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Awareness Has No Identity
Sundari: Hello, Stewart. Your thinking is incorrect. You are confusing pure awareness, your true identity, with reflected awareness, which is your secondary identity. You think you have “got it” but you lack discrimination and your understanding still needs a lot of work.
Just take a look at the title of your email: “Going beyond awareness.” This is not possible because there is no “beyond.” There is only awareness appearing as objects. If the objects are not real, then awareness cannot be “beyond” them.
Stewart: Now I see. We are awareness. When I thought I was my mind, I was and I became the thoughts in my mind. When I thought I was the concept of awareness, I was and I watched objects enter my awareness.
Sundari: Who sees? It is the apparent, or reflected, self talking here, the one who knows the self; the knowledge that you are the self is not firm. Awareness is not a concept and it is not “your” awareness. Awareness is your true nature, it does not belong to Stewart, it is that which knows Stewart or the mind.
Stewart: When I let no element of my limited self enter my awareness, I became everything else. I am everything and anything because I am awareness. I am everything I shine upon. It all fits with Vedanta.
Sundari: Who lets no element of their “limited self” enter “my” awareness? Awareness does not belong to the person, as I said above; there is no such thing as “my” awareness. Moksa is discriminating you, awareness, from the objects that appear in you. Awareness never “becomes” anything, because there is nothing other than awareness. Awareness is self-illuminating and needs nothing to shine or to know itself; it is the light by which everything is known. Your thinking does not “fit” with Vedanta because Vedanta says that as awareness you are simply the knower of the limited entity called Stewart and he does not need to become anything either. He is an object known to you, arises out of you and dissolves into you. He is fine the way he is because you are always free of him. This is a dualistic statement you make above, because it implies that as awareness there is something other than you. You are saying that you need to experience something to become awareness. You already are awareness, so you are always experiencing awareness.
Stewart: It is a peaceful delight to rest in awareness. For a little while now, I maintained an identity as only awareness (by eliminating other objects).
Sundari: Who maintained an identity as only awareness? See my statements above. The ego is delighting in the experience of awareness. Awareness has no identity, only the ego does. You have confusion between knowledge and experience and you erroneously believe that you can come to be enlightened by a process of elimination. You need to carefully read Chapter II of How to Attain Enlightenment.
Stewart: However, despite this feeling close, something still felt wrong. To be awareness, or the light that shines on everything, to illuminate it (be that thing the mind or any object), it still requires some mental construct to view the world through. “I am awareness.” What is the I? The awareness doesn’t have identity?
Sundari: See above. What “feels wrong” is that Stewart is still objectifying awareness. The self is self-knowing and does not need anything to know itself. The mind is inert, it is just subtle matter and cannot know awareness. It is awareness that knows awareness. You are speaking as the ego, or Stewart, trying to explain awareness instead of knowing that you are awareness that knows Stewart and is reporting Stewart’s thoughts about awareness. How can awareness have an identity? It is the non-experiencing witness and has no qualities.
Stewart: I do not know if I am violating the principles of Vedanta or if I am fully embracing them…
Sundari: Vedanta has no principles, Stewart. It is purely a means of knowledge and the subject matter is you, awareness. It is not something you can study or “get” by “fully embracing.” The one who is “fully embracing” is the doer, Stewart, or reflected self. Awareness simply knows itself and sees nothing but itself.
Stewart: …but to be conscious of awareness requires one to focus it somewhat on the self, specifically on the mind.
Sundari: See above. You cannot be conscious, you are consciousness. The one who thinks he is conscious of awareness is Stewart, the ego. But the ego is not conscious. You are saying here that in order to know awareness the ego has to use the mind to know it. Once again, the ego and the mind are objects known to consciousness; they are inert and incapable of knowing anything. It is the self under the spell of ignorance that desires to be free of its self-imposed ignorance. In order to do this, awareness shines its light on the intellect, the subtle body, and seems to think of, or as you say, focus on, the self.
If you insist that you are Stewart, the doer, and you cannot understand what it means to be awareness, then it is a good practice to be a focuser and meditate on (the reflection of) awareness.
Stewart: Any recognition of one’s identity being “awareness” requires that the mind appear in awareness the entire time.
Sundari: Awareness is effortless, Stewart, it requires no work. It is simply your nature and it is self-luminous. Please, hear it one more time: the mind is not real, it is inert, an object known to you – which means it is not always present and always changing. Only you, awareness, are always present and never change.
Stewart: This focus on the mind still attaches one’s identity to the limited self.
Sundari: Absolutely right.
Stewart: Therefore I realized that I am not even awareness. I became empty. After emptiness, if you have no fear and step out, then the world seems to blend with your body and your “soul,” and the world itself just seem to dance.
