Radical Transformation

You see, when the mind is totally aware of its conditioning, there is only the mind; there is no ‘you’ separate from the mind. But, when the mind is only partially aware of its conditioning, it divides itself, it dislikes its conditioning or says it is a good thing; and, as long as there is condemnation, judgment, or comparison, there is incomplete understanding of conditioning, and therefore the perpetuation of that conditioning. Whereas, if the mind is aware of its conditioning without condemning or judging, but merely watching it, then there is a total perception, and you will find, if you so perceive it, that the mind frees itself from that conditioning. The mind frees itself.


Awakening is a radical transformation.

Let’s not call it spiritual enlightenment because we don’t know what that really is. The best we can do with that is to create a concept of what it might be and conceptualizing takes us in the opposite direction. It is more about getting into the flow of awakening.

Getting into the flow of awakening is the insight that Truth is not contained in the thinking mind. Primordial wisdom is before thought and cause and effect and time and space. It cannot be learned by studying. It cannot be understood by memorizing spiritual concepts. It can’t even be had by selfless service. It cannot be had by forcing positive states of mind and avoiding negative ones. It can’t be had by effort because no effort is necessary.

Awareness is innate—that is, it takes no belief or effort to be aware.

We create an armor of thoughts and beliefs around us. We all want the same thing. We want clarity. We want ease. We want to know to what do and feel and say at every moment. We want to be free of fear and sadness. So we create this armor, and we can’t see beyond this armor, and so we feel a claustrophobic fear.

You may feel your fear differently from the next person; in you, perhaps it shows up as anxiety, depression, addictions, or withdrawal. It may show up as chasing—chasing money, relationships, spirituality, or some other thing, or some other identity you create to try to make sense of this fear. It may be loneliness, shyness, a turning inward. It may be a crazy longing for someone. Or it is the constant unease underneath.


photo credit: Marcin Wichary

Once we have this insight that we are not thought, the play begins. We are now partially aware of our conditioning.

The play is putting together short moments of awareness till they become automatic.

What we do after this insight is what we’ve always done, because that is all we know, and we are still conditioned. We struggle and we chase. The target of our chase might change. Instead of the usual socially-sanctioned struggles, we now struggle for some sort of spiritual identity and understanding.

There is confusion. There is a questioning of everything we held to be true. Is this right? What should I be doing? Isn’t this whole thing silly? Self-indulgent? Fears come up. Doubts come up. Detachment, apathy might come up. What is happening to me? Am I weird? Layers peel off, one by one. Even anger comes up. When will this end? When will I ever feel any different? Upheaval happens. What was important before is gone. Careers and friends and outlook change.

This is awakening. It is the falling away of false. It is not clean.

But at some point, you sit and look at it, you can see that everything is simply a point of view in Awareness. Beliefs, anxiety, depression, spirituality, success, failure, forgiveness, acceptance, identities, money, poverty, purpose, futility—all of these are simply points of view in Awareness. And you realize that you spent a great deal of energy and time adapting and re-arranging these concepts in the mind.

Then there is confidence. There is an embracing of uncertainty.

Awareness, unmoored from all points of view, is the ultimate reality. This is the radical transformation. This is intelligence. This is intuition. This is compassion.  This is innocence.  Every moment is fresh. This intelligence gets brighter and frees us from the stale structures of our minds. This intelligence alone has the ability to free us, because everything else is just another belief, and necessarily a part of the same madness.

(Happy Holidays! Next post will be in January.)

43 thoughts on “Radical Transformation

  1. Evan

    Thanks Kaushik, hope you have a great Christmas.

    My big question is if awareness can be uprooted from all points of view? I think we can be free of our own point of view.

    Krishnamurti was truly extraordinary I think.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..Gratitude for the Graphic =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Evan,

      I like the terminology of Awareness and point-of-views, which is everything it contains, such as a thought or emotion or belief. The terminology is borrowed from greatfreedom.org.

