(Includes revised "I Am Awareness Exercises", Part 1)
Reflection: Me? Pure, blissful awareness? Most days I feel more like a tossed salad of peace and fear, pleasure and pain, health and disease. I know and have experienced the truth of being pure awareness, but it is not my everyday lived experience. Instead, I identify with the needs, wants, and fears of my body and mind. Our perfection as pure awareness is never disturbed by their activities, but identifying with the body and mind solely will obstruct our view of our perfection. Making the reality of our perfection and beauty more and more a part of our everyday life takes practice. Work and discipline are needed.
Be encouraged. There is direction where you see chaos; fullness where you see devastation. One of my favorite inspirations in nature is the Monarch butterfly. If you sometimes feel like you are starting your spiritual journey all over again then take heart. So it is with the Monarch as well. As a caterpillar it outgrows and sheds its skin four times, and each time is still just a caterpillar. You know how that feels. You meditate, pray, study, and serve, but the same old you remains. The monarch doesn't stop at four tries. The fifth time it forms a chamber for itself and crawls inside. Ten days later it emerges as a whole new creature. Somehow in the darkness and silence a complete transformation occurs. And so it will be for you and me, maybe the 5th time, maybe the 55th time. Somehow we will begin to know our self as blissful awareness expressing our self through body and mind. Our transformation is different. We do not become different creatures, but instead we come to know and identify with our deeper, more elemental self. Ours is a transformation of knowing and identification, no longer seeing ourselves as body and mind, but instead seeing who was always there, always waiting, resting beneath the mind, behind the eye, most at home in the heart.
Let's continue with our practice of uncovering our beauty and perfection. Trust and wait in the silence and the darkness, knowing your transformation is occurring. Continue with your practice of finding yourself to be pure, blissful awareness. Uncovering the butterfly hidden in the caterpillar takes work. Below are some exercises to help us.
As mentioned earlier ( There Is a Beauty Within You #16: The Spiritual Practice of Uncovering Your Beauty and Perfection) for our spiritual practice we'll use reflection, meditation, inquiry, silence, service and intention. Reflection, meditation, and inquiry give us the focus we need to uncover our inner perfection. Silence allows us to experience the reality of our self without the activity of personality. Service gives us an avenue of expression for the compassion and bliss we are. Intention gathers our energies and those beyond us to fulfill the mystery and purpose of our life - expressing and receiving the personal, intimate, blissful, compassionate awareness of Being.
Revised "I Am Awareness Exercises", Part 1
Intention: I will discover and experience myself to be awareness.
Meditation - I Am Awareness: Look around you and find an object to gaze at for a few seconds. Did the act of looking make any sound? Keep focusing on the object and be aware of the sound of looking. There is no sound associated with the act of looking itself. The act of seeing is a silent process. Open and close your eyes a few times, each time looking at the same object when you open your eyes. Each time you began to look again did you notice any noise with the act of looking? There is no sound associated with the looking itself. Looking is a perfectly silent process. Look around you. Take the time to experience being a point of silent awareness looking.
Inquiry: Now let me pose some questions to you. Who was looking? It is reasonable to answer, "I was looking." If that is true then what can you now say about yourself? You are able to be aware of the world around you. You do this in a perfectly silent manner. As this point we can at least say this much about you - one of your attributes is the ability to engage in silent awareness. It is something you do throughout your waking hours and to some extent during sleep as well. This is not something you struggle to do for a few minutes a day during a meditation period. It is your everyday mode of perceiving the world around you - silent awareness. It is your natural way of being. If you are like me this is certainly much different than the self image I had. I use to see myself as someone constantly filled with noise, unable to know silence for but a moment or two. Now it seems that I am engaged in the continued experience of silent awareness. Then what is the "noise" most of us experience? It is when our attention is focused on the stream of thoughts being generated by our mind. Because we habitually "listen" to our thoughts by focusing our attention on them we come to identify with the process. It becomes a major element of our self-image. We see ourselves as someone who can't be quiet even for a moment. What we are really saying is we are continually focusing our attention on the stream of thoughts and can't stop focusing our attention on them. So it is a matter of where we place our attention. If we place our attention on our thoughts then we know ourselves as noise. If we place our attention on our awareness then we know ourselves as silence.
Silence: In our meditation we experienced our self as silent awareness. This is an experience that can be easily missed when we are engaged with our thoughts, particularly the thought we have in our mind when we say, "I." Come back to this experience often. It waits for you like an oasis of peace in a desert of noise - I am silent awareness. Rest in this experience when you are feeling overwhelmed by the demands and concerns of your "I." Take a break from being "I" and be silent awareness instead.
Service: In our awareness exercise above we focused our attention on different objects. For our service exercise focus your attention on others. In particular watch for how you might be of some service to them. It can be as simple as offering them a second cup of tea if their cup is empty. Or perhaps someone drops something and you pick it up for them. Practice staying in the present moment, aware of your surroundings, and in particular noticing the needs of other around you. This is a wonderful exercise for you on many levels.
First of all you are engaged in very simple acts of compassion. On a very deep level, deeper than your conscious mind, beneath your personality, you find fulfillment and satisfaction in being compassionate. It is because compassion is one of the very fundamental aspects of Being and you are aligning yourself with it. These simple acts of service are expressions of your true purpose for living - to receive and express the personal, intimate, blissful compassion of Being. Because these acts are in alignment with your true purpose they are fulfilling.
Second, we are trying to move away from our over identification with our personality and its needs and demands. Because you are simply responding to random events where you recognize a need there is less of a chance in this activity of your actions coming from some hidden agenda of your personality for meaning and justification. And of course the activity focuses on the needs of the other and not your own. This activity is also strengthening our habit of being aware, in the present moment.
Intention Renewal: Allow the intention of this meditation to continue. I will discover and experience myself to be awareness. Give this insight and experience time to deepen.