We think of ourselves as individuals whose objective of existing on this planet is to fulfill some purpose. It can either be a material or a spiritual pursuit. The idea is to become something better than what we are right now in this moment.
But this idea of an individual with its associated wants, needs, and desires comes from the mind's contents as thinking. The thinking mind creates personas as the external situations routinely influence it.
The way we see ourselves is nothing more than a memory construct. Suppose if all of our memory was magically wiped out, what would remain? Would you still exist?
It is something that happened, apparently to what is referred to as "me." At some point in my life journey, I started losing my sense of personal self or what I called "me." Until a moment when everything disappeared instantaneously.
It is incredibly challenging to put this so-called experience into words. It was like everything was happening without a center of consciousness. The personal energy - the sense of me was absent in the apparent happening.
I could hear voices, see things, feel other sensations, but there was no individual to experience any of those. All of it was happening. As this understanding deepened, a transition occurred from phenomenality to stillness - something that I can vaguely describe as empty awareness.
I saw myself not as the mind's contents but as the boundless awareness that felt like unconditional love. A love that did not require a subject and an object in time. But as the eternal and timeless presence.
However, this was not a continuous experience. Soon, I was back in the world, and my mind started contemplating what it was. If that was me, then who is this entity here thinking about it? And the answer came like lightning in an instant, "I AM" is all there is.
"I AM" is the consciousness that is the substratum of all phenomenality. It is not a force but a supreme reality. The relative "I-thought," on the other hand, arises as an object appears in the sensory awareness. For example, when angry, we say, "I am" angry, when happy, "I am" happy, and so on.
The relative "I-thought" is a pseudo subject that always appears in the presence of an object of experience. The experience object can either be physical, like a beach view, or subtle, like a thought, feeling, or emotion. When we say, "I am thinking," it's not the same as "I AM."
The "I AM" is the singular impersonal thought. It's self-luminous and doesn't require an object of experience to show up. No matter how much I try, I cannot prove its existence, for it's not an object. It comes as a direct experience of empty awareness.
That said, the individual identified by the name Jagjot still continues. I continue in the same living conditions as earlier, but I completely understand that I am not the doer of my actions. Everything is happening, and happening itself is an appearance in duality or phenomenality.
This understanding doesn't make me unique or special in any way. But it brings a great sense of relief as knowing that I am not the doer relieves the psychophysical organism (me) from the burden of success or the guilt of failure.
There is a sense of detachment or desirelessness that does not proceed from a cause. Everything happens as before: anger, sadness, anxiety, happiness, sexual urges, etc., but without a sense of personal identification with any of these.
The difference is that the afflicting emotions remain mild and do not acquire a destructive tone. The involvement gets cut-off as soon as any destructive impulse arises.
With the realization that everything is apparently happening on the screen of consciousness, there's actually no one here doing anything in particular. It's all happening. It's nothing and everything at the same time.
How does this understanding impact our relationships? If we're not the doer of our actions, even the others are not. So when someone is rude or unkind, I would do whatever needs to be done in that particular situation, but I will not hold a feeling of hate or resentment towards them.
What I mean is that nothing can stop the body from experiencing pain. But there's no suffering as involvement or thinking propagated in linear time is cut-off as soon as it appears in consciousness.
Therefore, I am at peace accepting the fact that pain and pleasure are the interconnected opposites of duality that we cannot manipulate to serve the ego-mind. Every manipulation has consequences: good or bad, and they're fleeting.
Non-duality is not a solution to the problems of duality. It dissolves the duality by annihilating the illusory personal self. The mind-body complex continues as earlier and is subject to nature's forces, but the suffering individual is no more.
Any attempt to grasp it by reducing it to an object is a cunning ploy of ego-mind. We desire to grasp something we perceive as fancy. I don't consider myself a teacher, nor do I have a method or prescription to make you experience this awareness.
A mind trying to awaken another mind is doership at its best. All it will do is reduce this experience to a figment of imagination, or worse, a hallucination.
A glimpse into the empty awareness reveals what one cannot learn over multiple lifetimes. The only way to experience this non-experience or stateless state is to see it directly for what it is. It requires complete attention to "what is."
The first episode in our brand new podcast series!
The meaning of death and dying in a death-phobic culture and more on Sounds of SAND Episode 2
In episode 4 of our Podcast we explore the traditional Tibetan Buddhist beliefs of death and dying
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