Awareness

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8 years 7 months ago #12161 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Awareness
every time i had early glimpses, and later when i had bigger changes, one characteristic was they never seemed to be something i did. i didn't feel like anything i'd been doing made anything happen it was always sudden and unexpected. and not about me or what i expected or hoped for or imagined. that's still true.

my practice was mostly noting til 1st path, gradually shifting into just sitting, then inquiry-pointer practice. that continued after waking up, until i switched completely to a devotional prayer practice towards the end of the first year. that prayer practice has gone through variations depending on needs and mood and so far still is, though my relationship with it changes.

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8 years 7 months ago #12162 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Awareness
"What was the context in which you first saw things in this way (sorry for the clumsiness)? What were you doing literally and practice-wise that led up to that realisation or was it gradual?"

Well, the significant things about the immediate context were: encountering a former high-profile student of a teacher I'd left 25 years earlier, who had himself left that group and subsequently had an awakening and begun teaching. His main effect on me was to have established a small group of people who had experienced awakenings, written some things about the process as he conceived it-- and held weekly sittings at his house to practice and discuss his method and results. So it made "awakening" something that ordinary people could talk about, and apparently achieve. There was a small number of senior students who also held weekly sittings, and who worked personally with gung-ho students.

The "method" was "gazing meditation"; at this point, I'd say it's a species of concentration-- with the extra kick that comes of breaking the taboo about staring, and the emotional charge of being stared at. (This, of course, is not the explanation that was given, at the time, or believed by the students who still are adherents.) The second part of the method was small-group discussions; these were more full of psychotherapeutic-style soul-baring than any other meditation I'd previously encountered. It made for an intense atmosphere and broke down barriers-- in some cases, prematurely, and disturbingly.

Nonetheless, I was a vigorous participant. Probably because I was at a real crossroad in my life: just a few months earlier, my youngest child had left home. This was the end of my three decades of being a single parent, with every waking hour accounted for, and no time or energy to ask any big questions.

In addition to attending a couple of group meditations a week, and being in sporadic touch with one of the teachers, I did a lot of reading, journalling, and sat once or twice a day on my own. Mostly just settling into the breath and allowing things to soften and get expansive. Sometimes I'd have read about something-- like inquiry-- and I'd give that a try. The formulaic questions irked me enough to throw me off, so it became more of a sense of having an important question that I was just groping for what it was, and what an answer might be. I also read every account I could find of others' awakening stories.

The single most useful thing the teacher said was "Dare to seize the means of your own enlightenment." And the most prominent symptom that something was happening was that I began to have an uncharacteristic confidence and certainty about my experience and my insights-- even when they were weird and/or silly or I couldn't put them into words very well.

I was distinctly in the minority as far as my personal solitary meditation practice, though; ditto with the voracious reading. Living alone may have had something to do with that.

This may be a whole lot more detail than you wanted...

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8 years 7 months ago #12163 by Rod
Replied by Rod on topic Awareness
Thats great and helpful - detail is good. Thanks to all. Similar to you were Kate, I like to size up the territory by knowing as much about what people were doing and why when awakening was occurring or occurred. I know it will be different to what I eventually experience but it seems to help provide pointers to look for in case some of one persons experience might be a little similar. Similarly, like you Russel I am pretty into the practice and know that I will need to shed that at some point too, interesting how you found a point where it was getting in the way.
So was the realisation of non-dual awareness a traumatic one for you all or a welcome one, an obvious one?

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8 years 7 months ago #12164 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Awareness
just to add to what kate said about permission. i think that plays a big role. friends sometimes wake up around the same time like that, as one sets the real example for the other that it is possible, permitted.

for me awakenings have been both freeing and traumatic. that seems to be exactly how it must be, as one is always giving ip, losing, things one was attached to. the liberty that comes from those things falling apart is something that leaves me joyous and awestruck. there's usually been grief, fear and anger along the way, too. this has been true from early stages of practice and still true recently.

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8 years 7 months ago #12166 by Rod
Replied by Rod on topic Awareness

It is the deep singular loneliness of the infinite and eternal now that has journeyed with "me" for this life. It is Now and Presence. The presence of the now maybe? It's hardcore whatever "it" "is".


