Absorbed, Aware or Awakened?

When we are absorbed in any situation, be it a thing or a person, do we know more or know less of what is occurring at that moment? Before we get into that discussion, let us understand what “absorbed” means in this context and its difference with “awareness”. The act of “being absorbed” has an “in-it” or “into-it” experience whereas “awareness” has a lighter sense of knowing the object but not entering into it. Another way to express it is that “being absorbed” gives an overtone of “immersion” – like being one with the object”; whereas with “awareness” there is a “space” with the object.

All of us experience these two mental factors throughout our lives on different occasions, depending on the need at those moments. We can be absorbed in our work, absorbed in love or even absorbed in a seasonal tv series as entertainment. We also apply awareness in our daily actions, like when we are crossing the road, driving along the street or in a meeting. When we are not aware on occasions which require it, many unexpected happenings can occur.

Both these states of mind can be enhanced or made more pronounced by intentionally entering into a specific mental training, which we normally label as “meditation”. Meditation is not anything religious or even spiritual considering that we are merely enhancing the particular mental factor that we already have, except that now it is in a more heightened state. The only difference with meditation is that we are giving priority to developing those mental states per se rather than being interested in the object or happening. Because of that, those mental states will become more obvious than before since it is the priority of the meditator. The question now is when those states are enhanced, what happens to the object? Though the priority during meditation is about development of those states and not the object, yet in no way the object can be avoided since mind and object are inseparable.

The analogy to describe this will be of a telescope and the object concerned. The greater the magnification of the telescope, the greater the object seemingly becomes. Thus, in the case of absorption, wherein the earlier stage of development will be to train the mind in focusing on a chosen object without distraction, which upon maturity, produces an enhanced state of an inseparable mind-object experience, an immersion with the object. It can be a blissed-out experience where concepts of time or separation don’t exist at that point.

Whereas when it comes to the development of awareness in its heightened state, the object of awareness becomes heightened too but unllike absorption, the object can be known instead of being absorbed into. More things can be known about the object than before, just like the analogy of the telescope. As you can see from the development of both those mental states , the end-result is pretty diverse, with one knowing more and the other totally absorbed in it. And that pretty much answers the earlier question of which state of mind knows more.

Yet, of these two, there is potentially a new state which many minds have never ventured into before. And it is not about developing absorption or even developing awareness. Though awareness is required in the initial stage, yet it is not about the development of awareness per se, rather using awareness as a preparatory groundwork for a rare mental factor to arise. And that mental factor is wisdom. Wisdom, when it arises, does wonders to every experience we ever encounter. As the word “wisdom” implies, it gives an indepth awakening or understanding to the experience, whatever experience it can be. Sometimes it unlocks a certain ignorance. At other times it shows the truth, an opposite to what we knew before, which on hindsight we realize was false. More importantly, it opens up a new world or dimension which has always been present, but not known before. Hidden from sight due to the absence of wisdom. Wisdom is an awakening experience.

The way to growing wisdom is not through development of states, rather through discovering what is blocking wisdom from arising. And the block is found at the volition – the subject itself, rather than the object. It is here, the block is found – delusion, together with its birthed counterpart, craving. Delusion gives rise to craving. These two blocks wisdom from arising. The way of this meditation is by discovery, of finding out what is already present, but not yet known. The purpose of awareness is just for that. Welcome to the journey of wisdom inspired supportive endeavour, in short WISE.

The purpose of awareness is not for use to develop “being-in-the-now” rather awareness is a helpful tool to uncover the blocks. It is the wisdom factor we are investing in, and as such, the awareness is geared towards inner inquiry rather than resting in it. This will become obvious when we meditate for years not having understanding and when understanding arises due to changing the direction of the purpose of awareness .

The Inevitable Undoing

Views in our minds, which is erroneous by nature, is made right and true by delusion. And with craving playing its function of holding the view in place, we have a perfect marriage of both (delusion and craving) making our views so right and not easily reversible. That is why we cannot move beyond the views that arise in our minds at each moment. In fact, due to view’s realness, we don’t at all question the view’s validity, not to mention of not being aware it is but just a view.

Take for example the sense of “I”. Do you know it is a view? You will dispute it is a view. To you, it is not a view. It is really you, a self, a person. Real isn’t it? What is real? What if that realness of “I” is actually the work of delusion? And what if with craving being in the equation, holding the view in place, you get a good experience of “I”, so difficult to notice it is actually a view. What if, what if it is true that delusion and craving are behind the scene?