      We can decide moment to moment to keep attention on Awareness, rather than any thought or emotion. We do this when we are completely relaxed, or when we observe thought, and a different dimension of consciousness comes in. These moments of awareness may be very short in the beginning. Putting together short moments can soon make it automatic. Also, in the beginning there may be a duality, a feeling that there is the observer (Awareness) and the observed (what it is being watched) but with practice, that fuses. There may also be a feeling of alertness or effort, but that too goes away.

      So, in this sense, the answer to your question is that Awareness is not separate from the what it contains, so points of views never go away. It’s more that attention is on this easy consciousness, rather than on any particular point of view contained therein.

      I hope you’re doing well!


  2. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Kaushik,

    Happy Holidays to you! I recently learned that when a Tibetan Buddhist points to their mind, they point to their heart. Isn’t that beautiful? Humans give so much power to the mind, they have no idea that it is the mind that messes things up. I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of others. The mind is rooted in duality and there is no duality. Once you see that, then yes, there is a radical transformation.

    Awakening is a wonderful gift but it is just the tip of the iceberg because inevitably, much more learning is to be had. People think that being awakened is the end all of existence. It is only just the beginning.
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..Searching For Some Soul =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nadia,

      That’s interesting that the Tibetans point to the heart. Ramana pointed to near the heart as the source of Being.

      You’re right, the mind does mess things up. The deep attachment to the thinking mind is the core of our delusion, but it’s difficult to see this intellectually. We’ve come to rely so heavily on the dualistic mind that we cannot conceive of a different possibility.

      And yes absolutely, this realization that “I am not thought” is just the beginning of awakening and deepening is endless. We do get to a point of flow where awakening deepens on its own, without much effort.

      I hope you are doing well! Enjoy your holidays!

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  4. Brenda (betaphi)

    Happy Holidays, Kaushik! You just get better and better at this. The writing gets clearer and clearer. I am so grateful for all you have taught me this year. You may be the most enlightened person I know. And now you have introduced me to Krishnamurti, who strikes me as the perfect wise grandfather. Someone asked him what role hope and faith should play in one’s life, and he said none because hope and faith have failed to deliver the goods. That’s a radically different way of looking at things, isn’t it!

    On one of his videos, he lamented that awareness too often comes too late in life. I wonder if that’s because the ego is so necessary for the push and shove required to move through the work world, or whether it’s because we fail to educate young people on how to live otherwise. In my case it seems there was not as much time for serious contemplation of these things when I was busy parenting and teaching. It would be great if we could reach young people with this message of radical transformation. Perhaps, if Desiderata is correct and the universe is unfolding as it should, they are slowly getting the message. You are certainly doing your best to get it out there. Kudos and bravos to you!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      Yes, Krishnamurti is great! He uses English of his day which can sometimes seem difficult. I usually recommend excerpts and quotations from his books. There are a number of good online resources. Krishnamurti was very cognizant to the ego’s movement to make even awakening into some sort of spiritual achievement, and this comes out often in his teachings. We must come empty-handed, and leave even our beautiful spiritual concepts behind.

      Awareness does seem to come to us late in life, but it also seems that the internet is changing that!

      Thank you for your kind words. It’s a beautiful gift you give me!

      I hope you are doing well!


  5. Krebstar Ganjapuffs

    I read this while listening to Bob Marley’s Uprising. Every now and then I would close my eyes and just be aware of the Music. I feel that Reggae music is very conducive to awareness practice because the beat is repetitive and simple (similar to following one’s breath as in Zazen or Vipassana meditation practice). I must say that I feel much more aware, present and content. Thanks alot, this blog is terrific. Happy Holy-days.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Krebstar,
      Yes, some music has a meditative effect. As you say, it is simple. It is just choiceless, effortless Awareness, and when we can put together small moments of Awareness, it adds up to being conscious.

      Happy Holy-days to you too!


  6. Hulbert

    Hi Kaushik. Really cool post. Usually when I try my best to be completely conscious of my mind or conscious of everything around me, I fail. The line that really struck me was that it is “effortless”. Whenever I put in the effort to do so, it seems very hard to do. I hope that one day my mind will be at ease and peace, but until then I will try to be more conscious of the moment and my surroundings. Thanks for sharing this enlightening article. 🙂

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Hulbert,
      Yes, you’re absolutely right, it is effort in the beginning. We simply rest as awareness. We can do this by doing just, sort of mentally laying back and witnessing. We can do it by observing thought. In the beginning it does seem like effort, but short moments of awareness, put together many times, leads to effortless awareness, or what Krishnamuriti calls “choiceless awareness.”

