An Exploration: Resting as That, you are Infinity. Consciousness and The Absolute, Atman and Brahman, Anatman and Sunyata.
Recognizing The Self that is Consciousness (Atman)
Student: What is the formless light of consciousness?
Krishna: You are, your own subjective nature is.
S: Okay, what is that then?
K: Only you can discover that. It is something that you must do alone.
K: I can point you there, but you have to look for yourself. You must do your own self-inquiry, you must use your own discriminating awareness, otherwise it’s just information.
S: I guess I’m asking you for some pointing then.
K: Very good then, let’s take a look. There’s no time like the present.
K: What do you find when you look now?Well, I find that I have a body and a mind.
K: The body and the mind.
K: And the “I”.
S: The “I”?
K: Yes the “I” as in: ” ‘I’ have a body and a mind.” Who is this “I”?
K: Yes, who is that? What is that “I” that is aware of body & mind, the “me”. Who is this subject that you call “me”, to whom the body and mind are objects?
S: I guess I’m not sure.
K: Is that your question? ‘Who am “I”? What am “I”? Who is The Subject of my life?
S: I’m not sure that’s all that I’m asking, but that would be a good start.
K: Do you really want to look into this deeply now?
K: Okay, let’s start very simply then. You’re wearing a watch aren’t you?
K: You are aware of your watch aren’t you?
K: So, in this sense the watch is not you, you are aware of it. Right?
S: Yes, that’s right.
K: You are the subject and your watch is the object, right?
K: Okay, very well. Simple enough. You are the Subject and you are aware of the object, so you are not the object but you are the subject, correct?
S: Yes, that’s correct.
K: Can you close your eyes?
K: Good, now see if you can bring your attention to the feeling-sensation of your feet.
K: You are aware of the feeling sensation of your feet, are you not?
K: So you are the subject and in this sense the feeling of your feet is an object to you.
S: Yes, okay yes, I can see that my feet are an object to me because I, who am the subject, am aware of them.
K: Exactly, so now allow your attention to open up and include your feeling-sensation of your legs, your torso, your arms and your head, slowly include all of the sensations of your entire body. Take your time…
K: You are aware of your whole body, are you not?
K: In this sense you are not your body, it is simply an object to you. You are the subject and the body is an object.
S: Yes, I can feel that, I experience that.
K: Good. Now allow yourself to get a sense of the room, can you feel the room? In your own way, get a sense of the feeling of the room, including all the objects and all of the people in the room. It probably won’t be exactly the same as what you’d see if you opened your eyes, but you have your own feeling ofthe room here. Even if you opened your eyes, you’d still have your own feeling sense of the room now.
S: Okay, I have my own feeling-sense of both my body and the room and everything in it, I am aware of that.
K: So notice how all of these objects are felt or sensed together, the whole field of feeling-sensation can be experienced at once now, this is sometimes called the kinesthetic Field. Notice that all these sensations together are the kinesthetic or feeling-sensation field and this field can be experienced as an object to you. You are aware of it, you are the subject and the entire field of feeling-sensation is something that you experience, it’s an object to you, therefore in that sense; youare not it, because you are aware of it.
S: Yes, I can feel this, I am the subject and everything that I can feel is an object to me, so it’s not me.
K: Right. Now bring your attention to the sounds in the room… and include the sounds outside the room… also include any sounds inside the body like the breathing or heart beating. Just notice that this is the auditory field and that it is also an object to you. You are aware of it and in this sense it is not you, it is not the subject, it is an object to you.
S: Yes, I hear you, I get it.
K: Now include your sense of taste and smell, these fields are also simply objects to you.
K: Also bring your attention to the Lights behind your eyelids and anything that you can see with your eyes closed. Notice that this is all the visual field and that you are aware of it, so (in this sense) the whole visual field is an object to you.
K: Good, now notice your emotions; include in your attention whatever emotions you are feeling in response to this self-inquiry. Whether you feel good about it or feel some resistance, whatever you’re feeling include that in your attention. Whatever emotions you are feeling, notice that these emotions are also an object, are they not? You are aware of them, you are the subject, and they are the object. Therefore you are not them, you are simply aware of them.
S: Yes… thank you.
K: You’re welcome, now noticing that all experience, anything that you sense or are aware of, is an object to you, and you are the subject. Now include your thoughts also. Thoughts keep on changing, they are passing objects to you, you are aware of them and in that sense you are not them and they are not you. Discursive mind is the movement of thoughts and you are simply aware of these thoughts.
S: But I am usually identified with thoughts; I feel them to be me.
K: Yes, yes. It is certainly possible to feel yourself to be thoughts, to be the mind. It is certainly possible to identify with thoughts. In fact that is what is expected of us by most of the world, that we should identify with our minds. This is a possible mode of experiencing life, and for humans at least; it is the mostcommon. But right now, we are engaging in self-inquiry, clarifying through discriminating awareness. I’m simply asking for the sake of sorting things out, for the sake of clarifying what is the formless light of consciousness. You can always go back to identifying with thoughts any time. Using this discriminating awareness, can you notice that it is possible to see your thoughts as objects to you?
S: Yes, I can.
K: Very good, now do you have a sense of “me”?
S: Of “me”?
K: Yes “me-ness”, a sense of yourself. Say your name silently to yourself and see if you can get a sense of your “me-ness”, of who you are as an individual, “me”. Do you have a sense of “me-ness”?
