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Self Inquiry Into The Essence Of Awareness

At some point you may be tempted to believe yourself to be some object or definable entity known as ‘awareness’…


While it’s important to view your fundamental identity as natural awareness, free from clinging to thoughts, it is vitally important to understand and recognise the essence of that awareness as having no-boundaries and non-findable with conceptual thinking.

Not even the greatest neuroscientist has found awareness by looking in the brain, with access to the most sophisticated and sensitive technologies known to man.

It has no definable shape or boundaries, no definable place, no definable or findable anything except for the non-verbal experience of it, within it.

It is this formless and non-objective mystery that one must directly contact when inquiring into the essence of awareness.

“People are scared to empty their minds fearing that they will be engulfed by a void. What they don’t realize is that their own mind is the void.”

~ Zen Master Huang Po

Meditation for Inquiring into the Essence of Awareness

First we will investigate, through questioning and inquiry, into the nature of our own awareness.

This type of self-inquiry is unfamiliar to many, which makes it even harder when we are investigating such a subtle noumenon or non-physical entity as awareness.

The key is to use not only the intellect to think about what awareness is, but to switch back and forth using clear awareness itself to peer deeply into the mind as well. The previous mindfulness training becomes indispensable at this point in order to have stable enough attention and focus without distraction, which enables the meditator to peer deeply and intensely into their own minds.

* None of the meditation instructions on this page do you any good whatsoever unless you actually practice them. Just like medicine is of no use unless you actually take it, meditations are of no use unless you train in them. It is highly recommended that you give at least a week’s worth of training, doing 2 sessions a day of 30 minutes each, if you would like to to taste the true experience and power that meditation has to offer. All the great mystics have reported their experiences using terms like eternity, emptiness, oneness, complete openness, and complete freedom.

  • Step 1:

    Assume the correct meditation posture.

  • Step 2:

    Compose yourself in a relaxed and natural way, without clinging to any thought; allow each thought to dissolve by itself.

  • Step 3:

    Rest in this natural and mindfully aware state without getting distracted.Sit in an upright and erect way so as to have perfect posture. Put your hands in the same position every time you meditate either in your lap with the thumb tips lightly touching each other (this is a meditation mudra) or gently on your knees. Your perfect posture should be a balance of good structure and relaxation. Take a few deep breaths to consciously relax shoulders and other tense areas. Become taller on the in breath and relax around good alignment on the out-breath. Gently close your eyes. Then create the determination to sit still for the period of the meditation. Very still.

  • Step 4:

    Once you are calmly abiding, begin inquiry by thoroughly investigating and looking directly into your own awareness.

  • Step 5:

    Question the nature of your awareness: What is the shape of my awareness? Does it have any boundaries?

    Does my awareness have a certain colour or a certain sound to it? Where does awareness arise from and where does it go?

  • Step 6:

    After thoroughly investigating intellectually and looking directly, isn’t it true that awareness is unfindable as an object?

    Isn’t it true that awareness cannot be captured by a thought or concept?

  • Step 7:

    Instead, isn’t it a totally unidentifiable, aware, unconfined and lucid wakefulness that knows itself by itself?

Meditation for Experiencing the Essence of Awareness

Awareness is the bare observer of things, the first hand witness of all personal experiences. It is clear, lucid and knowing. The Way of Meditation is to recognise this awareness directly and rest in its clarity without intellectualising about it too much. Our awareness is the basis for all experiences, both pleasurable and painful, and is not necessarily fully recognised or understood; however all conscious beings have awareness. Awareness is a continuous thread behind all experience. For training in awareness meditation it is important to be able to discern the difference between awareness and objects appearing to awareness and to enter the stream of awareness without a reference point. Awareness is subtle, clear and immaterial which makes it difficult to apprehend.

The hardest thing is trying to grasp awareness with awareness, which can be like an eye trying to see itself without a mirror; instead a certain skill is required to rest or settle IN awareness without being drawn toward, entangled by or fixated on any objects at all.It has qualities best described as clarity, lucidity and knowing, the silent witness, or by contemplative traditions as the soul or an inner light, but all these terms are pointing to the same thing, which is intimate to everyone’s conscious experience.

Saints and mystics throughout history have adorned their realisations with different names and given them different faces and interpretations, but what they are all fundamentally experiencing is the essential nature of the mind.”

“What we are looking for is what is looking.”

St Francis of Assisi

  • Step 1:

    Assume the correct meditation posture.

  • Step 2:

    Compose yourself in a relaxed and easy way, stay open and alert without distractions.

  • Step 3:

    Follow your breath and blend your awareness with the breath itself;

    as your out-breath leaves your body and dissolves into the space in front of you,

    imagine your awareness is likewise dissolving into the space in front of you as well.

  • Step 4:

    Imagine your awareness becomes like a vast and spacious blue sky.

  • Step 5:

    Remain with the sense that your awareness has no boundaries and is infinite like the sky;

  • Step 6:

    Just like different clouds cannot harm the sky and never stain the sky in any way,

    remain impervious to any thoughts, not allowing them to touch your sky-like nature of mind.

  • Step 7:

    Dwell and sustain clear moments of awareness between the gaps in thoughts as much as possible.

# This meditation training can be done with great effect by sitting outdoors gazing into a clear blue sky.

The key is to not cling to any thoughts, remain without fears or hopes, content in the present moment. Remember to allow your awareness to be as open, expansive and spacious as possible.

Source: The Way Of Mediation


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