Look closely at awareness, the knowing presence that is our essential being. Notice that all things come and go in this awareness – thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells – but it doesn’t come and go with them.
Can you remove this awareness from your experience? Can anything, any thing, be known without it?
Can you remove the sky from the clouds?
Without the sky, can there be a cloud? Without awareness, can there be a thought, a feeling?
We often see a cloudless sky, but never a skyless cloud. We sometimes experience an aware stillness, but never an independent thought.
There can be an infinite number of clouds, but only one sky in which they appear and disappear, just as there can be an infinite number of thoughts, feelings, or sensations, but only one awareness in which they arise and pass away.
Just as an endless parade of clouds come and go while the sky remains unchanged, an endless parade of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions come and go in the unchanging field of awareness that is our original nature.
We can experience awareness without thoughts, but we can never experience a thought without awareness. In other words, you can take thoughts out of awareness, but you can’t take awareness out of thoughts.
Find this awareness, this aware stillness that is in the background of all experience, the stuff out of which all experience is made, and know your original nature.
Where is it?
Just as clouds sometimes obscure the sky, but we know it’s always there in the background, notice that awareness, the knowing presence that is your, our, original nature, exists prior to the appearance of any thought or perception. It is ever-present and aware regardless of what arises and passes away.
We know without a doubt the clear, pristine sky that is always present and unchanged by any cloud that appears and disappears within it. Now know without a doubt the clear, pristine presence of awareness that is always with you, always is you, unchanged by any appearance.
Then let go the mental images of the skyless cloud and an aware presence, only concepts of mind. Let them dissolve in that which is beyond all images, beyond all concepts.
Beyond the beyond.