What about this body that you identified as you? Real isn’t it? And the world around you with its universes – are they really real? What a question! It is crazy or even madness to think otherwise. Probably such a thought don’t even exist in your mind. To think otherwise is suicide, you may think.

But instead of brushing it aside and leave this topic hanging, what about considering the following — if there is a way of minusing delusion and craving from the mind, what would be the result? If it is true that there is such a reality in the mind called delusion and craving, would you find a way of identifying them and with the right way, solving them and directly realized for yourself the outcome of it? Probably, by then that realization cannot at all be disputed since you come directly face to face with what is true instead of just a concept told by another?

How then would you start the exploration? Obviously, you need to get information about delusion and craving. You need to know what is delusion and what does it do to the mind? The same goes for craving. You need as much right information about them. If you have not heard about them you don’t even know they exist. If you heard it you cannot just believe it except to find it out for yourself whether they are true or false. And where would you get this information? Surely it must be from those who have explored and found them. And where then can you find such being?

That is a big mission. And even if you found one, you have to make sure his case of realizing delusion and craving is for real. Real to mean came into a direct realization of it. Are you ready for it? Are you sure you wish to walk in this direction — the truth and nothing but the truth — about yourself, about the world and the universe?

If you are sincere to know, you can be certain there is a way. Or, rather the Way will find you. As the old adage goes — when one is ready the Master will appear. But if you wish to forget what you have read and taken it as just another fictitious wild imagination, nothing is lost. One day, you will question yourself, as the journey had already begun when you unknowingly started reading this material. Time will tell. Nothing is wasted in the scheme of time, except ignorance. Welcome to the process of the undoing of what you thought is real.

Underrating Awareness

Awareness is not difficult. Awareness is a light and simple knowing or noticing what is happening to your mind or even your bodily processes now. How difficult can that be?

So what then is making awareness difficult to develop just as some of you may have experienced? It is the obstacles to awareness, not awareness. There are many causes to it and it has nothing to do with awareness.

First on the list is forgetfulness. Our busy mind over other matters, including matters of others, is what makes us forget the importance of awareness. In this case, it seems like others are more important than us, but how can that be since entertaining or busy with others involves our mind? As a matter of fact, there is no moment that doesn’t involve our mind. And that mind of ours that is so busily involving outside is causing us stress, which we not aware.

We cannot experience the world. We only experience our mind, about the world. This knowledge may be new and surprising to you. All these while you are only experiencing your mind. When you go on holiday, your mind is happy. Happy is your only experience. You cannot experience the place or the holiday. When you go for a movie, the fear, the horror, the joy, the anger is your only direct experience. You cannot experience the movie. You may say I am seeing the movie, yet seeing is your direct experience. What is been seen is also your mind’s perception or interpretation at that time. Awareness enables us to know this. In short, understanding your mind is more important.

The second reason is the mind’s tendency. The tendency of seeking outside is what makes being aware difficult. Both are of different directions – awareness looks inward, attachment looks elsewhere. Whichever that has been conditioned for too long will supercede the other. As such, developing awareness is a new trade to your mind. Your patience will pay off over time if there is consistency.

The third reason is involving in too many responsibilities. Stress, worries, or not having enough time to handle everything makes the mind scattered and restless. Not that you cannot be aware or mindful, but if you are a beginner it is more difficult. You really need a lot of personal faith and dedication to steers it up.

The fourth final reason is that you have yet to see the benefits arising from awareness. If you were to taste the amazing benefits that come from awareness, you wouldn’t have given it up so easily. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say all of our unnecessary sufferings arise because of not being aware. Awareness makes you know what is happening now. Awareness makes you notice how your stresses come to be. Awareness is your refuge in time of anxiety, fear or inevitability. More importantly, awareness if developed correctly, in accordance with right view, can blossom a unique kind of transcendent wisdom. Wisdom is an asset to the mind. It is a treasure that cannot be compared to anything in this world, not even money or gems. Why? Because it brings ease, equanimity and also good wholesome qualities to the mind irrespective what is taking place around you.

Where wisdom is present in the mind, greed, aversion and delusion cannot exist. And these three that makes out the unwholesome mind, when absence, is what wholesomeness is. When the mind is wholesome, it is kind, loving, generous, patient and more. What else can you ask for?

