Being Pure Awareness and Being Human
Throughout the teachings on this website, and all non-dual teachings, the core truth constantly reiterated is that our seemingly-individual human lives, and indeed this entire world, is an illusion. There is only One Reality, Pure Awareness. That Reality seems to project a temporary reflection of Itself as a Universe full of time and space, planets and beings, both sentient and non-sentient. Actually, there’s nothing but Awareness; the reflection of the Sun in a dewdrop is not the real Sun.
Nevertheless, in our current perspective, each of us experiences our selves as a ‘real, individual’ human. We would not be reading about awakening, or even thinking about becoming awake, if we didn’t consider ourselves to be real beings with real lives we hope to ‘improve’ by awakening.
Humans have self-awareness, sentience, the ability to think & reason about their situation and how it may change over ‘time.’ Rocks, trees, and even most animals are considered non-sentient, lacking self-awareness and the ability to conceptualize their situation or ‘work on’ themselves across time. They’re just what they are, here and now. We can learn so much about the essential non-dual truth of Reality just by observing the rocks and trees.
Since we think of ourselves as individual humans, with the power to reason and effect changes to our lives over ‘time,’ we tend to hold ourselves as superior to rocks, trees and animals – but is that really true? The very belief that we are individual minds, separate from the One, creates the illusion that our lives are not as ‘ideal’ as they could be, and must be improved. The false belief that we are separated from the Source makes us do things like practice spiritual techniques to re-merge with That. This, is turn, creates every feeling of suffering or inadequacy in our human lives. Accept everything exactly as it is, and instantly all suffering and inadequacy disappears
Rocks, trees and animals, lacking the apparatus for ‘thinking’ about life or time, never try to be something they are not already, or improve their station in life, and certainly never take some philosophical or spiritual actions to become more ‘merged’ with life. They are already Life Itself, Pure Is-ness.
You are already Pure Is-ness, too. Your life, experiences, and place in the Universe are just what is, too, like that rock. Your false identity as a separate mind makes you think you have your own volition, separate from Awareness’ movement, and makes you think when life is challenging or isn’t going your way, that means it’s wrong or off-track and you need to make changes or suffer. But you don’t need to change what you are, you need to be what you are, and rocks and trees are very good at that.
Look at that tree, so noble, so still, so majestic, no confusion of its separateness from the One, from Life, no delusions of having it’s own volition to become something other than what it is.
Of course, those things are not part of being a tree or a rock. Thinking about whether it’s existence is good enough, thinking about whether it is suffering in that existence, indeed, thinking at all, doesn’t occur in trees and rocks. And yet, it does for us ‘humans.’ Thinking, planning, trying to ‘improve’ our existence, experiencing desires and goals, pleasure and pain, good times and tough times and judging whether all that is proper or not, defines the human experience.
So how do we be in the simplest non-dual Awareness, in the Now, just being part of the flow of life (which, in Reality, is Awareness’ life, not ours,) just like that rock or tree? By accepting two things:
- That we seem to be experiencing ourselves, most or all of the time, as humans, and having plans, desires, suffering and judgments is part of the experience of being human. Just like hardness, gravity and immobility are part of the rock experience. Just like stationary-ness while branching out and creating a beautiful canopy of leaves, all without thinking, volition or audible expression, are intrinsic to being a tree. You could say the secret to the rock, tree or animal’s success is that they don’t fight or resist being what they are. So be human. Don’t fight or resist any of the parts of the full human experience. Remember, it is Awareness experiencing rock or tree or ‘human’ through you, for it’s own benefit and delight. And in order to fully experience ‘human,’ It needs to experience all of what it means to be human – the pleasure, the pain, the ups and downs, and, yes, even the false feeling of separateness that gives rise to the desire to seek awakening through spiritual practices and inquiry, to become One with Itself again.
- That ultimately, this feeling of being a separate ‘human’ is an illusion, a reflection, a false identity, and that we are already One with Life and Awareness. That we already just are, like that rock and that tree, perfect in its realization, just the way we are.
Most humans are totally absorbed in being fully human, including all the feelings that come with thinking we are separate born and dying beings and all the resistance and struggling against those human vicissitudes. We could say, “To be more evolved or awake, like the rocks and trees, just let go and allow everything to be as it is.” But since Awareness included both sentience or thinking and the drive to make our ‘individual’ lives better, more pleasant, and more ‘right,’ in our human experience, we would have to acknowledge that all these unawakened beings are doing exactly what Awareness would have them do, at least in the relative sense. Awakened or unawakened, on the ‘path’ or just living out an ordinary human life, all of us are doing a perfect job of being human, allowing Awareness to experience everything that includes.
There are those of us who have started to see through the illusion of unreality, and started to get in touch with the deeper Truth of the non-dual Awareness. Like most people, we may have begun exploring this out of suffering and the desperate need to provide some answers and relief to the plight of a challenging, brief life. Or we may have come to deeper realizations of Reality through science and physics’ awareness that nothing in the world, including ourselves, is solid and most of this is just energy and empty space. Or as a doctor or cleric who regularly encounters people ‘dying,’ giving rise to a deep wonder about what the death of the body-mind really is and what happens to the animating force that was not the body-mind but somehow gave it life.
Whatever way we came to the path of Awakening, there is often the feeling that we got there of our own ‘intelligence,’ and that we can complete the path and ‘reach enlightenment’ through our own volition. Once again, our temporary, illusory body-minds don’t really have a separate existence from the One, so they could never have a ‘volition’ of their own, either. A shadow has no volition over where it falls or follows; that volition belongs only to the object or person that is altering its angle to the Sun. It’s simply part of the One Awareness’ full experience of being human, that it calls billions of unique humans into play, and then has some of them live out ordinary lives filled with pleasure or suffering or both, and has some of them feel Its call to ‘look behind the curtain’ and discover who Oz is, and who they are, in Reality. The illusory ‘individual’ has no volition in that, and as such, one human life and path could never be considered superior to another.
It is simply amazing to Be. It’s amazing to be the empty space between two galaxies. It’s amazing to be a rock, a tree, an animal, or a human. And, if you are a human on the path to Awakening, the amazing opportunity is to oscillate back and forth between those two experiences of ourselves/Our Selves, one moment feeling achingly human, the next moment dropping into the silent Witness of that humanity, and deeper again, into the Pure Awareness that is behind even the Witness.