Hide and Seek: The Power of Awareness
There was a formidable and affluent industrialist who presided over a vast empire, commanding numerous factories and employing thousands of individuals. He was a figure of both reverence and trepidation, with many envying his stature. His opulent lifestyle spanned multiple residences in the mountains, the bustling city, and the tranquil seaside. People sought his counsel and yearned for his influence, while he reveled in the pleasures of existence and basked in the adoration it bestowed upon him.
But then, an unforeseen and debilitating crisis struck. A profound nervous breakdown left him bereft of his faculties, rendering his once-mighty mind incapacitated. Desperate, his family summoned the most eminent physicians, only to find them utterly powerless in the face of his affliction. The most skilled psychologists were brought in, but they too could offer no solace. Even the clergy were called upon in the hopes of divine intervention, but their efforts proved equally futile. In a final attempt, a psychic was summoned, only to share in the helplessness that had come to define the situation.
Hope dwindled, and the man, once physically robust and vibrant, found himself confined to his bed. There, he became dependent on a team of dedicated nurses who tended to his every need, from feeding to bathing, as he stared blankly, enduring the long years until his eventual passing.
What is Mind?
Materialists see the mind as a product of the physical processes in the brain. Cognitive science views the mind as information-processing in the brain. From a neuroscientific standpoint, the mind is tied to the functions of the brain’s neural net processes.
The inside-out approach shows us a very different experience and understanding. When, in stillness, we become the source of mind, when we experience and understand the mind’s process by consciously becoming that process, we can develop a very unique perspective and realization of who we are.
The mind is the impulse, the creative urge, the throb of our consciousness. When our awareness, which is a vast ocean of consciousness, transitions into creative mode, it limits its vastness, focuses its intelligence and power and becomes the mind. When awareness thinks, it is our mind and when it rests in stillness, it is pure consciousness, the authentic Self.
Our mind is pure awareness, the vast consciousness in a contracted, focused, creative state. Pure consciousness, stimulated by its own creative nature, prana, appears as our mind.
And what is a thought? A thought is simply a focused impulse of the creative intelligence and power of pure consciousness.
The purpose of the mind is to perceive and understand objects and to name them. As we do this we give them an apparent reality within our mind. Then we subtly identify as the object and, in that moment, forget the subject. We misperceive this apparent reality we have created within the mind as true reality and obscure the vast and blissful consciousness that is the source of mind. This is forgetting the true Self.
When we look out onto our world, it is easy to begin to identify as it. When we see a tree, for that moment, the tree consumes our awareness. We become the tree and Self is forgotten. But in realization, when we see the tree, we witness the tree and remember our Self as the witness. Self no longer becomes subsumed by the tree.
The ground of our mind is consciousness. That awareness contracts as it perceives objects. When it contracts, it becomes our individual mind. The mind creates endless words, thoughts and stories within us. Consciousness actually contracts and limits itself by becoming a focus – a specific thought – in a process that involves the generation, organization and manipulation of ideas, information or mental representations. It does this through reasoning, problem-solving and decision making. It also includes inner dialogue and mental reflection, creation and innovation.
This focus and contraction of consciousness as mind and thought forms the foundation of separateness. When the mind breeds endless thoughts and stories that become the inner universe we live in, it hides the pure consciousness that is its origin. We become the egoic mind identifying as our thoughts and we differentiate ourselves as a limited individual. This is the state most of us live in.
At this point, we have a choice. The mind either becomes uncontrolled and grasping or it becomes disciplined and peaceful. The mind and our thoughts become either the source for bondage and suffering or they become the source for liberation and happiness.
Consciousness can be passive or active. In its passive state, it resides in stillness as the witness, as presence. That is never disturbed but can be obscured.
In its active state, it is creating thoughts and is functioning as the mind. In its silence, it is the vast ocean of pure awareness; the Self. In its creative state, it is the mind and its endless thoughts.
