Be The Changeless

The phrase ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’ commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, is often heard around self-help and self-actualization groups, as well as in numerous spiritual and political circles. It’s a wonderful concept: instead of trying to change others to lead a better, more conscious life, change yourself first and lead, inspire, by example.

But change is just that, change. In other words, we change the image or behavior of ourself in the hopes that it will rub off on others. Who is to say that our ‘change for the better’ is good for someone else? And if we can change once, what’s to say that we won’t change again, perhaps in another direction?

For a more stable and conscious society, shouldn’t we be trying to locate that unchanging element which is common to all of us? Something that we can all relate to as a neutral starting point for dialogue and action?

Our body-minds, made up of mortal flesh and bone, are a constantly changing flow of thoughts, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells. Granted, some changes are imperceptible or gradual, and others more obvious, but there is constant change, nonetheless.

But there is an unchanging element to our experience, an unchanging element to our being that has been with every one of us for our entire lives, and is with us now at this very moment.

What is this changeless element? How do we identify it? How do we identify anything? We acknowledge its presence and observe its behavior.

With a simple investigation, you can discover for yourself the changeless element to your being. Sit quietly for a moment. Notice a thought as it comes to your attention, lingers for a short time, and then disappears. The thought comes and goes, but that which notices the thought remains.

This changeless element is that which notices all experience of the body, mind, and world, but is not itself an actual experience. All experiences come and go, but that which knows all experience doesn’t come and go with them. This is the changeless element to our being.

Once we identify this changeless element to our being, we might think that it is unique to our personal self. But upon further investigation, we discover that this changeless element is not in our personal self, our individual body-mind, but that our individual body-mind, our so-called separate self, is in this changeless element.

You can check the validity of this for yourself. Ask yourself, can anything exist outside of this changeless element? If you say yes, where would it come from? If you look carefully, no boundary can be found to that which knows all experience, and there is no time when it is not present. In other words, it is infinite and eternal. We have to conclude that nothing can exist or come from outside of this changeless element, and, this being the case, we can further conclude that we all must be made out of it. We are all unique manifestations of the same limitless, timeless stuff. All one. Not two. 

Instead of being the change that you want to see in the world, discover the changeless being that you want to see in the world – the open-hearted, clear-seeing, right-acting being that we all are at our core. Maybe, just maybe, this might inspire someone else to do the same.

Seeing Eye to Eye

When we agree with someone, we are said to be ‘seeing eye to eye’. When we don’t see eye to eye, it can lead to a minor disagreement between two friends or a brutal war between nations.

But what is this eye that sees? And what does it actually see?

Just as a drum doesn’t do the drumming, the eyes don’t do the seeing. A drum is a vehicle for the rhythms played by the drummer, the eyes the vehicle for the seeing done by the seer.

Who is the seer? Isn’t it that which we call I? As in, I see?

Examining this I, we first discover the obvious: we each call ourself I.

What is this I that we so easily use to identify ourselves?

The common definition used by billions of us is that this I is made up of our individual body and mind, with all of its associated attributes of thinking, feeling, sensing, and perceiving. But these attributes are all temporary, ever-changing, and totally unreliable when it comes to discovering our real identity.

Our experiences of the body, mind, and world are constantly changing, but the awareness of, the knowing of these ever-changing experiences is ever-present and unchanging.

And this unchanging awareness is common to all of us. It’s as though life is a grand play, with one master actor able to don billions of different costumes and take on a multitude of roles. Beneath every unique costume is found the same actor, the same being, the same awareness.

If we look at the nature of this awareness, we discover that it has no limits or boundaries, no point at which it ends and something else begins. Or, in other words, that it is infinite. And if we continue with our investigation, we discover that there is never a time when it is not present. This being so, we can say that it is timeless, or eternal.

For a true coming together, especially when it comes to relationships, shouldn’t we be seeing I to I? Awareness to Awareness? It’s actually not a question of shouldn’t we be seeing I to I, but recognizing the fact that this is the way we see, the only way we see. If we remove our costume of the imagined individual self for just an instant, our true character, which is not a character at all, is revealed.

We think that we either see eye to eye, or we don’t, but in fact, we only ever see I to I, or aware presence to aware presence. You can tell in another’s eyes which one is looking at you. You either see eyes clouded by the limits of the conditioned separate self, or the shining eyes of pure awareness.

There is a new math, or perhaps it is as ancient as the stars: ‘I’ plus ‘I’ does not equal two ‘I’s. I plus I equals I. There is only one I, the I of Awareness, and you, we, are that: One Shared Being.

So even though we might appear to be strangers, we are really cosmic lovers: inseparable in essence, one without a second. To quote Rumi:

The minute I heard my first love story

I started looking for you, not knowing

how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.

They’re in each other all along.

Do Unto No Others

Once you discover that there is no self, and therefore no other, your relationship with all things, animate and inanimate, changes dramatically. You no longer say, I am this and you are that, but that we are this and that, or simply, we are.

