Arjuna said, “My Lord! The mind is turbulent … extremely difficult as the wind to control.” Lord Krishna replied, “Doubtless, O Mighty One! The mind is fickle and exceedingly difficult to restrain, but with practice and renunciation it can be done.” – The Bhagavad Gita
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” – Yogi Berra
When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. –Buddha
Ok, in the last post we discussed Awakening. Awakening is simply being natural and easy, here and now. And from this place of easiness and flow, life transforms without effort.
How do we get ‘here’? We don’t. We’re already natural and present. We cover it up by reaching. If you can be still for just a moment, you will find even in this stillness, you are lurching. Turn off the TV, be completely quiet, close your eyes, and just be aware. Be aware of thoughts. Let them come and go. You may find that it is difficult not to get swept away in the torrent of thought. That’s ok, bring attention back to awareness whenever you catch yourself in a thought-story. After some practice, you may find that your mind can be quiet enough that you can watch thoughts come, and go. But even in this stillness, there is a sense of lurching for the next moment. You may start thinking about what you have to do, or how you should change yourself, lose weight, be better, or what someone said to you.
The mind cannot just be. It is in the past or the future. When we can simply be still, and watch, we experience a natural ease—simply just the ease and joy of being.
All it takes is Awareness.
When we honestly chase down what we actually know, we aren’t left with much. We know we are awareness. We know all experience is in the present. We know we exist. That’s about all we can say. And it turns out, this is enough. There isn’t any more we need to know.
Rest in Awareness Now. The innate intelligence of Awareness will do the rest.
The problem of course is that we have forgotten how to rest in Awareness. We’ve put up a lot of hindrances to this incomprehensible, natural, eternal and infinite power. The human mind has a tremendous capacity to create concepts and beliefs. So there may some ‘doing’ required to let go of the effort the mind continually puts out to maintain these hindrances.
And how do we do that? How do we quiet a mind that is endlessly noisy? Practice and techniques and methods can help us with this. What we need is the space and silence of awareness, in the absence of mental noise, including the absence of the noise of striving and discipline. The mind immediately wants to know, “okay, how do I get that silence.”
There is no getting. It is more about letting go. This is the mystical beauty of it. Stop for a moment and consider. Consider the completely incomprehensible and fantastically mystical beauty that we call Awareness and experience. Consider. Awareness and experience are inexplicable and beyond comprehension, and available to all of us, all the time.
This is a relaxation into awareness that you don’t try to control. Krishnamurti calls it “choiceless awareness.” This is not the silence that one little corner of the mind imposes on the rest of the mind; it is not the silence that we force when we meditate; and it is not the presence that we try to be after we read Eckhart Tolle. This is a silence that is absent of effort and discipline and trying. It is silence that is natural, innate, effortless and choiceless.
As we rest in Awareness, we begin to realize that we are Awareness, not thought. We are that which can be aware of thought. We begin to realize that the seat of intelligence and creativity is Awareness, not thought. Some of our ideas and concepts about time and cause and effect may begin to unravel. We begin to see that the structure of beliefs is rather flimsy. We see that the desperation of desires is unhappiness. We begin to understand the natural function of emotions. The struggle of life begins to recede.
We might realize that we use the mind and thoughts to keep boundaries around ourselves and world. The mind gives us a reality that is solid, separate, and continuous in time and space, with a well-defined ‘me’. Awareness has no boundaries; it is insubstantial, intangible, and indistinct.
There are no words or concepts that can grasp Awareness. It is the experience of the one eternal, infinite present. This place beyond conceptualization is utterly simple and ordinary, and ungraspable by thought. Any effort to capture it in thought obscures it (seemingly). Abiding in Awareness is the utter relaxation of mind-effort.
We begin to realize that this state of quiet awareness is natural. When awareness is unbidden, it is choiceless, and peaceful. It is effortless. This is good, but we are still in the mind, and we can now look at the moment-to-moment angst, the ‘becoming’, the lurching for the next moment. Looking at it diminishes it. We can ask who it is that feels this peace and quiet of awareness. Who is the observer? This can be an interesting exploration. We may realize the “observer is the observed” and with this, the distance between the observer and the observed begins to close.
Awareness doesn’t need the observer. Awareness does fine, even better, all by itself. A ‘doer’ is superfluous. A tree doesn’t need a concept of itself to grow; the heart does not need an image of itself to beat; blood flows all by itself. Awareness is aware all by itself.
Awareness is gentle, choiceless and unbidden. It can’t be forced. It can’t be cultivated. It’s here when we know it’s here and it’s here when we don’t. The techniques we use don’t cultivate Awareness, they just remove blockage and effort.
As you practice Awareness, you will experience some emotional turmoil. My experience comes from decades of depression and anxiety, and when I started with the technique of being present, and meditating, this very quickly brought about emotional turmoil, and then anxiety, and then the detachment and apathy of depression. And so I’ve found that Release techniques work well in conjunction with expanding awareness, to help flush away the past.
Use the Release techniques to clear emotional baggage that is likely to come up. Anxiety, worries, anger—all of these can be cleared. Releasing is a method of the heart, and it jettisons the store of suppressed hurts and emotions. In a real way, it releases the past. Releasing methods are probably the most immediately useful ones. They work right away to make living much easier and harmonious.
Much of what I write is not necessary. Being aware, in the present, seeing through thoughts and beliefs, is it. Awareness is already innate and natural to us. The techniques of expanding Awareness are really techniques of removing hindrances to awareness; the techniques of Release are really techniques to release the pain of the past.
Awareness and Releasing work together as the two-step dance of awakening. As you release you become more aware. As you become more aware you release. It is an integrative and inter-dependent practice of Awareness and Release.