SELF KNOWLEDGE

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When all falsehood falls away, what remains is truth. What we can then say about that truth may take lifetimes to articulate, but there is, here it is, ringing loud and clear as reality itself.

A big part of the truth is discovering that we are the very heart of experiencing, that we are knowingness itself. We are awake, aware sentience. This is such a fundamentally world-shattering discovery, even while it’s also the simple recognition of what we are and have always been. So it’s a “wow!” but also it’s, “of course, I always knew this”.

What I find difficult is that this ‘state’, which isn’t even a state but our common experiential ground, is not understood at all by mainstream culture. It’s either seen as something exotic or impossibly rare, or it’s dismissed as nothing at all, mere imagination or even delusionary.

The real trouble is it’s what’s considered ‘normal’ in regard to human self-knowledge that’s delusional. Our conditioned understanding of ourselves is based on demonstrably false premises and assumptions. ‘Spiritual’ tools such as meditation and self-inquiry progressively identify and dissolve experientially false beliefs about the nature of what is, unwinding and discarding the conditioned ideas which act as a veil to the apprehension of our true nature.

So who are we in this all this, what are we, what is this true nature? Well, we’re that which knows, the one that apprehends, the witness, essentially. Now it’s here we run the risk of allowing the ‘duality of subject and object’ to sneak in the back door, by imagining that once we’ve discovered ourselves as the formless witness, that the content is ‘something else’, something ‘other’. But if we ask a simple question we can see better the nature of what’s going on.

The question is: when we consider the nature of mind in our own experience, is the mental content OTHER than the mind? In other words, does the mind CONTAIN content, or is the content MADE of mind, an intrinsic aspect of what mind is?

So we find that ‘knowing’ and ‘known’ are just nominal, notional aspects of an indivisible wholeness.

I know this can seem abstract, but the problem is we suffer our false conceptions about reality. It’s the chasm between reality and our conditioned views is where our discontent and misery thrives.

Our conditioned views are what we’ve been told and accepted as true. Whereas our living reality is what we’ve discovered to be true in our own experience.

As so what is truth, reality? It’s that which can withstand all critical and experiential scrutiny, that which is irreducibly self-evident. It’s the liberating insight into the nature of mind.

Now when we say ‘mind’ we usually just go to that little cave inside our head and think that’s it. We have this limited body-centric notion and it’s completely wrong and utterly limited — ironically(?) — by its own conceptions of itself. The whole point of spiritual practice is to learn to look without preconceptions at the nature of self, mind, reality, experience, and recognise what it is instead of what we — often erroneously — believe it to be.

So when we really look into the nature of mind we find that it’s not contained in a body, we find that it’s boundless, open, non-local, formless, and that the ‘body’ is just an amalgam of sensations, memories, thoughts, that appear in mind, or awareness.

According to the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, when we apprehend this, then ‘small mind’ or personal mind, becomes ‘big mind’ or awareness itself. When the mind’s limited conceptions about itself are seen through and its — our — boundless nature is revealed as having been already always present and true.

This is awakening, nothing added, nothing attained, no bells or whistles, simply the unreal ideas of reality seen for what they are, and the reality of our already-existent boundless nature recognised as our living truth.

— Martyn

 

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