‘Are we not wasps who spend all day in a fruitless attempt to traverse a window-pane while the other half of the window is wide open?’ ~ Wei Wu Wei
No way in.
No way out.
What are you?
You are like space.
Where are you?
If you were in, where would you go to get out?
If you were out, where would you go to get in?
For space, there is no in or out.
Space contains walls, but walls don’t contain space.
Just as there is the illusion that walls contain space, there is the illusion that the body-mind contains consciousness.
Space exists in its fullness regardless of what appears to exist in it. You can take things out of space, but you can’t take space out of things.
Space appears to be the background of all things.
Recognize the space-like element of your being – that which is ever-present, aware, and unchanging regardless of what comes and goes within it.
But you are not space. Space is also a thing.
You exist without space, but space doesn’t exist without you.
Who are you?
‘Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.’
Breathing aside, as it is happening by itself, ask yourself the question, who is this I that knows it is breathing in and out?
It can’t be the personal I, the separate self, the body-mind we call ‘I’ made up of the temporary attributes of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions that are always coming and going. So perhaps a better question might be what is this I that knows it is breathing in and out?
‘What’ infers an object or thing, and all things are bound by the limitations of time and space – they appear and then eventually disappear.
So if the I that knows it is breathing in and out is not the personal I made up of fleeting thoughts, images, memories, moods, sensations, and perceptions – all subtle objects in themselves – or things ‘out there’ in the world, all of which are subject to the limits of time and space, what is it?
You know what it is because you are it. Not the limited personal you, but the limitless knowing presence that has always been with you, aware, unchanged, and untarnished regardless of your experience.
It’s hopeless to try and think this through. The ‘it’ we are talking about is prior to mind, prior to the body and the world. It is that part of you, we, I, that remains ageless as the personal self, the body-mind, is born, lives, and dies, as things out in the world age and disintegrate.
To say that it is a part of you is not entirely accurate. It is not a part of you as a body-mind in a world. You, as a body-mind in a world, are a part of it. ‘It’ is that which contains all things, yet is not itself a thing. It cannot be found because it has no objective qualities, but it is never not here. Call it consciousness, awareness, or Divine Spirit. Whatever you call it, it is the undeniably present and aware essence in which all things arise, are known by, and made of.
It is consciousness that knows it is breathing in and out, and because all there is is consciousness, consciousness is breathing itself in and out, although in reality there is no in or out for consciousness, so consciousness is just breathing.
We, as individual body-minds, are the manifest breath of consciousness. Yes, we appear to come and go, to be born, live and die, but in reality there is no place to come from and no place to go to. There is only infinite and eternal consciousness breathing itself, or more accurately, consciousness just is. And we are that.
‘The known always changes. The knower never changes.’ ~ Rupert Spira
To know yourself is as simple as knowing that which knows our experience. Our experience is always changing, but the knower of experience, of all experience, never changes. Discover the knowing presence within yourself that is never changing and know your essential being, our essential shared being, once and for all. No mistaken identity.
We experience thoughts coming and going, but after one thought disappears and another one arises there is a gap. Where are we in this gap between thoughts?
Do we, the one who is aware of thoughts coming and going, disappear when a thought disappears and the gap appears? No. We are still here, in the gap. So we could now say, ‘I am the gap.’
But there is no gap.
To say that we are the gap between thoughts would be like saying that the sky is a gap in the clouds.
Just as there is only the unbroken continuity of the sky, sometimes obscured by the clouds, but never not there, there is only the unbroken continuity of the presence of awareness, sometimes obscured by our thoughts, sensations, or perceptions, but never not there.
Now ask yourself, who or what is it that notices the thoughts, gap, clouds, sky, and awareness?
But before you answer, here’s a hint: there is no ‘who’ or ‘what’.
A bird’s song is a simple song, a song sung from dawn to dusk, year after year, for a lifetime. It may be only a few melodic notes, perhaps a small variation here or there, but always beautiful in its simplicity.
Composers from all musical traditions have been inspired by birdcalls like that of the nightingale and the cuckoo. ‘The Lark in the Morning’ is an old and beloved Irish fiddle tune. The call of the Western Meadowlark brings to mind a saxophone riff by Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker.
And to know ourself as Awareness is a simple song – there is only one thing going on, not two. That is, there is only one consciousness, one aware-presence that knows the coming and going of all things, but doesn’t come and go with them. And all things that arise in consciousness, which, in fact, is everything, must be made of consciousness, leaving us to conclude that consciousness is all there is.
The source of our being.
How simple is that?
I, Awareness, sing my song, my simple song
My one note song
From dawn to dusk, from dusk till dawn
A timeless melody
As I am boundless, with no beginning or end
Nothing exists outside of me
I am the source of all sound
All songs appear in me, in my silence
All songs are known by me, by my silence
All songs are made of me, of my silence
I, Awareness sing my song, my simple song of silence
Alive with the rhythms of peace, love, and happiness
The only song I know
My one note song
Pay more attention to the space in which objects arise rather than to the objects themselves.
Anything that can be experienced – a thought, memory, mental image, mood, a perception of the world through the five senses – is a fleeting appearance in the limitless, silent space within which they appear. They are like characters in a movie whose existence depends solely on the screen.
Pay more attention to the screen, this limitless space within you, this unchanging, ever-present knowing that is the background of all experience. This is the source and substance of your original being. Of our original being, as there can be only one. ‘Limitless’ leaves no room for two.
Then ask yourself, who or what is paying attention to this limitless space?