Bill Harris, Director
My friend Ken Wilber likes to say, "Awareness, in and of itself, is transformative." What does this mean, though? And what is awareness?
I have found that most people don't really know what spiritual teachers mean by "awareness", and this term is thrown around without any clear definition. Awareness is more than just "knowing" something. You might, for instance, know that from time to time you have certain dysfunctional emotional reactions that keep you from being happy, peaceful, and successful in the way you would like. This knowledge, however, does not keep you from repeating these emotional reactions.
Biting into the strawberry of awareness...
In fact, most people involved in personal and spiritual growth have read so many books, been to so many seminars, and have had so many hours of therapy that they could write a Masters thesis about their "stuff." However (as you probably know) this knowledge rarely creates positive change, which many people find to be very frustrating. Since this type of cognitive knowing is not transformative, it can't be the awareness spiritual teachers talk about. In fact, you will not recognize the type of spiritual awareness I'm talking about until you have it, just as you couldn't know how a strawberry tastes until you actually bite into one.
The awareness spiritual teachers talk about involves seeing how everything goes together to create you, what happens to you, how you behave, what you feel inside, everything else that is going on around you, and how you affect the rest of the universe. It involves seeing all the interrelationships that make up the universe and how they interact in an infinitely complex matrix of cause and effect. When you can see all of this with awareness, you see the consequences of each possible action you might take, and in this way you'll know just what to do in each moment to create what you want. You become like a chess master who looks fifteen moves ahead, except you're playing multi-dimensional chess.
The 4 stages of awareness
I have noticed some very interesting things about the development of conscious awareness, including the realization that awareness comes in several distinct stages. I'm going to describe the process by dividing it into four stages.
In the first stage, a person creates their reality entirely unconsciously. They do so by internally processing what comes in through their senses in a way that creates how they feel (plus other internal states, such as motivation), how they behave, and who and what they attract into their life. Because in stage one this processing system--what I call the Internal Map of Reality--operates unconsciously, outside a person's conscious awareness, such a person is aware of what stimulates them (what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch) and they are aware of the end result (what they ultimately feel inside and what people and situations "happen" to them).
It isn't "out there"
This inability to see anything other than the initial stimuli and the end result (but not the intervening internal processing) gives the illusion that the stimuli "out there" create their internal states and feelings and the various happening of life. When seen this way, it seems as if life just "happens". One seems to have some influence over what happens, but it is limited. Often, such people experience feelings and situations that they do not prefer. In no way do they suspect that they are creating their experience of life through what they do inside. Why would they? What they do inside is invisible to them.
"Most people are running on autopilot..."
Such people are little more than automatic response mechanisms. Their Internal Map of Reality is running on autopilot. If such a person had kind and loving parents who nurtured them, provided positive mentoring, and instilled resourceful beliefs, values, and ways of dealing with life, they may have an Internal Map of Reality that allows them to create a lot of what they want.
If, however, they had neglectful or even abusive parents who offered little in the way of support and mentoring, and who caused them to experience a lot of fear about life, their Internal Map of Reality may create a lot of unpleasant and unwanted experiences, both internally and externally. Of course, this is a spectrum. I have described the two extremes, and there is a lot of room in the middle.
Though the results of these two extremes are quite different, these people have one thing in common: their Internal Map of Reality is running on autopilot. Such people are unaware of the creative part of themselves, and as a result they are not directing their Internal Map of Reality.
Some people, however, begin to wake up. Someone teaches them that they are creating their reality, or they discover it on their own. They discover that what they do with what comes in through their senses powerfully creates every feeling, every internal state, and every behavior, as well as who and what they attract and are attracted to. They learn how their beliefs become reality. They learn that their mind is a powerful goal-seeking mechanism that creates or attracts whatever it is focused on. They learn that everyone has the ability to create whatever they focus on, but that they have been doing all their focusing unconsciously and unintentionally.
Those who are waking up in terms of their awareness also learn that they cannot focus on something unless they value it. They also learn that if they value something in order to avoid what they do not want (for instance, if they value relationships because they don't want to be alone, or value wealth because they don't want to be poor) they are actually focusing on what they do not want. And, because the mind creates whatever is focused on, the person who focuses on what they do not want ends up getting it.
Furthermore a person becoming more aware learns that the mind filters out most of what comes in through the senses. They learn that what is filtered out determines what is left to focus on, providing the raw material for what you create in reality. If you filter out the possibilities, for instance, it seems as if there are none. If you filter out all the kind people, you don't see any. And so on. How a person filters what comes in through their senses has a huge effect on their life.
Above all, they learn that inside their head a very elegant creative process is going on, moment by moment, and that with some work and practice it is possible to consciously and intentionally direct this process. There is, however, one important prerequisite: you must develop the awareness to observe this Internal Map of Reality at work. At Centerpointe, we use two tools to help you develop this awareness. The first is Holosync. Holosync, by creating super-deep meditation, rapidly develops increased conscious awareness. As this awareness grows, you begin to see your own internal processes and how they create your experience of life. As you see this, it becomes more and more difficult to create outcomes you don't want.
The power to create anything you want
With several years of work you can master your Internal Map of Reality. With this mastery comes the ability to be in charge of your emotions and your other internal states, your behavior, and who and what you attract into your life. Yes, there is some room for random acts and events, but you find that your Internal Map of Reality, once mastered, is so powerful that random events generally have but a small affect.
This ability to see and direct your internal processes, and therefore to create your life as you want it is really the same ability developed by yogis. These abilities are referred to as siddhis, or powers, in mystical literature. You develop what others see as a tremendous power to manifest what you want, both internally and externally. You are harnessing the creative power of the mind, a power that was always there and already operating in every person. The only difference is that now you are operating this power consciously and intentionally instead of allowing it to run on automatic.