Likened To A Clump of Clay

Shown a clump of clay, you would have ignored it, nor even take a second look, not to mention keeping it. But when mold into different shapes, you would have loved it, valued it, or even kept it. Such is the deception of delusion. Unrealized, craving brings specialness to the world. Delusion is not you.

The valuable paintings found in this world are just blobs of colors, the ancient precious priceless pots are just clay, stories are just fanciful ideas. The music you hear are sounds made up by odd-shaped objects. Everything being experience thru all the six-sense doors are well-deceived by delusion making it feels there is a “you” that love and hate for a little while, born and die and have to struggle, suffer or happy.

Such is the nature of the world where delusion breeds, where shapes and forms are valued. But they are not stand alone realities except dependent on its material. Not seeing this truth, craving held it on tightly for what was originally valueless.

In this way investigate all the experiences one can ever have, all the mental activities or processes one can ever lay hands on, with unbiased or prejudices – love, hate, anger, joy, loneliness, superiority, anything for that matter – and one will be joyfully shocked to come to realize they are only minds, all mind made they are. And what is mind? Empty in essence by nature, impersonal, impermanent and nothing satisfactory, likened to the valueless clay.

What are you going for?

Cause & Effect Misperceived

Many, if not all, experts in the field of brain and mind conclude that there is no such a thing as mind or consciousness. To them, it is the brain activity. Thinking is a brain activity. Feeling is a brain activity. Even knowing, to them is an effect of a brain activity. Why are they concluding it this way? It is because of the limited view of what they can notice or measure via instruments. The mind cannot be measured except thru what can be seen occurring in the brain, hence the conclusion that the brain is the powerhouse of everything.

This view is seriously flawed in the sense that they are giving priority or specialness to the body parts, missing what is extremely important, which is the mind. It is likened to emphasizing or glorifying a company instead of those behind the scene that makes the company possible. It is like saying the company is real. And the people in the company is the product or result of the company. Does it make sense?

In this way, the cause and the effect are being confused. The cause has been taken as effect and the effect as the cause. And this wrongness is not uncommon in our daily lives happening. It is like saying my spouse or children stressed me out. They are the cause and my effect is suffering. We always see situations, people, or even places as the cause of our unhappiness or happiness.

That’s why we look for people, for places, for holidays to fulfill our need for happiness because of the idea those are the causes to affect our wellbeing (effect). We want our spouse in a certain way. Our boss to be nice. Our children to be clever. Our employees to do well. Forgetting the very crucial and important point that the cause is not “out there”.

If we think the cause is outside to affect our wellbeing, we will chase after and need to do a lot to make that possible. But if we know the cause is within us, we just need to take care what is within, the rest will take care of its own. We will still do what is necessary in this world but it is from within to without, not the other way round. We speak not to impose, we speak because we are clear in our minds. We do things not because of the world. We do because we know it is beneficial for our mind. We advise not for other’s sake but because we knew clearly it is for the mind where the very source is. In the same way, we do not do because we know it is not beneficial for our mind. Our mind comes first. The world is an effect. This understanding can only take effect after a cyclic process of right information (sutamayapañña) leading to right investigation (cintamayapañña) and finally right realization (bhavanamayapañña) to how delusion works.

To see the outside as the cause is the result of projection, an error of a misperception, a false view. The see the world as an effect of our perceiving mind, is an extension. A view that enables us to have an understanding what is taking place around us. Thus, what A Course In Miracles points about projection and extension is according to the truth, a fact, not presupposed by assumptions.

All mental sufferings are the result of projections whereas where there is extension only peace can be its effect due to Right Understanding as its cause.

Only in this way true peace can be possible. Only in this way true freedom can be a reality. Freedom or peace from outside causes is more like a gratification, an addiction, for pleasures, rather than peace or freedom. Gratification is not freedom but bondage but somehow being tricked to believe as freedom upon being gratified.

Body or Bodhi?

Do you wish for a body or a bodhi? One is physical, the other, err… mental. Not really mental though, but since it is from the mind doorway bodhi arises, lets assume it is mental first. So which do you wish to have? You can’t have both except one. More accurately, you can’t really “have” both, except inclining towards either one of it.

But what is bodhi? Bodhi is just another word for awakening. Not the kind of awakening from your sleep or slumber. More than that. It is awakening from the dream state of who you think you are now; yes, while you are awake just as you are reading the text now. Uh? Yes. You think you are awake now. Well, as in any dream, you may think you are awake until you woke up from that dream. Until then the dream is not known as a dream but “real”.