Ok, so Duane, this looks as if you have chosen your words very carefully here (thanks), so considering this carefully, is it the 'sensation' of being? So if I sit here as I write this, and try to be aware of 'being' as distinct from all other sensations associated with 'me', I notice that I have to include the environment around me since I am experiencing it so it is part of being. The experience of now? Is this the 'jump off' point to non-dual awareness? Shifting attention to the ongoing sense of just being (which can really only be now). Would this approach create more conducive conditions to understand the nature of awareness? Hope this makes sense

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #12167 by duane_eugene_miller
Replied by duane_eugene_miller on topic Awareness

Rod wrote:

It is the deep singular loneliness of the infinite and eternal now that has journeyed with "me" for this life. It is Now and Presence. The presence of the now maybe? It's hardcore whatever "it" "is".


Ok, so Duane, this looks as if you have chosen your words very carefully here (thanks), so considering this carefully, is it the 'sensation' of being? So if I sit here as I write this, and try to be aware of 'being' as distinct from all other sensations associated with 'me', I notice that I have to include the environment around me since I am experiencing it so it is part of being. The experience of now? Is this the 'jump off' point to non-dual awareness? Shifting attention to the ongoing sense of just being (which can really only be now). Would this approach create more conducive conditions to understand the nature of awareness? Hope this makes sense


Well, I'm certainly no teacher, and just "hit" SE a few months ago, but yeah basically. Just be with being. Alot. And then, as mentioned by Kate and Ona, give yourself permission. I agree that that is kind of a big deal, or was for me anyway. I didn't get it until someone convinced me I did, then suddenly I did. It's very funny.

I'd say just based on the kind of vocabulary you are using and what you're describing, you are on the right track. There are lots of different techniques that can be useful to "balance" practice, but personally, I just spent as much time "being with being" as much as I could, while sitting, while working, while walking, while living and there "it" was one day. It's a bit anti-climactic though (in my experience).

embracingsamsara.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/stream-entry/
Last edit: 8 years 7 months ago by duane_eugene_miller. Reason: link update

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8 years 7 months ago #12169 by Tina
Replied by Tina on topic Awareness
Just be with being. Alot.

Duane Eugene,

Congrats on hitting SE!

Now maybe this seems so obvious to some that the question doesn't need asking. What do you mean when you say "just be with being"? I

Did your practice ever include noting, or using an anchor like the breath?

Just curious, & thanks!

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8 years 7 months ago #12170 by Chris Marti

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8 years 7 months ago #12172 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Awareness

Chris Marti wrote: Old threads can be educational:

www.awakenetwork.org/forum/104-meditatio...55-going-really-deep


Hmm, that makes me wonder what we can add to the site to draw out some of this stuff. (Not to derail this thread which threatened to derail another thread...)

-- tomo

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8 years 7 months ago #12173 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Awareness
How about a topic/subject/word cloud?

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8 years 7 months ago #12174 by duane_eugene_miller
Replied by duane_eugene_miller on topic Awareness

Tina wrote: Just be with being. Alot.

Duane Eugene,

Congrats on hitting SE!

Now maybe this seems so obvious to some that the question doesn't need asking. What do you mean when you say "just be with being"? I

Did your practice ever include noting, or using an anchor like the breath?

Just curious, & thanks!


My practice started with counting the breath, I experimented with noting, and also did a bit of concentration practice. For the first year or two I tried quite a few different styles but "just sitting" seemed to resonate with me the most so I eventually just suck with that (as far as formally practicing goes). A great deal of momentum was maintained by constant inquiry during daily life. I read a lot about how most people (apparently) wake up on retreat and just didn't buy into that. I can't afford retreat and don't have the time, so I just approached life as one big retreat. Everything that was happening was in some way tied to my practice, living is practice. Specifically paying attention to aversion, moving awareness into it and being rooted in the body anytime I would notice suffering. I sometimes use mantras, noting, anchoring on the breath, gi gong, martial arts.. really anything that keeps me rooted in the present moment. I'd say at this point the biggest factor of "getting it" was I never doubted it could be done or that I could do it. There were certainly times (and will be again most likely) where I was "stuck" but at that point I'd just reach out for advice and was fortunate enough to have some knowledgeable friends (and this forum;)

So "Just Be with Being"
For me that just means to sit and allow all sensations to come and go as they will, non-interference. Just gently, kindly be alive. Is that clearer? helpful?

