Beyond the Separate Self: A Simple Guide to Awakening, by Colin Drake
an ebook published by Nonduality Publications (an affiliate of nonduality.com)
Excerpts, contents, index: http://nonduality.com/colindrake.htm
Awareness of Awareness
by Colin Drake
‘By observing mental states you also become aware of the seven factors of enlightenment. These are: awareness of awareness, investigation of the Way, vigour, joy, serenity, concentration and equanimity.’ (The Buddha, Maha Sattipatthana Sutta 14-16)
The first two are paramount and the last five are outcomes of these. This is what my book Beyond the Separate Self is all about, becoming ‘aware of awareness’ through direct investigation and then continuing with further ‘investigation of the Way’ (the Tao, the nature of reality). Once one is ‘aware of awareness’ then one can undertake further investigations not needing to relying on any ‘teachings’, although these may be useful for confirming what one has discovered.
I recently received an e-mail from a reader who said they could not tell the difference between ‘awareness’ and thought. I replied that I did not see how this was possible (please excuse my lack of acumen) and suggested that he consider the following:
(A) Thought (The) Awareness
A ‘sound’ in the mind. That which ‘hears’ (is aware of) this sound.
An object, some ‘thing’.. The subject, the seer of this ‘thing’.
The ‘thing’ that is witnessed. The witness which is aware of this ‘thing’.
The (thing that is) seen. The seer (which sees this thing).
A movement in the mind. The aware stillness in which the movement is noticed.
The (thing that is) known The knower (of the thing).
That (thing) which comes & goes. That (subjective presence) which is always here.
An object of experience. The experiencer.
So awareness is the constant conscious subjective presence which is aware of ephemeral objects (thoughts and sensations, mind and body) as they come and go.
‘Awareness of Awareness’ is the key to awakening by the path of self-knowledge (Jnana), which is the most straightforward of the many paths available. Once one has become ‘aware of awareness’ then awakening is a direct result of this and the continuing investigation of this.
This is extremely simple, almost obvious, just the acknowledgement of the fact that one is aware of one’s thoughts/mental images/sensations and that this awareness is always present whereas thoughts/mental images/sensations come and go.
The danger is that the mind will dismiss this as being too simple (and obvious) and therefore of no value. I urge you not to allow this, for if you do you will be overlooking the most precious realization. The mind naturally does this as it is not in its interests to acknowledge this recognition, for this will undermine its central dominant position.
Most people identify with their minds as being what they ‘are’ and this becoming ‘aware of awareness’ has the potential to completely destroy this illusion. So the mind will try to negate this ‘seeing'; the simple solution to this is, when it comes to reality, don’t believe a single thought. Just rely on immediate direct experience, and this direct experience that you are awareness can be had instantly.
As soon as the mind carries on with its doubts, questions and tricks, notice that you are effortlessly aware of every thought. If you then just watch the thoughts from pure awareness, without following a single one, they soon quieten down and give up. This is an ongoing process but it is no cause for despondency. For every time this occurs these negative thoughts can make you turn to awareness itself and in awareness there is only serenity and peace … In fact, in the same way, every single thing in existence is a pointer towards awareness. For everything perceived appears in this pure awareness that you are.
This is easy to see by investigating the nature of one’s moment-to-moment experience, and my book aims to provide a framework within which this investigation may be successfully carried out. This results in becoming ‘aware of awareness’, after which one can carry out deeper investigations into the nature of reality with this awareness (of awareness) as the starting point. The great masters say that there is no end to awakening and spiritual experience, there’s always more to be found – what a wonderful idea! Sri Ramakrishna used to continually tell his devotees to ‘go forward’ and make further discoveries. You will find this is more than an idea, for you will discover that the deeper you go, the more you become ‘aware of awareness’, the more that will be revealed.
Beyond the Separate Self, The End of Anxiety and Mental Suffering may be sampled, and purchased, at http://nonduality.com/colindrake.htm