Q1: Why does it feel like there is a separate individual life?
Q1: Then why does it feel like there is a separate individual life?
t.k. Because seeming materiality - and that in and of itself is also a confusion as there is no materiality at all, but that is another discussion – is only one aspect of the aggregate called ‘human being’. There is also consciousness. The interface of unborn wisdom awareness and the body senses gives rise to bodily consciousness and mental consciousness. They exist as awareness splintered by the action of perceiving and identification.
If you place a piece of clear glass over a blue cloth you will only see the blue cloth and not even perceive the glass. Sometimes people walk through plate glass windows because, due to their clarity, the glass is not seen. This can be quite dangerous but that danger is nothing compared to the dangers that arise when the pure clarity of awareness is missed in perceiving of everything and every thing combined with identification as an “I” with a “mine” being the body and birth and inevitable death.
The difference between awareness and glass is that awareness, in its knowingness aspect, is exactly itself what misses itself in the act of identification with body, mind, senses. Knowingness in its natural urge ‘to know’ clothes itself in the nexus of perception called a body and mingles its knowingness into the structure of the body so that it becomes the consciousness acting through eye, nose, touch, taste, sound and thought. It animates the body as consciousness.
In this process it forgets its natural inherent qualities and takes on the seeming temporality, and dimensionality, of the particular body mind. Awareness imputes, fixes, an ‘I’ to the body and the body’s sense activity and thought. Something very mysterious that was beyond the concepts being or non-being, birth, death, individual, separate … becomes the size of a human life. And this smallness is a shoe two sizes to small. Hence the existential problem which human life, in confusion, is.
In this way knowingness comes to know birth, death, and all infinite variegated appearances that are, in truth, only its own fantastic display, but it comes to know this in a vehicle whose narrowness has also caused forgetfulness of awareness’ own original qualities. Awareness in its fearlessness has jumped right in, fully inhabited, the human form and condition. Now in this form, its reality forgotten, it seeks to once again know – be – its reality. The spiritual process is not the creation of anything new but a process of remembering. This was Socrates point when he spoke of how all true education was simply drawing out the memory of what was once known.
Q1: I have heard you say that consciousness, even in its universal form, is a limited, temporary modification of awareness. What then is this awareness?
t.k. In the spiritual process consciousness can let go its wrong identifications and each time it comes to know a larger, vaster, freer “I” and this “I” – as I was saying before - will have it’s own “mine” its own body. The body of consciousness itself, which is almost infinite is the whole body of appearance. This is very blissful, very wonderful and one step away from enlightenment. Here consciousness abides as the “I AM” but it is still identified with the subtle most aspect of “itself” and with the vast body of appearance. This is the “I” of “god” and the body of “God” as creation. Beyond this is one further mystery which is pure mystery unutterable.
When even this identification is let go then the “I” always associated with a consciousness is dissolved in awareness and the awareness which is a function of reality’s mystery knows perfect non-identification, no I, no body and yet the mystery of body and appearance are there are … also pure mystery. At this point awareness knows itself as mystery whose essence is complete stainless purity and whose nature is a luminous clarity in perfect union. The union of these two gives rise to the child of appearance – but appearance as inseparable from awareness itself . Emptiness-clarity-awareness-appearance are one word then.
Awareness is not a thing. Sometimes people talk about rigpa, or awareness, knowingness, as if it were a thing or state – something “you can rest in” – keeping a “you” and a “state” in which this “you” can rest - but it is not. These are simply words of people who know concepts about reality but have not dissolved in that mystery. Awareness is also not an ultimate. What is it then? It is a function. Quite simply it is the functioning of the absolute. It is one of several aspects of the asbsolute’s functionality.
When there is an appearance then this appearance is known by awareness, when there is no appearance then the function of knowing, the function of ‘being aware’ subsides. I can tell you further what awareness is not. It is not a final identity. Awareness freed of all identification can know as gnosis, a perfect trans-rational understanding, the reality of its own absolute dharmata aspect – and it can know the inseparability of all aspects – the essence of mystery and purity, the nature of luminous clarity and the functioning of the which is knowingness and appearance.
Those sages who go to the end, the very end of the knowing and identity go into the absolute They go into an utter unknowability - beyond any word or concept or sense of identity. As Jesus said Foxes have their dens, and birds have their nests but the son of man has no where to lay his head. The sage has nowhere to hang his hat. There is no coat peg of identity on which they can rest a notion, even the notion “I AM”. They simply abide in Nothingness as the nothingness play of every seeming thingness and perceiving.