“All exists in awareness and awareness neither dies nor is re-born. It is the changeless reality itself.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj
In the pale light of dawn a thin patch of ice floats on a nearby pond. The warmth of the rising sun melts the ice and transforms it into a delicate mist that floats upwards and dissolves in the clear Vermont winter sky. A wild duck lands on the pond with a splash and sends a lazy ripple of concentric circles towards its edge.
What is the difference between the water in the pond and the ice that forms on it? Or the mist that rises from it? The flowing ripples? Ice, mist, ripples, all varied substances arising from the same source – all manifestations of water. Different, yet the same.
Likewise, what is the difference between a thought and the knowing of it? Or between an image, a feeling, a sensation, the sights and sounds of the world, and the awareness of them?
The pond, of course, is a metaphor for awareness, our essential being, in which all appearances arise. All manifestations of the body-mind – thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – arise in awareness; can only arise in awareness. All objects, subtle to gross, arise in, are made of, and known by awareness – source and substance. Different, yet the same.
The interesting thing about these relationships is that the source does not depend on the substance for its existence, but the substance depends on the source. Water does not depend on ice in order to be itself, but ice depends on water in order to become ice. Awareness does not depend on thought in order to be itself, but thought depends on awareness in order to become a thought.
If something is both the source and the substance it’s obvious that there can be no separation between them. Whatever manifestation of the source, that is, awareness, there is nothing new added – source always remains itself regardless of its apparent appearance. Our essential nature is that source, and as that source, although we may manifest as ten thousand things, we are unchanging, ever lasting, ever-present.
Rest in the understanding that all things arise in that which knows, but that which knows, which is ever-present, does not arise in any thing. This knowing exists before, during, and after all appearances arise, linger, and disappear. And you, I, we, are that knowing.
Actually, that’s not quite it. We are that which exists prior to the arising of anything, even the knowing. But don’t take anyone’s word for it. Trust only your own experience.