You are eternal consciousness, infinite awareness, boundless being. How do I know this? In fact, it is the only thing I truly know, without a shadow of a doubt. That I Am, I exist, I am aware in this very moment is the only certainty I have of my existence. The only absolute Truth anyone of us can can ever know is the Truth of Being: that which gives life, and this moment, any meaning.
What is abundantly clear in our current post-truth world built on social media shared memes is that all truths, other then this basic awareness of Being, are relative to perspective. Whatever people hold to be true is governed by the culture they grow up in, the life experiences they have, and the websites they choose to visit.
Each human brain constructs its relative truths dependent on the environments in which it imprints information. A brain developing in a Christian-Capitalist culture will imprint a whole different set of truths than a brain growing up in a materialistic, communist culture, for example. In fact, there are as many “truths” out there as there are brains; all reflecting the unique coordinates of a life lived through diversified neuronal structures.
What about the physical world? Aren’t there consistent patterns and laws out there in the cosmos that we can call truths? That depends on the instrument used to observe this so-called external universe. As it turns out, physical perception is also a relative phenomena, dependent on the organism and the sensory-perceptual system it uses to observe its universe.
Bats live in very different worlds than snakes, ants, whales, or oak trees do. Each filters out a select set of frequencies to uniquely construct an inner model of an external world. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear through advances in neuroscience and quantum physics that there is no “external” universe independent of the observer. What exists is a function of the co-creative dance between observer and what is observed.
So if all cognitive and perceptual phenomena is ultimately relative to observer, then what truth can we claim to be fundamental, absolute, and shared by all beings?
Ask yourself, what is the only quality in your current experience that is ever-present, changeless, consistent and self-evident. The familiar sense of “I Am” that was present when you were five, or twenty, that will be present when you turn ninety. Who or what is that changeless, ever-present “I?”
Notice, it doesn’t come from anywhere, it doesn’t go anywhere. There is nothing we have to do or think to make it happen. It is self-generating and self-reliant, requiring no proof, effort, description, or justification. It just Is.
The sense of being aware, the “I Am,” is the only element in our experience that does not change. Everything else in our experience changes. The world around us, in this supposedly solid and material universe, is in constant flux. Our bodies grow older day by day, emotions undulate like the tides of the ocean, our thoughts and conceptual understanding moves like an endless stream, and the perceptual world around us continually refreshes itself in new and surprising ways.
Even our sense of identity, ego, or self-concept changes and fluxes according to maturing life experiences. Yet behind those evolving constructs there is just me, I, self, being. Behind the moving image of space-time there is just awareness. In other words, consciousness seems to be primary and fundamental, and the arising perceptual-material world a derivative of that consciousness.
Now, as we turn toward this inherent Being, that which is conscious and aware in this very moment, certain qualities become abundantly clear. Again, no one can deny or argue these qualities away, as they are self-evident to the individual.
It may take a little practice to realize and uncover this fundamental Truth of Being at first, such as with a formal meditation technique or intensive entheogenic work, but it can eventually be realized and recognized as the very presence that embodies our life in this and every other moment.
Once a mind has recognized its essential nature in pure consciousness, it never forgets the abiding qualities that exist at the core of our existence. The basic presence of “I Am” begins to shine through the relative constructs of mind and body, to ultimately exert healing influences on the surrounding fields of experience.
As you read these words, gently and subtly drop into that which is present and slive within you. Simply recognize that warm, sentient inner glow as the very essence of your current existence. It is the you, the “I Am” before the mind weaves an image of who it believes itself to be, or what it thinks is going on.
When relieved of the mind-made constructs, beliefs, associations, ideas, and identities, the inner “I” begins to return to its Source. The limitations set by mind give way to the underlying expanse that is pure awareness, as the separate “I” sense dissolves into an ocean of pure being. Mind is awareness in motion, awareness is mind at rest.
When the mind is still and at rest, awareness is discovered to be formless, holding no patterns or objects to create distinctions. And if you are really honest with your direct, immediate experience, you may experimentally verified that it is singular.
Notice, at the core of your experience right now, there is only one of it. One moment, one you, one existential whole. Your experience is singularly yours. You assume others are having a similar inner subjective moment, but this is a mere assumption and supposition. All you truly know is that you are; all you could ever know is your own inner subjective moment.
