Issue #3 - Awakening into Awareness - March, 1999
A free ezine dedicated to
exploring the nature of Reality and
the experience of Realization
Metta Zetty, Editor email: AIA@awakening.net
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* This Is It
- Alan Watts
* Recognizing The Awareness in Which All Appears:
Two Exercises for Discovering Who You Are
- Gregory W. Burkett
* Wisdom and Insights
- I Never Knew
Helen Dhara Gatling-Austin
- On Not Arguing with Reality
- This Nature of Mine
- Who is looking....
- Continuing Eternity
- Natural Awareness:
Exploring the "Background of Awareness"
and the "Content of Consciousness"
* Metta's Reflections
- Beyond Words....
- Clear Seeing
* Reader Reflections
* Reader Resources
- The Center for the Work, with Byron Katie
- The Headless Way, with Douglas Harding
- Blue Dove Press
- Peacemaker Community
* AIA Updates
- Spirit Ring Invitation
- AIA Awards
* General Information
- About Awakening into Awareness
- Ezine Subscriptions
- Back Issues, Copies and Reprints
- AIA Mailing Lists
- Insight Mentoring
- Support AIA
Welcome to the third issue of the AIA ezine! I appreciate
your continued interest in exploring the experience of
Awakening, and I hope you will all enjoy the resources
gathered in this issue.
Compiling this ezine, and corresponding with many of you
who have expressed an interest in the Insight Mentoring
process has been, and continues to be, a source of great
pleasure and satisfaction for me. For this reason, I
would like to dedicate this issue of the ezine to:
- all the current and new AIA ezine subscribers,
- the Insight Mentoring process participants, and
- the many generous individuals whose contributions
are included in this issue of the zine.
Many thanks to all of you for your open heartedness and
your willingness to share in this on-going exploration of
the nature of Reality and the experience of Realization!
With deep and continuing appreciation,
This Is It by Alan Watts
Alan Watts has been one of the most notable translators and
teachers of Eastern thought and philosophy in the West. His
timeless and classic essay, _This Is It_ is, for my taste,
one of the most articulate, succinct and satisfying
expressions of the extraordinary -- and ordinary -- nature
of the experience of Awakening.
* * * * *
"THIS -- the immediate, everyday, and present experience --
is IT, the entire and ultimate point for the existence of
a universe." p. 11
"Spiritual awakening is the...process whereby the increasing
realization that everything is as wrong as it can be flips
suddenly into the realization that everything is as right
as it can be. Or better, everything is as It as it can be."
"To the individual thus enlightened, it appears as a vivid
and overwhelming certainty that the universe, precisely as
it is as this moment, as a whole and in every one of its
parts, is so completely *right* as to need no explanation
or justification beyond what it simply is. Existence not
only ceases to be a problem; the mind is so wonder-struck
at the self-evident and self-sufficient fitness of things
as they are, including what would ordinarily be thought
the very worst, that it cannot find any word strong enough
to express the perfection and beauty of the experience."
"The central core of the experience seems to be the
conviction, or insight, that the immediate *now,*
whatever its nature, is the goal and fulfillment of
all living. Surrounding and flowing from this insight
is an emotional ecstasy, a sense of intense relief,
freedom, and lightness, and often of almost unbearable
love for the world, which is, however, secondary.
Often, the pleasure of the experience is confused with
the experience and the insight lost in the ecstasy, so
that in trying to retain the secondary effects of the
experience the individual misses its point -- that the
immediate *now* is complete even when it is not ecstatic.
For ecstasy is...necessarily impermanent....But insight,
when clear enough, persists." pp. 18-19
Recognizing The Awareness in Which All Appears:
Two Exercises for Discovering Who You Are
By Gregory W. Burkett
These extraordinarily clear "pointing out" instructions
are reprinted here, from the following website, with the
generous permission of the author, Gregory W. Burkett:
The New North Network
* * * * *
"What you are looking for is what is looking."
Wei Wu Wei
Find a quiet room where you can sit alone. Without
controlling, observe your attention move from one
object to another. Notice how your mind automatically
labels everything it sees. You may also notice various
thoughts which come to mind that are associated with
specific objects, even feelings. Realize that your
thoughts, concepts and labels are not the thing
observed. Wait for silence. Experience your
environment without the coloring of thought.
This is not as easy as it sounds, but if you can see
that there is a difference between "what is" and
"what you think there is," you have taken a great
step towards transcending the ego.
Now turn your attention to the room of objects you
call your body and mind. In the same way you observed
the "external" room, observe your inner world. Let
your attention move away from the body and move
towards the mind, the thinker or the space behind
the eyes. Watch your thoughts develop various ideas,
concepts, philosophies, etc. Realize that these
thoughts and ideas are not you. Try listening to
your thoughts as if you were listening to music;
just something to be enjoyed.
