Skyless Cloud

You don’t have to go far to discover your essential being. In fact, you don’t have to go anywhere. Does the sky have to travel to find itself?

We think and feel that we are an individual self, a body-mind housing its own personal awareness or consciousness, viewing the world through its five senses. But this is not our actual experience.

Try to imagine a skyless cloud – a cloud without a sky. Or to put it another way, can an object appear without space? Not possible.

Now try to imagine a cloudless sky – a clear blue sky. Easily done.

Isn’t it true that the sky exists without clouds, but clouds can’t exist without the sky?

Now try to imagine you, as an individual self, without the aware knowing presence that has been with you, unchanging, since you were a child. Can you remove this awareness from your body-mind? Can you take away the aware presence that knows that you exist, that says I am?

If you answer yes, you are contradicting yourself. You would have to be aware to know that you have taken away the awareness that says I am.

Just as the sky exists with or without clouds, awareness exists with or without the individual self or body-mind. Clouds appear and disappear in the sky, but the sky doesn’t appear and disappear with them. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions of the body-mind come and go in awareness, but awareness doesn’t come and go with them.

Now ask yourself, when a cloud appears in the sky, where does it come from? Does it come from outside the sky? Could it come from outside the sky? Obviously not. Where would it come from?

Then ask yourself, when a thought appears, where does it come from? Does it come from outside awareness? Could it come from outside awareness? Obviously not. Where would it come from?

Just as a cloud must be made of sky, the individual self or body-mind must be made of awareness. And if you look at the qualities of awareness no limits can be found. It never begins or ends and is ever-present. And this being the case, there can only be one. Where is there room for two in the infinite and eternal?

Identify with this unchanging, limitless, ever-present awareness and relax into the cloudless sky of our collective being. With this recognition, you, I, we, will effortlessly share the peace, love, and happiness that resides in and as the centerless center of our original self.

Human Doing Or Human Being?

We lead very busy lives. Most of our days are spent going here and there, working, shopping, meeting friends and associates, participating in recreational activities, picking up children, going to appointments, finding a shelter for the night, scrambling to make ends meet, etc. In other words, doing, doing, doing.

At the moment, our so-called freedom has been severely restricted. We have had to retreat into our houses, many of us under voluntary lockdown, only going out for necessities.

To retreat is to ‘draw back’. We are drawing back from our active exterior lives and spending more time at home, with others or alone. Our life of doing has been curtailed, leaving us more time to be with ourselves.

Many of us will spend this precious time . . . doing. We humans are masters of distraction. Even in our isolation, we spend time on our devices, talking on the phone, doing long ignored chores, planting gardens, listening to or playing music, dancing, playing games, reading, watching the news on TV, watching movies, binge watching series, eating, taking stock of our pantry and toilet paper, wondering what and how our neighbors and loved ones are doing. Some of these activities are necessary for survival. Some are not. Or should we say, many of the distractions are necessary for the survival of our separate self, our ‘doing’ self.

We have drawn back from the world, but we are still mostly doing. This could be a unique opportunity for many of us to stop being a human ‘doing’ and open up to our essential nature, that of being a human ‘being’.

For just a moment, observe your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – your worried thoughts about the pandemic, the strong emotions regarding the health and safety of friends and loved ones, perhaps a queasiness in the belly over an uncertain future, and, looking out on the crippled world, wondering what terrible thing is going to happen next.

Now ask yourself, who or what is observing all these passing occurrences of the body, mind, and world? A thought is observed coming and going, but that which observes it doesn’t come and go with it. There is an element within you, within all of us, that we can call the ever-present observer, but where is it?

The observer cannot be found because it is not a thing, not an object, yet it is undeniably present. And it is your, our, essential being. Notice this timeless, unchanging, knowing presence in you, in us, that has no beginning or end, no time when it is not present – it is infinite and eternal. Then realize that there cannot be two of the infinite and eternal. This is who we are.

After years of abuse, the Earth is finally getting a chance to breathe. Because of the restricted human activity, pollution is down. The skies are clearing, the air more pure to breathe. Perhaps Earth will even cool down a degree as we stay at home, away from our vehicles and industries.

We are being offered the opportunity to slow down, to stop doing for a moment, to breathe deeply with the Earth and simply be. And in this stopping, maybe even recognize our essential self as the borderless, timeless, observing awareness that it is and find the peace and happiness at the core of our shared being.

All things come to an end, and the pandemic, with its great cost to humanity, will be no exception. And perhaps, just perhaps, having been able to spend some time just being rather than doing, we will recognize the one in the many, and love, respect, help, and serve our fellow beings in this unwavering light of unconditional awareness.

