Our Real Nature
© Copyright 1990 by Timothy Conway, Ph.D.
(This “1-page Truth statement” has been freely shared with students in classes and satsangs from 1990 onward in Santa Barbara and elsewhere. For the sake of even greater clarity, over the years several extra words or phrases have been added to the original text. An early version of this statement was recently found dating to January 1982, shared among friends in San Francisco; it is reproduced at the bottom of this page below the photo.)
There is only AWARENESS.
Sages have called this by many names—God, Pure Spirit, I AM THAT AM, Absolute Reality, the Nondual Self, Brahman/Atman, Being-Awareness-Bliss, Tao, Unborn Buddha-nature, Dharmakaya, Zen Mind, Clear Light, the One, and so on.
Awareness, while being entirely open, transcendent, formless, changeless, timeless, spaceless, and world-less, is also THIS which is right now looking, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, thinking, intuiting. Awareness has also manifested ItSelf as all these sensible/perceptible objects—namely, the various sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes, thoughts, memories, emotions, psychic impulses and other momentary arising-vanishing formations or phenomena.
Awareness is thus WHO YOU REALLY ARE and EVERYTHING EXPERIENCED, that is to say, Awareness is WHAT EVERYTHING ESSENTIALLY IS. The phenomenal universe of minds and bodies (99.9999999999% empty space at the subatomic level, according to physics) is the marvelous, mysterious “dream-play” of Divine Awareness. In other words, all worlds of form (on physical and subtle levels) are the expression of formless Awareness. All changing “things” are manifestations of the unchanging NO-THING (the transcendent Awareness-Spirit-God-Self) that YOU ARE.
You cannot know, perceive, find or grasp Awareness as an object of experience, since Awareness is fundamentally not an object. Rather, Awareness is the eternal Subject (one might even say: Awareness is THIS which subsumes and transcends the subject-object split). Therefore, YOU can only BE Awareness, abide as THIS Awareness, remain as THIS, flourish as THIS, shine as THIS, and freely function from THIS Awareness. You cannot touch or look at formless Awareness, just as a fingertip cannot touch itself or the eye cannot directly see itself. In short, though Awareness is not knowable or perceivable as an object, Awareness is quite live-able and be-able, because YOU ARE THIS AWARENESS.
Everyone is always actually coming from or functioning from pure Awareness. But not everyone is conscious of This. A kind of Divine sport, mischief or play (Sanskrit: lila) is rampant, wherein beings (who are, after all, the God-Self in disguise) appear to have forgotten their real nature. They masquerade in various forms of egotism, not living in/as Divine Love. They appear to be caught in various states of greed, aversion, shame, anger, frustration, fear, euphoria, boredom, confusion, despair, and so on.
How, then, does it “feel” to be awake to one’s real identity as Divine Awareness? Direct experience along with the testimony of sages reveals that Divine Awareness is most authentically and gloriously being lived when the following enlightenment factors are present:
• A sense of utter freedom and simplicity, akin to “zero-gravity.” Behavior is spontaneous, free-flowing, unstuck, unfixated. One is simply available and motivated only to love and serve all beings as OneSelf.
• No more being trapped in narrow, exclusive identifications with a petty “me” (“my” needs, roles, opinions, abilities, emotions, possessions, etc.).
• No more felt-sense of separation between a “me over here” and a “you/it/them out there.” Rather, there is the nondual intuition of profound oneness with all beings as their very Heart. One “loves thy neighbor as thySelf,” and his or her true Self is right HERE, zero-distance from “my” true Self. There is just this Omnipresent Open Divine Reality, the Self in Whom all beings live, move and have their being.
• No manipulative pulling or pushing of experience with heavy, binding likes-dislikes, attachments-aversions, greed, lust, anger, fear, disgust, hate, and so on. (Various emotions may arise from time to time, but are immediately or fairly quickly recognized and “seen off” as not being one’s real nature but merely passing Divine dream-expressions, and so are dissolved in Clear-Light Awareness.)
• Whatever happens in the manifest world of forms (the phenomenal field of unmanifest Awareness) is not resisted or denigrated, but loved and appreciated as the poignant, playful expression of Spirit. And, most paradoxically, there is a strong but spontaneous Divine motivation within this non-resistance and sense of inherent perfection to remedy injustices, right wrongs, heal traumas, and help improve conditions for all sentient beings and the commonweal. The Self of all selves is in profound nondual empathy with all selves, who are the poignant personal play of THIS Supra-personal One Awareness-Isness-Aliveness.
• One is quite content to just be, not driven by any restlessness or a sense of dilemma into the busy-ness of egocentric “having and doing.” One is deeply relaxed, living out of the peace of “deep sleep wakefulness” (as sages paradoxically call it), even in the midst of helpful actions.
• Genuine happiness prevails, not restless giddiness: a simple bliss, not dependent on circumstances or people for fulfillment. The essence here is being clear, not “getting high” through agitated euphoria or rushes of adrenaline.
• Though fallible aspects of the personality may still infrequently arise, their healing transformation happens lightly within an overall Taoist sense of “perfection perfecting itself perfectly.”
• One is in Love, radiant as Love, always dying into and reborn as Love in each timeless moment.... Love for and as the Self of all selves.
