The last few days, like many days, have been rocky. My husband planted a rose bush a few inches from a brick wall and this triggered some discussion. My teenage daughter seemed withdrawn and thoughts arose in my mind that caused turmoil. There are hundreds of lay-offs at the institution I work at due to downsizing, and I may lose my job. You know the drill, from the mundane stressors to occasional intense angst that seems to come out of nowhere and have no cause, life rolls on. And beyond the tiny and sometimes larger travails of this individual life, there is the massive suffering and also joys of billions of people and animals on this planet.
This morning I read a stunning essay on 'Sailor' Bob Adamson's website. http://members.iinet.net.au/~adamson7/intro.html
Bob helps me to see that there are basically waves and the space in which those waves occur. Attention is usually riveted by the waves, but it is possible for attention to shift and become conscious of the space in which the waves occur.
Waves, or vibrations, or patterns of energy, comprise everything that we are capable of detecting. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, all physical and mental objects, are basically transient energy waves that appear and subside in the space of awareness.
The noisy waves of thought and emotion and sensation are a magnet for attention. Yet there is always the possibility of shifting attention to notice the space in which the waves occur. Why bother? Because this space in which everything occurs is the deeper self. It is the space of present awareness. Some might call it the no-self...the words don't matter. The reality that the words point to is what matters.
I'm not just my story, I'm the silent awareness that knows the story and without which there would be no story. I'm the silent awareness that knows the story but is not itself a story.
The story is the dream-like surface of life, and I do the best I can on this level, but remain in touch with what matters most: the deeper dimension of being, which is to say, the space in which the story occurs.
The space and the waves are no more different than water and ice-cubes.
Consciousness and the objects of consciousness are in no way separate. Awareness and the arisings in awareness are an indivisible whole. They cannot be separated. They form a seamless continuity. Yet within this whole, it is possible to shift the accent of awareness from the objects to the aware space in which the objects occur. Form and formlessness are one, as the Heart Sutra says. We tend to be lost in form, but it is possible to become conscious of formlessness. This is key.
The space of now is where the waves called past and future thoughts appear. It is the intersection of time and eternity, the intersection of the dream and reality, the intersection of ego and essence. It is the fulcrum where attention can shift from content to space. This is the shift from powerlessness to power.
Most of my life I have been primarily aware of the objects of consciousness, while I have overlooked the presence of consciousness itself.
I have been lost in content and I have ignored (been ignorant of) the space in which the content occurs. I have been focused on things and I have discounted the space of no-thing that makes everything possible. I have lived in the mind (thought) and been oblivious of the presence of awareness in which thought occurs.
No-thing, space, awareness, consciousness, being, stillness, silence, emptiness, life, mystery, love, essence, Self, now, presence, freedom, openness, spirit, formlessness- all these words are synonyms that point to the immediacy of awake space that is the medium in which everything exists. It is the dimension of eternity which is the substratum of all appearances. It is the dimension of the unborn in which the born exists.
Attention is shifting from the wave to the space in which the wave occurs. Noticing is shifting from "me and my life" to the no-me space of being that is my deeper self.
There is less interest in becoming and more interest in being.
This shift in attention feels like new eyes are opening in me, quiet eyes that see what is without needing to comment on it. Quiet eyes that can simultaneously sense forms and the space of emptiness from which all forms emerge.
The exhausting and delusory effort to improve on the perfection of what is subsides in this moment.
There is a sense of being one with the unfolding mystery, of joining in the creative energy of the universe in its ceaseless expression of the good. This is a radically different way to live than the ego stance of being a special-someone who is going to manipulate things toward correcting a mentally defined deficiency.
Einstein said that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. The level of consciousness called thought has created the problems in the world today. The mind has created the problems and only awareness can solve them, for awareness is a higher level of intelligence than thought.
In my own experience it is the level of awareness and not the level of thought that solves problems like a rose bush planted close to a brick wall, my relationship with my daughter, and the possibility of job loss.
It is from this deeper level of consciousness that true solutions can be found for individual and collective problems. Attention shifts to this level of consciousness easily when space is noticed rather than objects. It is possible for anyone to shift the fulcrum of attention from thought to awareness. See Bob's essay for a very clear description of this shift.
Thank you for being in this space.