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Awareness Is Self-Knowing
Iain: Hi, Arlindo. Thanks for your reply last time. It’s been very useful for me. I have another question if you have time.
I have been continuing to listen to the teachings and I have a question about awareness. I think I have grasped what the scriptures are communicating and would like to present a simple analogy in the hopes you could confirm if I’m on the right track.
Let’s say I’m me (Isvara 1), looking directly at a wall (picture a monk in zazen staring directly at the wall in the dojo).
I, awareness, am not strictly looking at a “wall.” I’m simply looking at awareness but there is a power clouding my eyes (Maya) that makes the awareness I’m looking at “seem” like a wall. But the wall is not really there; the wall is made of the chitti vritis (Isvara 2) that create an illusion of a wall appearing (being projected upon) awareness.
Arlindo: That is right, and well said, but you need to change it at the beginning: “as a “jiva” I am not…” It is the jiva that, under the influence of Maya, sees the manifest creation as duality composed of many parts. Awareness is non-dual and absolutely free of Maya’s power to project, to conceal and to reveal.
Iain: Awareness looking at awareness, but awareness can only see itself because of Maya.
Arlindo: Yes and no, but it can be said that awareness can only see its apparent self or creation because of Maya – but only the jivamukta sees the world and knows that she/he is looking at awareness plus the apparent world. Jivas are completely deceived by Maya; they look at awareness, but they only see the world. ☺
Iain: So there actually is no “wall”; the wall is an appearance, an object that appears IN awareness and tricks awareness into believing that the wall is real. It’s not real, it’s a projection.
Arlindo: Yes, it’s not real, it’s only a superimposition, or projection. Maya tricks almost all “jivas” (not awareness) – only a few souls here and there realize the non-dual nature of reality.
It is important to understand that Maya’s concealing power only affects the human jivas, and that is so due to their discriminating intellect and free will. For all other jivas, the question of concealing and revealing do not apply – they are not aware of knowledge and ignorance – they do not have the vehicle of knowledge to seek self-realization and moksa. Awareness, on the other hand, is totally unaffected – it pervades Maya, Isvara, jiva and jagatha, but Maya cannot touch it; Maya has no effect on awareness.
Iain: Without the “wall” (objects), pure awareness would have never known itself, so in conjunction with Maya created these objects and in the process got fooled by the objects, and the field of pure awareness became identified with each of the objects Maya projects. Would this be a correct description of what is going on?
Arlindo: Without “objects” awareness knows itself. It does so because it is self-knowing, self-luminous, self-existing, self-evident – it needs no object in order to know. Knowledge is the very nature of awareness, which is the very nature of creation.
In the presence of objects, you (awareness) know yourself as well as the objects. Look at your own experience! It is very simple and self-evident. You are the simplest ever-present factor, and you know that you are. You know yourself and you know the world simultaneously. In the absence of the world you know you are.
Awareness does not get fooled. And it only apparently identifies with limiting thoughts/jivas. Jivas are experiencing entities designed by Isvara to play the game of desire and fear – ignorance and knowledge. And they need a stage – this dualistic suborder of reality of the one non-dual reality known as awareness.
Iain: When I look now, I don’t look at the objects, but at the principle that allows the objects to be there, the stage on which the objects appear. I guess if Maya and its object stage presentation were to be subtracted all that would be left is… I don’t actually know, ha ha! Except that what maybe would be left over is just “seeing” itself?
Arlindo: A little correction: “whenever I look at the objects, I do so ‘as the principle’ that allows the objects, the wall and the stage to be there.” If you subtract the objects from you, you remain whole, full and complete. Nothing can be added or subtracted from you. Nothing can touch you, and yet all happens in you, but in different suborders or dimensions within you which have no effect on you.
Iain: Seeing not-seeing anything? Which would make it impossible for awareness to know anything? Maya’s objects need to be there for awareness to know something. I understand that Maya needs awareness and awareness does not need Maya. But it seems impossible to think of awareness without a Maya to look at.
Arlindo: It is impossible to think of the manifest world without Maya and Isvara. Awareness is “pure knowingness.” It exists and knows itself in the presence or absence of the world. But awareness is not an “experiencing entity.” The world of objects is created by Maya’s duality (subject-object phenomena). In order for awareness to “apparently” see the world It needs jivas (the experiencing entities).
Iain: The reason I mentioned the chitti vritis is because Pantanjali said that awareness can only be known when all the vasanas are exhausted. But I remember James saying this is not accurate, because even if the apparent me managed to exhaust all my personal vasana bundle, I would then have to work on Isvara’s vasana bundle. And this is the reason I don’t need action to attain moksa, I only need to understand the difference between Isvara 1 and Isvara 2’s macrocosmic chitti vritis and never mix the two up again?
Arlindo: That is correct, and moreover, you do not need to exhaust or destroy all thoughts and vasanas to know that you are existence-consciousness-limitlessness-awareness – you only need to know that you are not the thoughts appearing in you, you are not the vasanas surfacing in your causal body. Discriminating you, awareness, from all objects in you, is all that is needed for self-knowledge to be firmly assimilated and produce moksa.
Iain: Am I even on the right track?
Arlindo: Yes, Iain. You are a good thinker and I enjoy following the logic of your inquiry.
Iain: Thanks, Arlindo, and looking forward to your reply. All the best, from a slightly-confused-but-very-keen-to-understand Iain.
Arlindo: You are very much welcome, Iain.