Metta: Thank you, Victor, for your willingness to dive in and share this mentoring process with us. I appreciate your openness, and I'd like to start now by asking you how you would prefer to begin: with a question from me or with a question from you?
Victor: How important is relaxation to accessing awareness?
Metta: Intriguing....What does "accessing Awareness" mean to you, Victor?
Victor: It means being in a state like that between waking and sleeping. It means being without physical tension as well.
Metta: In my experience, I would describe this differently. (And, at this point, all I have to go on is my own experience.) My words may not match those of other teachers with whom you have worked, Victor, so part of what we will be doing here is working on clarifying the meaning of words.
In the end, that's all that I think this teaching is about: finding words that can point to a common experience, one that we all recognize as our own. I'll say that again: one common experience -- one we all share in common -- a direct, immediate experience, behind the words.
Words are just pointing toward the Reality we describe as Awareness, and my mind orients toward Awareness a bit differently. My experience is that Awareness exists behind all other experiences. Waking, sleeping, relaxation, tension all show up within Awareness.
Metta: (smiling) Exactly. Please share more -- if you care to....
Victor: Right now, I notice I'm a little tense....
Victor: ...because of the jumping around [i.e., bouncing in and out of our chat room, because he was having Internet connection problems].
Metta: Sure! That's natural. Being tense is not a problem, in and of itself. Most of the time we don't like being tense, so we assume that it's a problem. Can you just be tense...and be OK with that? Just be aware of being tense?
Victor: I'm being aware, and simply letting what happens happen now....
Metta: Yes. Exactly. This is all about giving Life permission to be what it already is, and giving ourselves permission to be who we are, freely and openly.
Victor: The tenseness is within the awareness, but does not affect it.
Metta: Exactly! Therein lies our freedom! Here's the "trick," if there is one: Simply allow your identification to shift from the tension, and all the contents of consciousness (which are in the foreground), to the Background of Awareness which contains all things.
Victor: The awareness has nothing to do with our session other than to support it.
Metta: Exactly!! And, really, it does have everything to do with this, because nothing has Reality without it -- at least in my own experience.
Victor: Ok. Poor choice of words. We could not have our session without the awareness.
Metta: Ah...yes! Absolutely! We would not have anything without it. We would not have or see or experience anything without it.
Victor: So, why do we not dwell in awareness at all times?
Metta: Ah, but we do! The mind just loses sight of it....That's all that ever happens. You see, it's only the mind that imagines that Awareness comes and goes. Awareness is actually constant, and it is the movement of the mind that vacillates. The mind wanders all about and then says: "What happened to Awareness?"
Victor: So then --- what to do?
Metta: Allow the mind to do what it does, and remember that Awareness is the clear screen upon which the movement of the mind occurs. And, even if you don't remember this, Awareness will still be the clear screen upon which the movement of the mind occurs.
It's all a matter of identification: do you identify with the movement of the mind, and with the content of consciousness? Or, do you identifying with the clear, undisturbed background of Awareness?
Victor: Yes, I think most people do [identify with the mind].
Metta: Absolutely! That is our conditioned habit and pattern. That's why this work is only a matter of unlearning our conditioning. Without our conditioning, we are what we are: Clear Seeing, Naked Awareness....
Victor: How do we use awareness to look at the conditioning and allow it to rise and go away?
Metta: It is the mind which looks at it own conditioning. It is only the mind that suffers, and only the mind that needs to work stuff out. Awareness is clear and undisturbed.
What happens is that mind naturally begins to get tired of all its work. It eventually gives up, and stops trying to be all things to all people. Eventually the mind recognizes that it is just part of the larger picture, and that's when relaxation naturally begins to occur. Although they are never completely eliminated, habits and conditioning begin to relax, and then there is a natural ease that allows conditioning to rise, and then go away.
Metta: Lost Victor. [Again] Waiting for his return....Watch how the mind moves when there is not a central point of focus. Awareness remains constant, even as the mind wanders....
[Victor has rejoined #AIA]
Metta: We waited for you, Victor....
This ease allows all feelings, thoughts and preferences to rise and go away, and it is in this sense that all this movement is described in the Dzogchen tradition as "self-perfected." It does not need to be anything other than what it already is. Self-perfection. Not lost. Perfect as it is...not wrong...not needing to be fixed. A-OK, as is.
Victor: So, all this activity on the screen, all this coming and going....
Metta: ...Yes, and all your movement in and out of our room...
Victor:...is merely stuff arising and going away?
Metta: Yes! Exactly! It's not a problem -- until or unless we choose to make it one!
Victor: And, it only bothers us if we fixate on it?
Metta: Exactly! We choose what we focus our attention on -- what we fixate on. Why not fixate on That which does not move? Then we'll find that we won't get nearly so dizzy! Or tense.
Victor: So, we stay in the awareness and there is no fixation?
Metta: I'd like to reword this just a bit: "Staying in Awareness" implies that you could leave it: no can do.
