Awareness as the Ground of Being
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I am not an object. I am the pure Witness of all those objects. I am Consciousness as such. Rather, as you rest in the radical subject or Witness, as you stop identifying with objects, you will simply begin to notice a sense of vast Freedom. This Freedom is not something you will see; it is something you are. When you are the Witness of thoughts, you are not bound by thoughts. When you are the Witness of feelings, you are not bound by feelings. As an object, you are bound; as the Witness, you are Free. And so we rest in this state of the pure and simple Witness, the true Seer, which is vast Emptiness and pure Freedom, and we allow whatever is seen to arise as it wishes.
Spirit is in the Free and Empty Seer, not in the limited, bound, mortal, and finite objects that parade by in the world of time. And so we rest in this vast Emptiness and Freedom, in which all things arise. We do not reach or contact this pure Witnessing awareness. It is not possible to contact that which we have never lost. Rather, we rest in this easy, clear, ever-present awareness by simply noticing what is already happening. We already see the sky. We already hear the birds singing. We already feel the cool breeze. The simple Witness is already present, already functioning, already the case.
That is why we do not contact or bring this Witness into being, but simply notice that it is always already present, as the simple and spontaneous awareness of whatever is happening in this moment. We also notice that this simple, ever-present Witness is completely effortless. It takes no effort whatsoever to hear sounds, to see sights, to feel the cool breeze: We do not follow those objects, nor avoid them. Precisely because Spirit is the ever-present Seer, and not any limited thing that is seen, we can allow all seen things to come and go exactly as they please.
All things come and go in the effortless mirror-mind that is the simple Witness. When I rest as the pure and simple Witness, I notice that I am not caught in the world of time. The Witness exists only in the timeless present. Yet again, this is not a state that is difficult to achieve but impossible to avoid.
The Witness sees only the timeless present because only the timeless present is actually real. When I think of the past, those past thoughts exist right now, in this present. When I think of the future, those future thoughts exist right now, in this present. Past and future thoughts both arise right now, in simple ever-present awareness. And when the past actually occurred, it occurred right now.
When the future actually occurs, it will occur right now. There is only right now, there is only this ever-present present: Thus, the timeless present is not hard to contact but impossible to avoid, and this becomes obvious when I rest as the pure and simple Witness, and watch the past and future float by in simple ever-present awareness. That is why when we rest as the ever-present Witness, we are not in time. Resting in simple witnessing awareness, I notice that time floats by in front of me, or through me, like clouds float through the sky. Thus, as I right now rest in this simple, ever-present Witness, I am face to face with Spirit.
I am with God today, and always, in this simple, ever-present, witnessing state. I am not this, I am not that; I rest as pure open Spirit. When I am not an object, I am God. And every I in the entire Kosmos can say that truthfully. I am not entering this state of the ever-present Witness, which is Spirit itself. I cannot enter this state, precisely because it is ever-present.
I cannot start Witnessing; I can only notice that this simple Witnessing is already occurring. This state never has a beginning in time precisely because it is indeed ever-present. You can neither run from it nor toward it; you are it, always. This is exactly why Buddhas have never entered this state, and sentient beings have never left it.
When I rest in the simple, clear, ever-present Witness, I am resting in the great Unborn, I am resting in intrinsic Spirit, I am resting in primordial Emptiness, I am resting in infinite Freedom. I cannot be seen, I have no qualities at all. I am not this, I am not that. I am neither light nor dark; neither large nor small; neither here nor there; I have no color, no location, no space and no time; I am an utter Emptiness, another word for infinite Freedom, unbounded to infinity. I am that opening or clearing in which the entire manifest world arises right now, but I do not arise in it—it arises in me, in this vast Emptiness and Freedom that I am.
Things that are seen are pleasant or painful, happy or sad, joyous or fearful, healthy or sick—but the Seer of those things is neither happy nor sad, neither joyous nor fearful, neither healthy nor sick, but simply Free. As pure and simple Witness I am free of all objects, free of all subjects, free of all time and free of all space; free of birth and free of death, and free of all things in between.
I am simply Free. When I rest as the timeless Witness, the Great Search is undone. The Great Search is the enemy of the ever-present Spirit, a brutal lie in the face of a gentle infinity. The Great Search is the search for an ultimate experience, a fabulous vision, a paradise of pleasure, an unendingly good time, a powerful insight—a search for God, a search for Goddess, a search for Spirit—but Spirit is not an object.