      Thanks for the insight!


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  8. Lisis

    Hi, Kaushik!

    I absolutely love this line:

    “Awareness is innate—that is, it takes no belief or effort to be aware.”

    In fact, that’s what you have come to represent for me. Whenever I see your name anywhere, I feel instantly aware, and fully present. Haha! Perhaps you have become my object of meditation! 😉

    Happy Holidays, my friend! Thanks for sharing your loving, compassionate soul with the rest of us.

  9. Andrew

    Kaushik your articles are becoming better and better! While awakening can’t be experienced intellectually, it can certainly be explained in a way that helps others reach that state.

    Over the past week I’ve had two moments of “presence”. I was actually present for a whole day about 5 days ago, and half a day 3 days ago, but it was gone both times the next day that I woke up. Then questions came up “was I really present? Why can’t I be like that now? Ok I just have to watch my thoughts and it will come back”. But it didn’t. After that all the worry thoughts came back.

    I’m still not sure if it was presence, but it was an amazing experience because it was completely different from how I had been feeling for the past few months (there was just a love of life, an easiness). I remember feeling that way before in my life, but I can’t put my finger on exactly when. Another interesting point is that I felt very little difference emotionally – no extreme bliss or anything like that, but I didn’t mind, because the world was fun!

    When analyzing it, I realized that when not in that ‘present’ state, my thoughts seem almost louder. Another thing that I noticed in the present state was the sound of birds! It seemed weird that I had never noticed it before. Also, when making jokes with the family and laughing, it somehow just seemed more real and authentic than normal.

    Anyway sorry for such a rambling post on your blog but I had to get it off my chest. And I also wanted to verify that it was ‘presence’ even though from everything I’ve read it certainly felt like it. How do I get this back!?!? 😛

    Thanks, Kaushik.


    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Andrew,

      I’ve gone through what you describe and it is probably very typical experience. We try to be present. The mind immediately rebels. The mind/ego does not like presence–it cannot survive in presence, so it creates a mental space it calls presence. This is why when we try to be present, it often feels artificial, detached and lifeless.

      I like “Awareness” more than “Presence.” Of course they are both just words and point to the same thing. In my experience it is easier to know Awareness, and know that Awareness does not take effort or beliefs or trying–it always just is. With practice, short moments of awareness put together becomes effortless and choiceless.

      Keep going. You’re doing wonderfully well and your comments are most helpful.

      Thanks, and enjoy your holidays, Andrew.


  10. Miche - Serenity Hacker

    Hi Kaushik, this was really awesome! I like the “flow of awakening” (and the corresponding post on that: WOW!) that you’ve pointed out and the “play” of putting those moments together. Also, how you’ve said it isn’t “clean”, and all the uncomfortable stuff that goes along with that… Those experiences can make the journey of awakening scary as heck sometimes… and why a lot of people go back to clinging to what has begun to fall away… But that never feels quite the same as it did before… you know what I mean?

    Every time I come to “quickly” read your posts I end up having three or four tabs open reading other posts of yours as well, so it’s never really quick, but it’s always really thought-provoking and quite enjoyable! (And then, too, I also discover some great insights wrapped up in really cool phrases… “socially-sanctioned struggles” … YES!!) So thank you, Kaushik for such insightful work.

    Happy Holidays and a super post!

    Miche 🙂
    .-= Miche – Serenity Hacker´s last blog ..Is Passion Necessary for a Meaningful Life? =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Miche,
      Yes, it’s not clean. As you point out, it can be uncomfortable and even scary at times. It’s different for different people, but sometimes the emotional turmoil lof awakening seems even more acute than before. This is probably because we are noticing more. For me, anxiety and detachment and apathy came up, as old drivers fall away. Anxiety is just a matter of letting go. The detachment/apathy may be related to years of depression. The trick is to complete allow any state, and more and more we can see freedom is in awareness. The problem is the solution; these very states can help us awaken. For most of us, this takes time and practice, and so we are confused about how to handle these disturbing states in the meantime. I’d like to explore this more in future posts.

