What is the nature of awareness?

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

If you lose your hearing, you are still left with sight, smell, taste and touch. And if you lose your sight, then likewise, you still have four other senses to rely upon. But what will define your conscious experience if all five of your senses disappear?

You will be left with only your mind, which is in fact, your sixth sense.

But what is the nature of your mind without any physical sensations to form mental perceptions from? After all, your senses are only sensations, they need a place to exist within, for them to be sensed. So if we go beyond all the stuff that’s floating around within our mind, we find awareness itself. This is the mind without mind, this is no-mind.

It is this that is our true essence — our awareness.

Beyond all of your senses, including your mind, is the clarity of your true nature — your awareness itself. It is an infinite space of emptiness — where anything is possible. We all have it, and it is where our true self is found.

It is a place of non-judgement and discrimination. It is effortless. It is an essence of absolute and unparalleled contentment. It is not a state of being, it IS our being, and it defines love, peace and happiness in such a way that nothing else could possibly compare.

When we strip away all of the outside phenomena (our five physical senses), and we are cleansed of all our concepts, opinions and thoughts (the stuff of our minds), this awareness is our shared experience and it is identical to us all. It is the very source of our being.

And this is how we are able to say, we are all one. It is our common shared experience. There is nothing beyond our awareness, as everything exists within it. Nothing can be outside of it. You can only be aware, nothing else.

Our awareness is our original essence. It is infinite, as we are. It is where anything is possible, where all of our possibility and potential are endless.

This space of emptiness, our awareness, is the root of all things that begin with "I am". This is our true self, not any of the perceptions we think we are. No matter if you think you’re a student or a mother, an artist or an entrepreneur, a success or a failure, thin or fat, beautiful or ugly, clumsy or agile, popular or not — these are only concepts of identity that exist within your mind and that you have attached your perception of self onto and that you now believe to be true. But the real you is your awareness.

The thoughts you have of yourself are no different than any other sense perception you experience within your awareness. Your thoughts of your self are no different than your thoughts of the grass being long, of the tree being tall, or of the rock being jagged. They are all concepts. There is no such duality within our awareness itself, within our true self. It is free from discernment of any kind (as that is a product of mind, of our sixth sense). And so, our true awareness is a place of absolute clarity, a space that is free of concepts.

There is nothing more real than our awareness. It is all there is. Everything in our experience exists only within this empty space, within our awareness, it can exist no where else. A mind without thoughts is this pure awareness.

As Rupert Spira says in this enlightening talk on YouTube, “Being aware of being aware is the highest meditation there is". In fact, many spiritual teachers (including Sri Ramana Marhashi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and even Eckhart Tolle) say that there is no greater mediation than the practice of self-inquiry and contemplating, Who am I? It is through this contemplation that we ultimately uncover the simple answer of, I am.

Are you aware? I am. There is nothing more true than that.

This is the profound wisdom of perfect understanding and realization of the absolute. This is the boundless and infinite emptiness of your true essential Self, of your true inner nature, of the essence of your very being. This place of vast potential and possibility is within you this very moment. In fact, it IS you — you are nothing else. Your awareness is infinite, it is only bound by the limits of mind.

Our experience of being aware is all there is.

This is where we should place our moment to moment attention. This awareness of our awareness will thrust us into the present moment, into the now, where all of experience exists. This is the power of now. This is mindfulness at its most realized.

When our awareness is aware of itself, when it is undisturbed by mind, our true self emerges. This is our bliss.