There Is No Experience Of Pure Awareness
It is often asked: “Why aren’t I having the experience of pure awareness?”
You might hear in response, “There is no one to experience anything.” That is true in absolute terms, but we all know full well there is some experience happening, so we may as well talk about it.
The important thing to remember is that we are not talking about having a mystical or blissful experience. The experience of being a human being in a body continues just as before, and while bliss and mystical feelings may pass through from time to time, this is not what is being pointed to.
What is being pointed to is the fact that…well, you’ve heard it all before: there is no separate person, no separation at all; there is only this impersonal, un-owned consciousness, which is peaceful, eternal, never changes, and needs nothing. It is always here right now, and it is what you are.
But this is not something that you experience! If you can get it out of your head that you are looking to have a particular experience, you can allow for what’s really going on to reveal itself. But you’re blocking out the possibility of seeing what’s real about you by insisting that it has to be an experience. It’s not.
The truth is happening behind the scenes of your human experience – hidden in plain sight, you might say. The experience of being a human with a body goes on exactly as before. But that is not to say that it does not go through some interesting changes. It does change. Your thought patterns will change, and your actions will change. The whole experience as a person does change.
For example, let’s say I have the thought, “I really have to call Terry because…,” and of course there are a million reasons why I have to call Terry, and they all have to do with me thinking I am a separate person who is vulnerable and needs to control all aspects of the life. But the thing is, I don’t want to call Terry.
So in the meanwhile, I followed some sagely advice and did some self-inquiry, and I discovered that I am not a separate person. That had some consequences: now that I know I am not a separate person, and there is just this impersonal consciousness, which is fine right now and needs nothing, I see that I don’t have to call Terry. I don’t have to do anything in the life to protect my interests ever again! So this time, the calling of Terry doesn’t happen. And then that has consequences. And so it goes.
Sometimes people report losing interest in things they used to like to do. That’s to be expected, since much of what we “like” to do is that which makes us feel safe, in control, loved, accepted, approved of, successful, worthy, impressive, smart, attractive, and so on. When the need to have any of that vanishes – when it is clear that no separate person exists – then the interests of the apparent “person” living a life will change. The thoughts don’t go this way anymore: “What can I do to feel safer and more loved?” Now they go like this: “What do I feel like doing?” And then even that goes, since it is seen there is no doer, no one making those decisions!
So now what happens? You lie on the couch all day? It’s possible, but it’s more likely that the living in the body goes on very closely to what it was like before, but without any sense of obligation, guilt, regret, or urgency. The body is allowed to simply move towards anything, without judgment, and without trying to steer, plan, or control.
The sense of doership diminishes, reinforced by the recognition that nothing falls apart when the “doing” is relinquished. Everything works just fine – better, in fact – when I don’t plan it. The life goes on, but more and more there is just a sense that it is being watched, not planned or decided.
And as it is seen more and more that the life is just being watched, the sense of doership, ownership, and a personal “self” diminishes even more. We may watch and like what the “person” is doing, or we may not like what the “person” is doing. But we know we have no way to fix that, and if we did, we see that it would only have an effect on the person that we are no longer believing in so much. And so the idea of doing or fixing is just given up, after a while.
Seeing that there is nothing to do or fix, pretty soon the experience is just one of being carried along like a leaf down a mountain stream. Effortlessly living, watching the changing scenery, goalless, having no opinion about how it goes, and having no cares at all. We get the distinct sense that nature is just taking care of us, and that there is nothing that can go wrong. The body can get sick, or feel bad, or get hurt feelings, or die, but that is all seen as nature’s way, and nothing to be worried about. All cares are gone.
This is probably the “experience” that people are referring to when they talk about bliss. It can’t really be described as blissful, though, because any separate person who would be having this bliss is just not identified with at all anymore. It is more of a relinquishing of any grasp on this whole “world” and what happens in it.
This doesn’t happen right away. People tell me they are happier than they have ever been, but that it hasn’t really gelled for them yet. Well, this is a start. But it also has to be pointed out that it is a start in a direction that is not where you end up. You don’t end up happier and happier; you end up not interested at all in the world of happy and not happy.
You may find that you couldn’t care less if you are interested in the world or not. Who cares? The life may go completely off the rails! Who cares! So you just have to watch and see what happens. You can’t predict where it will go. It’s all unexpected, surprising. You won’t believe how little you will care about your “self.”
But let it unfold in its own time. You can’t force the disintegration of belief in the person. It all starts with the inquiry – am I really this person? The recognition that you are not a person is slight at first, and then cascades by reinforcement through your experience.
Pretty soon the recognition is greater, but still experienced as a conceptual understanding that you are not a person. But before long, there is nothing left to have an experience – you’ve stopped feeding it, and it died! And what is left? Consciousness, which has been here all along. What is in consciousness? Nothing. There is the witnessing of a life unfolding, but you aren’t in it, you are it – you are that life, that consciousness, that witnessing – you are all of it.
This is not what you will experience, however. The experience still feels like being human, probably until the body dies, is my guess. But there is an in-the-background knowing that there is only this consciousness, and that knowing gradually informs the activity of the life. The life stops striving. The life stops suffering. The life stops seeking.
But do you stop seeking? You never were seeking in the first place! There never was a seeker, there never was a separate you. This is the paradox. Don’t try to grasp it. It’s not a job for the mind. It's not a job for the human being.
Just inquire and see if there is really a separate “you,” and see if you can find anything other than this consciousness. This is available for the seeing, right now. Nothing more is needed to learn. Just look now and see: What is here right now? Just consciousness.
And yet, here is this human experience, being had, apparently. It’s okay.