Mind cannot think unless the intelligence and power within consciousness sets it in motion, by pure awareness assuming that state of creative mind. When pure consciousness assumes the form of different objects, it acts as mind.
What the mind creates becomes our world. We experience only through the mind and the consciousness that is its source. Our hand may have a deep wound in it. We say it is painful, yet that pain is only experienced in the mind. When we are in deep sleep or are under anesthesia and the mind is not active, we feel no physical, mental or emotional pain. Only when the mind is active do we experience pain or pleasure.
It is the intelligence and power of consciousness that works through the senses. The eyes see and the nose smells because of it. This consciousness is the root of mind. Pulsating as the mind, the Self – consciousness – makes the mind think. When we realize pure consciousness, the Self is experienced as the witness and source of the mind.
There are four main functions within mind. The mind creates thoughts, it contemplates those thoughts, it makes decisions based on those thoughts and it takes on the feeling of ego.
We become what we think.
Seated by the picturesque riverbank, a young man found himself beneath the shade of a mystical wish-fulfilling tree. His heart yearned for companionship, and as if in response to his silent longing, a girlfriend materialized before him. Encouraged by this inexplicable turn of events, he then wished for a home, and a house appeared, as if conjured by his thoughts. His desires continued to materialize, and servants emerged to attend to his every need.
Yet, as the man pondered the uncanny occurrences, doubt began to gnaw at him. He couldn’t shake the unsettling notion that these manifestations were the handiwork of a malevolent entity. It was then that the very demon he feared came forth, its presence casting a shadow over his newfound fortune.
In the grip of terror, the man’s thoughts raced. “This demon will surely bring about my demise,” he feared, his anxiety reaching its peak. His darkest thoughts became reality as the demon devoured him whole.
The great masters have warned us; The mind is as difficult to control as the wind. The wind in the storm takes the mind into turbulent waters and eventually crashes it upon the rocks. Because of restlessness, we often believe that our minds are out of our control and we cannot take charge of our endless thought creation. The mind is what we make it. It can be out of control or disciplined. Mental disease is simply a mind out of control. We can decide what the mind creates and can alter its undisciplined habits. We can think, “I am good. I am worthy, I am compassionate.” Or we can think. “I am bad, I am worthless, I am a sinner.” These thoughts are all consciousness. It is our discrimination and decision that determines the inner universe we live in.
We have forgotten that there are two aspects to our life; the ever-changing body and mind, and the never changing awareness, our true Self.
It is our karma, our positive and negative impressions, that move our mind. When we forget who we are and are in the grip of suffering, it is our grasping and selfishness that motivate the mind, that propel the mind from object to object, searching for sufficiency, relief and happiness. In suffering, it is our mind that identifies as the body and thoughts instead of consciousness.
While right action and a virtuous mind filled with high thoughts foster realization, it can be noted that right action and a virtuous mind are, in fact, the result of the state of realization. The cause is the effect and the effect is the cause.
We do not need to attain the Self, this vast consciousness. The Self is always attained. This awareness is always shining within. Whether we are happy or sad, whether our mind has many or few thoughts, our consciousness, our true Self, remains the same. Our path, our purpose, is to purify the mind, to still the mind and thus allow this light of pure consciousness to shine in the mind. Because of our thoughts and their misperceptions and mis-identifications, we hide and forget the light of consciousness and we suffer. When we realize who we are, we realize that our mind and consciousness are the same nature. Our limited identification as a body and mind expands to reveal us to be the fullness of that vast consciousness.
When the mind is directed outward, the mind becomes the apparent differences, forms and attributes; the apparent world. Yet when it is directed inward, it becomes the vast consciousness that is its source. In stillness, it is not that the mind recognizes, contemplates or inspects the Self. When the mind is still, it merges, it dissolves, and it becomes source. When the fluctuations of mind – thoughts – become still, we realize we are consciousness. We experience that the true Self is the vast ocean of awareness. The limited and chaotic wave becomes the still and vast ocean.