Awareness

Have you ever experienced total peace, total flow? Have you felt complete inner Silence, feeling (not thinking) completely a part of your surroundings, when time has stopped or slowed down?

Open up your senses. Meet perception half-way. Listen to the sounds around you right now. See if you can meet them half-way, so that there is no delay between sensing and hearing. There is no delay when there is no interpretation.

silence
Creative Commons License photo credit: alicepopkorn

This experience of innate, effortless awareness is the crux of all spirituality. If we miss this core, spirituality then becomes nothing more than the chase of concepts and hierarchies.

Listen to music at this level of consciousness. See the vibrancy of colors at this level. Feel the aliveness in the inner body in this awareness.

We all run to self-help, but self-help is the advancement of the ego, and there is nothing wrong with this if we realize this. We run to books and blogs and seminars and the latest spiritual secret, and there is nothing wrong, but the crux of the living is still very, very simple. It is Awareness.

We seek peace outside ourselves, in achievements and vacations and beliefs and concepts and God and prayer, and there is nothing wrong with this, but the crux of the matter is still very, very simple.

We march to the loud drumbeats of the latest secrets of happiness. We run to positive thinking, but positive thinking doesn’t release negativity—it just covers it up if we try hard enough, for a while. We run to the likes of the law of attraction but it cannot be terribly useful to us when we are full of embodied patterns of sadness and fear.

We beat up quite a bit of foam and lather in seeking our true purpose, but when we realize our inner purpose is, and always has been, to awaken, we can happily give up the angst of seeking out our great purpose. Then, there is great purpose in everything that we do, and everyone who we meet.

We run away from pain, but pain can can only be released when we allow it, even welcome it, and watch it, with awareness.

Awareness does not require you to believe, or to have faith, or to be strong, or diligent, or to be spiritual.

Let’s try it.

Relax completely. Let go of thoughts and emotions. Let go of beliefs. Notice your breath. Notice the sounds around you. Notice the taste in your mouth. Notice where you skin touches your clothes. Notice the inside aliveness. Relax deeply, release tension, be aware of tightness in your body and let go. Be aware of the air going in your lungs. When thoughts arise, allow them, watch them, and bring attention gently back to your senses.

With short moments of self-observation, we become conscious of thoughts and emotions and fears and patterns and beliefs and egos. We become conscious of what Einstein called the “optical illusion of consciousness.” We become conscious of our delusion.

56 thoughts on “Awareness

  1. Jeff Lapointe

    I am curious that whenever someone talks about this ‘awareness’ it is done with such reverence, such shall I say glory and yet I find it difficult to find such glory in the ordinariness of listening to my breath, to feeling the clothes on my back. Do sounds really sound sooo sweet, colors so vivid? In my experience the words you describe for such a state of awareness describe more our daily crests and troughs of comparisons of emotions from happiness and exaltation to sadness and despair. Is it a matter of holding this awareness long enough? A matter of putting aside all our egos? Finding a sensation outside the realm of emotional experience is somewhat a paradox and while I know it is something to go through do you have any words of advice or comments on this? I realize it is always very difficult for someone with awareness to talk to those without it or seeking it. Can we strive to bridge the gap so we have a better sense of communication and connection with our words and experience?

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jeff,

      I acknowledge your point. There is a tendency to glorify presence.

      I remember that when I first read Eckhart Tolle, people I know often said how blissful it was to be present–it was wonderful, glorious, opening. I was confused because in my experience, presence felt rather boring.

      The mind jumps in and says, is this it? Is this all there is? Is this what people are really talking about?

      Perhaps a guided meditation can help. I suggest Adyanshanti’s “True Meditation” and a sample of that is here: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Adyashantis-Meditation-Allowing-Everything-to-Be-As-It-Is.

      It’s best not look for high or blissful state. Simply just allow. Be aware, and let go, and allow, and be honest with yourself, and be patient–and a different level of consciousness, which feels like a long lost friend, seeps in.

      Thanks for making a very important point!

      I hope you are well.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  2. John Rocheleau - Zen-Moments

    Immerse yourself totally into a thing; an activity; a moment, and you will find awareness and flow. Immersion — “being” rather than seeing; experiential knowledge — is the way to enter the power that resides just beneath the veneer of everyday life.

    Smiles,
    John

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi John,

      Yes, complete immersion in an activity, or just presence, is a good way to find flow. This often happens during a sports or artistic or skilled activity. Thanks for the pointer.

