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Aware is Your Essential Nature and Points to Freedom

A common message that some spiritual teachers give to seekers on the path is that they need to look within or go inside, or something along those lines. But I think this can be misleading and confusing. It gives the impression that you are inside somewhere. Whenever I tried to do it, I only felt claustrophobic. Even if it brought some peace or bliss, it was still limited to the body-mind. Also, to “look within” makes you think you will discover SOMETHING. But the NO-THING that you are cannot be found within, or anywhere in fact. It is simply known. The idea of ‘looking within’ just supports the idea of separation.

This work is about recognizing that attention is already free and open, rather than limited to a centralized focus on “self.” It’s recognizing your true, center-less existence. When the idea, “the body-mind is the center of my existence, and therefore, who I am,” is dropped, then it is known that who I am is not “in” anything. You discover the ultimate joke! You are limitless existence, unattached, un-centered, all-inclusive, not just the feelings/sensations. This points to freedom, your essential being. Here there is no dimension, no time, just now, eternal. So simple, so obvious.

One way to recognize this is to have a look at the idea, “I am aware.” That idea implies that there is an “I” (a self) who is “aware.” Aware is used as an adverb. This supports the belief that we are centered in a body looking outward and being aware. But instead of using aware as an adverb, what if we make the word aware synonymous with “I”? I and aware are then not different. This stops the mind from creating the idea that there is an “I” who is “aware.” This way we don’t perceive the body as the center from where we are looking out from and there is just this, which is freely aware, unattached, and not centered inside a body, just free. One seamless aware, which is both and neither inside nor outside the body. This will instantly take you out of the belief/identification that you are only the body-mind. It is a simple and immediate way to recognize what is true, here and now, so obvious. It is not seeking, it is finding. It is not a path and it takes no time. It’s more like a light switch. First, it is dark. Then you throw the switch and it is light. It takes no time.

The problem comes because almost no one wants this absolute, utter simplicity. The mind will say, “This can't be the holy grail. It can’t be this simple.” That’s because there is nothing to get—no experience, no bliss, no ecstasy, nothing special like flashing lights or explosions. But this is where freedom lies. This shows you immediately, in no time, that you are already, essentially, free. This recognition points to liberation. In fact, it already is liberation itself. And when you see this, you can either value what is free, here and now, or you can value the belief that you are the body-mind, which instantly creates claustrophobic limitation and suffering.

This is an effortless means of inquiry. Whenever you notice that you are focused on thought, just stop and recognize that freely aware is who you are. That recognition will free you from the limitation of identifying with the body-mind.

So the question arises, “Is this a practice that has a future goal?” The answer is that this very simple inquiry can show you what’s true, now. It points to the ultimate joke—I am located centrally inside the body (I am this body), not unbounded, timeless aware. You are already liberation itself. However, if you still want more experience, more self-identification, more suffering, then this recognition will seem too ordinary, too simple and too obvious. Nevertheless, this recognition is the essential foundation of liberation. 

If you are truly authentic about wanting freedom, then you will value the recognition more and more and the habit of self-identification—being drawn into the amalgamation of self-identified thoughts, feelings, and sensations as who you are exclusively—will lessen.

I don't say it is a path because it is already true in every moment. As the saying goes, “The path and the goal are one.” So, this should not be used as a tool for some enlightenment in the future, but simply as a recognition of what is true now, that who you are is freedom itself already. This inquiry points to freedom, now.

As Ramana Maharshi said, “Abide as the Self.” You can replace”Self” and say, “Abide as your essential, free nature,” which is simplicity itself, freely aware, here and now. No-thing. Unidentified, yet alive. This is not a path. It is a way to recognize what is always eternally true, now, over and over... See again and again what is true—you are now, and always have been, free.

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