Here are a number of the passages cited in the presentation on Awareness Michael gave during his presentation this past Sunday. In general, there is a progression from easy entry into Awareness of Awareness up to its more powerful implications.
Nisargadatta, from I Am That :
this is not a rarified realization. I ask you now, are you aware? and without hesitation you say yes.
Sayadaw U Tejaniya: Relax
—from “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements”
When doing mind work, you should be relaxed and practise without tension, without forcing yourself. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to develop mindfulness. We do not tell you to ‘focus’, ‘concentrate’, or ‘penetrate’ because [that] suggests the use of excessive energy. Instead we encourage you to ‘observe’, ‘watch’, ‘be aware’, or ‘pay attention’.
If you are tense or find yourself getting tense, relax. There is no need to make a forceful effort. Right now, are you aware of your posture? Are you aware of your hands touching this book? Can you feel your feet? Notice how little energy or effort you need to know any of this! That is all the energy you need to remain aware, but remember, you need to do this all day long. If you practise this way, your energy will increase over the day. If you use excessive energy, if the mind wastes energy, you will get tired. In order to be able to practise continuously, you just need to keep reminding yourself to be aware. This right effort will allow you to practise in a relaxed way, free of tension. If the mind is too tense or too tired, you cannot learn anything. If the mind and the body are getting tired, something is wrong with the way you are practising. Check your posture; check the way you are meditating. Are you comfortable and alert? Also check your attitude; don’t practise with a mind that wants something or wants something to happen. The result will only be that you tire yourself.
Joseph Goldstein — Remind yourself “always already aware”
Sayadaw U Tejaniya: Mindfulness Gains Momentum
—from “Don’t Look Down on the Defilements”
When you are new to the practice you will have to remind yourself often to be aware. At first you will be rather slow in noticing that you have lost awareness and probably think that it is fairly continuous. But once your awareness becomes sharper, you will begin to notice that you actually lose it quite often. You might even get the impression that your awareness is getting worse when in fact you are just becoming more often aware of losing awareness. This is a step in the right direction. It shows that your awareness is getting better. So don’t give yourself a hard time; just accept where you are and keep reminding yourself: be aware.
Just reminding yourself to be aware or mindful, however, is not enough. In order for mindfulness to become stronger you also need to have the right attitude, to have an observing mind free from defilements. Observing becomes difficult if, for example, you are worried about your progress. First you need to become aware that this is a defilement and then make it your object of observation. Whenever you experience doubt, uneasiness, dissatisfaction, tension, frustration or elation, look at them. Examine them, ask yourself questions such as: “What kinds of thoughts are in my mind?” “What is my attitude?” This will help you to understand how the defilements affect you. You need patience, interest, and a sense of curiosity to do this. As you gradually become more skillful at observing with the right attitude, mindfulness will become stronger and more continuous. This will help you gain more confidence in your practice.
At this point you will start seeing benefits and the practice of mindfulness will become less work and more fun. You will find it easier to remind yourself to be mindful and to spot the defilements. As a result, mindfulness will become even more continuous and over time, as the practice matures, mindfulness will gain momentum.
Once your practice has momentum, you will remain aware natu- rally. This natural awareness has an almost tangible feel to it and gives you a sense of freedom you have never experienced before. You simply always know when it is there and you experience it most of the time. In other words, you are aware of the awareness, the mind becomes an object of awareness. When you have this kind of momentum, the mind becomes more equanimous.
Now awareness will be strong and you will need very little effort to sustain its momentum. You will always be aware of several different objects without conscious effort. For example, while washing your hands you will probably notice movement, the touch and smell of the soap, the sensation and the sound of the running water. While knowing all this you might become aware of the sensation of your feet touching the floor, hearing the loudspeakers blaring from the monastery across the field, or seeing stains on the wall and feeling an urge to wipe them off. While all this is happening you might also be aware of any liking or disliking. Every time you wash your hands you are of course likely to be aware of different objects. Natural awareness is constantly shifting, constantly sweeping around, letting go of [some objects and taking in others.]
When you have natural awareness it might feel as though things have slowed down since you can now take in so many different objects, whereas at the beginning of the practice you struggled to be aware of only one or two objects. . . .You can be aware of yourself continuously, whatever posture you are in, from the time you wake up until you fall asleep.
Toni Packer – from The Light of Awareness
Attention has a focus. . . . and it can be objectified. We can pride ourselves on our attention, call attention to attention so that it can be admired by others. . .
But awareness is not self-conscious, does not think about itself, is not a product of thought or imagination, does not have a self-center, and shed light on consciousness, on self-centered activity.