      I hope you’re well!

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
      1. Ed

        Isn’t this just a way of avoiding pain?
        What is the difference in “completely immersion in an activity” and 4 Gin and Tonics?

        When the activity is done (or the Gin is gone) the thoughts/feelings/emotions that are causing the pain are still there.

        Reply
        1. Kaushik Post author

          I’m generally not about avoidance, and so whatever it is I said is probably more about allowing and letting go.

          I don’t have complete clarity on the use of alcohol. I do use alcohol. I don’t think I use it to avoid pain. Maybe to create a different state of mind, maybe as a social aid. I don’t know. But in my case I don’t think it’s distraction or avoidance. But as I say this is an area where I do not have complete clarity.

          Reply
          1. Ed

            Again, the answer almost always seems to be “allowing and letting go”. But how do I do this? The whole “just let go” or “it’s just that simple” does not explain how to do this, it basically says just do it. That worked pretty well as a Nike ad campaign but provides not direction or relief to those wo do not know how.

            Reply
            1. Kaushik Post author

              Ed, I understand your frustration.

              I don’t say “just do it” to say that it’s easy. Resistance comes up. Frustration, anger, fear–these things can come up.

              I say “just do it” to say that you have to actually try it. Whenever you are feeling emotions you don’t want to, try the technique. Allow, watch. Ask yourself if you can let this go. Let it go. And if you can’t let go at this time, that’s okay.

              Try it for a few days.

              If this does not seem to be working for you, leave it alone. Try something else.

              Reply
              1. Ed

                I have tried and tried more methods and techniques over the last 15 years than I can even remember. There is no “letting go”.

                Reply
  3. Liara Covert

    The experience of awareness releases a person from the illusions of misery and suffering. Some people are so deluded by illusions that they do not sense escape or salvation are possible.

    Those who desire things move away from the awareness that is present, and into the abyss of the imagined future. Desires are unreal and through the unreal, it is not possible to align with the real.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, Awareness releases a person from the delusions of fear and sadness, but this is not immediately clear to the mind. The mind jumps in and says: is this all there is? This feels empty and boring. We have to stay with it.

      Thanks for the insight.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
    2. Ed

      “the illusions of misery and suffering”?
      What if the misery and suffering are indeed real. Does telling myself that they are an illusion make it so? And who is it that is telling me this? My mind (ego). Is my mind that created this misery and suffering to be trusted?

      Reply
      1. Kaushik Post author

        Yes, good point. I don’t fully trust my mind, because if is of course compromised by fear. And so understanding/knowledge/honesty/beliefs/thoughts cannot be relied upon. And so what can I rely on? Me. The sense of me, the sense of self. I can bring my attention to the sense of self, in this way which John Sherman describes:

        Step 1: Learn to Move the Beam of Your Attention at Will
        To begin, just relax for a moment, and notice the obvious fact that you have the power to move your attention at will.

        As you read this, move your attention away from the text for a moment, and direct it instead to the feel of your breathing.

        Notice the feel of your chest and belly expanding and contracting, and then bring it back here to this page.

        Do that a couple of times so that you become familiar with what I mean by “moving the beam of your attention at will.”
        That action of moving attention at will, as you just did, is all that’s needed to accomplish what I am asking you to do. The more you practice this simple act, the more you’ll become familiar with how it feels to do it. And the more familiar you become with the feel of it, the more skillful and direct you will be in the effort to move the beam of attention where it must go.

        Step 2: Turn the Beam of Your Attention Inward
        Now, use that skill to actually turn the beam of attention inward. Try to make a direct, unmediated contact with what it actually feels like to be you, just plain and simple you.
        When I say you, I don’t mean the thoughts that pass through you, nor the emotions that play in you, nor the sensations that rise and fall within you, just you. You are that which is always here, look at that. Everything else comes and goes in you. You already know what you are, and what it feels like to be you, and you will surely recognize yourself when you see yourself in this way.

        There is no need to try and stay there, resting in your self or any such thing. All it takes is the length of a heartbeat, so brief that you will hardly notice it. It really is that simple.

        Repeat this as often as it occurs to you to do so.

        There is no step three.

        Reply
        1. Ed

          “Try to make a direct, unmediated contact with what it actually feels like to be you, just plain and simple you”.

          I have no idea what this means or how to do this. I have attempted to practice this technique in the past and I get nothing.

