Awakening is not the goal… it is the starting point!
We experience the speechless mind and know that we are that. This is the beginning – the beginning of awakening and the beginning of what lies ahead. But just what is it that I am calling the speechless mind, and others call Buddha mind, Christ or God consciousness, Oneness or nonduality? It is just consciousness – consciousness without content, without an object, without intention, without identification, without boundaries; it is just consciousness without any thing to be conscious of.
The understanding, the experience, the realization of the speechless mind is awakening, and awakening is the starting point for all real spiritual transformation. But there is a tremendous amount of confusion about awakening in spiritual circles. The speechless mind is right there to be experienced, and anyone can do it anytime. But first one must know precisely what to look for. What the speechless mind is – and what it is not!
What does this speechless mind feel like?
In itself, it feels like nothing. In itself, it has no emotional charge whatsoever. However, like hitting your head against the wall and then stopping it, it does offer relief and that does have a charge, that feels like whatever ‘stopping what you were doing’ feels like. So if your consciousness is dwelling on something, and then you move it away, that is going to feel like something. If the object of your consciousness is negative, rage, sadness, money or health worries, and you turn it away, you’re going to feel freedom and relief, and you are going to want to pursue these emotions. On the other hand, if the object of your consciousness is positive, like success, or pleasurable, like good food or good sex, turning away is going to feel like a loss, and you are going to resist it. (This shines some light on why unhappy, unsuccessful people are more likely to turn to spiritual paths than happy, successful ones.)
Many spiritual seekers are confused about this point and looking for a certain kind of experience. They have heard about peak experiences, spontaneous Satori’s, states of Oneness or enlightenment, where the associated feeling states are of vastness, unlimited freedom, immense power and all pervasive love. Understandably, they want these experiences for themselves, so they set out in pursuit of them. If they don’t get them, they think that what they have can’t be right, so they don’t value it, and they go on searching…
Or perhaps they have had a Oneness experience themselves, either spontaneously or in a spiritual workshop, and it felt great. Suddenly, they were in ecstasy; suddenly, they loved everyone in the room; suddenly, all of their problems seemed to melt into insignificance. Suddenly, they understood; suddenly, everything seemed all right, perfect even, and there was nothing that needed doing. Suddenly, they experienced vastness, or bliss, or compassion – and they said to themselves, “Yes, this is what it is; this is what it feels like.”
But the feelings didn’t last; ordinary life swallowed them up. So, they set out in pursuit of a repeat performance. Perhaps they tried a longer meditation or different kind of meditation. Perhaps they went to another workshop or consulted a “higher” spiritual teacher, or perhaps they changed from Vedanta to Buddhism, or vice versa. And maybe the experience was repeated, and maybe it wasn’t. And maybe it was weaker or different, and maybe it was disappointing, and maybe it was even better. But whatever it was, it too didn’t last. And so, in pursuit of the original high or an even greater high, the seeker became the spiritual junkie, trying different drugs in higher and higher doses – not understanding that what they were searching for is in their hands; in fact, it is that which is doing the searching – but it feels like nothing. In fact, it is invisible.
So absolute consciousness, the speechless mind, feels like nothing because it is nothing. It is just consciousness and consciousness is literally no-thing. In itself the speechless mind is a void. It is only when you stop doing what you were doing, that, in the release, a feeling state presents itself. So, when you turn your attention away from contraction and towards the void, the speechless mind feels vast. Likewise, when you turn your attention away from separation, it seem all-encompassing. When you turn away from your emotions, it seems free; when you turn away from conditionality and againstness, it seems compassionate; and when you turn it away from the limits of beliefs and the confinement of body, it seems – well – unlimited. It feels like relief from whatever you have been putting your mind on. It feels like you have stopped banging your head against a wall.
What does experiencing from the speechless mind feel like?
There is yet another source of confusion about the nature of the speechless mind, and that comes from the feeling of experiencing from the speechless mind rather than experiencing the speechless mind itself. After you become awake, after you withdraw attention from all that you are doing, intending, feeling, thinking, believing and even sensing, and relax into the speechless mind, after you do this, you start experiencing what is – de-void of what you are bringing to it. And this what is, whatever it may be, is very different from the way it seemed before you awakened.
