This is kind of an addendum to the last post, as I felt compelled to clarify something. The overall message of the ‘Living Without Rules’ essays was essentially a simple one, and one that could probably be summed up as: stop living by the rules and demands of the mind, and instead ‘drop into’ the expanse of wordless stillness that lies at the core of your being, and let action arise from there.
It’s not easy talking about this kind of stuff. In India there’s an entire vocabulary — heck, an entire language — for defining and understanding the various states of mind and consciousness, concepts that are quite alien to most people in our Western culture.
You can only really understand this by having experienced it yourself. The good thing is that what I’m talking about is replicable. There’s a science to it. It might sound very subjective, but it’s actually objective — and with a little self-investigation, just about anyone can verify it for themselves.
There are prerequisites, however, such as a reasonably still, stable and enquiring mind. Enlightenment is seen as some kind of superhuman feat, but actually anyone can dip into the ‘enlightened state’ — on rare occasions quite spontaneously, but most the time with a little bit of practise first, to clear obstructions and what is known in Vedanta as a ‘sattvic’ state (which means clear, lucid, balanced and harmonious, mentally, emotionally and physically).
This might seem rather abstract until you’ve experienced it for yourself, and it seems to me that I maybe ought to try and convey the practical aspects of it at some point, offering some clear pointers that can help you tap into this for yourself. If you’ve already experienced what I’m talking about, then you’ll no doubt be on the same wavelength.
What I’m talking about is the baseline awareness that exists beneath all thought, all emotions, all feelings, perceptions and memories. It’s a stateless-state, ever-present and unchanging, and although it’s something most people are rarely conscious of, they wouldn’t be conscious at all without it.
It’s always there, beneath the apparent obstructions of the mind, and it’s the very same awareness and sense of being that we’ve had throughout our lives. Although our bodies, minds, beliefs, circumstances and self-concepts radically change over time, the baseline awareness and sense of being remains ever the same. And the funny thing is, it’s not personal in any way — it’s the very same sense of self — of existing; of being an “I” — that every single man, woman, child and animal possesses.
I tend to just call it awareness; not awareness of ‘this’ or ‘that’, but just pure awareness — consciousness at rest. Other names for it are the Self or the no-Self (I love the delicious paradox of it all — both point to the very same ‘thing’!), Being, or the sense of ‘I am’.
Basically, it’s a return to our original nature that we’re all really seeking, although virtually no one realises this, because most are still too busy trying to seek fulfilment and happiness in maya, the outward world of illusion (which is really just an experience in our consciousness, like everything else).
By reversing the focus of our attention from outside to inside, and consciously seeking this inward source, we finally find the joy, aliveness and fulfilment we were desperately searching for in all the wrong places. Consciousness resting in its source is often experienced as a tremendous bliss. What you’re really seeking is inside of you, and it’s more amazing than anything you could ever possibly experience ‘out there’.
The paradox that I inadvertently walked into with my last essay was this: when you are in touch with this baseline awareness, this innate sense of Self or being, you realise that it doesn’t really want anything. It’s characterised by an immense sense of allowing. It is unconditional love in the truest sense. It’s as though it pervades everything, without judgement and without any desires or preferences. It IS everything.
Consciousness at rest has no need to accomplish or achieve anything, no need to judge or separate. When you tap into this state, when you allow yourself to just ‘drop into’ it, you probably won’t feel it wants you to do anything except relax into it, and just BE. You’ll know that everything is fine, that the phenomenal world runs itself according to natural laws and the innate programming of all creatures. Life just happens. Creation doesn’t strain, it just occurs freely and spontaneously. There’s so much we can learn from that.
Our desires, likes, dislikes and preferences, and all our goals and ambitions arise from consciousness-in-motion, with the mind and body. Mind and body have no innate ‘life’ of their own, but are illuminated and animated by the reflected light of the baseline awareness, in much the same way as the moon is illuminated by the reflected light of the sun.
So, although the baseline awareness has no desires or ambitions of its own, its light is expressed by and embodied through the mind and ‘subtle body’ (our psyche, or active, aware consciousness as we know it; the mind and all its content). The way consciousness expresses itself through each of us is unique. If something feels good to us, if it ‘clicks’ with us, and brings a feeling of expansion and aliveness, then that’s a sure sign we’re in touch with the Self as it expresses its reflected light through the mind and psyche. Feeling good — and I mean really good, not just superficially good — is a sign that we’re connected and in tune with our essential nature. If we were to simply follow those good feelings and allow them to guide us through life, we’d pretty much have it sorted; we’d be in constant alignment with Self.
Basically what I wanted to highlight was the paradox of the Self and action. The baseline awareness, our essential Self wants and needs nothing: it doesn’t judge, compare or compete, because it’s already absolutely whole and complete. It’s entirely non-dual; permanent, ever-abiding non-dual awareness.
Yet, once we get in touch with this fundamental, primordial aspect of our nature, we may feel compelled to do certain things, to take certain actions that are in alignment with our unique nature as it expresses itself through mind and body. Actions thus taken — actions that arise spontaneously from this deeper place of stillness and wholeness — will always yield better results than those taken from the limited, grasping and constricted surface-level of mind. The latter will feel good and will usually have far greater results, while the former will feel desperate, anxious and will invariably create unforeseen problems.
I don’t expect you to just take my word for this. I invite you to try it for yourself.
I’m still working with this; attempting to re-wire my mind in order to stay in constant alignment with the baseline awareness, rather than being driven solely by the tides of the surface-level mind. It doesn’t happen overnight, yet to say the effort is worth it is an understatement of incredible proportions. For this is, I have to say, the difference between a life of suffering and a life of genuine happiness. I do not make that claim lightly. If you feel so called, why not investigate for yourself?