Saturday, October 31, 2009


Such a question sounds absurd, like new age nonsense. You probably believe any answer will be metaphorical, poetic, metaphysical or worse, spirit babble, with no relation to the real, material word.

Let's take an example. If you printed this posting we would say to you that the paper you are reading and your awareness are one, not two. How can that be you ask. It is material. It has color, size, weight, texture etc. You the subject are aware of it, the object, through your senses. It is clearly separate from you. Right?

But what is separate? Its appearance and color? Vision is strictly a feature of your mind and brain. There is no color, no appearance anywhere in the universe without eyes and a mind. What about its texture? Tactile feeling is also strictly a feature of your mind and brain. Its measurements and dimensions? Obviously mental concepts and representations. Everything that you experience and know about that piece of paper and in fact any object is occurring solely in your awareness.

What you experience does not exist "out there". Any object, or more accurately, all the qualities that make it what you know, exist "in here", in the awareness of all life, and those qualities are your awareness. How can that be you ask? Has anything, absolutely anything, that you have known or experienced, occurred outside of your awareness? No, nothing, absolutely nothing. Every feature and quality that makes that sheet of paper what it is to you is a feature of your mind, generated by your mind, in your awareness. You are your awareness. All life, is its awareness. All of the features of that paper are generated by your mind and exist within your awareness.

So what is left when you take these features away, with no minds and no awareness of them? Do objects even exist? Of course, but not as we have known them and almost certainly beyond our understanding.

But that is crazy you say. Do we mean that a rock deep inside the Earth's crust or a galaxy on the edge of the universe that is not being perceived does not really exist? No, of course not. What I am saying is that they exist but without all the features, all the qualia, the appearance, feel, sound etc. that makes them what they are to us. Our awareness, the awareness of all life, assigns all of that, IS all of that. What they are without our awareness, is beyond our awareness, likely beyond our understanding. The sages use terms like unmanifested, interminable flux, unknowable subjectivity, unfixed potentiality. What we define as material, those very attributes are the expression of our awareness. Scientists and physicists, who try to examine empirically and independently, are discovering that what we call material breaks down the further down they look so that on a quantum or sub atomic level, there really is nothing fixed or definable there at all...just waves and potentialities and probabilities and the stuff of theoretical physics, again beyond our understanding.

So hopefully you will begin to intuit that all those seemingly independent features of materiality that you insist are separate from you are really your awareness at work and what is "really there" is more like a set of relationships and potentialities confounding the most advanced scientific thinkers. And perhaps you will begin to see that rather than a passive player in the universal scheme of things, your awareness, in fact the awareness of all beings, is an integral component and is the subjectivity that defines and colors all that there is.

Still resisting? You are not alone. Most scientists without hesitation state that "out there" is a fixed, definable, objective reality and "in here" are the facilities that faithfully reproduce it through the senses and conceptual thought. In other words, our minds, our awareness mirrors the real world and somehow projects it internally. The task of the scientist is to be certain that the inner projection comports with that outer reality. But how in the world is that done, especially when all of the data and all the scientific analysis and explanation accompanying that outer reality is itself an internal representation, once again our awareness at work. Remember when I said above that nothing, absolutely nothing that you have ever or will ever experience is outside your awareness? So how does the scientist supposedly calibrate the "real world" with our awareness of it when the only tool he or she has and has ever had is awareness itself? There is no answer to this question because the problem is not the answer. It is the question. The question is founded on erroneous assumptions. You cannot calibrate the so called real world and our awareness because they are not two, but one. The qualia of the universe, everything that we can know and understand about it IS our awareness. It is created by our senses and our minds upon the foundation of our awareness. It is duality, dualistic thinking that separates them and creates this illusory problem.

Is it perhaps a little easier now to understand that what we know and can possibly know of the universe and every object in it, and every fact and feature of those objects, is, in fact, our awareness? So that sheet of paper with these words upon it really is identical to what you are. That awareness and the universe are not two but one. That the qualia of the universe is not fixed, but is the subject of awareness, not the object. And you are that subject, that awareness.

Please take a look at the August '09 posting "Reality Is Not Fixed" where we looked at this same insight but from a slightly different and "universal" perspective.


  1. You wrote, "Has anything, absolutely anything, that you have known or experienced, occurred outside of your awareness? No, nothing, absolutely nothing." What about subliminal experience that has been shown to affect a person even though she is not "aware" of it? Or perhaps studies of persons with certain brain lesions who can respond to questions about an object (like its color) that is only visible in a field of vision that they cannot consciously utilize, yet they are unable to tell you what the object is? How much of what we experience that affects us are we aware of? Studies seem to indicate what we're aware of is a minority of the experience that influences our perceptions, reactions, and awareness.

    This is not to say that your main point is not on the mark. It is. All of our experience, no matter how one proposes to separate or unify experience, is clearly that of our nervous system responding to stimuli, whether from "out there" or "in here." However, unless one chooses to define awareness to include those experiences that we are not conscious ("aware") of, we are not aware of all of our experience.

    Toward the end of this piece, you assert, "That awareness and the universe are not two but one." In the broad context of your presentation, there is no dispute. However, a person may take your meaning to be that because our perceptions of the universe are all we have and know about the universe, a person's awareness and the universe are one. That goes against your early statements that we do not create the universe by being aware of it, and that awareness as our only way of experiencing the universe does not mean there is no universe.

  2. Thanks for your comments. This blog format is a bit difficult. Really, my postings should be read in reverse order, the earliest date first. Doing so addresses your thoughtful comments. Remember, I use the term "awareness" in the Buddhist or transpersonal theory context. Your comments were on the mark if the focus is on awareness as consciousness. It is not. Awareness in this context is that annoyingly ineffable term like emptiness. Ultimately all of this is an attempt to explain the nature of what we are: emptiness, non-dual, no self. Frustratingly difficult because language simply does not work. These thoughts have been the foundation of spiritual inquiries from Buddhism, Hinduism, mystical Christianity and Judaism and others, to varying degrees. Put simply, a defined limited self is an illusion and awareness is universal. Sounds absurd of course, that is until you break out of duality and materiality. That is what I am trying to help others do, without the religious dogma, imagery, and mysticism. Hope you will read the other postings and comment.