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Trying to See Yourself as Awareness Is Like Trying to Look Backwards without Turning Your Head
Tom: Hi, Daniel. Just one more thing: I cannot see what I look like without some means of reflection like a mirror, and even then I can only ever note appearance having no substance. The behaviour of myself in the ephemeral world I can only see on reflection, namely by reports from other people or a recording of myself on video, say. Hence I assume we will only ever “see” awareness via some means of reflection.
I suppose all that remains is continued discrimination and observation to continually test the science. I have started reading James’ book again and will be revisiting the Gita. Is there anything else to look towards?
Daniel: Because of ignorance, awareness is identifying itself as a limited entity (i.e Tom). This in turn creates the game of hide-and-seek. Tom now has the idea that he needs to attain or see something called awareness. But this is not the case.
You can’t see awareness, because you are the awareness that sees. You are trying to find something that you already are. Trying to see yourself as awareness is like trying to look backwards without turning your head. You can’t attain something that you already have – something that you already are. But you can get rid of something that you have, and that something is ignorance. As you apply the science of self-inquiry, self-ignorance will gradually be removed and thus your true identity will be revealed.
This is the mighty spiritual joke; you (awareness) are so utterly obvious and simple that you apparently can’t find yourself. You are the ever-present, unchanging awareness that has watched Tom change shape from babyhood until now. And you will continue to shine as Tom sheds his mortal coil. It’s not that Tom realizes his true nature but rather that awareness realises that it’s awareness and not Tom. Though freedom is for the seeker, it’s more accurate to say that freedom is freedom FROM the seeker. In other words, though freedom is for Tom, it’s actually FROM Tom. This is a subtle point. Contemplate it.
As you continue to apply the teachings, ignorance will slowly chip off. And as ignorance (false identification) is removed, the revealing of your already-free nature as awareness is established as your primary identity, meaning you understand yourself to be unchanging awareness that knows and is free from all objects – including Tom.
Self-inquiry takes time and is hard work because ignorance (identification with the person) is hardwired.
Vedanta is a mirror for/of you, awareness. You are very blessed to have the teachings, Tom. Anyone who has jumped onto the Vedanta bus can have full confidence in the methodology and can rest the mind.
Digest each page of James’ book How to Attain Enlightenment, gently apply the teachings and take it easy.
Tom: Many thanks, Daniel.
PS: I appreciate the spiritual joke.
Daniel: If we can appreciate the fact that this is a non-dual reality and that we are everything, then it’s a wrap! An attitude of gratitude is what it’s all about. ☺