The qualities you experience from the speechless mind, once you are there, are the qualities of reality as it is. But there is more, there is a great feeling of clarity, of effortlessness, of seeing, of comprehending. If you focus your attention on something, you seem to know it. If you ask yourself a question, the answer seems to come. And depending on where you focus your attention, or even just if you focus your attention, the world seems transformed. People seem to take on an energy and that energy is strangely understandable. They may exude light, or they may seem lifeless. Even the space around you changes. It may seem full of potential, or it may seem stagnant, dark even foreboding. Suddenly, you are living in a world that appears meaningful even without thinking about it.
When you withdraw attention from the contents of your own consciousness, you can become psychically open to other people’s consciousness, or even to collective consciousness, and this, too, can become a source of confusion. Thoughts and feelings, both welcome and unwelcome, come to you unbidden. It becomes difficult to distinguish your own material from what you are getting from others. Opening up makes you susceptible to all sorts of outside presences, friendly and not so friendly. Their thoughts and feelings, attachments and aversions can start coming through you, and if you are not fully aware you can easily mistake them for your own. Not only that, if you’re not familiar with your weaknesses and needs, you can be unconsciously inviting these alien presences in.
Awakening is serious stuff. It is not to be trifled with. Once you are on the path, you have to go all the way or you are lost. So, when outside presences start coming in, it is time to set boundaries into place; it is time to practice discrimination and decide what – if anything – you are going to let through. A common rule of thumb is not to let through anything that does not come from the level of Christ or Buddha consciousness – that is, not to entertain any thoughts and feelings that have not come from a Presence that, in itself, is not fully awake.
But there is even a problem with this: even being fully awake is not enough. It is what you do with this awakeness that counts. Not only do you have to go to the speechless mind, you have to use it as a platform from which to let go. Only full enlightenment, Level II Enlightenment, the alignment of the ego with the Self, is enough – and there have been few people, in any age, that have even understood that – let alone attained it.
How do you access the speechless mind?
You access it through PsychoNoetic clearing, through deep letting go, letting go of all egoic contractions – of your memories, your beliefs, your attachments, your resistances and denials, even your emotions. When you do this, your point of consciousness, that point in your body that you experience as the location of your Self, floats upwards, like a balloon set free, and it lodges behind your third eye or at the crown of your head.
All that you have turned away from, the entire contents of your consciousness, has acted as a perceptual filter, a complex viewpoint from which to see reality. As such it has interpreted and distorted what it is that you see. The principal is the same as in that Buddhist saying, “When a pickpocket sees a Buddha, all he sees are his pockets.” But then, you might ask, what makes these in the moment experiences different from the learned experiences or contents that you have just let go of. And of course, the answer is just that. It is just that they are in the moment, not held as memories, conclusions or beliefs, and therefore, still the outside, still the object of perception rather than amalgamated with the perceiving consciousness.
Now you just have to stay there, which means, of course, that you have to avoid becoming once again entangled in what you have just let go of. But if you manage that, if you stay there and just let experiences come to you, you will be in the speechless mind, and you will be perceiving from it.
Absence is presence
PsychoNoetic clearings feel like something. They create an experience. In consciousness or the mind (in my mind the two are interchangeable), the absence of some-thing feels like the presence of its opposite. So, for instance, the absence of physical pain creates the experience of relief, the absence of emotional pain creates the experience of peace, and the absence of any bodily sensation at all, creates the experience of health and/or well-being, etc.
However, there is also a deeper sense in which absence is presence. A still mind, i.e., absence of any mentation whatsoever, is the one and only condition that creates – Presence.
The evolving witness
Successive PsychoNoetic clearings successively evolve the witness. At the same time you only have a witness as long as you are separated. There comes a time when you virtually merge with the witness, approach the pure context of absolute consciousness and become that. The witness, then, becomes the final synthesis or higher third of the dialectic process of awareness, from which state one is holosentient (possessing whole systems awareness).