What is the nature of my mind,
prior to the arising of a thought, sensation, or perception?
Don’t work this out rationally.
We are experiencing the continual arising and disappearing of thoughts, sensations and perceptions.
What is the nature of the medium, or field,
in which your thoughts, sensations and perceptions
are arising, existing; and vanishing…
In order for an e-mail to appear –relatively speaking– there must be some medium present, prior to the e-mail, upon which it can appear.
In order for a cloud to appear, there must be some medium, or field present, in which the cloud can form.
In order for a thought, or an image, or a feeling, a sensation or a perception to appear, there must be some medium, or field present, in which that object of experience can arise; exist, and vanish.
What is that?
Don’t answer this question with a word.
Just become aware of the medium or the field,
within which, your experience arises.
What is its nature?
Notice that we cannot find this field or medium as an object of experience.
Any object of experience could be something that arises within this field.
Whatever the medium or field,
within which our thoughts, sensations and perceptions arise,
it must be inherently empty
of thoughts, sensations and perceptions.
Just like the screen of our laptop is inherently empty of e-mails, images and videos. If the screen were not empty, there would be no room on it, for an e-mail or an image.
If the sky were not empty, there would be no room within it for the clouds.
If the medium within which our experience arises, were not itself empty of all objective experience, there would be no room for experience within it.
It is on account of the emptiness of this field –emptiness of objective content, that is– that the fullness of experience can arise within it.
Notice that all possible thoughts, images, feelings, sensations and perceptions are able to arise in this field.
Not just particular types of thought, or feeling, but all possible thoughts, feelings, sensations etc.
In other words, this medium or field is wide open, without preference, or discrimination, or resistance.
It is, as such, like empty space that does not have the ability to resist whatever appears within it. However good or bad, or pleasant or unpleasant, that appearance may seem to be.
Notice that this open, empty field or medium within which all experience arises is not an inert field;
it is a knowing field, or an aware field.
Whatever arises within it,
is simultaneously known by it.
Understand and feel that
you are this open, empty, aware field,
and into which,
To refer to a medium, or a field, or a space, in which our experience arises, is not quite right. It is a concession to the mind that wants to explore its experience.
Imagine a character in a dream who wants to explore the nature of the knowing, with which she knows her experience. The knowing with which the dreamed character knows the dreamed world, is of course the dreamer’s mind. And the dreamer’s mind doesn’t appear anywhere in the dreamed character’s world. It cannot be found anywhere in the time and space that the dreamed character seems to experience.
In other words, the dream takes up no time or space in the dreamer’s mind.
Likewise, the presence, the space-like presence, in which our experience arises –that is, our experience of time and space, and all the events and objects that appear within it– does not itself appear in time or space; it has no dimensions.
But as a concession to the mind that wants to think about the reality of its experience, we permit ourselves to visualize the medium within which all experience arises, as a kind of field, or space.
So, allow yourself to understand,
but more importantly, feel yourself
as the open,
or space-like presence,
within which all your experience arises.
See that your thoughts flow through this space,
like birds flying through the sky.
And just as the flight of a bird leaves no trace on the sky,
see that no thought leaves a trace in the space of awareness.
In other words, a thought doesn’t scar awareness; it doesn’t leave a trace of itself. However pleasant or unpleasant, however kind or unkind, however true or false the thought may be, makes no difference. It appears, it flows through the space of awareness, it vanishes. Leaving awareness in its original, pristine, open, empty, luminous, or knowing condition.
Remember, I’m not speaking of some abstract, metaphysical awareness.
I’m speaking of ourself. The very ordinary, familiar, intimate awareness that each of us, is.
If some thoughts stained or scarred awareness, we would have to get busy disciplining, or getting rid of, those particular types of thought. We would have to have an agenda with them. But no thought, irrespective of its content, stains or scars the open, empty, luminous field in which it appears, exists, and into which it vanishes. So there is no need to have any agenda whatsoever with the content of your thoughts.
The sky has no opinion about the quality of the birds that fly through it, or the number of the birds. One of the birds may take issue with the other birds. But the sky itself never takes issue with any of the birds.
Likewise, one of our thoughts may take issue with the quality or number of our thoughts. But awareness itself, never takes issue with anything. That is why it is always at peace. A peace that is not dependent upon the quality or the number of thoughts we have. But a peace that is prior to, and independent of, the existence and the quality and the quantity of thoughts.
Ask yourself the question:
Can I find an edge, or a limit, to the field of awareness,
within which my experience appears?
Remember: awareness is the only one that is aware.
So we are asking awareness:
Can you, awareness,
can I, awareness,
ever find a limit to myself?
Awareness is the only one that is aware, so awareness is the only one that knows anything about awareness. What is awareness, is experience of itself.
