I seem to have come into this life with a relentlessly questioning mind. I remember dreaming as a child about travelling to the end of the Universe. And, then what? There’s a fence? What’s over the fence?
My Dad (of course, for those of you who knew him) indulged these ponderings, suggesting that at Sunday School I ask “If God made the world, who made God?” This line of questioning wasn’t particularly well received. Hmmmmm!
My life has been a journey of trying to find answers, grappling with these impossible questions. In the second half of life, I finally think I’m getting comfortable with the questions.
And, I don’t have the answers.
Embracing the Mystery
I actually love the mystery. I find myself enquiring, questioning, probing, I want to know. Finally, I blunder my way into “I don’t know” mind, and it’s liberating! Embracing the mystery is a little uncomfortable for me, but I’m working on it.
The question “who am I?” is, of course, the classic meditation question. For many years, the answer was obvious to me. I am this body, I have a clearly defined perimeter! Don’t I?
Meditation has been interesting. Observing thoughts, emotions, sensations, images, memories, getting distracted, coming back. Consciousness constantly changing.
It crept up on me but I started to feel myself as the background. The subject, just watching on. But where is that subject, where do I, as the subject — looking on —observing — reside?
Here’s a way to explore it …
If you close your eyes and imagine a blue sky, it arises in your Awareness.
When you gaze at the actual sky, it is in Awareness.
Awareness is the constant that never changes. This ever-present field in which all of the contents of consciousness arise. It is so easy to miss because it’s nothing. It isn’t an object. So then, there’s this intangible aspect of who I am. Where do my thoughts reside? Where is the place of my imagination? Those images that run across my internal field of vision, where are they? Damn it, I can’t pin it down! But they’re there, right?
Perhaps these movements of consciousness; thoughts, emotions, images, memories, can be considered as internal objects. They come and go, they’re definable in some way. But, the actual field within which they arise cannot be objectified. Like space in a room, it’s there but it can’t be defined. The ultimate subject.
Awareness is Everything
Awareness/consciousness (whichever pointer to it you’d like to use) is everything. (Quantum physics supports this, provides an evidence base – everything is space.) We understand our world through concepts that we agree upon (or disagree about). The moon isn’t the moon, it’s just called the moon. The label, in whatever language you like, is only ever a pointer to help us communicate about it. It is a limitation, a simplification. This wonderful, seemingly endless array of concepts, or objects, is how we communicate and experience our life. All of these, necessary limitations of the everything so that we can relate within this incredible infinite field. Experiencing Awareness, as a felt sense, is to move beyond or behind or around the concepts or objects. Not to get rid of them but to know there is more.
To experience the vastness that supports all objects, to feel that, is to feel into the substrate of everything. It isn’t knowledge, it is beyond concepts and knowledge. The infinite has no beginning and no end. This boggles the mind. Let the mind boggle, there is more to you than your mind. It can only be experienced, felt, without the need to pin it down. And, it can never be confirmed.
There’s a Limit to Concepts
As a species, we have struggled long and hard to define things, to understand everything! We’ve done well but there’s a limit to concepts and we’re starting to reach it. It is so wonderful that we never will be able to understand everything. By definition alone it isn’t possible to define the infinite. And, as we reach the limit of our quest for understanding through concepts and begin to hold this paradox, we are forced to open to the vastness, the unlimited. And that is who we are – all of us. I am, you are, we all are, contractions of consciousness, unique expressions of the One. We have blundered into the truth that has always been there – the substrate of everything – only now we can recognise it. We can embrace our eternal nature. Find ourselves in the ‘foreverness’ of the present moment.
We all know that we will die and we spend much of our time in denial of this.
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. ― Carl Sagan
Embracing the temporariness of our physical life leaves us open to what is beyond it. Our lives are but a tender holding of these temporary expressions.
None of the objects, us included, would be possible without the vastness/consciousness/awareness/life force/source (words aren’t it) that supports it. In this time we can finally come to know ourselves as that and get some respite from the relentless search. Nothing exists without it and it is there for all of us. We can find our way home to it in our own unique way, because we are it.