          “I don’t mean the thoughts that pass through you, nor the emotions that play in you, nor the sensations that rise and fall within you, just you.”

          We are all a composite of our thoughts/emotions/sensations/beliefs, without them what is left? What is the “just you” that I am trying to feel? And again isn’t this just another way of avoiding our thoughts/feeling/emotions?

          “You already know what you are, and what it feels like to be you, and you will surely recognize yourself when you see yourself in this way”.

          Why do you assume that I “already know what I am, and what it feels like to be me”? Without my thoughts/feelings/emotions there is nothing left to feel. I do not see anything when I try to look at myself this way, so why would you assume that I would “surely” recognize what I see? I see nothing.

          “There is no need to try and stay there, resting in your self or any such thing. All it takes is the length of a heartbeat, so brief that you will hardly notice it. It really is that simple”.

          There is nothing simple about this method. It assumes that I will “see” myself.
          This is quite the assumption. What if I see nothing?

          Reply
          1. Kaushik Post author

            It is just you. There is no trick to it. You have a sense of existence. You. It is what you refer to when you use the pronoun “me.”

            “We are all a composite of our thoughts/emotions/sensations/beliefs, without them what is left? What is the “just you” that I am trying to feel? And again isn’t this just another way of avoiding our thoughts/feeling/emotions?”

            You are not a composite of your thoughts/emotions/sensations/beliefs. There is an awareness. Attention, awareness, the feeling of you.

            And it’s not avoiding thoughts/feeling/emotions. While you look at you, the thoughts/feeling/emotions you have don’t matter.

            Reply
            1. Ed

              I have never exereienced a feeling of “me” I do not understand what you are speaking of. Without my thoughts & feelings there is nothinh

              Reply
              1. Kaushik Post author

                Ed,

                You have always experienced a feeling of you.

                But I am not trying to convince you.

                My sense is, from your comments here and on the Tolle forum, that you have particular and perhaps impatient expectations. Your responses seem quick and a little frantic. Of course I could be wrong–because you have also mentioned that you have tried many things over the last 15 years.

                I don’t have a lot of experience in the area of guiding people; mostly what I do is suggest what is working for me. I suggest that you try to take a break. Forget about all this stuff for a while–and it will only be for a while because you and I and many others are compelled to this and really have no choice in the matter.

                Relax for a bit. It seems to me that settling the mind and training attention may be useful to you. In the times when I have felt frantic, I have tried taking breaks (though I’ve always been compelled to come back to this quickly), meditation (Vipassana retreats, dhamma.org, Adyashanti); and also just reading. You can just read and explore, without putting the pressure on yourself to actually practice any of the techniques.

                k

                Reply
                1. Ed

                  “You have always experienced a feeling of you”.

                  I asure you that I have not.
                  It seems (to me) that as hard as is it for me to understand the “feeling of being me”. It is equally hard for anyone who has this feeling to understand how someone can not have it.

                  “My sense is, from your comments here and on the Tolle forum, that you have a particular and perhaps impatient expectations. Your responses seem quick and a little frantic. Of course I could be wrong–because you have also mentioned that you have tried many things over the last 15 years”.

                  They are not quick and frantic. I have been asking the same questions for 15 years. I do not have impatient expectations I have stuck with it for 15 years.

                  “I suggest that you try to take a break. Forget about all this stuff for a while–and it will only be for a while because you and I and many others are compelled to this and really have no choice in the matter”.

                  This is the problem, I can not “take a break” from being the watcher of my thoughts/emotions. I have tried and tried to no avail. And being the watcher intensifies the compulsive thinking.

                  “Relax for a bit. It seems to me that settling the mind and training attention may be useful to you. In the times when I have felt frantic, I have tried taking breaks (though I’ve always been compelled to come back to this quickly), meditation (Vipassana retreats (dhamma.org), Adyashanti); and also just reading. You can just read and explore, without putting the pressure on yourself to actually practice any of the techniques”.

                  Again, this is where my frustration surfaces. These are the same answers that I have been getting for 15 years.

                  Reply
                  1. Kaushik Post author

                    Ok. I understand you feel frustrated.

                    If you wish we can try to talk on the phone or skype or messenger. I am not a teacher or counselor or spiritual guide and do not wish to be. I only share and try to be as honest as I can.

                    If you’re interested send me a note through the about/contact page.

