Knowing Awareness Itself

Awareness of thought, not trapped by thought.
Awareness of the physical, but not bound by the physical.
Awareness of emotions, and prior to emotions.
Awareness of silence, but not attached to silence.
Awareness of clear open space, but not identified with clear open space.
Awareness of Awareness itself?

Through the process of non-identification we learn what we are not. This is, in my opinion, the path to enlightenment. The process of non-identification is the practice of repeatedly becoming aware of experiences/activities, realizing that they are impermanent, that they are not you, and then ending your identification with them. During this process the question naturally arises, ‘At some point, can awareness become directly aware of itself?’ This is a very interesting question. I feel, as usual, the answer must be both yes and no. It all depends on your point of view.  My first inclination is to say no. This business of Awareness becoming aware of itself directly, independently of the objects of awareness, is a messy idea. It implies two things, the objects of awareness (e.g., thoughts, emotions, etc.) and Awareness itself. It is a dualistic concept. Besides that, what exactly do we mean by Awareness? What is it? Seems like an awkward use of the word. Can one know Awareness itself? The clear open space/silence in which the objects of consciousness arise – is that what some people are calling Awareness? If that is the case then, in my opinion, this is actually but a subtle object of awareness; it’s an experience, and when elevated to the status of a 'non-experience'   well, it’s bound to get in the way. No, awareness cannot become aware of itself; at least not independently of the objects of awareness.  My second inclination is to say yes – of course awareness can become aware of itself. What? Sure it can, but never as something separate from the objects of awareness. It all depends on your definition of awareness. Ultimately, and subjectively speaking, we could say that awareness is whatever is being experienced. Whatever is arising in this moment is awareness. However, as long as one perceives a dualistic world, composed of self and other, then you (awareness itself) will continue to search for yourself as that which is other than yourself (awareness itself). Or put in a somewhat less convoluted way, when the process of non-identification works itself to completion, the subtle experiences that were masquerading as this thing called Awareness (or what some people call Self) collapse into and as the objects of awareness leaving only this.

Or put even simpler, one might say: There is awareness of this and that is all.



  1. A real conundrum - using the relative to describe the absolute. When all the words and ideas have been thrown away, whatever is left is incomplete, because all the words and ideas were just as real as what's left over after they are gone :)

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