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8 years 7 months ago #12175 by Tina
Replied by Tina on topic Awareness

duane_eugene_miller wrote:

Tina wrote: Just be with being. Alot.

Duane Eugene,

Congrats on hitting SE!

Now maybe this seems so obvious to some that the question doesn't need asking. What do you mean when you say "just be with being"? I

Did your practice ever include noting, or using an anchor like the breath?

Just curious, & thanks!


My practice started with counting the breath, I experimented with noting, and also did a bit of concentration practice. For the first year or two I tried quite a few different styles but "just sitting" seemed to resonate with me the most so I eventually just suck with that (as far as formally practicing goes). A great deal of momentum was maintained by constant inquiry during daily life. I read a lot about how most people (apparently) wake up on retreat and just didn't buy into that. I can't afford retreat and don't have the time, so I just approached life as one big retreat. Everything that was happening was in some way tied to my practice, living is practice. Specifically paying attention to aversion, moving awareness into it and being rooted in the body anytime I would notice suffering. I sometimes use mantras, noting, anchoring on the breath, gi gong, martial arts.. really anything that keeps me rooted in the present moment. I'd say at this point the biggest factor of "getting it" was I never doubted it could be done or that I could do it. There were certainly times (and will be again most likely) where I was "stuck" but at that point I'd just reach out for advice and was fortunate enough to have some knowledgeable friends (and this forum;)

So "Just Be with Being"
For me that just means to sit and allow all sensations to come and go as they will, non-interference. Just gently, kindly be alive. Is that clearer? helpful?


Thanks, your post is very helpful. My biggest hindrance seems to be doubt, believing that it's actually possible for me to do this, so I'll observe that in addition to finding out what will best aid me in remaining present as much as possible during all activities.

Time to have a look through the Yogi Toolbox!

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8 years 7 months ago #12181 by Kate Gowen
Replied by Kate Gowen on topic Awareness
For me, I think the bridge across doubt-- and the corrosive self-consciousness that had plagued me for more than 50 years "before"-- was just taking the attitude that I didn't have to take marching orders from anyone; I didn't have to measure up to anyone's criteria; I didn't even have to tell anyone anything I didn't want to. And included in the "none of your business" crowd was that big group of imaginary judges whose gaze I'd avoided all my life-- in class, with acquaintances, in public places. What I was doing was for me; what I was discovering was what I saw and thought and felt. There was no way to do it wrong, or "waste time," or fail; no one to defend myself from.

I could just be the kid playing in the sandbox-- before the premature, crippled adulthood set in. It is amazing how much of our suffering is not the hard things, painful things that happen. Most of it is the being "seized up" in a defensive body-armoring run amok, stress hormones and tension reinforcing one another and spiraling into stasis.

Meditation time was me time: nothing to do but sit where I was and breathe. It was a magnificent luxury!

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8 years 7 months ago #12183 by Rod
Replied by Rod on topic Awareness
Below is an entry (#8892) I found in Andy's log. Andy I hope you don't mind me copying it here since it appears relevant to the subject of the thread.

So, on January 31st, I somehow I find myself re-reading Thusness/PasserBy’s Seven Stages of Enlightenment (awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/...s-of-experience.html).

I’dread this before, maybe a year ago or more, and what I remember most about it was my sense of impatience in trying to get through it. Finished it, put it down, hadn’t looked at it since, have not had the inclination to take another shot at it.

