Sunday, March 06, 2016

Lojong 3: Examine the nature of unborn awareness

If life and dreams are not all that different, who or what is the dreamer behind them?

Consider all the objects you can notice in the field of awareness. Are any of them you?

Consider the field of awareness itself. Is that you?

As long as your answer is "yes", keep examining. Don't look for evidence to support your current position. You'll find it easily. Instead, work like a scientist by looking for anomalies, bits of evidence that don't agree with current belief.

Go ahead, examine. Where do thoughts come from? Where do sensations come from? Where do they go after they are experienced and fall away? Where does the awareness that receives the experience arise? Is there any such thing as a coherent field that we can call awareness? Or is that just an idea?

In the same way that we come to see that we are not our thoughts, we can come to see that the idea of awareness, which we might identify with, is itself just another thought, not a solid foundation for an identity. Awareness arises when senses perceive objects, just as sensory perceptions arise with awareness. It's not something we can be. There is no basis for identification. There is just what is going on now.

Thoughts, memories, feelings, objects, percepts, and concepts come and go. That is the nature of awareness. "Unborn" simply points out that there is no memory or record of where awareness originally came from or began, if it originally "came from" anywhere. As far as can be told from experience, awareness has always been present. By awareness, we mean the process of perceiving and conceiving -- seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting/touching (perceiving) and noticing thoughts as they arise (conceiving). Awareness is the only aspect of experience that has no perceived beginning or end, because when it starts and ends, it is not present.

A further observation to be made is that while percepts are (interpreted) sensory impressions, concepts are simulated sensory impressions. Thoughts are images (printed words, pictures), sounds (a voice or noises) in the imagination, smells, tastes, and/or simulated tactile or kinesthetic sensation. Mind associates meanings with simulated images and sounds to allow abstract thought, but it's all just sensory impressions, either simulated or "real" (whatever that means), appearing and disappearing.


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