Ultimately, are we all “one” or are we separated individual consciousnesses? Will we still be feeling the difference and separation between “me” and “you” ?
Great question, no?
When we begin looking into the nature of awareness, it seems like there’s “my awareness” and “your awareness.” There’s that which is looking “through my eyes” and that which is looking “through your eyes.” They have access to different perspectives, different thoughts, and different experiences. We often experience them as tied to the unique attributes of each person (my awareness is over here looking at you over there, where your awareness is over there looking at me over here).
Yet are they really one? If they are, why don’t we experience a unity between the infinite individual awarenesses? This idea of one universal awareness isn’t what is experienced from behind the veil. Separation is the norm, but what’s really going on on “the other side of the veil?”
Well, let’s start with a quick exercise…
Point to yourself.. Go ahead and do it.
Where did you point?
Many people point to their heart/chest and others may point to their head/mind.
Where did you point? Take note.
Is there a little “someone” in there that you’re pointing to? When you say “My name is so-and-so,” to what is that name pointing to? A little “me” inside your chest or head, perhaps? If you feel in, where does it feel like you are located? Centered?
In the world of separation we experience a world of “me” and others, me and you, me and God, me and earth, me and heaven. I want to get into heaven. I want to be at one with God. I want to be close to you or far away from you.
Where is this “me” that lives in relationship to everything else?
When we look within, we can find a body, thoughts, a history, a sense of awareness, feelings, brains and bones… but where is the “me” within all of this?
It turns out that the felt sense “me” is nothing more than a feeling created from a thought believed. As we do the inquiry, we keep failing at our attempts to find out who is here, who is doing any of this. Who is in control? Who does my name point to? Who has free will? Who is inquiring? Who is aware of inquiry happening?
As we continue inquiring, more and more of the places for “me” to hide is brought into awareness, such as in thought, in emotion, in feeling, in time and space, in accomplishments, in identities, in the identification process, as that which experiences, controls, or decides, etc. until there is basically nowhere else to rest. It is then discovered there is no me and there never was. Just a feeling of me, a thought of me, a sense of me.
Who you are is not who you think you are. Who you think you are is not what wakes up and becomes enlightened. In awakening, who you are wakes up from who you think you are.
Life Without the Sense of Separate Self
Somehow, without a me, there also is no you. Not really. There is no world. There is no God. There is no other. There is nothing. Nothing at all. It was all just mental concepts, ideas, beliefs, and notions. Total collapse of everything because we see through the “me.” There is just what is, without a name. Pure being, pure existence, pure life.
As there is a settling into “no-me’ness” and nothingness, eventually for whatever reason, there may be a sort of cosmic explosion where the entire world is seen to be simply continuous arisings of consciousness within consciousness. Consciousness is all, but “I” am nowhere to be found. Everywhere the world is, there I am. I am nothing and I am everything, and there is no one to claim ownership for this sense of existence/life/being. Just pure aliveness being alive.
Jeff Foster published a book with a hilariously accurate title, An Extraordinary Absence: Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life. A very ordinary life, and yet the me I thought I was is nowhere to be found!
In this space, nothing is personal, yet everything is incredibly intimate for there is no separation happening, no distance between things, even though the eyes may still register things going from here to there.
There is still the ability to see chair and floor and cloud and Ariel’s body and Billy Bob’s hat, sure, but this is all seen secondarily. What stands at the forefront is the ineffable, the unspeakable, the singular ONE beyond name and form. We still use words like you and me because they are quite useful in practical conversation and day-to-day life, but we use those words very lightly, with a sort of laughing wink, knowing that we are just playing with form, like a child sculpting a sand castle. It’s made up, it’s play, it’s a game that lives in our imaginations.
We can still individuate, but we don’t separate.
Note how thoughout history, many awakened people have referred to various things like God and humans, the Father who art in Heaven, Shiva and Shakti, the mother who rears the ten thousand creatures, various planes of consciousness or dimensions of reality, and yet they never claim that anything is separate or apart from its source. Oneness and individuation are both still apparent, but individuation is a lighthearted secondary to Oneness.
Ultimately there is just awareness, without a “me” or a “you” apart from the thoughts of me and you arising within awareness. Although it may look like my awareness or your awareness on the surface, it is clearly seen that there is ONLY awareness, one without a second. Everything is seen to somehow be a manifestation of awareness. There is no one to claim ownership of awareness since the thought, feeling, and subsequent feeling of ownership are simply optional experiences of awareness itself within awareness, not something other than awareness or separate from awareness.
There is still the recognition that in the same way that awareness experiences itself bit by bit (yet also paradoxically all at once since there is no time), there is also the recognition that awareness itself has an infinite number of perspectives, an infinite number of ways of experiencing itself, and this infinity can be experienced without going into the world of separation.
Separation and infinity, it turns out, are not the same thing, and need not be always experienced simultaneously. The Infinite/One are always present, HereNow, but separation is just an optional experience. All waves exist, but none are separate from the ocean. They ARE a surface-level temporary appearance of the ocean itself.
Here’s a wonderful clip from a talk about the Journey After Awakening with Adyashanti and Loch Kelly. In this clip, they talk about some of the post-awakening experiences, transformations, and unfoldings:
But don’t try to make the experiences and realizations out to be the point. Those come on their own as the underlying illusions are cleared out. To clear out the illusions, focus on finding the self. Does it feel like there is a self present? If so, where? To whom? Who is experiencing it? And who is experiencing that? What is the “I” we refer to when we talk about ourselves? Find that out and all the enlightenment stuff seems to take care of itself on its own accord.
If you want to find God, then as the saying goes, know thyself.