Well, if you get what I mean, then back to the early question – body or bodhi? First, a body is what you already have – growing, and later aging, is its intrinsic nature, no matter how you may want it to be otherwise. Illness, disease, deterioration, weakening, hormonal imbalance is what you have to get used to in time to come. Heat and cold are what it has to adjust and address. It has its own nature of hunger too and also you have to relieve it when nature calls. You have to clean it, no doubt, otherwise, the smell coming thru can be pretty unbearable. Consider not brushing your teeth or bathing for a while! It is also. host to uncountable bacterias, worms, viruses and funguses.

Time and again you have mistaken the body for you. Hence, your body shape is extremely sensitive and important to you. As you look into the mirror, what you see you think is you. Sometimes you like the body, sometimes you don’t. Obviously, it is to show you that the body is a different entity since you can choose to like or dislike it unless you think the body is you and that you like or don’t like about yourself. So the question you need to get it clear is – the body is yours or you? The body is yours or the body is you are both two different sets of view. What about considering another new view – it is neither you or yours?

This new view can only occur when both the two earlier views are being challenged, investigated and observed over a period of time thru awareness, without bias conclusion.

Once both views are being debunked and demystified, you begin to notice clearly the body is just a body, neither you or yours. Yet, you may say that is just another view, no different from views promoting the other two experiences. So what makes one think the latest view is right and the other two wrong?

This question can only arise if we didn’t realize the difference between believing and understanding. Belief can be questioned, investigated and challenged. Belief can be overturned if it comes face to face with honest inquiry. Whereas understanding is not a belief. Understanding arises due to a long investigation without biases. It is opened to inquiry and test. Understanding or realization is a result of noticing realities, hence it is an indisputable fact.

These realizations or right understanding of the body or mind, unraveling its reality instead of the delusional concept of me, I, or mine leads to bodhi, overcoming the false idea that the body is you or yours.

So body or bodhi? Both have different consequences. Different realities except one is false, the other true.

Common Ghost in the Shell

Do you not notice that your mind and body is all you can ever experience, and not further than that? Even the “body” cannot be directly experienced except for the sensations which can be felt. The shape, form, and color of your “body” can only be seen by your eyes, hence perceived by your mind. Seeing and tasting are different senses altogether. The same goes for hearing, smelling or touching. From these bodily senses, mind or consciousness takes effect – which is what you are experiencing.

Anything further than these mindbody experiences is a mere construct, a fabrication of the mind/consciousness. Unbelievable? Surprised or shocked? Do you not notice this ordinary, yet simple truth that has always been such?

Take for instance, food. The food you eat can only be experienced as sour, sweet, bitter, salty or savoury – all through the tongue, which is a part of your body. But the tongue on its own cannot taste; taste is experienced by the mind. Thus, you can only experience what the body is able to sense, not the food itself. Whereas the kind of food that can be seen by your eyes arises through another bodily sense altogether, not through the tongue which is only for tasting. But the eye itself cannot see. It takes consciousness to see, hence it is called “seeing consciousness”. In other words, your experience of what you see ‘out there’ is actually nothing more than the mind’s perception or interpretation of experiences. You can’t really experience the world except through your mindbody’s experience of the world. Even quantum physicists are now debating whether there is even anything outside of consciousness, or mind – but that is not where I wish to delve into right now.

It is as if you are always one moment late in every sense – the mind experience first, only then you come next into experiencing what the mind experienced, never before the mind. More than that, you can never experience the world directly, except what the mind tells.

So what’s the big deal? Big indeed, if you come to realise deeply this simple fundamental truth. You just can’t take your life for granted anymore. Not in the sense of what or who you are but what can be experienced moment to moment is all happening within you realtime in your own shell of your mind – you are experiencing the mind, not the world. Think about this – when you judged someone, you are experiencing the entire thinking mind, not what is on the person. When you don’t like someone, come to realise that “that someone” is actually your own mind thinking, with “anger” as another mind experience, all within the consciousness of the mind. That’s what you are, every moment, when any experience comes up.

So who or what are “you” really? Do you not notice the mind can know “you” since “knowing” is one special function of the mind. Notice that when you have in mind “I know who am I”, it is actually a thinking mind? Either thinking about your past or the body. In short, the mind is like a big dream, where “you” is another fabrication within it. Be baffled!

And if you are not interested in investigating this, or have totally forgotten about this simple reality, your interaction with the world becomes real, as in any dream state, until you finally awaken from it.