      Ah, such kind words! Thanks, and thanks for visiting.

      I hope you are well!


  11. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    I have to admit, Kaushik, that everything I’ve read or heard about awakening sounds divine. And then I realize that the “me” has turned awakening into just one more thing it wants. So I laugh and let that desire fall away.
    I’ve stopped seeking it, yet am still acutely aware of the possibilities it represents.
    Perhaps some day I’ll know more about awakening from a first-person account, but until then, I’ll just keep examining and hand removing piece after piece of armor as best I can.
    Happy holidays to you!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..Funny Cookies =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Megan,

      Very well said. I think you’ve covered the back-and-forth tugs that the “me” feels about awakening.

      We seek in many different ways. Arjuna Ardagh has an eye-opening conversation about seeking but I can’t find it on the net. It can help to understand that all seeking comes down to the clinging to concepts or beliefs, and of course concepts about awakening and spiritual beliefs are probably the stickiest.

      “removing piece after piece of armor” is a nice way to put it. It is letting go. And just abiding in this awaring presence–not reaching for any special states, and not running away from disturbing states, but just abiding and watching–even just of short moments, adds up. These two “practices” are simple and natural.

      Thanks for an illuminating comment!

      I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the holidays!


  12. Evita

    Hi Kaushik

    I love those words from Krishnamurti that you opened with. I also really resonated with the idea of the “flow of awakening” – indeed it is a never ending process. I like the idea of “enlightenment” but not for a second think it is ever a done deal.

    I love the idea that indeed we, our mind has the power to open itself up and allow new ideas to flow or close off that flow. We can be conscious and aware or we can choose otherwise. I know it is arguable that perhaps it is not a choice, perhaps some people do not know any better, but I don’t know, I think everything in life is based on choice and so we can choose to awaken to every moment we are presented with or not.

    Such a beautiful post! Thanks and happy new year to you! See you in January 🙂
    .-= Evita´s last blog ..Spirituality Meets Modern World: Dealing With Expectations =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Evita,

      Yes, I think awakening is an ever-going process. I’ve heard some say to hurry up and awaken because it’s only the beginning!

      It’s hard to say whether any of this is a choice or not. I feel it is choice whether to be aware or to be swept up in conditioning. Ultimately, we cannot know.

      Thank you for your kind words! Enjoy your holidays and see you in January!


  13. Lana - DreamFollowers Blog

    Kaushik, first time on your blog and really appreciated what you have here. Thank you.

    “The play is putting together short moments of awareness till they become automatic” – this is so true, that’s what I am experiencing now, it takes practice to live consciously and with awareness in every moment. But moment by moment we’ll be there.
    .-= Lana – DreamFollowers Blog´s last blog ..The Ultimate Guide to Creative Visualization =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lana,

      Great to see you here. You’re right, it does take some practice to let and to be aware, but there’s a point where we get into the flow of awakening, when it seems to deepen on its own, without effort from the imaginary “me.”

      Enjoy your holidays and hope to see you here again!


  14. kuroh tzu

    Bon giorno,
    i am kind of flabbergasted… Maybe it’s just the way of expressing things. If we are not our thoughts, are they something separate from us, from our minds? All thought is illusion and hence negligible?

    the madman.
    .-= kuroh tzu´s last blog ..Krishnamurti vs. me =-.

  15. kuroh tzu

    I don’t believe anything, but i do know that i think my thoughts, and that i, the thinker, am not separate from them. So yes, i am my thoughts, i am my desires.

    Awareness without insight will never lead to radical transformation.

    el querto.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Kuroh,
      Yes, the “observer is the observed” and “thought creates the thinker” and there is no duality between the thinker and thought, but there seemingly is when we believe we are thought. You say you don’t believe anything, which is what Krishnamurti liked to say of himself. And it’s truly wonderful to be really free of beliefs.