S: Yes, I have a sense of “me-ness”; I have a sense of myself that is there.
K: Good, so you have a sense of it, you are aware of it?Yes.
K: Notice that since you are aware of it; therefore it is an object to you. In that sense it is not you… Take your time here.
S: Wow. I can see that, I mean I can feel that, I am experiencing that. My felt sense of my self is actually an object to me, not me. “I” am aware of “it”.
K: Very good, now we’ve seen that all of the sense fields, all of the objects of the subject are really objects, not the subject. So let’s take a look at this so called subject.
K: Now, turn your attention to it’s source. Trace attention to where it comes from.
S: Huh? …I’m not sure…
K: Take your time, bring attention to the subject, the one who is aware of all this. Do you have a sense of it? Take your time.Yes.
K: Describe it.
S: It’s a silent witness.
K: Very good, so you are aware of a silent witness?
K: Very good. Enjoy it….( silence).
(after a while)
K: Would you like to go deeper now?
S: Yes, certainly.
K: Good. So you are aware of the silent witness?
K: Now since you are aware of the silent witness that would make the silent witness an object to you, correct? Hmm, well, yes. I see. Yes.
K: So what is it that is aware of this silent witness? What is aware of that? Can you get a sense of it? See if you can bring your attention to find or locate the subject that is aware of the silent witness.
K: Do you have a sense of it?
S: It’s spacious emptiness.
K: Very good, so you have a sense of spacious emptiness?
S: Uh huh.
K: So you are aware of spacious emptiness, are you not?
K: So it is an object to you right?
S: Oh… yes, right.
K: So see if you can get a sense of the subject…that which is aware of spacious emptiness.
S: Okay. Now I’m experiencing a sense of peaceful presence.
K: So you are aware of that sense of peaceful presence are you not?
S: Yes and I can see that it’s an object as well; it can’t be the subject, because I’m aware of it, it’s anotherobject.
K: Can you get a sense of the subject?
S: No….How can I? Any sense of the subject is not the subject itself.
S: Any sense of the subject is another object.
K: Exactly! So can you say anything about the subject?
Wait, I can say one thing about the subject.
K: What’s that?
S: That it’s me.
K: This is easy isn’t it? Amazingly simple.
K: This is the mystery of being conscious; we are ultimately unfindable but obviously aware.
K: It just is. The subject is unfindable because it is outside the field of the senses. Because of this it cannot be sensed, only realized. We already always are it. It’s never actually experienced in itself. Yet it is who we are! It is the basis of our entire lived existence but it can never be touched! It’s amazing that so few ever check to see who’s minding the store. Everyone simply walks around acting as though they know what they are, but no one checks.
S: So do we exist or not? I mean is there anyone there?
K: Zen people would smack you for such a question. We simply can’t say. All of the language about this is metaphor, it cannot be spoken about directly; it is beyond language.
We can’t really say that it’s present, but here we are! Sri Ramana Maharshi used to say; “Will anyone doubt their own existence?”.
We can’t really say that it’s absent, but it can’t be found! Lord Buddha would challenge people to find anything like a self.
This is why throughout sacred history “the subject” (or lack of one) has been referred to in so many contradictory ways. It’s called “Atman” or “The Self” (because it’s the subject, our intrinsic nature) and it’s also called “Anatman” or “No-self” (because it’s not ever findable). We can’t even exactly say that it’s “there” or “not there”, because only that which is in the field of the senses can exist or not exist.
Like light, it cannot itself be seen but it illuminates all that is seen. We only experience light by seeing its reflections as the objects that it illuminates. This is the formless light of consciousness; your own deepest subjectivity, in this sense it is your own deepest Self.
Recognizing the Unmanifest Absolute (Brahman)
K: Would you like to do a bit of further guided exploration?
K: Slowly open their eyes and allow yourself to get a sense of the entire visual field.
K: You can recognize that there are objects in the visual field, but if you relax your focus you can be aware of the entire field itself. You can do this by resting your focus on the center of the field of vision and allowing yourself to become aware of the whole field while relaxing your gaze.
K: You’ll notice the visual field is something like an oval or circle or sphere. From here, without moving your eyes allow yourself to become aware of the edges of this sphere, the edges of the visual field. Now notice that you can “be aware” of the vast space in which the visual field is appearing.
Notice that you can allow your awareness to expand infinitely into this space beyond the sense fields in all directions, and yet paradoxically it has no dimensions at all because it is outside of the senses.
Notice that because it is beyond the senses we can refer to it as “blackness”, but it really has no color, it’s beyond the visual field. We can’t quite say if it’s empty or full, but sometimes it’s called emptiness (sunyata) and fullness both. We can’t even exactly say that it’s “there”, because only that which is in the field of the senses can exist or not exist. But we can know it by recognition. It is the context of all our experience. By relaxing into it’s intuitive recognition, it’s absent presence (or present absence) expands into the field of the senses. It can set that field aglow with radiance. This boundless space is the basis, the ground and the substratum of all sense experience, yet it is beyond the senses.
We cannot even say that this vastness is either conscious or unconscious (or beyond both!), yet Consciousness is inseparable from it: see if you can you find a boundary between the two.
In India this is called the non-duality of Atman and Brahman.
This is the non-duality of our own subjectivity and the boundless space (beyond existence and non-existence) in which everything is sensed! Resting as that you are infinity.
© 2005 Krishna Gauci