If we ask thought: “What do you think about awareness?”, we all know what thought will say. Thought has been trained by our culture to believe that awareness resides in, and is limited to, the body.
But what is awareness, is experience of itself.
to find an edge
to the field of awareness
in which your experience arises.
Imagine empty space, empty physical space,
and then imagine adding the quality of being aware to empty space,
so empty space, empty physical space, is no longer an inert space;
it is an aware space.
Just imagine adding the quality of knowing, or being aware, to empty space.
And now we ask this aware, empty space:
Can you ever find the edge of yourself?
What would empty space say?
Empty space would explore its experience of itself, and if it could speak, it would say:
I find no edge, or limit, or border to myself. In my own experience of myself, I am without limits.
This is what it means in the tradition when it says that awareness is vast; vaster than anything that appears in experience, because all experience appears within it.
Awareness is not really vast.
Something that is vast, is something that is extended indefinitely in all directions of space.
The only reason it is said that awareness is vast, is as an antidote to the belief that awareness is tiny, or small, that is housed in the body.
In relation to the belief that awareness is tiny, that is located in the body, it is legitimate as a first step to consider it to be vast. But in fact awareness is neither tiny nor vast. It has no dimensions.
So having added the quality of being aware, or knowing,
to empty physical space,
so that we now have this aware empty physical space,
now remove this physical space.
That’s what awareness is.
Don’t try to think about that.
It’s not possible to think about something with no dimensions.
It’s not possible to visualize something with no dimensions.
So keep this understanding in the back of your mind,
and permit yourself again to visualize and feel
your self-awareness as a vast, open, empty, luminous space.
Within which all experience arises.
But which itself has no edge or border, or limit.
Be, knowingly, this openness without limits.
If our thoughts could be likened to birds that fly through the sky of awareness,
then our feelings could be likened to clouds that float in the space of awareness.
They are larger than the birds, less clearly defined, and they tend to hang around longer than the birds; they move more slowly.
If we are in love, then these clouds will be light and white and wispy;
if we are depressed, they will be dark and grey and ominous.
But in both cases, in all cases,
our feelings are like clouds that arise within this open, empty, luminous field.
They are suspended in this field. They flow slowly through this field, and vanish into it.
And just as no cloud leaves a trace on the sky, no feeling, however dark or difficult it may be, stains the space of awareness, in which it appears.
If the sky of awareness were harmed in some way, or stained in some way, by certain feelings, then we would have to have an agenda with those feelings; we would have to prevent them, transform them, dissolve them, etc.
But just as no cloud leaves a trace on the sky, so no feeling leaves a trace in awareness. Awareness is always in the same open, empty; pristine; luminous condition.
Remember, I’m not speaking about some
abstract, philosophical, metaphysical awareness.
I’m speaking about ourself.
Not the self that we might become,
if we meditate long enough or practice hard enough,
but the self that we are now.
The self that we have always been.
The self that is intimately one with all experience,
but is never harmed or stained by it.
See clearly that no experience that arises
in this open, empty, luminous field
adds anything to it.
And when the experience vanishes,
it removes nothing from the field.
In other words,
the open, empty, luminous space of awareness,
is never aggrandized or diminished by experience.
And thus it has no vested interest in experience.
No need to reject what is present.
No need to seek what is not present.
Be sensitive to any feelings of irritation, restlessness or boredom.
If we are irritated or restless, we are resisting what is present.
And if we are bored, we are seeking what is not present.
Who is the one that is irritated, restless or bored?
It is not I-awareness.
I-awareness knows nothing of such feelings.
What other self is there, apart from I-awareness?
Can you find another self in yourself?
Keep your attention to whatever sounds are present.
Ask yourself the question:
Are these sounds appearing in the same medium or field, within which my thoughts and feelings are appearing, or do they appear in a different field?
Go back and forth with your attention from a thought to a sound.
Is your attention always travelling in the same field?
Or as it moves from the thought to the sound,
does it leave one field and enter another?
Does our attention have to leave the field
in which our thoughts and feelings arise,
in order to encounter a sound?
Or is our attention always
travelling through the same medium,
the same open, empty, aware medium?
See, in this way, that
our thoughts, feelings and sounds
all arise and exist in the same field.
Now, ask yourself the question:
How much distance, if any,
is there between the field
in which my experience arises,
and any particular experience?
How much distance is there
between any experience
and the knowing of it?
Is the faint sound of the aeroplane
further away from the knowing of it
than our current thoughts or feelings?
And when the sound vanishes,
does it leave the field of awareness,
or does it merge into it?
And when a sound arises again,
is it initiated outside the field of awareness,
and then enter the field, like an actor appearing on stage,
or does it emerge from within the field of awareness?
