What do we know of life?
Life seems to exist, or rather we seem to be alive.
What do we know of ourselves?
We seem to have a body, a mind, sense organs that feed us perceptions of the seeming world around us.
What do we know of the world?
Seen with the seeming body and mind, it seems that we end where the body ends, and beyond that is a world of other things, other people, other living beings and so forth.
How do we know all this?
From our own experience, of course.
So, it is all based on experience. If experience were to be taken away, what remains?
Nothing. No-thing. No mind-body. No outside world.
How is experience experienced?
We place our attention on a seeming thought or a seeming thing and in doing so, we experience that seeming thought or seeming thing. For instance, we look at our window and see a tree outside – this requires us to place our attention on what the eyes (sense organ) brings in, in terms of perception. That is the beginning. After that, the labeling begins and we might conclude that it is a “tree”, and that it has “great fall colors” and so forth. If attention were not placed on a thought, thing, feeling etc. no experience can arise. Attention, then, is key to experience, and experience is key to knowing anything including what seems like ourselves, and an outside world.
What is this attention made of? What is its source?
We can find this readily. Trace that attention inward back to its source. We can see that there is a presence that is aware. And investigating this presence, this aware presence is infinite and it is beyond time, i.e. eternal. This aware presence is also stillness, peace, love. This Awareness is also formless. This Awareness is the source from which attention arises. This Awareness is True Self.
If Awareness is the source of attention, and attention is the key to experience, and experience is the way we know what seems to be ourselves and the seeming world, then every object, a tree with great fall colors, the water bottle, the table, the carpet, the clothing we wear, our hands, our fingers, our feet, our thoughts, the pain sensation in our back, the rumbling in our stomach, the clenched feeling in the heart — all these are known only from experience, from attention, from True Self.
So then, what seems to be ourselves and the seeming world, every object, a tree with great fall colors, the water bottle, the table, the carpet, the clothing we wear, our hands, our fingers, our feet, our thoughts, the pain sensation in our back, the rumbling in our stomach, the clenched feeling in the heart, everything in the world of form rises and shines from the formless Awareness, the True Self.
All these things, thoughts, feelings in the world of form, then are no more than mirrors reflecting back to True Self.
All these things, thoughts, feelings in the world of form, then are no more than True Self shining.
True Self within, True Self without.
Only True Self is there.
This is the experience of the Bhakti Saints in India – like Eknath Maharaj, who said, “I see only Rama“. Rama sees Rama. Rama alone exists. i.e. The Divine alone exists.
As Infinite, Eternal Awareness, Stillness, Peace, Love – formless and beyond cognition.
And it is here, now, for us to experience.
Open your eyes. Everywhere you see, no matter what thing or object you encounter, it is known from your experience only, and that arises from casting attention on the seeing, and which in turn arises from Awareness, the True Self. That thing or object you saw is shining back at you, the mirror of True Self. Everywhere you see, there is the face of God. This is the experience of Sufi saints.
Close your eyes. Notice the breath, the thoughts arising, or feelings, these too are known from your experience only, which arises from casting attention on them, and which in turn arises from Awareness, the True Self. All these that seem to be within, also are shining back to you the mirror of True Self.
Where then can you turn and not “see” True Self? Nowhere!
Why is that so?
Because that which you truly are is True Self. That which you seem to experience as that of mind or body or outside world is also True Self. Only True Self exists.
“I don’t know about anything except Rama.Eknath Maharaj
Inside, only Rama; outside, only Rama;
Wherever I look, I see just Rama, Rama.
Awake in Rama; in sleep and in dreams,
I see only Rama.”
Knowing what you know from experience in this practice, and knowing what you now know about the meaning of “I see only Rama”, and knowing that while it appears profound and out of reach, it is right here, now, shining always, can you deny the truth of Awareness, the True Self?
So, what is really here?
Just One, without a second. That which appears like a thing, a thought, a feeling, is no more than a play of the light of Awareness, the True Self.
The book, Awaken: An Experiential Exploration of Enlightenment, is a resource that guides you to the direct experience of Reality, the One without a second. It is a guided form of Self-Inquiry, exploring the nature of Reality.
* The No-otherness Series of books are resources for your awakening and living awake.
* Check out the book, “What is Enlightenment? A Simple Guide“, which demystifies Enlightenment, and brings you clarity on preparatory practices vs direct paths to Enlightenment.