                    Reply
  4. Nitin

    Namaste Kaushikbhai,

    You are doing excellent job to give same food(message) in different menu.
    As long as awareness doesn’t became desire to full fill the ego, then it’s a way/path/Tao to be present in now in natural form.

    Nowhere……….Rather…….” Now Here”

    Cheers
    Nitin

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Namaste Nitinbhai,

      Yes, excellent point, our quest for freedom from the ego can be co-opted with the ego. It’s good to keep in mind that every intention is suffused with the ego. Leonard Jacobson calls this a “spiritualized ego.”

      I hope you are well.

      Love and peace,
      k

      Reply
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  6. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    I totally understand this statement you said to Liara……

    The mind jumps in and says: is this all there is? This feels empty and boring. We have to stay with it.
    Sometimes when I am fortunate enough to have some Awareness and I get that empty feeling. I say, Wow, where are the rainbows and unicorns? right? How come this feels like nothing. Sometimes it is almost too sad to feel that empty. Okay, why are we supposed to stay with it?
    Also, another thing, be glad I have not be bugging you lately because I just read that Awareness, Awakening is not a linear process. IF that infomration is correct I am going to bed with no plans of getting up. I cannot handle any process that is not in a straight format.
    I don’t do random and I don’t do willy nilly.
    Love & Light,
    Janice

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      In the middle stages of awakening there is nothing to hold on to. Our delusion is that we identify very closely with our thoughts and beliefs and embodied patterns, and as this identification dissolves we have nothing else to hold onto, and we are used to holding on. And so it may feel empty and desolate and confusing and frustrating. Is this all there is? Where are the freaking unicorns and bliss and oneness? I am just as confused as ever, even more so now, so why I get on this path?

      Some people will even go so far as create other identities–spiritual identities, and they hang to spiritual concepts, but this is delusional as well, what Leonard Jacobson calls a “spiritualized ego.”

      This when heart techniques can become very important. We try to be present, to be aware. We continue to release. We continue to be honest with ourselves. We persist, we allow, we continue to be patient, we practice compassion, we love, we love ourselves, we forgive, we try to remain engaged, we cherish, we accept, we give, we continue with our obligations and our lives. We recognize that the ego is fighting back.

      Awakening in my experience is not linear–that is, we cannot say that this will happen because of that, and we cannot say how much time or space it takes, or what events can have profound effects. It is not about revelations, though we will have many. It is not about spiritual advancement, though many people will consider themselves very advanced because they have learned this or that, but the same people will be humiliated and humbled just like the rest of us. It is good news that it is not linear. You allow and be. I lived in delusion for over 40 years, and then when I recognized that I was in delusion, I didn’t get out of delusion, I just recognized that what I take myself to be is false.

      Once we have the first insight, there really is no turning back. What else are you going to do? You cannot live in delusion when you know you are in delusion. You want Truth. You want what you already know is possible and it is your natural birthright. You want ease and peace and intuition and joy in the present moment.

      The discomfort does pass. It does get better. You are able to let of expectations. You are able to see that the discomfort is a form of resisting the discomfort.

      I hope this helps.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
      1. Ed

        If we don’t “identify closely with our thoughts and beliefs” then who are we?

        “Once we have the first insight, there really is no turning back. What else are you going to do? You cannot live in delusion when you know you are in delusion. You want Truth. You want what you already know is possible and it is your natural birthright. You want ease and peace and intuition and joy in the present moment.”

        What if there is no insight?
        Telling yourself that it’s a “delusion” does not make it so.
        What if what you call a “delusion” IS the truth.
        I do not know “what is possible”

        Reply
        1. Kaushik Post author

          Ed,

          I wrote this a long time ago. I do not say these things now. Not that they are true or false. It’s just that I’ve discovered that this kind of “spiritual” talk is not really helpful.

          Kaushik

          Reply
  7. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    Please don’t tell me my emptiness is me resisting discomfort. Because you and I both know that resistance is my specialty. I can resist until I pass out or hang on till my fingernails crack. I was born to resist discomfort. I eat when I cannot think anymore, I sleep when I am sad and I work like a manic when someone hurts my feelings. Except, (and you already know this) none of that works anymore.
    this resistance thing has become a squatter in my body. Resistance thinks it can live in me rent free. But, what’s my pay off for resistance to live, uninvited, hogging all my strength, buried inside my chest?
    I hope you know that you help me in a profound way.
    Love & Light,
    Janice

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      You sent me the very illuminating interview of Schwartz in The Sun, and I take this quotation from him

      “Disliking feelings or making them wrong never solves problems. The reason we dislike them in the first place is because we’ve been taught to. There is nothing in the feeling to dislike. It is a movement in the body, a flow of something, maybe a hurt or a woundedness, which we assume to be weak, neurotic, or wrong. All those labels are made up.”