And as I start reading, I’m noticing I’m not having that same sense of impatience. Interesting. I read on…

Stage 1: The Experience of “I AM” It was about 20 years back and it all started with the question of “Before birth, who am I?” I do not know why but this question seemed to capture my entire being. I could spend days and nights just sitting focusing, pondering over this question; till one day, everything seemed to come to a complete standstill, not even a single thread of thought arose. There was merely nothing and completely void, only this pure sense of existence. This mere sense of I, this Presence, what was it? It was not the body, not thought as there was no thought, nothing at all, just Existence itself. There was no need for anyone to authenticate this understanding.

And the full significance of what I experienced on 1/19 (above) hits me like the proverbial 2×4 upside the head and something clicks for me, and understanding starts to dawn. I suddenly realize that I’ve misunderstood an experience I’ve been having since I was a child.

Ever since, well since I don’t know when, I’ve noticed, that even though my body and my thinking had changed, that while my personality and preferences were waaaaay different than they used to be, that there always had been this unchanging part of me. I remember as a teenager remembering this unchanging part of me from childhood. I’ve always thought of it as the core of my self, the core of me. It’s how I’ve recognized me as me, and it’s never occurred to me it was something else entirely. Click. Awareness. It’s been there all along! Oh shit! BIG CLICK.

Adyashanti. Click. Nirmala. Click. Ramana Maharshi. Click. Jean Klien. Click. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Click. Click. Click, click, click, click, click, click all the way down.

There was no eye-blink, no thump, no gap. No bliss wave, no head rush, no colored eyelid lights. It wasn’t a fruition or aftereffects, wasn’t a concentration induced altered-state, not a passing experience.

I can’t unknow this.

I had to stand up and walk around the building before I could work again, and the rest of the day was a kind of a blur.

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8 years 7 months ago #12210 by Andy
Replied by Andy on topic Awareness

Rod wrote: Below is an entry (#8892) I found in Andy's log. Andy I hope you don't mind me copying it here since it appears relevant to the subject of the thread.


Sorry for the delay. It's been a busy weekend. Copy away. Not a problem at all.

As I re-read this, what stands out for is how individual, how particular, how precisely appropriate to me only were the triggering factors. Someone else could read and re-read what I wrote and never have that same recognition. I could try to explain it in great and gory detail and not produce the same result in anyone. This is why the realization is so hard to get across. It's not that anyone is trying to deliberately be vague or obtuse, but more so that you can't think your way to it via another's path. You have to know this for yourself in a way that's appropriate for you.

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8 years 7 months ago #12263 by Constance
Replied by Constance on topic Awareness
For communication, I tend to use the word attention--as seeing the changing phenomena, and Awareness is within attention and not within and neither within nor not within Awareness. Awareness, or Consciousness is that inherent knowing that we come to know more and more intimately within the awakening process by directing attention.

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8 years 7 months ago #12345 by every3rdthought
Replied by every3rdthought on topic Awareness
Late to the party, but I just want to thank you all for this extraordinary thread. This question about awareness/consciousness is something that's been bugging me for a while - Tina, I really identify with you on this one - and the thing that's led me recently to move over to a more Advaita perspective.

The thing with vipassana style practice for me, and this may not be the case if you go into it more deeply, is that I never got rid of the sense of 'I am the witness' (well maybe once very briefly but not in any kind of 'big opening') and it increasingly bothered me as I moved through the first two paths last year and early this year. It seemed to me that an experience of 'not self' would have to be one that didn't include 'I am the witness' (I could see that all those other objects weren't self - thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc - but it was like 'I' as the witness was stuck in a box with them). And this seems to me in some sense to have something to do with the vipassana/Theravada approach which sees consciousness as always consciousness of an object, giving rise to a false sense of continuity. Thing was, I could never identify any gap.

Eventually, this is where Advaita (or I'm not that much of an expert, let's say Advaita-esque) approach would say, your intuition that there is a Self is true, not false, but there's a misconception or lack of correct knowledge about what that self consists of. So I started, and this is what I'm still doing at the moment, to try to experience that 'I am the witness' (which is what I think of as awareness or consciousness) as such, rather than watching objects without paying attention to the 'I am the witness' feeling. Can't say it's led me to any experience of objectless consciousness thus far, and it feels more nebulous and easier to get distracted than a 'torchlight' straight-up vipassana, but for me at the moment it seems to be starting to address that problem about awareness/consciousness that's been gnawing at me in a way that straight-up vipassana wasn't.

