The Background of All Experience

Try to imagine something that contains all things, including your finite mind and mortal body, yet itself is not confined by the limitations of time and space. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. You are already it.

If we take a simple look at what’s going on in our experience, there is a knowing presence – we are and we know that we are – that exists prior to the appearance of any of the temporary qualities of our limited body-mind-world. For example, this knowing, or aware presence, doesn’t come and go with a thought or a sensation. It is always here – the background of all experience.

Space is the background for the planets, stars, constellations, and galaxies, within which they appear, are known by, and made of. And just as space is the background for all of its manifestations, our essential being, aware presence, or consciousness, is the background of all experience. All that we know, all that we assume ourselves to be – which in the end is simply a cluster of fleeting thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – arises in consciousness, is known by consciousness, and is made of consciousness.

And, for example, just as the space inside a house is not disturbed by what appears or occurs in it – a drunken brawl or lovers dancing by candlelight – this knowing presence, the background of all experience, is untouched by any appearance, by any activity. And if you take away the house, it is noticed that there never was an inside or outside to begin with, that it is all just one vast, empty space. In just the same way, it is seen that regardless of any apparent divisions – temporary walls of thoughts, sensations, or perceptions – there never was, is, any separation between this knowing presence and any appearance arising within it.

See that all appearances, all objects, arise in, are known by, and made of this vast, empty, knowing presence. Can you imagine something coming from outside this aware presence? Where could it possibly come from?

Space has no limits, no beginning or end, no edge or boundary, just as our essential being – aware presence – has no limits, is infinite and eternal. But remember that space is just a metaphor, no matter how enticing it may be to assume that our original nature, pure consciousness, is space. Space is known, and anything that is known has to be an appearance, an object, no matter how subtle.

In the end, no subject-object relationship can be found between any two things. There is no knower, there is no known, there is only knowing. And the limited mind-body is unable to make this limitless journey to nowhere and everywhere, so I, we, you, simply vanish in the boundless knowing presence of our being, the essence of which is love.