Notice that you are aware of whatever you are experiencing. If you are having a thought, you are aware of it. If you are reading these words, you are aware of them. If you have a headache, you are aware of the sensation. If you are perceiving sights and sounds, you are aware of them.
See in this way that being aware, or awareness itself, accompanies all experience. Being aware or awareness itself is the common element in all experience. Everything we know or are aware of changes, but knowing, or being aware, remains the same throughout all experience.
See that no other element of your experience is continuous. All thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions appear and disappear, but knowing or being aware remains present throughout. It never undergoes any change. The known always changes, but knowing never changes.
The common name for knowing or being aware is ‘I’: I know my thoughts, I am aware of feelings and sensations, I experience perceptions. ‘I’ is the common name for the knowing, experiencing or aware element in all experience. As such, ‘I’ is nothing that we are aware of; it is simply the experience of being aware itself.
Most of us are so fascinated by objective experience — thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions — that we seldom, if ever, notice the experience of simply being aware. In fact, most people go through their entire lives without ever becoming aware of the knowing with which all knowledge and experience are known.
But without knowing or being aware there would be no knowledge or experience. As such, knowing, being aware or awareness itself is the most important element of experience. It is that which renders experience knowable, just as the sun, relatively speaking, renders the world visible.
Be interested in the knowing with which all experience is known. In other words, be aware of being aware. That is the essence of meditation or prayer.
Normally, most people believe that it is ‘I, the body-mind’ that knows the world, but the body and mind are known; they do not do the knowing. It is ‘I, awareness’ that knows or is aware of the body, mind and world.
So the first step we take in this approach is to separate out knowing, being aware or awareness itself from the objects of experience, including the objects we call our mind and our body. We are aware of our thoughts; our thoughts are not themselves aware. The body is not aware of experience; we, awareness, are aware of the body.
Whatever it is that knows or is aware of our experience can never itself be known as an object of experience, just as the screen upon which a movie plays never itself appears as an object in the movie, and just as the space in which all physical objects appear never itself appears as a physical object. To search for knowing or being aware would be like the eyes trying to see themselves. However, this doesn’t mean that knowing or being aware is not known.
But who or what has the experience of being aware? Is awareness known by something other than itself, or does it know itself? It obviously knows itself: I am aware that I am aware.
If I were to ask you now, ‘Are you aware?’ I hope you would answer ‘Yes’. The answer ‘Yes’ comes from your experience of being aware. If you didn’t know the experience of being aware you would answer ‘No’. I hope we can all say from our experience, ‘I am aware that I am aware. Being aware is my experience.’
Awareness’s knowledge of itself, the simple experience of being aware, is the most obvious, intimate, ordinary experience there is.
Be interested in the experience of simply being aware. That is, be interested in yourself – not your thoughts, feelings, sensations or perceptions; they are not yourself. They are just experiences that visit you from time to time and then leave.
You are the one that has remained present throughout all changing experience, the one that you have been calling ‘I’ all your life, the one that is in exactly the same condition now as it was when you were five years old. Nothing ever happens to the experience of being aware, just as nothing ever happens to a screen during the movie.
Yourself, your essential, irreducible self, never changes, never ages, is never tarnished or harmed by experience. Thus, its nature is peace. Nothing can be added to it and nothing can be removed from it; it is at all times whole, perfect, complete. Thus, its nature is fulfillment or happiness.
Nor is it necessary to purify awareness, any more than it is necessary to clean the space in a room. Awareness is always in the same empty, pristine condition. It is on account of the emptiness of awareness that the fullness of experience can arise within it, in just the same way that it is on account of the emptiness of physical space that objects can appear in it.
The experience of being aware is intimately one with all experience and yet utterly free from all experience. If you want to find peace, happiness or freedom in your life, you need look no further than the knowing of your own being.
The Essence of Non-Duality A Half-Day Workshop
Saturday, October 10, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm EST
Click HERE to register
From an early age Rupert Spira was deeply interested in the nature of reality. At the age of seventeen he learnt to meditate, and began studying and practicing the teachings of the classical Advaita Vedanta tradition under the guidance of Dr. Francis Roles and Shantananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of the north of India, which he continued for the next for twenty years.
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