Awakening to Right Seeing
This is a report on a shift in perception that I am in the midst of. It is not a ten-word blip on the timeline in social media. If you are interested in the shift in perception that many are experiencing at present, then read on and take your time. This is not a ‘quick read’. Without patience and a relaxed state of mind while reading this you will only be frustrated, so no need to continue.
How do you wake up from the trance of separation, identification with the body and the resulting sense of individuation? In this article I report, as best I can, one awakening experience that occurred early Saturday morning, September 26th. Let me introduce this report with a few relevant comments regarding my spiritual path up to now, although I cannot say with certainty whether anything I have done prepared me for this awakening experience or not. Perhaps this radical shift in perspective would have happened anyway; maybe, maybe not. Forty-seven years ago I had my first glimpse of reality seen through the eyes of Consciousness free of the veil thanks to the ingestion of the chemical called LSD at the age of 18. I was suddenly “in another world” for several hours. As I began to investigate how that was possible and how it might be possible to be in that state continually without the aid of any chemical substance (which I knew must be possible), I realized several things. The short form of these realizations is that the state of “right seeing free of distortion” (which for me is the quintessence of the LSD experience) occurs when all causes for distortion subside. Knowing that, I have dedicated my exploration of consciousness since then to this task.
I was fortunate to meet my teacher Rajagopalan who introduced me to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the view of reality as expressed by the modern Sage Ramana Maharshi. The study of these teachings helped me find my own path of clearing distortions and understanding how consciousness works. On this path I found several others who expounded the ‘perennial philosophy’ in their own ways. In recent years my favorites have been Lao Tzu, Nisargadatta, Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hanh, Shunryu Suzuki and Lin Ji, the Zen Master from the 9th Century. Let me also mention the hermit poet-sage Han Shan as the one whose spirit continually supports me to simplify my life and my mind.
Shift in Perception
Early on the morning of Saturday, 9-26-2015, I awoke at around four am to answer the call of Nature. About halfway down the hall to the bathroom my perception suddenly shifted. Instead of feeling myself as an individual moving through a space with objects all around like the floor, the walls, and furniture, my perception flipped and suddenly I was the all-pervading Consciousness within which all forms take their existence. I was aware of the person Tomas moving inside of Consciousness as the Space, but I was looking from the vantage point of the Totality. The following words lit up in my mind: “It already knows what It is”. This signified to me that there was no need to incessantly flail about, wanting to ‘raise my frequency’ and to gain more insights and deeper understanding.
Shift to Big Mind as the Default
In the deep feeling tone that I had shifted to it was obvious that for Consciousness there was “nothing more to know or to make known”. Consciousness as the Totality is already complete. Words, of course, do not express the direct perception of this, but can only help create a sketch of the experience. I was grounded in this shifted perception for about nine hours on that day. Even now, writing this a day later, it feels like I am on a different foundation of perception, although the habitual sense of being ‘this body’ with its personality has resumed. Curiously, however, with an added quality somewhat like a parenthesis such that the perception of Beingness as my actual identity is still quite palpable and real, not just in the ‘background’ as previously was the case. The human personality and the greater Buddha Mind are more like equals, although the little mind now obviously does the bidding of the Big Mind.
It Already Knows What It Is
“It already knows what It is” means that It is complete in Itself and, mysteriously, always has been, even in the non-manifest state of the Absolute. It has nothing more to learn and there is no growth or evolution for Consciousness as It is immutable and unchanging. In this state, concepts about Consciousness in Its primordial state as the Absolute being ‘bored’ and therefore creating duality in order to experience and know Itself – seemed simply silly. My sense was rather that Consciousness was watching how everything in the world of name and form was ‘playing itself out’ according to Its nature. Consciousness doesn’t attempt to plan anything or manipulate the phenomenal world in any way, and thus I “got” that I should as well just “chill” and stop thrashing about.
The Nature of Consciousness
The nature of Consciousness is to be aware of all that is. Thus, as Consciousness takes in the ‘happenings’ in the phenomenal world, through the forms (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) of this realm, greater awareness on the part of the forms results. As forms become more aware of their movement within the whole, greater alignment with the whole results. It is as if each wave on the ocean’s surface desires to move in unison with all other waves. No direction need be given and no effort is required to awaken the waves to their most suitable alignment. Those waves that are not able, for any reason, to align with the ocean’s pattern simply cease to exist. The ocean is unaffected.
Looking out of the Eye of Consciousness
Consciousness looks at manifest reality from the other side of individuation. Looking as individuals we are behind the veil from Consciousness. Free of the veil of ignorance (identification with form), Consciousness see all as Itself and sees that It is always going about Its business, which is to sort Itself out so as to come into alignment with all of Itself. This means, in regard to Consciousness that is caught up in manifest reality (limited consciousness), that there is a sort of impetus or intrinsic quality to continually become more and more aware of Itself. Voltage is sometimes described as “electric pressure” and my grade school teacher likened it to a garden hose with the faucet turned on. The ‘voltage’ of Consciousness is the impetus to be aware.