 

 

 

Whatever Happens

Whatever is happening is happening in awareness. Not to awareness.

As individual selves, we think things are happening to us, but that is not our actual experience.

When we identify as separate selves, then yes, things happen to us that make us feel happy, angry, inspired, or depressed. But when we look for the self to which things happen, we can’t find it. All we find is a conglomeration of ever-changing thoughts, images, memories, emotions, bodily sensations, and perceptions of the world through our five senses. These are all temporary qualities, and therefore can’t be considered part of our essential nature.

The only thing that is not temporary in our experience is awareness – that which knows all experience but itself is not an experience. Experiences come and go, but awareness does not come and go with them.

Ask yourself, does awareness, the knowing element in all experience, happen in a thought, or does thought happen in awareness? This is easy to confirm one way or the other. Which comes first, a thought or awareness? Thoughts are continually coming and going, but that which knows them doesn’t appear and disappear along with them. For just a moment, sit quietly and observe a thought entering your field of awareness, lingering for a moment, and then leaving your field of awareness. You, that is, your essential being of ever-present awareness, exists prior to, during, and after a thought has appeared, lingered, and disappeared. And this is true for all of the temporary qualities of the body-mind, or so-called separate self.

These observations being irrefutable, we can only conclude that our essential being is awareness itself. And if we investigate the qualities of this awareness, no limits or boundaries can be found. It is therefore infinite and eternal, and we can’t each house our own private infinite and eternal awareness. Where is there room for two?

You, I, we, are this one and only awareness. So as you move through this temporary life form as a body-mind, remember that all things happen in you as infinite and eternal awareness, not to you as a limited separate self. And with this revelation, happiness prevails.

Whatever happens is happening in awareness, not to awareness. This is very reassuring, in fact, completely liberating when you are established in this realization. When you are having a difficult time, don’t worry. Just as a violent thunder and lightning storm leaves the sky unchanged, untarnished, and unharmed, similarly, awareness, our essential shared being, is untouched, unchanged, and unharmed by whatever is happening in it.

Die To Your Imagined Self

Die to your imagined self and abide in profound peace.

‘Imagined self’. What does this mean? You say, ‘I am this being, I am this self, and I don’t think I am imagining it.’ But is this you, this self, the real you or just an image that has been created by your conditioned mind?

The separate self we have come to call I, as in I am a woman, a man, I am old or young, etc., has no lasting qualities. All attributes of the body-mind we call the self are temporary and therefore unreliable measures of reality.

You imagine you are real, but you are only a conglomeration of passing thoughts, changing emotions, subtle or strong sensations, and endlessly shifting perceptions. What in this collection of characteristics can be considered real?

When you strip away the imagined attributes of your so-called self, what remains?

You still remain, or more to the point, your essential being, a knowing and aware presence, remains.

As you rest in this, as this, knowing presence, empty of the ephemeral, full of unchanging emptiness – your original Self – what is your experience?

Die now or die later and your experience will be the same. The knowing presence at the core of our being, devoid of the clutter of the body-mind’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, is revealed as an infinite and eternal peaceful stillness.

No limits can be found to this great emptiness. It is always present in the background of all experience, and when experiences fade, which they all do, it alone remains, unchanged.

And, as the background of all experience, all appearances must be made of this background, whatever unnamable stuff that might be. And if all things are made of the same stuff, all things are, at their core, the same. No separation, no division, no self, no other. And when all boundaries dissolve all that remains is love.

How do we strip away the imagined attributes of our so-called self? ‘Strip away’ is just a manner of speech. We really don’t have to do anything. In the stillness of not-doing, our essential shared nature, ever-present awareness, is revealed. And with this revelation all of our imagined attributes fade into the background just as the darkness of night fades in the coming dawn.

To Beat A Dead Horse

We beat a dead horse over and over – wake up, Wake Up, WAKE UP! – and still the horse is dead.

As a spiritual seeker we beat our heads against the illusionary wall of separation over and over, hoping that some time in the future we will wake up, Wake Up, WAKE UP! But still we are dead to our true nature.

The separate self, the body-mind, the ego, seeks the happiness as proclaimed by sages, past and present, and goes to any means possible to find it. It seeks it through possessions, relationships, substances, thrills, or meditates, prays, chants mantras, surrenders to a guru . . . and is never satisfied. It might find momentary relief in some of these experiences, but all experiences come and go, which leaves the separate self in an endless and futile quest for relief. Relief, as it turns out, from itself.

The separate self cannot find the happiness it seeks because the separate self doesn’t exist. There is no ‘me’, as we have been taught to believe, to do the seeking in the first place.