With your attention focused, try to "target" the
thinker or observer that is your self. Please do
not give up until you discover that this cannot
be done. This is because YOU ARE NOT THAT WHICH
CAN BE AN OBJECT TO YOUR AWARENESS.
Who or what are you then?
By releasing your hold on all that you are not, that which
you are can begin to unfold. It may strike like lightening,
or it may approach like the dawn. Contemplate this....Test
The most difficult spiritual leap is from identification
with the ego (and all of it's thoughts, beliefs, memories,
likes, dislikes, etc.) to an awareness of that which
observes the ego. What you are does not appear in the
Enjoy the silence and peacefulness that comes from
watching your thoughts go by like a river. Observe
your self pick up a stream of thought, and then
remember again who-you-are: the awareness in which
Wisdom and Insights http://awakening.net/Wisdom.html
The following poem is reprinted from the inaugural issue of
the Dzogchen Foundation's new newsletter "emaho!" with the
gracious permission of the author, Helen Dhara Gatling-Austin,
and the Dzogchen Foundation.
The Dzogchen Foundation
Dhara also requested that, with the reprinting of her poem,
we also provide a link to the Ligmincha Institute, the
organization of her primary teacher, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
The Ligmincha Institute
Emaho! (EE-MA-HO) is a Tibetan exclamation of deep and
exuberant cosmic delight spontaneously uttered when
reflecting upon the perfect suchness of the nature of
mind and all unfolding phenomena, or when acclaiming
the sublime teachings that point the way toward knowing
and embodying that suchness. It encompasses everything
from "Far out!" to "Eureka!" to "Hallelujah!"
* * * * *
I Never Knew
Take off the backpack.
Lie down in long grass.
Pull up the blue sky-blanket.
So many years of Dharma practice,
Straight-spine diligence, straining toward enlightenment.
Lie down in long grass.
Let the earth take you.
Deer tracks and horse dung
and the eye within the eye, revolving and luminous.
I never knew this.
Did no one ever tell me?
I remember my Zen Master in the interview room.
"Trust yourself," he said. "Just be yourself."
I think his meaning was this:
Take off the backpack.
Lie down in long grass.
Let the sky take you.
I never knew there was so much light!
Helen Dhara Gatling-Austin
October 31, 1998
On Not Arguing with Reality
"The highest Truth is the one you are in."
"I have simply stopped arguing with Reality. How do I
know the wind should blow? It's blowing. How do I know
this is the highest order? It's happening. Arguing with
existence is like teaching a cat to bark. This is not
very fulfilling....The way I know that Reality is good
is that when I argue this point I experience tension,
fear and frustration. I lose -- not sometimes, but 100%.
It just doesn't feel like me inside; no resonance, no
balance, no connection. I want Reality to change?
Hopeless. Let me change my thinking. As an agnostic,
I mentally argue with 'what is.' As an atheist, I attempt
to control and change 'what is,' and then tell myself
and others that I actually had something to do with any
apparent change. In the peace of no battleground,
I remain as my nature: awareness, a friend a listener."
From her "little blue book"
_The Work: The Great Undoing_, p. 2
(See The Center for The Work below.)
This True Nature of Mine
What, then, is this alleged True Nature of mine, this
wonderful discovery of the wise which promises to settle
everything? I'd better have some idea right away of this
Identity I'm looking for, otherwise I'm unlikely to find
either its presence or its absence. In briefest summary,
what I'm advised to seek is no thing at all, but unlimited,
unconditioned, unmoving, timeless (repeat timeless), simple,
silent, and - above and below all - self-evident and
intensely alive to itself as all this. It is the unknowable
of which Aristotle said that nothing is so knowable. It is
the bottomless abyss of mystery-beneath-mystery which is at
once my refuge and my Self. Among its metaphors and synonyms
are Nothingness, Clarity, Transparency, the Clear Light,
Empty Space, the Void which is trackless and stainless and
speckless, bare Capacity, the Unborn and Undying...none of
which do more than help me recognize it when I stumble upon it.
Douglas Harding, an excerpt from
_The Little Book of Life and Death_
included in the free "Headless Way"
on-line newsletter #3, January 1999.
(See "The Headless Way" below.)
Who is looking....
Be still and be Home where you least expect to find it...
Who is looking is what you are seeking...You are the
eternal, untouchable Peace...not any idea or concept of
who you think you are, but your eternal, natural Presence...
It only takes one second of doing absolutely nothing to
experience this radiant Peace that you have always been.
"Time had become a physical experience, each second ripening
within, individual and distinct, and she realized there was
nothing else, there never had been -- there was only this
moment, *now*, and nothing else existed, there was no such
thing as past or present, only this continuing eternity,
*now*, and she saw that it was enough to just be, that she
needed nothing to justify this existence, the mystery of her
own energy --
*Remember this*, she told herself, opening and closing her
eyes. *This is what's real.*"
I have been interested in trying to live from awareness,
but have been unsuccessful. One thing I read in your
message about the "Background of Awareness" really clicked
with me and provided the smallest of glimmers....