Spirit cannot be grasped or reached or sought or seen: To search for the Seer is to miss the point. To search forever is to miss the point forever. How could you possibly search for that which is right now aware of this page? You cannot go out looking for that which is the Looker. When I seek an object, I cease to be God, and that catastrophe can never be corrected by more searching for more objects. Rather, I can only rest as the Witness, which is already free of objects, free of time, free of suffering, and free of searching. When I am not an object, I am Spirit.
When I rest as the free and formless Witness, I am with God right now, in this timeless and endless moment. I taste infinity and am drenched with fullness, precisely because I no longer seek, but simply rest as what I am. Before Abraham was, I am. Before the Big Bang was, I am.
After the universe dissolves, I am. In all things great and small, I am. Whether you see peace or turmoil, whether you see equanimity or agitation, whether you see bliss or terror, whether you see happiness or sadness, matters not at all: Changing states is thus beside the point; acknowledging the ever-present Seer is the point. Even in the midst of the Great Search and even in the worst of my self-contracting ways, I have immediate and direct access to the ever-present Witness. I do not have to try to bring this simple awareness into existence. I do not have to enter this state.
It involves no effort at all. I simply notice that there is already an awareness of the sky. I simply notice that there is already an awareness of the clouds. I simply notice that the ever-present Witness is already fully functioning: I am always already in the lap of this ever-present awareness, the radical Emptiness in which all manifestation is presently arising. When I rest in the pure and simple Witness, I notice that this awareness is not an experience. It is aware of experiences, it is not itself an experience.
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Experiences come and go. They have a beginning in time, they stay a bit, and they pass. But they all arise in the simple opening or clearing that is the vast expanse of what I am. The clouds float by in this vast expanse, and thoughts float by in this vast expanse, and experiences float by in this vast expanse. They all come, and they all go. But the vast expanse itself, this Free and Empty Seer, this spacious opening or clearing in which all things arise, does not itself come and go, or even move at all.
Thus, when I rest in the pure and simple Witness, I am no longer caught up in the search for experiences, whether of the flesh or of the mind or of the spirit. Experiences—whether high or low, sacred or profane, joyous or nightmarish—simply come and go like endless waves on the ocean of what I am.
As I rest in the pure and simple Witness, I am no longer moved to follow the bliss and the torture of experiential displays. Experiences float across my Original Face like clouds floating across the clear autumn sky, and there is room in me for all. When I rest in the pure and simple Witness, I will even begin to notice that the Witness itself is not a separate thing or entity, set apart from what it witnesses.
All things arise within the Witness, so much so that the Witness itself disappears into all things. And thus, resting in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, I notice that there is no inside and no outside. There is no subject and no object. Things and events are still fully present and clearly arising—the clouds float by, the birds still sing, the cool breeze still blows—but there is no separate self recoiling from them.
Events simply arise as they are, without the constant and agitated reference to a contracted self or subject. Events arise as they are, and they arise in the great freedom of not being defined by a little I looking at them.
They arise with Spirit, as Spirit, in the opening or clearing that I am; they do not arise to be seen and perceptually tortured by an ego. I exist on this side of my face, and my entire life is an attempt to save face, to save this self-contraction, to save this sensation of grasping and seeking, a sensation that sets me apart from the world out there, a world I will then desire or loathe, move toward or recoil from, grasp or avoid, love or hate.
The inside and the outside are in perpetual struggle, all varieties of hope or fear: We do not want to die! We do not want, to cease the sensation of the separate-self! But that primal fear of losing face is actually the root of our deepest agony, because saving face—saving an identity with the bodymind—is the very mechanism of suffering, the very mechanism of tearing the Kosmos into an inside versus an outside, a brutal fracture that I experience as pain.
But when I rest in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, I lose face. Inside and outside completely disappear. It happens just like this:. As I drop all objects—I am not this, not that—and I rest in the pure and simple Witness, all objects arise easily in my visual field, all objects arise in the space of the Witness. I am simply an opening or clearing in which all things arise. I notice that all things arise in me, arise in this opening or clearing that I am. The clouds are floating by in this vast opening that I am. The sun is shining in this vast opening that I am.
