The sage Nisargadatta said, “Of all the ideas you cling to preventing the clear realization of what you actually are, the idea that you’re the body is the worst.” I think if people really are willing to look at what our body actually is, they can at least intellectually grasp that we are not in our body, our body is IN our awareness. We are aware of our body, therefore what we are is not limited to the body. When there’s no awareness of ‘I am’, there’s no body. We can forget all attachment to thoughts about the body, and look at it, but then it is no longer our body, it’s just another physical object in our awareness. Then it is no more ours than the tree outside the window. Of course we aren’t really aware of what an infinitely small fraction our body is of our total being, unless we actually live and express that awareness in our daily life, unless we allow our deeply conditioned preoccupation with our body to dissolve into awareness of our true identity, our true body of consciousness itself.
Sometimes people say but my body follows me around everywhere, and if it’s hurting, I’m hurting! When it moves, I move. But the body can only do these things because the consciousness we are, is also always here manifesting the body in action. Our awareness is here when we’re asleep dreaming, the body is not. Our awareness is still here in deep dreamless sleep, though very few of us are able to pay attention. Apparently for some reason the stress of maintaining our sense of separation from pure formless consciousness, almost always prevents us from getting the rest and rejuvenation we need if awareness of formless consciousness is present during deep dreamless sleep.
The same analogy of the body being in our awareness, also holds true for a house we’re in. We’re not in this house, this house is IN our awareness. We are the pure witness in which this house is now arising, just like we are the pure witness in which our perception of our physical body is arising. So the invitation is to just be this awareness, be consciousness. If we look outside the house, to the scenes of nature, a big part of the earth, and the sky, if we look in short, at the universe appearing out of our eyes – and if we rest as the witness, as the formless awareness of ‘I am’, it becomes obvious that we are not in the universe, the universe is in our consciousness. Therefore the invitation is to be consciousness.
We can also extend the analogy to our bodily experiences. Our body is in our awareness, bodily pain isn’t in the body its in our awareness giving rise to the perceptions of the body. The awareness we are is around the pain, it’s vastly more immense than pain. Pain arises in awareness, is embraced by awareness, then resolves, dissolves, and is absorbed back to its source of awareness itself. If we meditate thoroughly on the absence of what we think about pain, on the absence of our story about pain, all suffering born from pain is alleviated.
As obvious as it is that we are mysterious awareness we can’t capture the fullness of with any labels, it’s just as obvious that we are alive, and are completely embraced by, and moved by the aliveness of the mysterious awareness we are. Another saying that keeps coming up for me is ‘God is the electricity, we human beings are the light bulbs.’ All of our experiences, every sight manifesting in the world of form, every sensation, every sound, and every thought are like sparks of light being constantly lit up and flashing, endlessly, again and again. I know almost nothing about the workings of magnetic and gravitational fields, or the dark mysterious power of black holes, etc. But the power of the current manifesting creation is way beyond our comprehension, and if we continually offer our attachments to flashes of thought energy, our offerings are accepted. More and more, all of our experience begins to harmonize with the joy of the cosmic current.
Many of us have had profound glimpses of this super consciousness alive with the power to create and illuminate galaxies of stars. As we continue on the path, our consciousness expands, and feelings of very deep compassion for all creation arise simultaneously. Ram Dass describes compassion as “seeing another’s emotion as one’s own, with the wisdom of oneness.” We care more as the wisdom of oneness illuminates our life, and we realize the caring is the expression of the divine current’s love and compassion; it’s much deeper and fuller than any energy expressed in a limited way by an individual body/mind. It’s a paradox to ego consciousness that the more we allow this deep caring to express itself, the less attachment there is to the results of our caring.
In his wonderful translation of the Tao Te Ching, Guy Leekley expresses a beautiful verse on cultivating and opening to the flow of the ever serene spirit of life. This opening deepens our stillness, deepens all of our experiences, as our thought stream is more and more in harmony with, and expresses stillness in its spirit of vast inclusiveness. We can then more freely share our experience as ideas and feelings of fear dissolve.
By releasing completely
And cultivating stillness,
We can see how all things
Take on forms
That continuously dissolve
And then emerge again.
We can trace these forms
In all their abundance
As the appear
And then resolve themselves
Back to their Source.
This resolving of forms
Back to their Source
Deepens our stillness
And reveals our boundless nature.
There we finally release
Into illuminating Consciousness
If veiled from this pure Consciousness,
Our experience becomes delusion.
And we suffer.
Opens our hearts to compassion,
And thus to the spiritual life
Of the sacred Way.
At one with the Tao,
We can shine on forever
In the eternal present moment.