I'm glad if this language has been helpful for you. I
believe that the words "Background of Awareness" often
ring true for us because there is a part of the conscious
mind which is beginning to see and recognize that it is
only one transitory aspect or fleeting dimension of what
we really are....
Based upon my experience, Awareness is our Natural State.
It is *always* present, and we are always, as you said,
"living from awareness." Our frustration arises, though,
when we don't realize or recognize that this is what is
already happening, quite naturally and spontaneously.
In this context, it may be helpful to make a distinction
between the "content of consciousness" and the "Background
of Awareness." (Please remember: this is just a semantic
distinction for the purposes of this dialogue -- nothing
absolute.) For an initial introduction to this distinction,
you might also want to review my discussion of "Natural
Awareness" on the AIA website:
As I prefer to think of and describe it, consciousness
is the aspect of the mind that vacillates between activity
and stillness. Consciousness "contains" all the content
of the mind: thoughts, perceptions, insights, impressions,
emotions, reactions, doubts, fears, creative inspiration,
etc. For most of us, this consciousness is characterized
by virtually constant movement.
Awareness, on the other hand, is the "background" against
which all this movement and oscillation occurs. Within each
of us is a Perceptual Center we usually experience as "I"
or as some aspect of an identity which is looking either
"out" into the world, or "in" into the mind.
However, Awareness is simply That which is perceiving.
It is the experience of Seeing, Observing, and Witnessing
which is one of only a few constants in our experience.
We all experience this Awareness, or Seeing, quite naturally.
In fact, it is so natural, so obvious and so intimate, that
we usually just take it for granted -- and ignore it.
For example: as soon as most of us awaken each morning, our
interest and attention quickly jumps forward, out into the
content and activity of the mind, the emotions and the world
around us, and we overlook the obvious fact that Awareness
is the undisturbed spaciousness within which all mental/
emotional movement occurs -- both when we are awake and
when we are sleeping and dreaming.
If we ever *do* notice this Awareness [and we do notice it
every time we recognize we are aware (or conscious) that we
are Aware], we just assume that this Perceptual Center is
inextricably linked to the vacillating and transitory
dimensions of consciousness. We don't realize that Awareness
remains That which is the unchanged constant in our experience,
in spite of all the movement and activity of the mind.
This is why I claim that Awareness is *not* something that
has to be "obtained" or "achieved." It is our innate and
Natural State, and it is something that we simply, one day,
recognize for what it is. In my experience, Realization is
simply a matter of recognizing the Infinite completeness
and perfection of the Reality out of which this Natural
State of Awareness emerges.
Similarly, meditation is not (in my experience) an attempt
to stop the inevitable movement, activity and vacillation
of the mind. It is, instead, simply a Recognition of that
which is already constant, stable and unchanging at the
Center of all our experience.
This is why I like to use the example of the popular 3-D
optical illusions as something of a reverse illustration
of this distinction between the "content of consciousness"
and the "Background of Awareness."
Normally, when we first look at these optical illusions,
all we see is a background of complex lines and scribbles.
It is only when we are finally able to shift the focus of
attention/perception that we suddenly discover we are able
to see and recognize individual, three-dimensional images
imbedded within the background.
With our experience of consciousness and Awareness, this
dynamic is just reversed: we see and experience a
tremendously complex field of three-dimensional images
in front of our eyes when we look "out" into the world.
But, when we are finally able to shift the focus of our
attention/perception, suddenly we experience the delight
of discovering that there is an invisible Background
against which all these appearances manifest: the Natural
Background of our own, innate Awareness.
| If you have any reflections or questions about the |
| experience of Awakening you would like to share, |
| please feel free to send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. |
| In addition: your feedback and reflections about the |
| AIA ezine and website are always welcome. I will |
| look forward to hearing from you! - Metta |
Metta's Reflections http://awakening.net/Reflections.html
within the silent Void of Unknowing
the vastness of Reality is....
The overflowing Fullness
and Infinite splendor
You are the Perceptual Center
of all your experience.
Realize This, and you will discover that
the universe is contained within
the light of your own innate
Natural Awareness, and
you are not limited by
who or what
you imagine yourself to be.
Remember: you are That
which is Seeing, Observing and Perceiving....
Reader Reflections http://awakening.net/Reflections.html
I have searched a long time.
At last, just at the edge of myself,
I catch glimpses of a larger Me, smiling,
most often through other people's eyes.
Sweet kisses' edgelessness.
Sweet dreams' unbearable glimpses of boundless love.
The Homeland at last......
Some time ago a word stream came to me in the night.
"Beneath the surface to the desert dream
is a warm river where our roots mingle and merge."