      I have no satisfactory intellectual answers. I give into an intellectual debate right away. I take no philosophical or spiritual stand. This is not about clever ideas or particular beliefs of thinker, thought, observed, observer, or meditation.

      It is simply that in still, wide-open, effortless awareness, there is an understanding of the whole, as insight, as experience, not as intellectual triumph. This is radical transformation.


  16. kuroh tzu

    Hi Kaushik,
    i am only trying to understand your views. I don’t see why you keep repeating my comments are “intellectual”. I am not out for triumph, i am only out for clarity. The moment you start interpreting something, you are forced to use a certain terminology, there is no way around that.
    Maybe i’m only getting lost in your words while in fact we’re talking about the same thing. I have read multiple of your posts. To me it seems you are saying the following: i am the thinker with his thoughts. But: i am not thought. My thoughts are not ultimately real, so i should let them be (crucial question*: should i still do the effort to closely observe them?), simply become still, be aware, let Awareness do its thing and give me insight, make me more intelligent, bring about transformation. Sorry for the caricature, it is simply to make things more clear, to show you the pitfalls in your description. The belief in the idea of Awareness is very tempting, you see.

    If the answer is yes to my * question above, you should emphasize this, don’t you think? If it is no, how am i, the thinker, to come to a better understanding, to deeper insights of my self and the world? How could i ever transform? This is my main point.

    Thank you for the feedback and good luck,
    a non-intellectual, really.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Kuroh,

      To your question, should I still do the effort to closely observe thoughts, the answer is yes. Observe through awareness. Observe as stillness, in the present, as choiceless awareness, moment to moment. Awareness soon becomes (always is) choiceless, effortless.

      We are missing each other in words. You say I should emphasize this. But this is what the entire site is about. It is about Awareness. I also talk about Release, because it is a practice which also leads to effortless Awareness.

      You seem to resonate with Krishnamurti. When it comes to Krishnamurti, or Jesus or Buddha or Tolle or Adyashanti or any other awakened non-dual teacher, we can certainly deconstruct their ideas and words. The thinking mind loves to do that and of course there is validation in figuring things out. Then there is great concern about comparative levels of understanding of particular ideas, ideas like thought and thinker and insight. We are free to do this of course, but this amounts to what Krishanmurti calls “intellection.” The thinker is the very cause of the conflict.

      Or we can do what these teachers suggest. We can actually experience Awareness and allow insight. This is the Awareness that is innocent, fresh, non-intellectual, choiceless, effortless.


  17. Paul Maurice Martin

    “It cannot be had by forcing positive states of mind and avoiding negative ones. It can’t be had by effort because no effort is necessary.”

    What do you make of Right Effort and the rest of Buddhism’s Eightfold Path – or for that matter, writing/reading posts on this topic!

    Wouldn’t it be more the case that it isn’t a direct outcome of any sort of practice but that practices have indirect ways of facilitating? That’s how it’s felt to me…

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Paul,
      Yes, good point. I think this is what happens: I have an insight. I use some sort of practice. I realize that Being requires no practice. Then I say practice is not required.

      That’s how it feels. Everyone has his or her own path. So what you say makes complete sense, and it is sometimes what I say, that practice is futile, but practice may be the way for us to know that practice is futile. Effort is necessary to see that it is not.

      On Buddhism and the Eight-fold path and Right Effort, I don’t know much about it. I can see that Buddhism is a great path for many and I can also see, as Jed McKenna points out here, how it is far removed from the Buddha. I feel that these traditional paths might have been necessary to learn about awakening in the past. Today, there are many sources of information available through many teachings, books and the internet. In the end, it takes a certain readiness. When we are ready, we can relax the ego enough, and we stop looking at these teachings intellectually or spiritually or religiously.

      Thanks, great discussion.


