There is an aspect of our experience that never becomes disturbed, never suffers, and never seeks.
It never feels limited, contrived, or hurt.
This is awareness. And recognizing it is as easy as stopping right now and noticing the capacity to observe.
You don’t have to think of this capacity to observe as a noun including tagging it with the words awareness, consciousness, witness, Oneness, or even “the capacity to observe.” You don’t have to make awareness into some universal, absolute truth. You can, but it isn’t necessary.
It never has to be named. In fact, it never has to be referred to, through thought, except to communicate (like I’m doing here). Excessively naming it tends to make it into something. Yet, if you look closely, all of our names for it come and go to this capacity to observe. Our greatest spiritual stories about awareness are like little flies that quickly fly by us. The freedom is not in grabbing onto the little flies, or the little names and stories, but rather in letting each fly do what it naturally does. Come and go, quickly, uninterruptedly. This observing allows that to happen so freely. Check it out.
Just stopping right in the middle of the usual entertaining of viewpoints that cause suffering is enough.
Observing our interior experience. This means just looking at a thought, without judging it, without adding anything to it.
When we look in this way, we choose to look from this capacity to observe. This observing presence is the aspect of our experience that never suffers. It cannot suffer. It can only observe. It cannot live in a story of time. It is aware of time as a set of viewpoints.
And the beautiful thing is that it observes everything, not only the arisings of thought, emotion and sensation in our interior experience, but also things that are perceived as exterior like other people, objects and experiences.
The world appears inseparably to this observing capacity. So interior awareness (along with interior thoughts, emotions, and sensations) is inseparable from the exterior appearance of things. Things are thoughts (stated simply). This inseparability reveals what the Gospel of Thomas means when it says, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, then shall you enter [the kingdom].”
The suffering and seeking happen when we don’t look from this capacity to observe and, instead, we go straight into the habitual viewpoints that we’ve been entertaining in the personal story for so long.
Just stop. Observe. See that self as a fiction.
Try it out. You can always abandon this if it doesn’t work to reveal freedom.
The next time you find yourself lost in the story of “me,” STOP. Observe that story. Notice that what you really are is this observing. The story is just something that appeared to this observing capacity. You can actually choose not to follow that story or any other story that arises. You can choose to stop and recognize yourself as this observing itself.
In stopping, the space of the present moment might start feeling more expansive and open. Awareness might seem really big. This is great. But even those descriptions appear and disappear to the observing. Big and small are little arisings in themselves. Awareness is not a big container containing everything. Don’t believe that myth. See for yourself. Look into your experience. Notice that the container image is an image coming and going to the observing. The observing is not a thing, so it is not big or small and it doesn’t contain things. It cannot be contained. Just see that you are thinking. No matter how you conceive awareness, it is a thought and that thought is being observed.
Stopping the story long enough to observe is merely a practice. At some point, the stopping isn’t necessary anymore, or even possible.
As you stick with this observing, everything observed moves so freely through that life starts to reveal itself as a perfect, seamless flow of experience.
When you are observing, you are aware of the flow of life. As you see the inseparability of the observing and the arisings being observed, you ARE the flow.
All arisings are seen to be spontaneous. Each moment is sewn seamlessly with the next.
Each thought bleeding out of thin air and back into it. The line between the thin air and the thought or emotion observed within it is seen to disappear. That line was only another fleeting concept.
Whatever noun you were placing on this observing (like “awareness” or “consciousness” or “nothing”) slips away, unable to hang there in the freeflow. All spiritual insights get swept away, leaving no trace.
How beautiful it is to find ourselves here, in the sweetness of that flow. Everything fleeting, fleeting, fleeting. And then to see that the thought of being here, in that flow, is itself part of the flow. Each thought is already the flow.
The fictitious self is already the flow and so it too is totally allowed. And so trying to get rid of anything that arises starts to feel like a dog trying to get rid of dogness. Futile. Unnecessary. Many things may fall away in this seeing. But life continues. The flow is made of stories, which come to be seen as transparent. And the transparency of all things is what makes the flow available. It is what makes change so wonderfully available. Nothing is fixed and separate anymore. Everything is movement, change, and love. Perfection. Everything has its place because everything is the flow, even those people, thoughts, emotions and other things that pretend to be out of the flow.