Some time later I found out that the largest living thing
in the world is a grove of aspens in Colorado.
These two thoughts take my breath.
I no longer care so much about enlightenment.
This breathlessness is enough.
Reader Resources http://awakening.net/Links.html
The Center for the Work, with Byron Katie
P.O. Box 2205 -- or -- 236 East Fredricks Street
Barstow CA 92312-2205 USA
Voice Mail: 760-261-1828
[From the Center's Website]
The Work shows us how to take a look at the thoughts and
beliefs that keep us from living and knowing true freedom.
Designed only to achieve real freedom The Work consists
of a simple written exercise. Four questions and a turn-
around are then applied to it. In this way, we are able
to see our old confusion in a new light.
Katie's availability, sense of humor and loving compassion
set the tone for the workshops (Intensives) as well as the
ongoing life at The Center. The Work offers us the
opportunity to live in freedom on a daily basis wherever
I highly recommend Katie's deceptively simple "4 Question,
Turn-Around" process. It as a refreshing, exceptionally
skillful tool for cutting through habituated and ingrained
patterns of thought and emotion. In addition, Katie's
"Little Blue Book" of insights and aphorisms is available
for free, upon request, and most of the services offered
through The Center are available on a donation basis.
The Headless Way, with Douglas Harding
The Shollond Trust (Reg. UK Charity No: 1059551)
87B Cazenove Road
London N16 6BB, England
Free on-line newsletter: http://www.spiritweb.org
Twice yearly journal available by subscription.
The Headless Way website explores and celebrates our
true and deepest identity using the awareness exercises
('experiments') developed by the English philosopher
Douglas Harding. These experiments point back to you
the Looker, enabling each of us to see directly into
who we really are. The website also includes articles,
images, publication information, etc.
The Headless Way is also the owner of the new Spirit Ring
(See the "Spirit Ring Invitation" in the "AIA Updates" below.)
Blue Dove Press: Books of All Spiritual Traditions
4204 Sorrento Valley Blvd, Suite K
San Diego, CA 92121 USA
[From Blue Dove's Website:]
The mission of Blue Dove is to make available and promote
the messages, lives, and examples of saints and sages of
all religions and traditions, as well as other spiritually-
oriented works. We do so both by publishing inspirational
books and tapes, and also distributing the works of other
publishers of such material. Great saints tend to transcend
any single sect, regardless of the path they themselves
have chosen. Their perspective is universal. It is our
belief that people who have gone beyond the constraints
and conditioning of the ego and have realized God, the Self,
inner peace, moksha -- call it what you will -- are a
tremendous resource for the entire planet. We believe that
reading about their lives, messages and examples is of
great assistance on our own spiritual path. (Blue Dove
Press is not affiliated with any particular path, tradition,
La Honda, CA 94020-0313
[From the Peacemaker Community Website:]
The Peacemaker Community is an interfaith network of
people and organizations practicing a vision of peace
through study, spiritual practice, and social action.
We are a worldwide community of lay people and clergy,
from different cultures and religious traditions,
dedicated to making peace in our own lives and in the
world around us. Recognizing that we are interdependent
and that each act of peacemaking touches all of us, we
offer and support spiritually-based peacemaking models
and programs based on our core tenets and the four
commitments of the World Parliament of Religions.
Spirit Ring Invitation
This month "Awakening into Awareness" was invited to join
the new "Spirit Ring" WebRing by Jim Clatfelter and Richard
Lang of The Headless Way website.
To review the sites in this new web ring, see the "Spirit
Ring" navigation bar on AIA's Web Ring page:
...or review the growing "Spirit Ring" list:
We extend our enthusiastic thanks to you both, Jim and
Richard, for including AIA in the launch of this great
network of quality websites dedicated to "exploring and
celebrating the simple truth of who we really are!"
* * * * *
AIA also wishes to offer our thanks to the Editors and
Advisory Board of Amorology.net, and to James Stout for
their generous acknowledgement of the AIA website with
the following two awards:
________| Amorology's Divinity in Action Award |________
\ | http://www.amorology.net | /
\ | James Stout's Websites of Psychology | /
\ | & Personal Growth Award | /
/ | http://www.james-harvey-stout.com | \
/ |________________________________________| \
Look for these new awards on the AIA website!
------------------ | General Information | -------------------
About Awakening into Awareness
Awakening into Awareness (AIA) is a website, ezine
(electronic newsletter), and an online mentoring program
dedicated to exploring the nature of Reality and the
experience of Realization. All AIA ezine issues are
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"The recognition of the fundamental, essential nature
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and deepest fulfillment."
Awakening into Awareness
Reflections on Reality and
The Experience of Realization
Insight Mentoring Metta Zetty
http://awakening.net P.O. Box 781955
email: AIA@awakening.net San Antonio TX 78278
©1997-2000, Metta Zetty
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