Consciousness and the Earthworm
An image that I perceived while in this state was of an earthworm greedily burrowing through the soil taking in matter and emitting the enriched earth out the other side. Consciousness in myriad forms rapaciously consumes of Itself as manifest reality and these forms with limited consciousness emit various expressions spontaneously (thoughts, speech, behavior, actions etc.) in keeping with their state of awareness. This means that Consciousness does not know a priori the details of how It functions as limited consciousness in each individual case. It does, however, always knows full well what It is in the manifest reality, which is a field of consciousness individuated into myriad forms that are submerged under and pervaded by a veil of ignorance. It knows that this field of limited consciousness is eternally ‘doing its thing’ very dependably, guided by an infallible instinct to become more and more aware of itself and of the One as the ultimate true nature of All. Additionally It, as big Consciousness, ‘knows’ Itself as One without a second, the Absolute, the Unmanifest which is immutable and unchanging and unaffected by any of the ‘movements’ in manifest reality.
Peace and Clarity
This short sketch of the deep feeling tone that I perceived as me during this event may perhaps convey the essential quality for me, which is great Peace and Clarity that is like bedrock. It has nothing to do with concepts or the mind, and even to write concepts encounters a certain resistance. This peace and this clarity are so vast that a word seems puny. My hope is that some of this wide-openness, this unbounded freedom that says we should forget all concepts and it would be best if the mind would wither up and die, will be transmitted to the reader. Perhaps it is best just keep little mind in your pocket like a small calculator when you go to the store and you want to quickly calculate the amount of Euros in Dirham. You can take out your mind and use it when convenient. Otherwise just be with this grandness of things showing up and of feelings inside that want to be expressed and so you just follow the images, the inklings that arise and so some physical action happens like cooking, eating, washing your clothes, hugging a friend, watching a dog on the hillside – like that.
Really what is happening is that Consciousness, with a large “C”, is just watching how everything moves and that is enough for awareness to grow. Self-correction happens then spontaneously. Well, what about all those people (forms) we see in this field of consciousness that seem to be stuck and are not “auto-correcting”, as you say? Maybe we will find some clue as to how this all fits together if we continue the narrative.
Watching manifest reality move, Consciousness sees how ignorance (caused by attachment to form) led to each form imagining itself separate from the Whole. Awareness begins to grow as individual forms begin to interact with their surrounding environment. Slowly the forms become aware of interaction with other forms and the illusion of being separate subjects interacting with objects around them sets in. The idea of a separate will takes hold and individual forms begin to develop the sense of being separate centers, each with their own respective and differing interests. Each form pursues its own interests that will secure its continued existence: survival, often at the cost of another, is the name of the game. In human individuals we call this the development of the ego, and Consciousness watches as the ego structure of limited consciousness grows far beyond the actual need to survive.
The Illusion of the Finite
Then limited consciousness in forms continues to increase its awareness of how manifest reality function. Each form, in its own way, learns how things work, how relationships work, how satisfaction and happiness, suffering and pain work. All the while, Consciousness free of the veil in Its original state, knows Itself even while watching limited consciousness that is caught up as the manifested, phenomenal reality. Beingness – as this dynamic manifest consciousness – is powered by a creative principle that is enthused by the experiment of conjuring up the illusion of the finite, duality, the veil and free will. This creative principle loves the feeling of being, the sense of physical existence.
The Thirst for Life
As my favorite sage, Ramana, says: “Thirst for life is inherent in the very nature of life..” Albert Camus says it differently but quite poignantly: “The flesh wants a tomorrow”. In this shift of perception to the perspective as Consciousness Itself – the substratum of all phenomena – which is watching all of manifestation unfold, this ‘thirst for life’ that is the motor for manifestation, was very palpable, although Consciousness is not moved or affected by this thirst. The Sanskrit phrase “antar mukha dristi’ (the force of manifestation is retained in the Heart and does not spring forth as phenomena) characterizes the feeling. I once had a reality-dream of a man who was five hundred feet high, standing in the middle of space radiating great intensity, and this figure reminded me of depictions of Shiva, the Hindu god, in the middle of space with a huge erection of his lingam, but he just holds the creative energy, not moving to release it in any way, just being with the intensity of it.
Life “is absolute existence – sat. Although indestructible by nature, by false identification with its destructible instrument, the body, consciousness imbibes a false apprehension of its destructibility. Because of that false identification it tries to perpetuate the body, and that results in a succession of births.” (Ramana) This describes what I call the dynamic of Consciousness ‘Velcro-ing” on to form, like the baby goose that takes the first form it sees when it opens its eyes to be its mother and follows it everywhere. Likewise, as soon as a form appeared in the field of perception of Consciousness, It identifies with the form and becomes conditioned by that identification. It is then no longer big Consciousness, but has become limited consciousness with a small “c”. Once Beingness identifies with form it is literally sucked in to the delusional state of duality. Primordial Consciousness sees all the trials and tribulations that are incurred by Beingness (which is now limited consciousness) when enmeshed in the ignorance of identification with form but It watches from a platform that is apart from the happenings and yet very close.