We distinguish ourselves from others by our individual body-minds. We each have our own unique body type, our own private thoughts, conditioned as they may be, our own feelings, sensations, and perceptions of the world.

But when we examine our personal attributes closely, we uncover the truth of our being: there actually is no individual self. All of our characteristics are ever-changing, temporary occurrences, no more real than a cloud in the sky. Yes, just as a cloud appears in the sky, we appear for a moment in time, but then, just as the cloud dissolves back into the sky, we, that is, the body-mind, come to an end and, one way or another, returns to the earth.

What is the only thing in our experience that does not appear or disappear? Isn’t the one unchanging element in all experience the knowing of it? Discover this knowing element in yourself right now. What is it that knows your present experience, such as a thought?

Observe a thought as it arises in your mind – it appears, seemingly out of nowhere, lingers for a moment, and then disappears. In what is this all occurring? Don’t say ‘mind’, as mind is just a part of our temporary body. It is something beyond mind.

Whatever it is, you can’t really name it, you can’t see it, hear it, or touch it, but it is undeniably present and aware. A knowing within us that is always here.

We do try to name it, calling it Consciousness or Awareness, perhaps God or the Absolute. But it needs no name, as it exists before, during, and after any attempt at conceptual identification. It just is, and at our core, this is who we are.

Examining the nature of this consciousness, we find that it has no beginning or end, and is therefore limitless or infinite. And upon further reflection, we realize that it is never not here, thus it is timeless or eternal. And then it dawns on us that there can’t be two of something that is infinite and eternal. It would be like trying to make room for two skies.

With this ‘not two’ being a fact, where can we find an ‘other’? We are all made out of the same stuff, the same consciousness or awareness. When we look at each other through the eyes of consciousness, I becomes you and you becomes I. I is you, you is I. Whether we recognize it or not, there is only one thing going on. Knowing this, our interactions in the world are spontaneous and true.

So do unto no others as you would have them do unto no self and all will be golden.

All I Know Is Myself

Thoughts come and go, yet I remain.

Emotions come and go, yet I remain.

Bodily sensations come and go, yet I remain.

Perceptions of the world come and go, yet I remain.

Who am I?

I am ever-present awareness. I have no boundaries, no limits. I am infinite and eternal.

I know the coming and going of all appearances, but don’t come and go with them.

As nothing exists outside of me, I am the source of all appearances of the body, mind, and world.

All I know is myself.

Without me nothing exists.

I am fullness itself.

I am emptiness itself.

I am the I am

before

the I am.

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.

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.

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.

Shared Being

‘When we love someone, or we fall in love with someone, what we are really in love with is their being. That’s what we are really attracted to. Something about their being puts us in touch with our being. So the experience of love is really the sharing of our being, or rather, it is the recognition of our shared being.’

~ Rupert Spira

I, Awareness, Cannot Be Followed

I, Awareness, cannot be followed.

To follow someone or something infers that there is something to obtain from that person or thing being followed. That they or it inspires you in some way and moves in a direction worth pursuing. It also assumes that there is someone to do the following.

We play ‘follow the leader’ as children. We’re encouraged to continue the game as adults. We follow a religion or a philosophy, a spiritual teacher, a political leader or a revolutionary. We sing songs about following, e.g., ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ and ‘I Will Follow Jesus.’

We follow our thoughts. Actually, we’re obsessed with following our thoughts to the point that, for the most part, we live in a fantasy world created by them. We follow our passion, our bliss, our dreams, Don Juan’s ‘a path with heart’, and Buddha’s ‘Middle Way’.

But I, Awareness, cannot be followed because I am not going anywhere. I am unmoving. And I have nothing to give you because I am nothingness itself.

Remain still and I am there. We are there. Move through your daily life and I am there. We are there. You cannot lose me for I am everywhere, in you, as you, of you – the essence of your being, of all beings, as I, infinite and eternal Awareness, am the source of all manifestation. I is we. We is I.

You want to follow me, but how do you follow yourself? In what direction do you move to find me, yourself, who is everywhere, everything? Can a cloud follow the sky? The cloud arises in the sky, from itself, and dissolves back into the sky, into itself. So in essence it is following itself, from itself, to itself, knowing only itself.

And the irony of it all, which was established thousands of years ago by the sages of old, is that you, the follower, are an illusion made up of ever-changing thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – there is no you to to do the following in the first place.

I would suggest that you ‘un-follow’ me, but for all the above reasons that’s not possible either. Now, as you like to say, you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. But, funny thing, there are no rocks in my world, nothing hard, as there is no matter in the truest sense – all is a manifestation of me, emptiness. I, Awareness, am the stuff of all things.

So from my perspective I would say that you’re caught between a cloud and the sky.

Now what do you do? What can you do? There are not two answers.

God’s Name

‘If God were to give itself a name it would call itself I.

I is God’s name. Each of us call ourselves I.

God has given us his name to remind us that our self is his self.

The only self there is, the self of all selves.’

~ Rupert Spira