Sundari: How can you make this statement or know Stewart if you are not awareness? Without awareness, Stewart is six foot under. Awareness cannot become anything, it is the knower of everything, including the emptiness. Neither does it have to blend with the world, the body or the soul because they are purely objects appearing in awareness and not real.
Stewart: I know this sounds ridiculous, and one could argue it is experiential and means nothing, but I think it could be consistent with Vedanta if one takes some liberties with what awareness is.
Sundari: It is not consistent with Vedanta, it IS experiential and there are no liberties that can be taken with awareness or Vedanta. You either understand what it means to be awareness or you don’t. You don’t understand what it means and you are making Vedanta fit in with your ideas and concepts. Stewart is interpreting Vedanta to fit his ideas, and it does not work.
Stewart: I think between what I learned from the teachings and this piece there is a leap and it’s one that requires no fear because it almost has to be done alone, like the analogy of the finger pointing to the moon.
Sundari: I have told you this before, Vedanta is not a course that you take or something “you” (who?) can “learn.” It is by exposing the mind constantly and rigorously to the scripture through dedicated self-inquiry that the knowledge itself does the “work” of removing the ignorance of your true nature. To achieve this the qualifications have to be there. You lack discrimination and need to develop it. It is true that it can only be done “alone” but unless the inquiry is guided by a qualified teacher, the knowledge will be interpreted by the vasanas.
I strongly recommend that you stop interpreting and settle down to serious study of James’ book How to Attain Enlightenment. Start at the beginning, sign on to the logic and work slowly. Do not write every time you think you “have” something; take time to work things out. Corroborate your inquiry with the e-satsangs and watch at least 30 minutes of the videos every day.
It is very hard not to interpret or to observe the mind interpreting but it is absolutely necessary because the truth needs to be known as it is, not how you think it is.
Stewart: Somehow after completely abandoning myself and almost having no self, I find my identity so complete. The experience I had with my ego was similar, but now there is nothing else I can possibly conceive of.
Sundari: Who is talking here? The one who abandoned itself and had no self, who finds its identity so complete, is the ego, which is why the experience was similar.
Stewart: I can’t imagine feeling more full or more present or find more beauty. I don’t even know if it matches with everything I have read about enlightenment. I’m not even sure I care what enlightenment is anymore. ☺
Sundari: This is great, Stewart, but sorry to say that it is an experience of the self which is very blissful but unfortunately, like all experiences, it will end. You need to develop the discrimination to understand what it means to BE awareness. What is hampering your inquiry is your interpretation of Vedanta and your zeal to “get it” by “learning.”
Stewart: Actually, it seems my identity is being created every moment.
Sundari: Whose identity, Stewart? Awareness has no identity and is the one that knows all identities “every moment.” Only the ego has an identity.
Stewart: To remain empty, everything must go (which is stated in Vedanta as “appears in and falls out of awareness”).
Sundari: The ego thinks that emptiness is the solution, which is another enlightenment myth. There is no problem with duality when you understand what it is, like I have repeatedly told you. It is not in opposition to non-duality. It only causes suffering if you do not understand what it is. When you do, there is no need for constant effort to “let go” because you can enjoy all objects for what they are, not expecting them to give you anything. You know that the joy in is you, awareness.
When the knowledge of your true nature as awareness is hard and fast, you have discriminated the self from the objects appearing in it by negating all objects as not-self. They do not “fall in or out of awareness,” because there is no such thing as “in or out” of awareness. There are only objects arising and falling within the scope of awareness. All objects dissolve in the light of awareness, which does not mean that as the jiva you stop experiencing them. You just know that they are not real, so your contact with objects is not for happiness or anything else.
Stewart: My identity is being created in each moment, and my identity is in the world (Vedanta: non-duality).
Sundari: What identity, Stewart? Awareness has no identity! Stewart has his identity in the world as a person with a story. Stewart is not real. Awareness has no spatial or time constraints, they are just concepts. Awareness is prior to everything and has always existed as whole and complete, non-dual, ever-present, unchanging, ordinary awareness.
You do not understand what non-duality is.
Stewart: WOW! ha, ha! It’s all the same words but they mean something totally different now.
Sundari: Not correct, Stewart. They are not the same words, and you have much of it wrong. Words are what we use to express the truth and although we are limited by them to some extent, Vedanta, being a means of knowledge (sabda pramana), relies on them and is VERY precise about what words are correct and how they are used.
Stewart: Anyway, I love you both! I hope life is wonderful!
Sundari: Thanks, Stewart, we love you too, and life indeed is wonderful.
~ Om and prem, Sundari