WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT?
My most passionate plea is for you to wake up to your true self as pure awareness. We have all heard it said that you are not a human being having a spiritual experience, but instead, you are a spiritual being having a human experience. Yet you are not a being of any kind, spiritual or physical.
You are pure awareness! And most importantly, your awareness is the One Awareness – the Divine Awareness – and as such, it is the only reality that was not created. This Divine Awareness is the source of all of creation and it is the only witness to it. This is your true fundamental self and this Source-Awareness is looking out of your own eyes right now!
That’s quite a bit to start with so let’s backup a little and ask, “What is personal consciousness?”
Since I cannot directly sense your physical sensations, feel your feelings, see your thoughts, and so forth, it seems logical to say that we each have our own personal consciousness, separate and distinct, and this is what perceives our world. But this is just an illusion created when the One Divine Awareness looks through the windows of our bodies and souls. In truth, your personal consciousness is blind; it perceives nothing. Yet it provides a point of view, a window into the conditions of each person. Only this Awareness sees anything; only this Awareness experiences anything. The personal self experiences nothing. What we think of as the experiences of the personal self are actually the experiences of the One True Self.
The ancient texts of India refer to the personal consciousness as the “jiva” and my mentor, Timothy Conway, translates this as the soul or “the viewpoint.” It is the most upstream aspect of the personal self. Timothy emphasizes that your personal consciousness is certainly not a limited or smaller version of the Absolute Awareness, with a diminished or restricted power of perception. Again, it has no sentience of its own; it is only a window and a window cannot see anything.
Through the mystery of creation, this One Divine Awareness presents itself in a way that makes it seem as if there are many separate, independent “awarenesses.” This reminds me of the light from the moon. It looks as if the moon is the source of its own light, but in fact, the light from the moon is really light from the sun, bouncing off the surface of the moon. Not only does moonlight originate with the sun, it is always fundamentally sunlight. Its nature and qualities do not change at all when it bounces off the moon. (This analogy is slightly flawed since some of the sunlight is absorbed by the surface of the moon and turned into heat, but you get the idea.)
In this way, the moon presents to us the sunlight that we experience as moonlight. If for some reason the sun were invisible to us, we would never learn that it is the true source of this moonlight and we would incorrectly think that the moon is the source of its own light. And if there were more than one moon, we would think of them all as separate sources of different light. In a similar way, the Source-Awareness, which is indeed invisible to us, creates what appear to be individuated personal consciousnesses, each with what appears to be their own power of sentience. This is the illusion of the personal self; we are tricked into believing the false idea that the personal self is a self-powered sentient being, alive and aware all on its own. This is why I like to say:
You are not the sentient being you have considered yourself to be all your life. You are sentience itself!
Again, the One Awareness looks through a window or viewpoint, which is provided by the combination of your body and soul. When you drop the physical body in death, the One Awareness, the True Self, will still be looking through the viewpoint of your soul into the spiritual realm. Genuine, in-depth study of reincarnation reveals that we are not limited to just one body and that it is the soul that receives the spiritual growth of our personal self. At birth, the pre-existing viewpoint of the soul overlaps with the new viewpoint provided by the body and this combination offers a new window into the physical world.
What was created when you were born was not a new sentient being, but a new viewpoint from which the One True Self perceives the world. This has been happening ever since you were born and it is happening right now. What is commonly thought of as your own personal sentience is really the One Divine Awareness looking out through your own eyes, as I mentioned before.