Awareness is where we are, who we are. There's no getting out of or around it, even if we wanted to! Fixation, on the other hand applies to a state that the mind can enter into when it attaches to something/someone in particular. That's all. Eventually the mind will get tired again, and let go -- and, lo and behold! Now the mind sees Awareness again!
Victor: My mind is soo tired.
Metta: Yes....(Strong, silent acknowledgement....)
This means you are ripe, Victor. Ready to let go. Just let the mind be what it is. Let it wear itself out. You know what they say about searching: the only purpose of searching is to exhaust us -- completely. Then, we finally let go and discover that we are already here/now, and that This is enough. Nothing else is needed.
Victor: So, we bounce back and forth within the mind only catching glimpses of awareness from time to time? 'Til we're all worn out?
Metta: Yes, or until the mind just breaks through into open space. Truthfully, I don't know all the myriad of ways it can happen, why it happens, or how. Analyzing that is not the point. You see, that is just another trick of the mind, trying to talk you into a specific scenario: "Waking up will look like this, Victor," says the mind. "Watch for this."
No....It doesn't work that way. Each of us is living a unique life, with unique experiences and a unique perspective....Just watch the mind move, Victor. Let it do what it does and recognize, each time, that you are the Observer of the mind, not the mind itself. That is all that is needed.
Eventually, your identification will shift permanently, and you will no longer be deceived into thinking that YOU are the activity of the mind. Be content with watching the mind. It is enough simply to pay attention to your experience....
When you do that, isn't it obvious that you are outside and behind your own experience?
Victor: Internally versus externally?
Metta: Please explain the distinction....Actually, that's a mind game, Victor. Almost hooked me! :-) Internal/external is irrelevant!
Victor: If awareness is all, there is no distinction?
Metta: Actually, Awareness is the base...the clear mirror. Everything else simply appears on the surface....Whether it appears to be external or internal, it is still contained within Awareness.
Victor: So phenomenal objects are merely awareness?
Metta: I don't like the word "merely," particularly....
Victor: Expunge merely.
Metta: My experience is that phenomenal objects are wondrous manifestations within this field of Awareness. It is, to me, a miracle that they show up....And, in the end, all phenomenal things are finite. They will fade away....
That is why I say that awakening actually includes two realizations:
Victor: Including our physical being?
Metta: Will you die? Is your body a miracle? Yes.
Victor: A miracle is mind, is it not?
Metta: (smiling, with deep appreciation)...Yes, Victor, the mind really is a miracle....(tears welling up)....This is it...
Thank you, Victor, for your inquiry....
Victor: It awes me, the billions and billions of causes and conditions that had to occur over the eons for this event to happen.
Metta: (smiling...nodding) Yes, indeed....In this regard, may I share a quotation? Nisargadatta said something quite similar:
"Considering the endless list of factors required for anything to happen, one can only admit that everything is responsible for everything, however remote."
Like everything, your good inquiry brought us home. Anything, everything can.
Victor: I bow to the awareness that is all and everything!
Metta: As do I, with deep, deep gratitude....
Victor: With tears of joy.
Metta: Yes, in this we are together, Victor: I share the joy...and the tears...most gratefully....
Victor: This has been a great sharing. Thank you so very, very much.
Metta: Thank you, Victor...It is an honor for me to enter into this space with you all in this way...with the openness and authenticity you have offered.
Victor: As for me, also.
Metta: You reflections, Victor, have been a gift for us all.
Metta: Questions? Reflections? Q1?
Ron: When the outside becomes my inside, I get it.
Metta: Yes!! That's it, Ron! Outside and inside are distinctions that apply only to the phenomenal world, not to the field within which this world appears.
Ron: Have been cycling back and forth with that shift.
John: Awareness is impersonal, or is there a person there? One person or one thing?
Metta: Awareness is beyond personhood and, at the same time, we experience it as our deepest sense of identity. When you strip away all other identifiers, there is a profound sense of "I" with which we identify: the "I" that observes, but is beyond, all things.
Awareness appears in and through each of us, and that is why it is so easy to confuse the personal and impersonal: they share the same nexus point of emergence. The person exists within the field of Awareness -- and will eventually disappear, with time.
"One thing" you said....Good phrase! The Tibetans say, "One Taste." This is hard to translate, but my experience is, yes. Emphatically yes! There is just one thing (one Reality) and it shows up as many...and here we are! With our one, common experience that I mentioned earlier.
Anything else now, John?
John: What is our common experience?
Metta: The Background of Awareness against which the entire phenomenal world appears. A sense of "I" that resides in the Center.
John: The I in a star or rock is the I in you and me?
Metta: John, I do not know the "I" in the star or the rock. All I know is the one showing up here. However (this goes back to the inside/outside thing), the star and the rock appear within Awareness. What I do know is that Awareness is undeniably the Background. Is this ok, John? At least for now?
John: Ok, for now.
Metta: We can take this back into our forum, John, if you like. This is a good question to look at. I'm glad you raised it. Let's carry it on there, if you want.
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