The sky exists in this vast opening that I am; the sky is in me. The clouds are on the inside of me; I am seeing them from within. When all things arise in me, I am simply all things. The universe is One Taste, and I am That. And so, when I rest as the Witness, all things arise in me, so much so that I am all things. There is no subject and object because I do not see the clouds, I am the clouds. There is no subject and object because I do not feel the cool breeze, I am the cool breeze.
There is no subject and object because I do not hear the thunder clapping, I am the thunder clapping. I am no longer on this side of my face looking at the world out there; I simply am the world. I am not in here. I have lost face—and discovered my Original Face, the Kosmos itself. The bird sings, and I am that. The sun rises, and I am that. The moon shines, and I am that, in simple, ever-present awareness. When I rest in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, every object is its own subject.
I am not looking at the rainbow; I am the rainbow, which sees itself. I am not staring at the tree; I am the tree, which sees itself.
The entire manifest world continues to arise, just as it is, except that all subjects and all objects have disappeared. The mountain is still the mountain, but it is not an object being looked at, and I am not a separate subject staring at it. Both I and the mountain arise in simple, ever-present awareness, and we are both set free in that clearing, we are both liberated in that nondual space, we are both enlightened in the opening that is ever-present awareness.
That opening is free of the set-apart violence called subject and object, in here versus out there, self against other, me against the world. I have utterly lost face, and discovered God, in simple ever-present awareness. When you are the Witness of all objects, and all objects arise in you, then you stand in utter Freedom, in the vast expanse of all space.
In this simple One Taste, the wind does not blow on you, it blows within you. The sun does not shine on you, it radiates from deep within your very being.
When it rains, you are weeping. You can drink the Pacific Ocean in a single gulp, and swallow the universe whole. Supernovas are born and die all within your heart, and galaxies swirl endlessly where you thought your head was, and it is all as simple as the sound of a robin singing on a crystal clear dawn. Every time I recognize or acknowledge the ever-present Witness, I have broken the Great Search and undone the separate self.
And that is the ultimate, secret, nondual practice, the practice of no-practice, the practice of simple acknowledgment, the practice of remembrance and recognition, founded timelessly and eternally on the fact that there is only Spirit, a Spirit that is not hard to find but impossible to avoid. Spirit is the only thing that has never been absent.
It is the only constant in your changing experience. You have known this for a billion years, literally. And you might as well acknowledge it. If you do not understand this, then rest in that which does not understand, and just that is Spirit. When I rest in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, I am resting in intrinsic Spirit; I am in fact nothing other than witnessing Spirit itself.
I do not become Spirit; I simply recognize the Spirit that I always already am. When I rest in simple, clear, ever-present awareness, I am the Witness of the World. I am the eye of Spirit. I see the world as God sees it. I see the world as the Goddess sees it. I see the world as Spirit sees it: The entire Kosmos arises in the eye of Spirit, in the I of Spirit, in my own intrinsic awareness, this simple ever-present state, and I am simply that.
When you rest in primordial awareness, that awareness begins to saturate your being, and from the stream of consciousness a new destiny is resurrected. When the Great Search is undone, and the separate-self sense has been crucified; when the continuity of witnessing has stabilized in your own case; when ever-present awareness is your constant ground—then your entire bodymind will regenerate, resurrect, and reorganize itself around intrinsic Spirit, and you will arise, as from the dead, to a new destiny and a new duty in consciousness.
You will cease to exist as separate self with all the damage that does to the bodymind , and you will exist instead as vehicle of Spirit with the bodymind now free to function in its highest potential, undistorted and untortured by the brutalities of the self-contraction. The Buddhist names are not important; the enlightened qualities they represent are. The point is simply that, once you have stably recognized simple, ever-present awareness-once the Great Search and the self-contraction have been robbed of separative life and returned to God, returned to their ground in ever-present awareness-then you will arise, from the ground of ever-present awareness, and you will embody any of the highest possibilities of that ground.
You will be vehicle of the Spirit that you are. That ever-present ground will live through you, as you, in a variety of superordinary forms. Perhaps you will arise as Samantabhadra, whose ever-present awareness takes the form of a vast equality consciousness: Perhaps you will arise as Avalokiteshvara, whose ever-present awareness takes the form of gentle compassion. In the brilliant clarity of ever-present awareness, all sentient beings arise as equal forms of intrinsic Spirit or pure Emptiness, and thus all beings are treated as the sons and daughters of the Spirit that they are.