Looking at all of this from this platform of the Absolute, which is Consciousness before identification with form, It is in great Compassion with the realm of manifest reality and It is in Understanding of why and how all of this is playing out and sorting itself out. There is also a quality of Humor at the unexpected bursts of awareness growth that occur spontaneously and surprisingly. Humor also arises from the living realization that this spectacle is all really just an illusion, like so much foam thrown up by the waves on the beach creating great castles and landscapes and creature-like forms. One could say, it is all fake, or as Ramana calls it, “a spurious offshoot”. “The real Self is continuous and unaffected. The reincarnating ego belongs to the lower plane, namely, thought. It is transcended by Self-realization. Reincarnations are due to a spurious offshoot.”
The Seeing Eye of Infinity
Through the Eye of Consciousness, when it is free of the veil, our life looks something like this:
“Oh my God! How ludicrous! These forms acting with limited consciousness are actually eating each other! What an abomination! The chickens they breed are reduced to a walking bone frame that carries flesh on it. No more running around on the hillside fields catching insects and eating seeds. They are in cramped pens scratching in their own feces!”
“How wonderful! The human flesh eaters are beginning to feel the same disgust and are beginning to partake less and less in the flesh of other living beings. They are still consuming other material forms, which in their limited consciousness state they feel they require for survival, for sustenance. However, they are starting to relish plant nutrition. They are beginning to recognize that they are first and foremost energy beings immersed in a sea of energy and that there are various ways in which they open to and take in the vital energy into their forms.”
“How absurd! Each one of the forms in the human realm feels they are separate from their environment and each other. The one Being that I Am is right in front of their eyes, but they can’t see It. How mysterious! Their sense of consciousness as “I” seems to attach on to one single form (the human body) and from then on deeply believes that it IS that human body and that they are limited in their abilities to the potential as a biological organism.”
“How delightful! More and more humans are becoming consciously aware of being completely interconnected to all other forms and to the totality of their physical and even spiritual environment! They are letting go of their fear as egos and are starting to feel the embrace of the Benevolence and Security of all Life!”
“How terrible! Some sectors of human consciousness are addicted to the frequency of power over others. This addiction leads them to cause great pain and suffering to extensions of themselves that they perceive as being ‘others’, separate from themselves. They are abusing each other in unimaginable ways, torturing, raping, maiming, enslaving, humiliating and destroying each other’s human forms. And all for no reason as it will all come back to them and make all of their “gains” nothing, whether they believe it or not.”
“How empowering! Increasing numbers of them are understanding that whatever they do to “others”, they are actually and literally doing to themselves! Halleluiah! They are beginning to wake up from the state of limited consciousness!
Watching the Shadows on the Wall of the Cave
Such is the viewpoint of unconditional Consciousness. It doesn’t engage and take part in the interactions of the forms with one another. It knows Itself, and knows that only Its Reality is really real and all else is so much play of shadows on the cave wall. In this Knowing is the certainty that “all is sorting itself out” and is in the inexorable process of returning from the delusional state to full Consciousness. It views this all much like one watching a sick person in high fever wildly gesticulating and arguing with imaginary persons in the state of acute hallucination. It cools the person’s brow and speaks soothing words and administers the medicine that can break the fever and then just watches, and waits… for the fever to break. The medicine that Consciousness administers to the confused and suffering creatures is Silence, and this medicine permeates magically into all phenomena and calms them. As they release their agitation and their excitement, their mind’s focus returns. They no longer see in a confused way, mistaking the limited physical form with their true Identity.
Direct Perception from Within
That is why it is said that each one must find their Truth in themselves. When in the confused state of consciousness, any information from an outside source will only increase the dissonance in one’s own vibrational field and impair the waves of information from settling to the point where all mind-vibrations finally subside. The still-point is there when one simply refrains from creating more mind-vibrations. Then the mind-stuff becomes still by itself, just as the glass of water when it is no longer brought into oscillation by the movement of the hand that is holding it. We are the hand that is holding the glass of water of our mind. The medicine from Consciousness is the very subtle, very fine voice telling us to finally just “Stop”. Then clear light is our reality and all is seen in direct perception from within. There is no need to sift through all of the theories and ‘information”. Discernment then happens spontaneously from that place of right seeing. In this steady and effortless state of discernment Truth is seen as true, false is seen as false, and the Truth in the false is seen. One then moves through life with a steady gait, unburdened by the surrounding confusion and buoyed up by the omnipresent Consciousness.
Does this change my life? Actually, it doesn’t, not at all. Tomas keeps doing all he ever did, but now there is a level of silent participation by the Buddha Mind that Tomas wasn’t aware of previously. This silent participation has the effect of calming needless thought activity and this leaves Tomas free to do whatever he does with more presence and less interference by extraneous small-mind thoughts. The Zen people in Japan have a term called “ichigyo-zammai” and it translates as “one-practice samadhi”. It means that one’s whole mind and body are fully engaged in every action that one does. This leads to one being aware of Big Mind while engaged fully and passionately in all that one is called to do in the phenomenal world. It is not something that is “practiced” and learned like a skill. It is more that one spontaneously becomes drawn in to living in this way because awareness has grown. How did it grow? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is: that is just what It does.