Understanding that “Awareness is all” is one of the keys to understanding the experience of Realization. Recognizing that Awareness is the fundamental Essence of Reality, and our own innate identity, allows us to place our individualized experience and consciousness within a larger context and broader perspective.
Awareness is the backdrop against which all individual consciousness and experience arises. As such, it is the unmoved, ever present Essence of All That Is. We may become actively involved with, or even distracted by, that which appears within the field of individualized consciousness or human experience, but even in the midst of all this mental and physical activity, our inherent, Natural Awareness remains the undisturbed constant.
At our most essential and fundamental level, we are not separate from this pure, unconditioned Awareness. It is our root identity, manifesting within the present moment. It is who and what we are, and it is from within this level of Natural Awareness that a recognition of the completeness and perfection of our fundamental and Essential nature can arise.
In contrast, consciousness [as I prefer to use the term] is the active dimension of mind and emotion — busy, restless and wandering. Consciousness is naturally characterized by movement and activity; Awareness transcends the distinction between movement and stillness.
Consciousness is inherently personal and individualized, while Awareness is comprehensively nondual.
The field of consciousness and its content constitutes the “foreground” of our individual experience, while Awareness is the fundamental “Background” manifesting through and within All That Is. The key to recognizing our fundamental and essential
nature is the experiential Realization that individual,
human consciousness has no separate existence
independent or apart from this fundamental Background
of Awareness:
We are not separate from the Natural Awareness
we experience within the present moment.Since this Infinite Awareness is the backdrop for all individual human experience, the conscious mind has “access” to our innate Awareness within every moment. In fact, the individual identity of the personality or ego cannot exist in the absence of this fundamental, essential Awareness. Wherever the individual “I” appears, it is as a reflection of our inherent, Natural Awareness. In fact, the “I”, or individual identity, is nothing other than a reflection of our natural, unitive Awareness within the limits of human consciousness. Recognizing this is simply a matter of focusing our attention (individual consciousness) upon our innate Essence (Awareness). The Open Secret
Namkhai Norbu has described this Natural Awareness as
the “open secret:”
This is the open secret, which all can discover
for themselves. We live our lives, as it were
“inside out,” projecting the existence of an “I”
as separate from an external world which we try
to manipulate to gain satisfaction. But as long
as one remains in the dualistic state, one’s
experience has always underlying it a sense of
loss, of fear, of anxiety, and dissatisfaction.
When, on the other hand, one goes beyond the
dualistic level, anything is possible.
Namkai Norbu, p. 68
The Crystal and the Way of LightThe key, then, is to recognize the limitations inherent within dualistic perception, and begin to identify with the larger part of who we are — i.e., with the essential, fundamental, underlying background of Awareness, which is the field within which all consciousness and multiplicity appear. As long as our self-identification is limited to the individual personality, mind, or ego (i.e., as long as it is limited by the dualism inherent in maintaining an individual perspective), we remain frustrated by the inevitable limitions inherent within an individualized identity. However, when we begin to shift our attention and identification toward that larger dimension of who we are, i.e., toward our fundamental and essential nature (pure, unconditioned, Natural Awareness), much of our individualized anxiety and restlessness will begin to fall away. We gradually begin to realize that the essence of Reality is not separate from who/what we are at a fundamental and essential level. And, we recognize the freedom inherent within pure Awareness: the innate freedom to flow through our experience, exactly as it is, without resisting even desire and resistance as they arise. Acknowledging the absolute completeness and perfection of Reality, as it manifests within our own innate Awareness, enables us to see the frustrations and limitations of individual experience within their larger context: they are not separate from Reality (All That Is), and as such, they, too, are a manifestation of this vast and infinite wholeness. Even our personal, individual desires, and the choices we make to change “unacceptable” circumstances, ultimately can be accepted and recognized as part of the essential and fundamental perfection and completeness of All That Is.