One important way to take our spiritual inquiry deeper is to ask, ‘What is the actual substance of this sense of a separate self?’ We will ask this question a countless number of times, each time will be in the midst of different circumstances. If we’re really honest with ourselves, we’ll begin to notice that we always respond with an attempt to conceptually grasp the question, and attempt to formulate an answer in our minds. This noticing begins to include noticing that the particular circumstances involved influence our attempts at asking and answering. For example, it’s 5 am on a dark Sunday morning, and I’m concerned about my 12 yr. old son Danny being too emotional over his chipped tooth.
I’m noticing that in fact I’m suffering emotionally over his emotional reaction to his suffering. This noticing is good and natural; I’m aware that I’m inquiring about the actual substance of this separate self colored by thoughts emanating with tinges of helplessness and inadequacy in my role of being father. Just witnessing the thought energy continually flowing, echoing, and dissolving in waves of discovery, I’m put in touch with the common source of all of my suffering. What IS its actual substance? I don’t know, and this not knowing is the absence of conceptual content, arising together, and one with an alive loving acceptance of all this experience.
So there is a shift from the boundaries of the one who is experiencing, to the vast expanse of consciousness, the eternal possibility, the immeasurable potential of all that was, is, and will be. When we look at anything, it is the ultimate that we see, but we don’t realize this because we’re attached to the idea that we’re looking at something else. Every mode of perception is subjective; what is seen or heard, touched or smelled, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in our small minds only, and has no own being in the actual boundless reality.
Perhaps the hardest part of the path for students in our culture is learning to trust that our true nature is continually supporting and unconditionally loving us in our imagined struggles. Even the sense of ‘I am’ a separate person is composed of the pure light and the sense of being. Could it be composed of something else? The ‘I’ is there even without the ‘am’. So is the pure light there whether you say ‘I’ or not. If we become aware of that pure light, we’ll begin to see that we can never lose it. The overwhelming actuality of the presence of being, the awareness in consciousness, the interest in every experience – these are not describable, yet perfectly accessible, for there is nothing else.