Without Awareness, There Is No Experience

It’s astonishing to realize something that kept, before then, going past one’s understanding. It’s this: Without awareness, there is no (direct) experience.

That is, if awareness isn’t shining its light on experience X, then experience X cannot appear. There’s no there there.

To be clear, it’s not as if experience X is “waiting in the wings,” only for awareness to “bright it on stage.” Nor is experience X “dormant” or “latent” before it is made “active.” It’s much simpler than this–and much more shocking: the truth is that experience X arises only when and just so long as it’s lit up by the light of awareness.

If that weren’t astonishing enough, it may then dawn on you that every experience is appearing in the space of awareness. In some sense, it could be said that experience X is “floating free” in the open, welcoming space of awareness. Or it could be said that X is arising “out of” the ground or field of awareness, only to then subside back into this ground or field.

Not only is every experience an arising to awareness; it’s also an arising in awareness.

But then what is most astonishing of all is to understand–directly and intimately–that every experience is nothing other than awareness. What a surprise! It’s as if the experience were draped in or saturated by awareness. No, clearer and closer than that: it’s as if the inner heart, essence, or very vibrancy of this experience just were awareness. The very shining of this arising is the shining of awareness. The very “make” of the arising is precisely, and only, awareness.

If this sounds like Sri Atmananda, well that’s because it is. And also because it isn’t. It is in the sense that clearly his investigation leads one to the understanding above. Yet it isn’t in that the practitioner is, and can only be, the one who directly sees what is now apparent in his or her own experiential understanding.