You will have no choice but to live this compassion with a delicate dedication, so that your very smile will warm the hearts of those who suffer, and they will look to you for promise that they, too, can be liberated into the vast expanse of their own primordial awareness, and you will never turn away. Perhaps you will arise as Prajnaparamita, the mother of the Buddha whose ever-present awareness takes the form of a vast spaciousness, the womb of the great Unborn, in which the entire Kosmos exists. For deepest truth, it is exactly from the ground of your own simple, clear, ever-present awareness that all beings are born; and it is to the ground of your simple, clear, ever-present awareness that all beings will return.
Resting in the brilliant clarity of ever-present awareness, you watch the worlds arise, and all the Buddhas arise, and all sentient beings as such arise.
And to you they will all return. And you will smile, and receive, in this vast expanse of everlasting wisdom, and it will all begin again, and yet again, and always yet again, in the womb of your ever-present state. Perhaps you will arise as Manjushri, whose ever-present awareness, takes the form of luminous intelligence. Although all beings are equally intrinsic Spirit, some beings do not easily acknowledge this ever-present Suchness, and thus discriminating wisdom will brilliantly arise from the ground of equality consciousness.
You will instinctively see what is true and what is false, and thus you will bring clarity to everything you touch. And if the self-contraction does not listen to your gentler voice, your ever-present awareness will manifest in its wrathful form, which is said to be none other than the dreaded Yamantaka, Subduer of the Lord of Death. And so perhaps you will arise as Yamantaka, fierce protector of ever-present awareness and samurai warrior of intrinsic Spirit.
Precisely those items that pretend to block ever-present awareness must be quickly cut through, which is why ever-present awareness arises in its many wrathful forms. You will simply be moved, from the ground of equality consciousness, to expose the false and the shallow and the less-than-ever-present. It is time for the sword, not the smile, but always the sword of discriminating wisdom, which ruthlessly cuts all obstacles in the ground of the all-encompassing. Perhaps you will arise as Bhaishajyaguru, whose ever-present awareness takes the form of a healing radiance.
From the brilliant clarity of ever-present awareness, you will be moved to remind the sick and the sad and those in pain that although the pain is real, it is not what they are. With a simple touch or smile, contracted souls will relax into the infinite vast expanse of intrinsic awareness, and disease will lose all meaning in the radiance of that release. And you will never tire, for ever-present awareness is effortless in its functioning, and so you will constantly remind all beings of who and what they really are, on the other side of fear, in the radical love and unflinching acceptance that is the mirror-mind of ever-present awareness.
Perhaps you will arise as Maitreya, whose ever-present awareness takes the form of a promise that, even into the endless future, ever-present awareness will still be simply present. From the brilliant clarity of primordial awareness, you will vow to be with all beings, even unto an eternity of futures, because even those futures will arise in simple present awareness, the same present awareness that now sees just exactly this.
Those are simply a few of the potentials of ever-present awareness. They are simply a few of the forms of your own resurrection. They are a few of the possibilities that might animate you after the death of the Great Search. They are a few of the ways the world looks to the ever-present eye of Spirit, the ever-present I of Spirit. They are what you see, right now, when you see the world as God sees it, from the groundless ground of simple ever-present awareness. Perhaps you will arise as any or all of those forms of ever-present awareness.
When you rest in the brilliant clarity of ever-present awareness, you are not Buddha or Bodhisattva, you are not this or that, you are not here or there. When you rest in simple, ever-present awareness, you are the great Unborn, free, of all qualities whatsoever. Aware of color, you are colorless. Aware of time, you are timeless.
Awareness as the Ground of Being
Aware of form, you are formless. In the vast expanse of primordial Emptiness, you are forever invisible to this world. It is simply that, as embodied being, you also arise in the world of form that is your own manifestation. And the intrinsic potentials of the enlightened mind the intrinsic potentials of your ever-present awareness —such as equanimity, discriminating wisdom, mirrorlike wisdom, ground consciousness, and all-accomplishing awareness—various of these potentials combine with the native dispositions and particular talents of your own individual bodymind.