      You’re right, resistance is a strange thing. It shouldn’t exist when we don’t want it to exist, but it does, and the way to release resistance is to allow.

      Allow, be patient, allow in love.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
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  9. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    I had this very scary thought on my way to work last Friday. I thought what if I wasn’t here. and it felt really awful. I had a hard time shaking the feeling all that day. Over the weekend I talked frankly with my partner, Butch, and told him how these feelings had been creeping up on me lately and then the thought came. I don’t see myself jumping off a bridge or hurting myself, I just scared the living daylights out of myself with thoughts and feelings. My mother committed suicide when I was 24 and she 48. That fact in my life has always hurt me of course, no one wants to lose a loved one in that way. But, where did those thoughts Friday come from? I don’t know. I don’t expect you to know, it’s just that I wonder if you have any thoughts?
    Love & Light,
    Janice
    P.S. thanks to you, I practiced trying not to judge the thoughts and feelings and releasing. It actually helped a lot.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Dear Janice,

      These are suicide prevention hotlines:

      Toll-Free / 24 hours a day / 7 days a week
      1-800-SUICIDE 1-800-273-TALK
      1-800-784-2433 1-800-273-8255

      Here is something from a suicide crisis website:

      If you know you are in trouble or if you really don’t know what is wrong — whether you think it will help you or not, just call anyway.

      Reply
    2. Kaushik Post author

      I’m sorry about your circumstances with your mother. That is not something I have any experience with. I can imagine that can bring up confusing emotions.

      During the times of deep depression, I did have thoughts of suicide. They were the kind of thoughts that went something like: oh, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if I died in an accident.

      I have not had those thoughts for a long time. Some time I go, I read somewhere that people who think about suicide are looking for relief from emotions. But after the death, it isn’t possible to feel the relief. That made sense to me.

      Also, I had whimsically promised myself that if I ever was in a place where I would consider suicide seriously, I would first blow all my money in some place like Thailand, and go out with grand party. Of course, when I felt that low, the last thing I wanted to do was party, but it’s just way to bring about a different perspective.

      For much of my life, I was frightened of death. Death meant the end of experience. It meant the end of this particular person. I am no longer afraid of death, nor does it hold any kind of fascination.

      You may have heard of the expression “die before you die.” It means that liberation happens when you see that “you” don’t exist. You are not the ego that you think you are, and seeing through this delusion is what awakening really means. The “me” which at times suffers and at times is miserable does not exist. The awakened tell us that when this delusion is seen through, all other delusions wash away.

      So what’s the most direct way of realizing that there is no “you”?

      I don’t really know. Some of the awakened say to meditate on the sense of “I AM”, or ruthlessly and persistently look for the “I.” I think it takes stark honesty and stillness, which is what we talk about here. When we are able to release enough, and are able to be still enough, and have developed self-honesty, we might be successful in seeing through the false “I.”

      I went off on a tangent, but I’ll leave the comment as it is.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  10. Janice R.

    Dear Mr. K.,
    Thank you for your support and frank comments. I do not feel that I am in danger of hurting myself. But, I do appreciate your concern.
    I feel like I am in the process of resolving some issues about my Mom.
    Love & Light,
    Janice

    Reply
  11. Beverley

    ‘meet perception half way’ I like that.

    Inviting awareness into my life is something I endeavour to do on a daily basis. I say invite because as I [and we] are governed so much by our ego it is almost like I have to be polite to it to get in the door somedays. Otherwise it steps in with the notion of [as was commented earlier] ‘is this all there is?’ and the ‘why arent you actually doing something of use line’

    great stuff :)

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Beverly,

      Yes, exactly, well said. We can simply remind ourselves to remain in Awareness, with politeness as you say, not force or judgment, and soon the effort goes away.

      Thanks, hope to see you here more often!

      k

      Reply
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  13. Marcos Decoud

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I’ve truly loved browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing on your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Marcos. I do want to write–I’ve started several articles. But it seems experience is changing and I don’t quite have the clarity in words right now.

      Reply

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