Awareness again

Been away, normal service resumes.

I had two follow-on posts to do, one about the everyday and one about awareness. Awareness first.

If you tried that experiment, you might have noticed interesting things. To recap, if (for example) you're feeling cold, is your awareness of being cold itself cold? Or can you be aware of thinking about something, and is that awareness of thinking itself an act of thinking? Or can you be aware of your entire body in space, and is that awareness 'in' your body?

After a few trials with this you should notice that the answer for all of these is no. Your awareness of cold is not itself cold, your awareness of thinking is not an act of thinking, and your awareness of your body in general is not 'in' your body. The same applies for any act of awareness. This is the key I mentioned last time to something that is life-changingly extraordinary (well I think so, you can judge for yourself). And it's one of those things that sits right under our noses every day and we don't even realise what it means.

The thing with awareness is that it's not a personal act. It's not "I am aware". You can be just as aware of all of those experiences we usually call "I" as you can of anything else. You hear a lot of mumbo jumbo about people having out of body experiences, but we all have those every day. If you're sitting watching TV or are in the cinema, and are really engrossed in what you're watching, where are 'you'? Retrospectively and after the fact you might say you were in the chair, watching the screen. But that's a rationalisation, at the time you are 'in the screen', in those images which have you entranced.

All of these simple everyday experiences are us living, usually without noticing, the Copernican universe taken to its logical (and correct) conclusion. The universe has no real centre. It has centres (plural), points of views, as the phrase goes, where you can make a provisional centre in things and get a sort of optical effect, like we used to on Earth when we thought the stars were spinning around us. But existence in its entirety has no centre, no privileged point like we imagine sits up in our heads, surveying everything. Whenever you have an awareness of something, you leave that centre, even if you hadn't ever realised that's what's happening. You lose that sense of you looking out at things, 'thinking' about things. You are just in the world.

I know this will sound bizarre to some. Probably because together with this existence centred up in our heads/brains idea is a model of perception that is all about looking at things out there, or smelling or hearing things over there. We've built that separation right into the way we think about this. This isn't a post about why that model of perception isn't right, but suffice to say who we are extends out into the world around us, it's not restricted to that boundary of our bodies. Perception is a direct, physical act where we are thrown into the world, our very selves are these extended beings which take in the objects around us as well. We don't have a boundary separating us from the world around us, or at least not an absolute, rigid boundary in the me-and-the-world or me-and-my-body sense. Perception erects our bodies, immediately and directly - you only have to look at or hear something for your muscles to respond. Our erect bodies are part of a web that includes everything around us, and it's this web that actually pulls us outwards and upwards, erecting us, directly. The motive force in all of our actions is outside of us, not in us, and again out and in are only relative, not absolute terms.

There is wonderful, complete freedom in awareness. It is the only real freedom, and it is the best definition of religious that I can think of, being in and of the world. Whether you are suffering physical or mental (both fictitious categories) pain, step outside them into awareness, observe them from awareness, which is really you being in and of the world. They will immediately become evident and clear to you, and will dissolve.

You will 'gain perspective' or distance from your troubles. Literally.


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