Prior to everything, I Am

Words and image design by Brian Thompson.

“It’s important to make time for yourself,” she said.

I overheard this in a coffee shop the other day from a woman who was telling a friend how busy she was. It’s a common thought, "I need more time for me!", but it’s a rather bizarre statement once you contemplate it.

All that we truly have is our Self, which is this sense of intimate knowingness in which all of 'our' experiences appear.

Everything we perceive is nothing but an appearance of impermanent phenomena arising within this infinite space of consciousness that is the Self. Even the concept of time is something that appears to us—it appears to us, within us.

Prior to everything, I Am.

If we investigate into our personal experience of what it means to exist or "to be", we find there is nothing experienced outside of our Self. Our Self is all there is.

Even our personal dreams of success, happiness, peace, wealth and health are nothing but thoughts appearing within the aware presence that we are. We cannot escape our Self, as our Self is the unchanging foundation of consciousness in which all perceptions become known.

We are a knowing presence, through which all phenomena flows—spiritual, philosophical, physical, psychological and emotional—and yet, we are free of it all.

The truth of Self is prior to every sensation, prior to every perception, and prior to every experience.

We have a habit, however, of not seeing reality as it is, and as we are. We believe things happen to us, rather than through us. We believe that almost everything is separate from us—including time, space, people, and the universe in which they all appear. When we align our sense of a personal self with these feelings of separation, we become consumed by overwhelming feelings of lack. We believe we don't have enough time, money, love, friends, success, talent, and on and on. The lack never ends since the mind is always busy looking for some ‘thing' else that we don't have—which, in the world of things, is an infinite list.

In such a state of confused emotions, we believe the entire world is a distraction that keeps us from ourselves. We believe that our goals and responsibilities and busyness keeps us from finding our true self, and ultimately, from finding lasting happiness.

However, we cannot find happiness since it is the very essence of our ever-present Self. We've only been distracted from this realization by identifying with the mind's sense of perceived lack, rather than with the unlimited awareness in which its thoughts appear.

How can you possibly make time for yourself when you are the very source of time itself?

Time is an appearance within you, not you within it. Time is nothing but a concept, one created by the mind which only perceives duality through its continual process of analysis, discernment, comparisons, and personal judgements.

If you believe time limits you in some way then every moment will be conditioned by its looming presence and you will be in a perpetual state of lack. Lack, however, just like time itself, is only a thought—the reality is, neither time nor lack actually exists.

So relax into awareness and just be your timeless, abundant and infinite Self—go beyond time. The mind is limited, but you are not.

You cannot possibly be more with yourself than you presently are. Your Self is everything. After all, you can only ever experience your Self, so how can you possibly need more of it? It is everything, and yet, it is nothing. It is in the nothingness of Self that the fullness of life becomes known.

You need not try to find any more time for the imagined ‘you’ that dreams itself to be lacking. Let that one go. It's already had more than enough time in your life. The personal self will never be satisfied; it always wants more of this and less of that.

Realize that as Awareness, your Self is everywhere, as everything.

You are not limited to the fleshy boundaries of the body; your real body is universal, it is the entire field of consciousness in which all perceptions appear. There are no limits to your Self. There are no edges or borders to the vast expanse of awareness that you are. You extend in every direction, infinitely and simultaneously. You, Awareness, are all-pervading and omnipresent.

Investigate yourself. Inquire into the presence of consciousness that you seem to be. Who are you? Your truth is beyond all conceptual beliefs and opinions. Realize the presence of awareness that you truly are, an invisible essence of knowing which is prior to your perceived personhood and is prior to the world that you believe you exist within.

Know your timeless Self. Be the space in which the here and now effortlessly IS.

Observe the apparent passing of time, but notice how you, as a presence of awareness, remain unchanging. Watch the world and your apparent actions within it, but realize that this too is just a passing appearance of impermanent phenomena, all of which continually arises within the field of consciousness that is the Self.

Stay rooted in this place of absolute serenity, your Self, and know that nothing can limit you except mistaken beliefs.

Observe the mind with disinterest and no longer be lost or confused by its dreams of duality.

You need no more time for yourself. You only need to awaken to your truth that is ever-present, your Presence which is always here and now, in which the entire world and every experience is nothing but a quickly vanishing appearance.

All things pass, but you—impersonal selfless Awareness—always remain.

Awaken from the concepts of mind and realize your calm, content, serene, compassionate and peaceful Self.

When you see that there is truly nothing apart from you, then everything becomes a reflection of your boundless love.