Awareness is always present – how else could one know one’s alive? But as we also know – or sense – that’s not the end of the story. The “Awareness is all there is, therefore there’s no doer and nothing to do” position can be such a trap, and it’s one I can write about with some authority – having been leg-baited there for a while. It got me. I think of it as the “half-baked goose” period.
It’s a position that logic can’t refute. It might bring relief if there’s guilt, or if the search has been sickeningly long and fruitless. It always delivers an existential shudder, a shock to the system both physically and mentally. It can lead to nihilism and profound despair. A brain operating-system deprived of wise mentoring can get very very stuck there. It happens.
I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen. In my case it was a gift beyond price – with the benefit of hindsight of course.
The problem with this position is that you know in your innards that something isn’t right. You feel … uneasiness. This has to be denied, of course, and denial deepens the unease. You argy-bargy with yourself: “There’s only Awareness. There’s no self, so who’s here to be in denial? Everything is just happening.”
In a very subtle and sneaky way, thought has turned the shattering revelation that “Awareness is all” to serve its own ends. This is precisely thought’s function; we can’t (and needn’t) damn it for doing its job. But the problem is that most of us haven’t really got a grip on the subtle functioning of thought. We aren’t on to its dynamics. How could we be? It’s not part of the curriculum in our education. (Unless you’ve been lucky enough to be educated at Brockwood Park School, or one of the other Krishnamurti schools worldwide.)
So we miss the way the thinking process (not yours or mine or anyone’s) has shifted the ground to take up another position in regard to this wondrous Awareness. We grokked the first bit, the bit about Awareness being ever-present and all-there-is. But Awareness has remained an object with something apart from it (me) going on about it. This rankles, this is the niggle in the gut. What’s up?
Thought can’t accept that Awareness is the one thing it can never, ever, know anything about. In spite of all the dialogues and seminars and conferences and retreats we attend, in spite of all the youtubes we watch and books we devour, we don’t know a thing about Awareness – except, ironically, that nothing can be known. Eventually this sinks in. There’s a crisis where we admit to ourselves that perhaps the goose isn’t fully cooked after all. A very humbling moment. Exquisite.
This is the point at which some kind of Grace finds space and a ‘eureka!’ moment lights up our weary mind. The gist of it goes like this:
Awareness is always all and everything and always present.
Presence is the dynamic by which Awareness knows itself.
Presence and the movement of thought/thinking are mutually exclusive.
Presence is literally the undivided Be-ing of Awareness.
And Presence is entirely up to you, because, um, what else could you be
but Presence itself?
Well OMG it’s all about me after all. Bless my beloved wee boots!
You can know the false only
the Truth you must yourself be.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
And so the turn is made. Presence cooks the goose. The argy-bargy stops. Awareness re-turns to itself in delight. And the entire body-mind thrills to rightness and ease.
– miriam louisa