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Are we nothing but awareness? - Dhamma Wheel

Are we nothing but awareness?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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cherrytigerbarb
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Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby cherrytigerbarb » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:17 am

I've been thinking for a while now about non-dualism, and just recently this has started to have a knock-on effect during my meditation. I concentrate on my breath allowing my thoughts to come and go until they subside of their own accord, and it is at this point I begin to see the world centred around my awareness begin to break away from it. This is hard to explain. It is as though my awareness appears as a bright dimensionless point surrounded by a spherical region of black nothingness which after a small distance hits up against the world and everything in it. It starts with the realisation that this ‘world' is an artificial mental creation beginning with my body, and expanding outward to include the sum total of everything. In one way it feels lonely and frightening, the contemplation of this dimensionless point of awareness making me feel like I'm nothing at all. Then I see that this dimensionless point of awareness is there in every-body, and is at one moment nothing (since it is dimensionless), and in the same moment everything (as awareness). I conclude that our total essence is nothing other than 'naked awareness' stripped away from everything else. Does this make sense?
"The foolish reject what they see, not what they think. The wise reject what they think, not what they see." - Huang Po.

Reductor
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby Reductor » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:26 am

Yet, if there were nothing else, what would awareness be? What would it see, how would it call itself? What is there about awareness that makes it special and essential?

Don't take too much comfort in the qualities of awareness you are now perceiving, as I don't think you've quite understood everything about it that you need to. You can lead yourself into a false understanding that you become committed too, to the detriment of long term peace of mind.

EDIT:

to answer the pointed question your title raises: we are not awareness. Awareness is the most fickle of things, and blinks out faster than a lightbulb in a dark room when the power-grid goes down. Ain't nothing special.

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manas
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby manas » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:32 am

Hi cherrytiger,

you could try investigating awareness and see if it's always present. For something to be fitting to be regarded as 'this is what we essentially are', one criterion ought to be that it is permanent, stable and is not liable to alter and decay.

So a question: is awareness always present? What about during deep sleep? In fact never mind deep sleep, what about the countless times we just drift off into mindless trains of thought in daydreams, only to 'come to' suddenly and realize we had a muddled mind for the last few minutes, dull and foggy. Where was awareness then?

So since awareness is not constant, but rather can increase, decrease, or even temporarily disappear sometimes (as in deep sleep), it is not fitting to be regarded as 'my self'. Although I do understand how it can seem that way at first. But we need to use the Teachings of the Buddha to really examine this issue, the various views regarding self we cling to. It's not easy to do if you are relatively new to Buddhism though. I can recommend a few links that explain it more thoroughly:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tions.html

A personal note here. When I was first confronted with the Buddha's teachings regarding this issue, I found it quite grating to read about. I wanted to know 'who I really am'. Now while I am still open to that sometimes, I am also aware of the fact that there is not even one thing in my actual life experience that is permanent, lasting, stable, and not liable to alter or decay. When I contemplate this, sometimes I feel a sense of relief. Like, identifying with things that arise and pass away all those years before, was a precarious and sad state to be in. Now, as to the question of "who am I?" well I just don't ask that question so much. Because it's darn hard to get an answer to something like that, when there's nothing in our direct experience that is lasting and stable and could thus be a fitting candidate. In any case, I've not found anything as yet. So I try to make an effort to redirect my mind to contemplate the questions the Buddha invites us to: What is suffering & stress? What is it's cause? What is it's cessation? What is the Path leading to it's cessation? These questions, by comparison, do have answers.

Kind regards :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

Rasko
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby Rasko » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:41 am


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kirk5a
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:11 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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polarbear101
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby polarbear101 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:40 pm

Last edited by polarbear101 on Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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PadmaPhala
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby PadmaPhala » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:11 am

"consciousness without feature"

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ground
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby ground » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:27 am


SarathW
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby SarathW » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:07 am

We are just an ever changing five aggregate. Awareness is only one aspect of it.
The object of meditation is to have the direct knowledge of this truth.
Do not get attached or frightened (aversion) to these multitude of experiences.
They all are stressful (Dukka) Just note them.
Let them go. :)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

pegembara
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby pegembara » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:29 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Aloka
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby Aloka » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:57 am


pegembara
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby pegembara » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:48 pm

Okay, okay.

There are many ways to cuddle this cat with dazzling eyes. :smile:

Image
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Aloka
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby Aloka » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:56 pm

Last edited by Aloka on Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

pegembara
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby pegembara » Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:04 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Aloka
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby Aloka » Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:35 am


pegembara
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Re: Are we nothing but awareness?

Postby pegembara » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:27 pm

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.


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