If there is somehow the feeling that “you” aren’t authentically living from True Nature, the Real Identity or Spiritual Awareness, there is nothing “you” as an ego-sense can really “do.” Spiritual realization occurs spontaneously via the Grace of Awareness, not as the result of causative ego-efforts.
Yet being in the presence of true sages is a big help. Enlightenment communicates itself—not as a dualistic "transmission" but as a profound type of "resonance" within the Self-same Self.
Sages have also given some classic counsel on ways for the ego-sense to subside, for the personal consciousness to open up to the clarity and emptiness-fullness of Supra-personal Consciousness. That is to say, for the spontaneous full awakening to THIS REALITY which is “always already the case”:
Just BE—and no need to get restless or make a big deal out of just being. Just deeply relax and let go of all sense of being a thing-like “me.” Let selfish self dissolve (“die”) into Being. Detach and abide as the undisturbed Witness from all sensations, thoughts, memories, emotions, self-images, and whatever else may be fixating you. (Whenever formations arise in consciousness, there is just watching and letting go of them, moment by moment...) Empty out. Dwell as no-body, no-mind, no-thing. Remain as the pure Absence which manifests “the Presence” of consciousness, energy, experience, relationship, totality. Be quite simple and uncomplicated, without struggle or striving or posturing. Come from natural depth, not the surface mind, though in fact YOU, the real YOU, are the totality of surface and depth, inside and outside, everything and No-thing.
Remember that there is no need to become pure Awareness—YOU already are THIS in your original truth. Let body-mind function spontaneously, freely and lovingly according to the Divine Will, and simply stay or abide as what YOU always fun-damentally are: the vast, spacious, seamless, unlimited, radiant expanse of Clear Light-Awareness. Know that, amidst all the changing aspects of your world, YOU are the Changeless One that has been and will be unchangingly HERE throughout “your” lifetimes. Underlying all perceptible forms and persons, YOU are the formless Awareness that is miraculously “dreaming” these forms and persons. This Awareness is complete and unimprovable—the pristine openness/emptiness/fullness of Divinity.
Moreover, this Divine Self of Absolute Awareness, YOUR real identity, is not “in the world.” No, the world is in YOU, it floats in Awareness like an amazing dream. The world is the mysterious, poignant expression of this creative Awareness, which is eternally savoring all kinds of experiences of ItSelf while being utterly free of all experience.
Beyond/before/during all forms and experiences, AWARENESS ALONE IS ... right HERE (closer than the body-mind-ego), the Groundless Ground of All, the Only Being, the Pure Experiencing of all experiences.
May all be awake as this Absolute Being, this Divine Love, this incomparable Bliss, this perfect Freedom.
The real Truth is that all are already AWAKE as this ONE REALITY.
For anyone wondering where/how this "1-page Truth Statement" first arose, here is the earliest version of this statement, recently found in Nov. 2011 among some old papers. It was written in January 1982 while attending graduate school in San Francisco (the East-West Psychology program at CIIS), just eight months after returning from a 6-month trip to India and visits with various sages including Sri Nisargadatta of Bombay, Annamalai Swami of Tiruvannamalai, Anandamayi Ma of North India, Taungpulu Sayadaw of Burma, and several others. I now recall that this short paper was written in response to a friend's request for the "highest essence of the wisdom traditions."
THE "TRUTH" OF WHAT IS
There is only Awareness—Spirit, the One Self, God, Tao, Buddha-nature, Allah, etc.
And "Thou art That" (Chandogya Upanishad, VI.viii.7).
Awareness is That which is right now looking through your eyes, hearing through your ears, touching, smelling, tasting, thinking, etc., and Awareness is also That which is currently manifesting as all that you sense or think. It is who you really are, and what everything essentially is. The universe of body-minds is Its dream-play, Its imaginary projection, which is beginningless and is manifest on a number of "planes" or "levels" of being, as the human, animal, plant, and rock levels, the hell, ghost, demon, angel, and god levels. There is no satisfaction inherent in this universe (on whatever level, even heaven, which is still structured in terms of the subject-object alienated polarity, and which is an impermanent abode from which individual ego-souls must return to work out their karma on the human level).
There is satisfaction only in Awareness, which subsumes and transcends all levels, and which is absolute bliss, peace, and well-being.
One cannot know, perceive, find, or grasp Awareness as an object of experience, since it is not an object, but the eternal subject, or, better to say, that which subsumes and transcends the subject-object polarity. One can only be Awareness, abide or remain as Awareness, and not be ignorantly identified with any of its projections (the dream-objects of Awareness, such as thoughts, percepts, memories, plans, fears, desires, emotions).
Pure Awareness, sans identifications, happens when:
1) there is no sense of separation between a "me, over here" and a "you (it, them) out there"—that is to say, when all is intuited as the nondual Self/Being/Awareness;
2) whatever happens in the field of awareness is perfectly OK and loved as the [poignant manifestation of the One] God-Self;
3) one's behavior is spontaneous, free of ego-deliberation and hesitancy; and
4) there is no more identification with arising desires or fears, likes or dislikes, attractions or aversions.
So just abide as pure Awareness.