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #12346 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Awareness
just a few short notes from retreat with alan chapman, relevant to the subject:

awareness (knowing) is never an object, a thing, never located.

attention is not the same, because what is aware of attention or lack of attention? awareness is prior to attention.

'consciousness' can mean awareness in some traditions, but terminology varies widely.

the best way to 'find' awareness is to do practices that point out that which is effortless. one pointer alan teaches is 'how much effort does it take to be aware' (that i am seeing, sitting here, typing, existing, paying attention, distracted, bored, etc?
Last edit: 8 years 7 months ago by Ona Kiser.

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #12348 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Awareness
Rowan, this will sound counter-intuitive but it's actually the way these things work -- you have to focus deeply on the sense of self and how it works before you can truly get to not-self. Advaita works this way more so than Theravada or especially Mahayana practices. Wasn't it Ramana Maharshi who said always focus on "I am that?"

I hope this practice works for you!
Last edit: 8 years 7 months ago by Chris Marti.

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #12349 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Awareness

"It seemed to me that an experience of 'not self' would have to be one that didn't include 'I am the witness' (I could see that all those other objects weren't self - thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc - but it was like 'I' as the witness was stuck in a box with them)."


There is a limitation on the noting approach IMHO - it is an active practice requiring mental activity. You have to be "doing." Note that at a certain point vipassana/noting practitioners all hit a wall where those practices stop working and they have really work hard to retool how they practice, even how they conceive of practice. They want to keep doing, over and over and over because that's what worked always before, when what's called for is not doing, just being.
Last edit: 8 years 7 months ago by Chris Marti.

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8 years 7 months ago #12350 by Ona Kiser
Replied by Ona Kiser on topic Awareness
to consider, the kind of 'theravada/vipassana' practice most here find via mctb etc is a narrow practice drawn from a broader diverse religious tradition that includes a framework and diverse practices.

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8 years 7 months ago #12357 by Tina
Replied by Tina on topic Awareness

Ona Kiser wrote: to consider, the kind of 'theravada/vipassana' practice most here find via mctb etc is a narrow practice drawn from a broader diverse religious tradition that includes a framework and diverse practices.


I don't know much about the practices within each of the Theravada traditions (Burmese, Thai, Sri Lankan, etc.), but I've been reading lots of teachings from the Thai/Ajahn Chah lineage, and it appears to be less about doing, and more about knowing/noticing experience and one's relationship to it. There is much more emphasis on cultivating a broad awareness of what is without the emphasis of personal will.

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #12360 by Chris Marti
Replied by Chris Marti on topic Awareness
My favorite Thai Forest Tradition piece by my favorite dharma author, Ajahn Amaro:

www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Sma...n-by-Ajahn-Amaro.pdf
Last edit: 8 years 7 months ago by Chris Marti.

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #12373 by Rod
Replied by Rod on topic Awareness
Great book Chris - about half way through and finding it very helpful in a number of ways even on the first read. Thanks for the link.
Last edit: 8 years 7 months ago by Rod.

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8 years 7 months ago #12375 by Rod
Replied by Rod on topic Awareness
An extract from Small Boat, Large Mountain that seems relevant to this thread

This gesture of attending to the deathless is thus a core spiri- tual practice but not a complicated one. We simply withdraw our attention from the objects of the mind and incline the attention towards the deathless, the unborn. This is not a massive recon- struction program. It’s not like we have to do a whole lot. It’s very simple and natural. We relax and notice that which has been here all along, like noticing the space in a room. We don’t notice space, because it doesn’t grab our attention, it isn’t exciting. Similarly,nibbanμ ahasnofeature,nocolor,notaste,andnoform, so we don’t realize it’s right here. The perceptual systems and the naming activity of the mind work on forms; that’s what they go to first. Therefore we tend to miss what’s always here. Actually, because it has no living quality to it, space is the worst as well as the best example, but sometimes it is reasonable to use it.

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