me" is absent. And where does this sense of "I" resonate? The pronoun "I" resonates into and resides in the heart. And the heart is the last doorway to Self-realization-the final resting place where "I" dissolves back into its inherent nature before thought makes a division of two from the non-conceptual One.
Now we find ourselves open and aware, without judgment or intention. For awareness couldn't care less what is in it. Awareness doesn't say "Oooo, here's a tree, let's get rid of it." Or "Here's some anger, it shouldn't be here." Awareness allows everything to be, just as it is. So our motto well might be "And this is here, too. And this is here, too. And this is here, too." No judgment, just "This is here, too".
The ocean is much like awareness. The ocean doesn't care what's in it. Here is a log. Here is a fish. Here is some oil or toxic waste. Ultimately, as we are discovering, the ocean (nature) knows exactly what to do with whatever is present in it. And awareness knows exactly what to do with whatever arises in it.
As we live in and as awareness, we experience that everything arising in awareness is purified. Everything is born out of the fire of Awareness, has a lifetime of growth in awareness, and decays and dies back into Awareness. In Awareness there is no judgment for things to be different or other than as they are. Even the movement of judgment is allowed to be, just as it is.
And if you are concerned with judgment being allowed to be just as it is then I recommend you do it some time and watch what unfolds. For when a movement like judgment is met with the fire of Awareness, all mental movements of judgment collapse back into silence. Negative thought patterns have no hold when they arise in, and are met with, the full light of Aware-ness.
This is radical self-acceptance. Accepting things just as they are without any movement to make different. Accepting ourselves just as we are. And, in turn, accepting all the so-called others around us just as they are. And this is love, is it not.
When we live in accepting, at first the objects of the body, senses and mind are emphasized. But then comes a moment when all our outgoing energies make what I call the 'Great Turn'. The movement of our outgoing attention towards the objects of the world turns back upon it-self and inquires into the very nature of itself. It inquires: "Who is the one who is looking? Who is the one who has been searching all this time?" And when awareness turns on itself, when listening listens to itself, when the one who is accepting turns upon itself, a collapse oc-curs from being a witness, from being a looker, to being witness-ing, and being look-ing.
We collapse from being aware into being aware-ness, being listen-ing, being accept-ing, where the split of beer and doer collapses into simply abiding as Be-ing and Do-ing, here and now with things just as they are. In this moment there is only accept-ing. Only be-ing. Only do-ing. Only hear-ing. Only see-ing. Only tast-ing. There is no acceptor, No be-er. No do-er. No hear-er. No se-er. No tast-er. In this moment, the mind, which had been doing the best that it knew how in a job it was totally incapable of handling, collapses and becomes still, quiet and at rest.
I was with a teacher, Dada, years ago. I had invited him to my yoga studio where he gave a beauti-ful talk on the teachings of non-dual awareness. During the talk, my mind became silent. Then, after awhile, my mind began to chatter away again, doing its 'thing'. I asked Dada, "Your talk is so beautiful and I can feel the truth of what you are saying and its impact on my body. And my mind goes absolutely still. But then the mind begins to chatter away again. What are we supposed to do with this mind?" And Dada replied, "Have pity on the poor thing. It's doing the best that it knows how."