  18. Janice

    Good Evening Mr. K.,
    Wow, I really get so much from your writing, other posters comments and I even feel the frustration in others quest. I have a question, actually I want to say something and see if I am learning this information in a helpful order of progression.
    1.) I am led here by the Tolle site.
    2.) I finally find someone (aka you) who understands anxiety and depression (thank GOD)
    3.) I purchase your book on Release and begin to try to understand the method
    4.) Practice the method on big and small situations AND FEELINGS, works pretty damn good
    5.) Begin to see some light, in the fact that my thoughts that I hide from are associated with very sad and scary feelings, separate those two, facts/thoughts from the feelings
    6.) Some of the thoughts begin to lose tons of energy with no feeling attached. (working on this piece all the time)
    7.) Experienced a great meditative time, shared with friend, who then scared me with the boogy man, of course, you straightened that shit out right away. No evil, no negative, only new and unfamiliar.
    Notice I am still in the prep work for Awakening, BUT, the big thing is I am not getting impatient, I have a belief that this journey will not be in vain.
    8.) Keep coming back here and reading and allow the information to soak in.
    9.) Currently, am trying to learn the difference between “zoning out” through ego and really feeling some Awareness. I don’t think this stage will take me very long, you see, I am in a groovey spot of love.
    10.) Keep asking you questions and really loving the fact that you are here and you are patient.
    Now,do you think I am on the “right” track? Am I missing any crucial steps? I know in my heart that everyone gets “there” in their own way, what I am asking is, am I in left field? or will this work?
    Love & Light,
    Thank you!!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      Of course you’re on the right track. You’re a frequent visitor and you know that I am not given to fluff or mysticism–I try to be clear and direct. The saying that “when the student is ready, the master appears” is very true. The master of course can be a person or a teaching or simply your own insight. The critical insight is that we are not our minds. Once we have that insight, there is a journey and everything about the journey is right.

      There is nothing mystical about this. The essence in us will always recognize what we need. Sometimes, what we need does not feel comfortable.

      It can be helpful if we are very open, which you are. It can be helpful if can develop a gentle honesty with ourselves, which you have. Acceptance and forgiveness can be important, and I’ve found these develop naturally as we release.

      For us, coming from depression and anxiety, it is important to love ourselves. I know that sounds trite–because it is often said. So we have a tendency to dismiss it. But you must love yourself enough to want to awaken. Stay here, stay now, and love yourself.

      Patience and allowing are also important for us. In the low times, we feel frustrated and confused and feel that this will last forever. We feel alone and we feel that others seem to have an easier time of it. There is doubt and fear. In these times we can love ourselves, be patient, fully allow, and watch. It can be hard at these times to do any sort of practice, but it’s always easy to be open and allow, and we can simply read and explore and learn.

      There are many wonderful resources. You mentioned the Tolle forum, and there are other sites as well on the External Resources page.

      You are doing wonderfully well, Janice. I love your openness and honesty, and your willingness to share shows great compassion.

      love and peace,

  19. Janice

    Mr. K, Good Morning,
    Thank you so much for your beautiful response. Would you please refer me to your archives or write more about loving oneself? I am 53 years old, I did not grow up in an era or childhood home where loving yourself was a priority. Now I am kinda thinking you might be saying it is a responsibilty to love oneself. Is that too bold or am I putting words in your mouth? Or maybe I should just say it is MY responsibility to love me. This information could be key to me or others like me who think or have been taught that we should only worry about whether God loves me. there are still lots of knots in my programming.
    Have a great day. I totally appreciate you.
    Love & Light,

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      I came upon a long period of inertia–when I had very low energy and felt confused and unsure. The tendency at these times is to buck up and power through with self-improvement and discipline and so on, but I decided to simply allow and watch. I found that these periods happen, at least in my experience, because of the conflict of deep beliefs and patterns. It’s not necessary to understand what these patterns are; I found I can simply allow, watch, be patient, and release. And loving myself is very important. I understand what you’re saying–I too feel it can be a strange thing to say to love myself.

      Many of our conflicts come from self-hatred and self-criticism, and loving ourself helps us completely accept, completely forgive, and release beliefs about ourself. You know you love someone else when you want to selflessly do what is good for them, and loving ourself is the same.

      Love isn’t a responsibility and we don’t have to complicate it. We fully accept–we let go of self-judgment and self-criticism. We can be still, relax, and feel love.


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