The separate self is a body-mind made of flesh, sinew, and bones, housing thoughts, images, emotions, and sensations, perceiving the world through the five senses. All these attributes are continually changing, forever coming and going, and therefore can’t be considered real in the truest sense.

For something to be real shouldn’t it be ever-present and unchanging?

What in our experience is ever-present and unchanging?

The only thing ever-present and unchanging in our experience is awareness, that which knows experience but is itself not an experience.

Once this aware-presence at the core of our being has been identified, ask yourself, can anything exist outside of this awareness? Does anything in our experience enter our awareness from some other place? Does a cloud enter the sky from a location other than the sky? And, strictly speaking, awareness itself is not a place. As it is ever-present, it is not limited to one particular location in time or space. It is beyond, or prior to, time and space, and therefore infinite and eternal.

Where in the infinite and eternal is there room for two?

Awareness is all there is.

If awareness is all there is, everything must be made of awareness. There is no horse, no self, no other, no thoughts, sensations, or perceptions, no world, no galaxy, no universe. There is only awareness and its infinite manifestations.

So now, for the two hundredth time, let’s beat on one more dead horse: the idea of ever-present awareness. We have come to understand that awareness is all there is, that nothing comes from outside of awareness, that everything is made of awareness, and finally, as awareness is the source of all things, it wants for nothing.

Now let’s take our neti neti stick of discrimination and with one pure stroke beat the concept of awareness into oblivion . . .

. . . and vanish into the full emptiness of the centerless center of our shared being.

One Of Two Things

As someone dedicated to discovering your original nature, awakening or becoming enlightened, you’re either one of two things: a separate self seeking the everlasting peace and happiness of absolute consciousness, or absolute consciousness manifesting as a separate self, but only ever being itself.

If you look closely at your experience, you can only be the latter – absolute consciousness manifesting as a separate self, but only ever being itself.

So the first thing you can do is relax. Enjoy your life experience, your manifestation as a so-called individual body-mind with its endless parade of positive, negative, and neutral thoughts coming and going, waves of diverse emotions washing through you, the ever changing array of sensations coursing through your body, the variety of sense perceptions of the world experienced through your five senses.

Then ask yourself the question, is this separate self, this seeker, real? If it is, then we should proceed with our search using the various tools offered to the seeker, e.g., teachers, gurus, study, retreats, meditation, mantra, yoga, etc. If it is not, then we can abandon our search and live our lives in accord with our essential being, that is, absolute consciousness, whose very nature is one of peace, love, and happiness.

When we seriously investigate the elements of the separate self, that is, its thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, we discover that they are all temporary occurrences, forever changing, and therefore can’t be considered real in the truest sense.

For something to be considered real it would have to be ever-present and unchanging, unmoved by any experience of the body, mind, and world. It would have to be beyond time and space, and therefore infinite and eternal.

So trying to prove that the separate self, our body-mind, is real is like trying to prove that we have captured wind in a bottle. The separate self, the seeker, can never find the infinite and eternal because it is already a manifestation of it. It’s like the wind looking for the sky.

For just a moment, shift your perspective from that of an individual self made up of temporary attributes seeking the infinite, to the unchanging infinite itself, the ever-present knowing within you, that seeks nothing as it is all things. You can do this, as you know intuitively that this ever-present knowing is at the core of your being, the source of your being, our being.

At first glance, it seems as though we have two choices, to identify as one of two things: the infinite and eternal Self manifesting as a human being, or the finite and time-bound separate self forever grasping after the truth. But, in fact, there is no choice – there is only the choiceless awareness of just one thing that is not even a thing.

Nothing To Know

When you are searching for ultimate reality there is nothing you need to know. All knowledge is a hindrance to realization. Basing understanding on knowledge is like thinking that the reflection in a mirror is the real thing.

All reflections in a mirror are made only of mirror, just as all appearances of the body, mind, and world are made only of awareness, or that which knows them.

To say that all knowledge is a hindrance to realization is not exactly true. There is one thing you do need to know, and that is the knowing element at the center of our being that knows all experience. And even this is not quite right, as it’s not something you know, it’s something you are.

All you can truly know is your original self, or the unchanging awareness that is at the core of your being, or more accurately, at the core of our shared being, because if you investigate the qualities of awareness you find that it is borderless and beyond time, or infinite and eternal, and therefore there is no room for two.

So polish your mirror, the one mirror, recognize the unchanging awareness at the core of our being that knows all experience, but is not itself an experience, and reflect all that is real – our original one self.

Then throw away the mirror.