I never had a dramatic spiritual awakening experience, like the ones where people see images, bright lights, God and Goddess visions, supernatural entities visitations, and so on. I did have a few moments of wonder, followed by the thought, “What just happened?”
There was no permanent state. When I talk of peace or bliss or ecstasy, a majority of people think that that’s a permanent state for me. It is not so. You see, the notion of “me,” or the sense of individual existence as a separate name and form, itself is a flux.
If you notice yourself, sometimes you feel happy, sometimes sad, sometimes you want this, sometimes that. Sometimes you feel anxious, sometimes calm. Good day. Bad day. And the change goes on. There is never one state that remains fixed.
However, when we conceptually think of “me,” it seems like a solid reality. Like a seamless experience. It feels like, “I am here.” But where is here? Here exists only in relation to there, and vice-versa. Can you pinpoint a location in your body where you think “me” exists?
What is this “me?” Me is the identified aspect of consciousness that comes up only when there is an object. The object can either be a physical object, or a subtle object like a thought, feeling, sensation, or emotion. The “me” cannot have an existence independent of the object of experience.
The nature of phenomenality is such that the experience of change happens rapidly, which gives an illusion of continuity of “me.” If you are aware, you’ll note that there is a gap between two thoughts. It is minute, so we generally disregard it, but it is there. There is no “me” in that gap.
The problem is that most of us remain so fixated on thoughts that we don’t pay attention to the gap. And with spiritual awakening, this gap starts to become wider. Not in terms of time. That gap is the impersonal aspect of consciousness or what non-dual teachers refer to as “I AM.”
Now, the greatest misconception is that the gap “happens” between thoughts. But it is not so. The gap is and was always there. The clouds of thinking are superimposed on the gap, and identification with the thinking creates the illusion of “me,” which is nothing but a limited superimposition on the infinite and boundless awareness.
Let me clarify what I mean by thinking. Thinking is the movement of the mind either in the dead past or an imaginary future. All elements of thinking are composed of memory impressions. We live most of our life ruminating over the dead past or living in a fantasy.
The thinking mind takes away attention from the present or now, which is completely free from any thinking. It is a glimpse into the wholeness or completeness that the ego-mind wishes to attain. The irony is that it is unaware that what it seeks is right here and now.
The ego-mind creates a future fantasy of attaining self-realization through personal effort, not knowing that what it seeks is its own absence. “Being” is the moment or here and now is the absence of the ego. It is stilling of the ego-mind.
Till the mind craves awakening through movement, awakening does not happen. The “me” constantly reinforces the thought of “doing” something to achieve enlightenment or awakening or liberation, whatever you may want to call it.
However, let me make one clarification here. All thinking is not of the ego. The thinking that we carry out for work or creativity is not the problem. It is called the working mind. The working mind is an engaged mind that remains focussed in work, whatever it may be.
The working mind is purely dedicated to finding a solution to the immediate problem. For a painter, it may be the appropriate scenery. For a filmmaker, it may be lightning and other preproduction issues. For a writer, it may be planning the chapter outlines or characters of the fiction fantasy. You get the idea.
The thinking mind is concerned with what people will think of “me.” It worries more about the outcome and creates hindrances for the working mind. Nobody cares about my work. I am not good enough. There are so many others who are better than me. It lives in comparison under the shadow of fear and insecurity.
When the attention is rooted in here and now, the thinking “me-mind” cannot arise in awareness. What remains is the awareness of “being” or presence. Being is here and now. It is home. It is peace. It is the bliss of wholeness. It is not something that the ego-mind can think of.
The “me” wants to experience the here and now by stopping the mind, but that is impossible because “me” itself is a movement in the mind.
All this is okay, but what do I do to be here and now? Doing implies movement, which is impossible without the involvement of me. To be here and now, just BE.
The “here” is not in reference to “there,” and now does not imply time. Now is the boundless awareness where everything manifests as space and time, and where “me” is just one object amongst many.