In this age of a glut of spiritual, personal and self-improvement practices we don’t often sit back to ponder the one thing that is common to all of them. You!
We get so engaged in improving ourselves and advancing our lives that we rarely just pause to contemplate the wondrous, miraculous and mysterious wonder of our own being.
Much of what we experience we are we have in common with all the critters we share this planet with. We all need to survive, remain safe, mate, bond with family, form groups, use tools. But while all beings on earth do all of this, we alone are aware that we are doing it. Unlike any other being we know of we are aware of being aware. This wondrous reality is what has been named consciousness and it is indeed the greatest mystery..
Consciousness is the most mysterious thing in the universe. It is like nothing else in existence. Everything else can be looked at, weighed, measured, represented mathematically or conceptually.
Consciousness, on the other hand, cannot be looked at. It can only be looked from. It is never what is looked at, it is always what is looking. St. Francis of Assisi said it perfectly, “What you are looking for is where you are looking from.”
We say “my mind,” “my body,” “my life,” “my soul.” That makes mind, body, life, soul all a possession of something else. What is this mysterious something else? Who is this “I” that owns even the soul?
These days, consciousness is explained as some phenomenon or artifact of the functioning of the brain. But, when really pressed, even the most materialistic scientist will say, “You know, we really don’t know.”
So nobody knows and yet, over the ages, sages, prophets, mystics and Buddhas have affirmed that it is indeed possible to know. In fact, have told us plainly exactly what this mystery is.
It is you. The one reading these words right now. The one that feels the chair, the temperature in the room, the texture of the clothes on your body. It is the feelings running through your system and seeing the thoughts that are responding to these words. The great mystery, it turns out, is your everyday, every moment experience.
Whatever that is, it is you!
If I were to ask you right now to picture yourself in your mind you would easily conjure an image of yourself. You would probably be standing five or six feet away, the way you would look in a photograph, a mirror or a video. But notice, that image you picture as yourself, you have never actually seen. That image is how others see you, not how you see yourself.
Now ask yourself this simple question, “What do I look like from a distance of zero?” Yes, it is unique question. Imagine you are looking at an image of yourself and you keep zooming in. First your whole body, then just the upper torso, then your head and into your face, your eyes until you enter right into that image and then turn around a look out.
There is no distance left, no picture of you, only the image of what you are seeing. You have become imageless. There is no picture of you and yet the entire universe is present.
The eye cannot see itself. A scale cannot weigh itself. Lips cannot kiss themselves. Why? Because they are one.
You cannot stand apart from yourself and see yourself for you are one. This little exercise is a deeply profound contemplation. From this place no image you form could be you. No idea, concept or any description in word or image could possibly the direct experience of yourself. You are so very much more that any image could capture.
Now just feel. No thinking is necessary. This contemplation moves you away from thinking and into experiencing. Because, even if no image formed in your mind, you would still be here… obviously, irrefutably and self-evidently here.
Why make such a contemplation? Do this have practical value?
The sum total of all human experience is determined by our perceptions and our perceptions are determined by our beliefs. The image, in the mind, that I hold of myself, will be the person I become. To the degree that I believe in that person, to that degree will I be limited by that person.
ut, if I am not that image, then I am not confined to that form. In fact, I am not confined to any form. This is the doorway to the infinite, the kiss of eternity.
When you clearly see what you are not (an image in the mind) you naturally realize what you actually are; limitless being, boundless life, unconditional love and radiant happiness.
The great mystery is imageless being and that is your very self.
Written By: GP Walsh
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