To some, these powers are the supreme attainment. However, this is only the second of four stages. Some people, when they master the ability to create what they want, have the realization that if I can create reality this way or that way or any way I want, then it couldn't be THE reality. If reality is that relative, that bendable, could it really be THE reality?
Behind the curtain
This realization gives you a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. It begins to dawn on you that there is a more fundamental background reality out of which all mind-creative realities spring. This background reality is a bit like the blank page that underlies the printed words you read. It has no content, but without it there could be no written message. Or, you could say, it is like the empty space necessary for the existence of solid objects. It is the nothingness out of which somethingness arises.
The Buddhists call this nothingness, this background, the Void. Some people call it God, or the Undifferntiated Aesthetic Continuum, or the Ground of Being. Whatever you call it, it is the reality underlying all the conceptual realities created by the mind.
In fact, mystics have known for years that this background, this Void, is the source of everything. In fact, it IS everything. And, what's more, it is who you really are. You may create a conceptualization of who you are, an mental identity, a persona, an ego, a Map of Reality, but who you really are is this nothingness that underlies and connects everything else. And, in fact, according to the mystics, this nothingness is aware of itself, it is conscious. And, being conscious of itself being everything, everywhere, forever, it is happy. It has nowhere to go, nothing to fear, and nothing to get. As a result, it is happy, peaceful, content, blissful.
The BIG question
When a mystic points out that you are this one infinite energy of all and everything, you may be moved to remind them that you certainly aren't experiencing it that way. Why, you ask, do I feel so bad so often if I am this blissful and conscious energy out of which everything arises?
The answer is actually very simple. When you create a reality with your mind (as all humans do), you obscure this background reality, just as you miss the page when your attention is on the writing. But quiet the mind, and remove your attention from the "reality" it creates, and this more fundamental background reality--the "real" reality--appears. The Hindus use to analogy of a mirror to explain this. The mirror, when covered with dust, cannot reflect who you are. But when the dust (the creations of the mind) is wiped away, the reflection comes of itself.
The first stage of awakening to who you really are, then, is one in which your mind unconsciously and unintentionally creates your life, depending on how your Internal Map of Reality was constructed. The second stage is mastery of this mental creative process, which allows you to intentionally create your life in any way you want. The third stage is the realization of the Supreme Reality beyond the mind, the source of all Love and Peace and Bliss.
The shift from stage one to stage two, and then to stage three, requires increased conscious awareness. Some of this awareness comes from meditation, hopefully with Holosync, which dramatically accelerates the process. And, some of it comes from your desire to look inside to watch carefully and discover how you create your reality, to watch with curiosity to see how the mind creates the illusion of the separate self.
This direct perception of reality without the filter of the mind is variously called self realization, enlightenment, satori, moksha, nirvana, Christ Consciousness, and by many other names. To some, this is the supreme attainment. But there is one more stage.
Stepping out of the world of the mind
In the third stage, you have stepped out of the world of the mind. To see the reality behind that created by the mind, you have to take your attention off the things of the mind: the desires, the aversions, your various roles and identities, and the ways the mind splits reality into different bits, categories, events, and things. You discover that theses distinctions happen only in the mind, but never in reality.
All such distinctions (handy as they might be) are arbitrary and conceptual. Just as the number 3 cannot do anything, just as the border between Oregon and California is nothing but an imaginary line, just as you cannot hand me a basket of "up", concepts cannot do anything. They are real only to the mind. When you leave them behind, when you take your attention away from them, then and only then will you see the underlying oneness of everything.
However, as long as desires, aversions, and the idea separate things and events (including the idea of a separate you) attract the mind, you will stay in the world created by the mind. Once you remove your attention from such things, the underlying reality beyond all such things is revealed.
As I said, there is a stage beyond this. In this fourth stage, you go back into the world of the mind. This time, however, you do it knowing full well that what the mind creates is an illusion, in much the same way you know that a movie or a play is an illusion. Because illusions can be fun, you step back into the game, but this time you know it's just a game. For that reason you can enjoy your part, regardless of what it is.
It's okay to play Hamlet, but you don't have to be Hamlet
If you are playing Hamlet, but you don't know it's just a play, it really is a tragedy, because everyone dies in the end. But if you know you're just playing Hamlet, you can have lots of fun no matter how the plot unfolds. When the play ends, you will stop being Hamlet and go back to who you really are, the actor. In the same way, in stage four you can play your part, no matter what it is, because you know that behind it all you are that one energy of everything, that background void, and that ultimately you are beyond all beginnings and beyond all endings.
In Buddhist teaching, this is the stage of the Bodhisatva, the being who, instead of dissolving back into the Void when he or she attains enlightenment, stays to help other beings wake up to who they really are. The Bodhisatva plays the cosmic game of the mind because he or she knows that it really is just a game, and because he or she looks on all those still caught in the game with compassion, nudging them in various ways to wake up to who they really are.
Is there a reason for all of this? Some say there isn't, and perhaps there doesn't need to be a reason. Reasons, after all, are part of the world of the mind. A very famous enlightened teacher, Swami Muktananda, once said: "Life is a meaningless energy going nowhere, for no reason." This doesn't mean life isn't significant, but rather that no reason is necessary. Life happens for the fun of it. It dances along, going wherever it goes. When you dance, there is no goal other than the dancing itself. No reason is necessary. I invite you to increase your awareness of who you really are, and to join in the dance.
Bill Harris, Director
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