One is not caught by the thought “I must keep this practice going” or “I must pay attention” .
What happens in a moment of simple looking and listening?
Awareness without a center can illuminate self-centeredness, and reveal immediate undivided presence. [This is the no-self]
– from The Wonder of Presence
Can I be aware of the restless stirring in me when I am idle? and do nothing about it, not bury it with practice, not label it suffering, but rather let it be fully revealed in the light of awareness. Not to fix it, but to let it reveal itself.
Is it possible to purify perception (Awareness) by beholding clearly what distorts it?
Nisargadatta : mind is interested in what happens, whereas awareness is interested in mind itself. the child is interested in the toy, but the mother watches the child, not the toy.
A guided meditation from (Anonymous)
“The Most Direct and Rapid Means to Eternal Bliss”
Shut your eyes. Notice your awareness. Observe your awareness. turn your attention away from the world, body, and thought and towards awareness watching awareness. Every time you notice you are thinking, turn you attention away from though and back towards awareness watching awareness. Watch your awareness, not your thoughts.
Adyashanti – True Meditation
True meditation has no direction, goals, or method. All methods aim at achieving a certain state of mind. All states are limited, impermanent and conditioned. Fascination with states leads only to bondage and dependency. True meditation is abidance as primordial consciousness.
True meditation appears in consciousness spontaneously when awareness is not fixated on objects of perception. When you first start to meditate you notice that awareness is always focused on some object: on thoughts, bodily sensations, emotions, memories, sounds, etc. This is because the mind is conditioned to focus and contract upon objects. Then the mind compulsively interprets what it is aware of (the object) in a mechanical and distorted way. It begins to draw conclusions and make assumptions according to past conditioning.
In true meditation all objects are left to their natural functioning. This means that no effort should be made to manipulate or suppress any object of awareness. In true meditation the emphasis is on being awareness; not on being aware of objects, but on resting as primordial awareness itself. Primordial awareness (consciousness) is the source in which all objects arise and subside. As you gently relax into awareness, into listening, the mind’s compulsive contraction around objects will fade. Silence of being will come more clearly into consciousness as a welcoming to rest and abide. An attitude of open receptivity, free of any goal or anticipation, will facilitate the presence of silence and stillness to be revealed as your natural condition.
Silence and stillness are not states and therefore cannot be produced or created. Silence is the non-state in which all states arise and subside. Silence, stillness and awareness are not states and can never be perceived in their totality as objects. Silence is itself the eternal witness without form or attributes. As you rest more profoundly as the witness, all objects take on their natural functionality, and awareness becomes free of the mind’s compulsive contractions and identifications, and returns to its natural non-state of Presence.
The simple yet profound question, “Who Am I ?,” can then reveal one’s self not to be the endless tyranny of the ego-personality, but objectless Freedom of Being – Primordial Consciousness in which all states and all objects come and go as manifestations of the Eternal Unborn Self that YOU ARE.
Nisargadatta: consciousness is full of gaps, and yet there is a sense of continuity in each. this indicates the presence of something beyond consciousness.
Kabir – From the Bijak
Student, do the simple purification.
You know that the seed is inside the horse-chestnut tree;
and inside the seed there are the blossoms of the tree,
and the chestnut, and the shade.
So inside the human body there is the seed, and
inside the seed there is the human body again.
Fire, air, earth, water, and space – if you don’t want the secret one,
you can’t have these either.
Thinkers, listen, tell me what you know of that is not inside the soul?
Take a pitcher full of water and set it down on the water –
Now it has water inside and water outside.
We mustn’t give it a name,
lest silly people start talking again about the body and the soul.
If you want the truth, I’ll tell you the truth:
Listen to the secret sound, the real sound, which is inside you.
The one no one talks of speaks the secret sound to himself,
and he is the one who has made it all.
Working with the Mind is skilled, while Easy & natural: find your way through thoughts like you weave through a crowd. You do not fight everyone you met.
— Definitely this realization is not a new experience.
It is the discovery of the timeless factor in every experience.
It is awareness, which makes every experience possible. Just as in all the colors light is the colorless factor, so in every experience awareness is present, yet it is not an experience.
Look, my thumb touches my forefinger. Both touch and are touched. When my attention is on the thumb, the thumb is the feeler and the forefinger — the self. Shift the focus of attention and the relationship is reversed. I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness—love.; you may give it any name you like. Love says “I am everything.” Wisdom says: “I am nothing”. Between these two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both..
To say I am the witness is false. Say instead “there is witnessing”
Krishnamurti: the knower is the known
Buddha nature pervades the whole universe existing right here now.
I dedicate the merit of this practice to all sentient beings.
Together we realize liberation.