Q & A
If or when you have a question you'd like to see answered in this newsletter mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org Question: Hello-thank you for the book. I have a question that continues to bother me about advaita. How do we know that what we refer to as awareness is not a function of this brain?
Although advaita says that all arises within awareness, isn't it also true that this awareness that I am will disappear at my death?
Please help with any suggestions. It just seems clear to me that without this brain there would be no awareness for this body/mind I refer to as me.
Answer: As to the 'how' of your question I have no real answer. I also don't know how the heart beats, how the cells divide and renew and how the metabolism works. I know we can describe these processes to a certain extent, but that seems to be more about what is happening, rather then how it is happening. How there can exist anything at all, especially consciousness, is (literally) mind blowing.
You mix two things together; that what I point to as 'Pure Awareness' and 'personal awareness.' The term Pure Awareness is, as said throughout the book, a conceptual pointer to the'Livingness' that allows me to do the pointing. What you call 'the awareness that I am' (and that might or might not disappear at the moment of death- see the former news letter about NDE's) is how this Animating Energy expresses via the brain. The primal thought is 'I Am.' This is after you have acquired the words to think this, but before that thought can arise, you are. This 'Primal You' is not the personal character that identifies himself as a body mind organism. It is the energy that 'powers' this whole manifestation.
Compare this Animating Energy to electricity. It expresses as light via a light bulb. The light bulb may consider his wiring as that which supplies the light. When the bulb hears about this undying electricity, it may say, "yes but when this wiring inside me finally gives out, the light disappears and that will be the end of me." If this lamp would see that the light orriginates in the electricity and not in his wiring, he would recognize this as his true nature, That what enlivens him and is not affected by the end of the lamp.
All I can suggest is to find out how real this 'me' is that might die. The certainty that you are not the body has to come and burn away the doubts. Find and recognize the electricity that 'lights up' your wiring. This recognition can not be given to you as it takes the 'you' you think you are away. See if this 'you' that supposedly does the thinking can be found apart from thought itself. See if there really is a you that does the thinking and the living. If it cannot be found, then who is going to die?
As long as you believe yourself to be limmited to the body mind organism, instead of the Animating Energy, you will be like the lamp and you will sell yourself short.
An ancient story for kids of all ages by Alan Watts. There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can't have one of these without the other, because you wouldn't be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side-by-side with white, or white unless side-by-side with black.
In the same way, there are times when the world is and when it isn't, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself, it always comes back after it disappears. It's like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It's also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it's always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn't always hide in the same place.
God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.
Now when God plays hide-and-seek and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that's the whole fun of it- just what he wanted to do. He doesn't want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game had gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self-the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.
Of course, you must remember that God is not shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skin. If there weren't, we wouldn't know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn't any outside to him. [With a sufficiently intelligent child, I illustrate this with a Mobius strip-a ring of paper tape twisted once in such way that it has only one side and one edge] The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as 'he' and not 'she,' God isn't a man or a woman. I didn't say 'it' because we usually say 'it' for things that are not alive.
God is the Self of the world, but you can't see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can't see your own eyes, and you certainly can't bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden, because it is God hiding.
You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember first, that he isn't really doing this to anyone but himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad.
It's the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.
From; THE BOOK (On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are) by Alan Watts.
Vintage Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. New York ISBN 0-679-72300-5 (pbk.)
From the book 'Awakening to the Dream.' In comparing this animating force to electricity and likening body-mind organisms to appliances, we get an interesting analogy. This story also contains a pointer as to what happens when the body dies.
Electricity has always existed as potential energy, but to manifest, electricity needs a medium, be it a thunderstorm or a steam iron. There are countless electric appliances doing different things; from mixing fruit to making phone calls, from navigating space shuttles to playing movies, from setting off explosives to monitoring vital signs in intensive care units around the world. Notwithstanding this wide variety of activities, all these appliances are powered (enlivened, if you will) by the same energy. When a fruit mixer breaks down, nothing happens to the electricity. That which animated the now broken machine is itself unbroken.
The impersonal energy animating the human apparatus also generates the thoughts with which this apparatus thinks of itself as the responsible source of its activity. In other words, this sense of "me" as a person with volition and responsibility is, in fact, an activity of this impersonal animating energy.
The paperback is available at: http://www.awakeningtothedream.com/purchasebook.html
The eBook can be found at: http://www.awakeningtothedream.com/purchase.html
In all ten directions of the universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost? What can be attained?
If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time.
If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.
Look: this ball in my pocket:
can you see how priceless it is?
Ryokan, from "The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry", edited by Stephen Mitchell
at my window.
Thank you for this contribution Mark.
If you enjoy poetry, check out http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Index.html
Smile of the moment!
Quote of the moment!
If you are looking for Liberation,
There is some bad news and some good news.
The bad news is that the person you think you are
will never find Liberation.
The good news is that what You really are
is already awakened.
Jan Kersschot in his new book "This Is It".
Visit him at: http://www.kersschot.com
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