Allow your eyes to open.
A new perception arises.
Does this perception arise
within the field of awareness,
or outside the field of awareness?
Don’t think about this.
Just refer to your simple, direct experience.
Go back and forth with you attention
from the current thought
to the sight of this room.
Is your attention always travelling through the same field?
Or when it leaves the thought and travels towards the sight,
does it leave one field called “The mind”
and enter another field called “The world”?
Or is our attention always travelling in the same, seamless, indivisible field?
What we think about has limitations.
What we feel has limitations.
What we hear has limitations.
What we see has limitations.
But what about the field in which all these arise?
Does that have any limitations?
In other words, do you have any limitations?
Do you start out as a limited self,
and have to work hard on yourself,
expanding yourself and disciplining yourself,
in order to finally become unlimited, one day?
Or are you always, already, innately unlimited?
Allow your eyes to close again…
Allow the experience of the body to come to your attention…
Not the memory of the body, not the idea of the body, not an image of the body;
but your current raw experience of the body.
If our eyes are closed
(and I recommend we keep our eyes closed to begin with),
and we do not refer to memories, ideas or images,
our only experience of the body is the current sensation or flow of sensations.
In fact, without reference to memory,
we cannot even be sure that the current sensation or flow of sensations
is a sensation of a body.
It’s just a sensation.
So experience the current sensation
as if it were the first experience you had ever had.
Be like a newborn infant.
You have no memory to refer to,
and no means of conceptualizing your experience.
There is just your raw experience, raw sensation,
but this is not a sensation of something;
it’s just a sensation.
A continuously vibrating or pulsating sensation.
Ask yourself the question:
Does this pulsating sensation appear within the field of awareness, or outside of it?
Is it my experience, that the sensation appears in the field of awareness, or is it my experience that awareness appears in the sensation?
Travel around inside the sensation,
seeing if you can find a location for awareness,
a place at which the knowing of your experience takes place.
Are you located inside the sensation,
or is the sensation located inside you?
Are you a point of knowing, or awareness,
located inside this sensation?
Or is the sensation a pulsating vibration hovering
in the immensity of your openness; your emptiness.
What is your actual experience?
Ask yourself the question:
Does this sensation have a clearly defined border?
Don’t refer to an image of the body.
Just refer to your current, direct, intimate experience;
just the current sensation or flow of sensations.
Does this pulsating sensation have a clearly defined outline?
The purpose of these questions is not to come up with a rational answer for each question, but rather to take us with each question more and more deeply into the experience itself; tasting what is actually there. So don’t allow your mind to answer any of these questions with a word. Just ask the question, and allow the question to take you one step deeper into your experience. We are not trying to change our experience. We are trying to touch or taste the reality of our experience. Having touched or tasted the reality of our experience, we can decide for ourselves whether we think it needs changing or not.
Does the current sensation have an age?
Can you say, from your experience, the current sensation is old, or young, or …?
Without referring to thought or memory, is the current sensation either sick or healthy?
Unless you are in intense pain, is the current sensation either pleasant or unpleasant, if we don’t refer to thought or memory?
Ask yourself the question:
If I don’t refer to thought or memory, do I have any experience or suffering?
Notice that we are not trying to change or manipulate our experience in any way whatsoever. We are simply contemplating it. In a disinterested way. And in our disinterested contemplation, our experience is liberating itself from superimposed beliefs and feelings. Allowing its reality to shine as it is.
Can you find a self in the body?
See that the experience of the body is pervaded by the empty, open, luminous field of awareness, within which it appears, and with which it is known.
But that field is not limited to or by the body. It pervades the entirety of our experience, including the world.
So if we feel “my body”, we should really feel “my world”. Our experience of the world is no less pervaded by ourself, than is our experience of the body.
The appearance of a sensation in the open, empty, luminous space of awareness, doesn’t divide or compartmentalize awareness any more than a cloud divides or compartmentalizes the sky.
The body is a ripple of pulsating vibration appearing in the immensity of our openness.
Ask yourself the question,
without reference to thought or memory:
Does the current sensation weigh anything?
How much does a sensation weigh?
Certain areas of the sensation may have a certain intensity to it.
But without reference to thought or memory, this intensity is not evidence of weight.
How much does a thought weigh, or a sound weigh?
Sensations are made out of the same stuff that our thoughts and perceptions are made out of. They are made out of mind-stuff.
See that there are thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, perceptions…
All floating weightlessly in the immensity of your openness.
But can you find a self anywhere?
And if there is no limited, located self present in our experience, on whose behalf does our suffering arise?
Let’s remain silent till we’re in the dining room.
Thank you. 🙏
Rupert Spira transcribed by Leon Hieros