And since all other beings share this same fundamental formless Being at their core, then it is safe to deduce that it is the common ground out of which all individuals draw their sustenance. We are all truly One Being in our deepest center.
Can you remember a time when you weren’t, when you did not exist? Of course not. All you know is right now, and the awareness of that now. In fact, awareness is synonymous with now. There is no now without awareness; there is no awareness without the now.
Mind is what superimposes the boundary of yesterday and tomorrow, memory of before and thought of later, on the vast formless ground of the ever-present now. In the now there is no time – it is time-less, and therefore eternal. Not an eternity that just goes on endlessly in time, but radically outside the movement of time itself. Time is eternity in motion, eternity is time at rest.
Deep Dreamless Sleep
If Being is the ultimate, fundamental Truth, what about the apparent non-being of deep dreamless sleep? Where is Being when one is deep asleep? Do we cease to exist in that dark void between dreams where most minds go unconscious?
In deep dreamless sleep, the brain enters the ultra-subtle, super-still Delta brain wave frequency of only 0.5 to 3 Hz (cycles per second). The body-mind enters its deepest healing state, as the parasympathetic nervous system of rest and repair is activated due to only minute amounts of energy being used for mental activity.
In deep dreamless sleep there is no thought, no dream, no content of any kind; just pure formless awareness. Of course, most people forget this state as soon as they start REM dreaming (subtle Theta brainwave frequency of 3.5 to 8 Hz), or as soon as they awaken (gross Beta frequency of 13 to 40 Hz), leaving this supreme causal state of dreamless freedom in the “unconscious.”
Since there is no mind to record the event, no memories exist of that dreamless darkness. No mind, no memory; no memory, no time. However, advanced practitioners of meditation who can achieve the Delta frequency of nirvakalpa samadhi on demand, report that they can remain aware during deep dreamless sleep due to the cultivation of constant witnessing.
When the natural shutdown of the mind-body occurs at night, the well trained witness is able to remain aware of itself while the rest of the brain-body sleeps. Awareness merges with the silent totality of the Void-Light that unfolds when all the grosser bodies are at rest. The naked substrate at the heart of creation is revealed every night, exposed in its splendor, unconditioned and free, as the very witness of all other states (dreaming, waking, visionary).
In other words, the Witnessing Awareness of all other levels is revealed in its pure, raw form, and, if well developed, can maintain its self-knowing through the deep darkness of the dreamless night. The formless spaciousness of the Witness becomes temporarily free of time, space, and form, and rests in its own radiance.
Near Death Experience and the White Light
So far we have demonstrated that ever-present Being is the only absolute Truth any of us can ever claim. It is who and what we are in our deepest self. We also discussed how even in deep dreamless sleep radiant Being remains, although only experienced after years of deep meditation practice. The final frontier would of course – be physical death. Does Being remain even after our body-mind has disintegrated into dust?
One clue rests in the simple fact of this formless awareness. If there are no distinctions, if time does not touch it, if no self-referencing identity can sustain its existence in the radiance of pure Being, then what or who dies? Could it be that even though the brain, nervous system, and identity associated with the brain perish, the ever-present Being remains? Clearly Being manifests itself in endless, multiplistic forms, coming and going in endless cycles of birth and death. But Being itself remains the same: changeless, ever-present, eternal.
Aside from our direct personal evidence of the timeless present, there is now a massive data base of recorded near-death experiences (NDE) that point to the reality of consciousness surviving physical death. Even when the body and brain of patients had shut down, their in-dwelling awareness experienced ongoing existence. Perhaps the most common element in the NDE is the bright “White Light”, often interpreted through the cultural filters of the individual.
The Tibetan Buddhists, the most advanced technicians of the after-death states they call bardos, describe the white light as the Nature of Mind. Called the Clear Light of Consciousness, or the Ground Luminosity of Being, Tibetans see it as the Source of all existence. This, they tell us, is who we really are.
Peace Freedom Love
So, if that deep sense of Being is the only absolute Truth anyone can ever ultimately know, shinning in the heart of every and all beings, how does this realization help us in everyday life?
All world wisdom traditions describe how a personal relationship with this underlying transpersonal awareness is what is required to live a liberated life. Ego loses its foothold on reality as fear evaporates in the brilliant reality of the present moment. Being shines through the artificial constructs, revealing a deeply held secret: “I Am” is eternal, “I Am” is ageless, “I Am” is deathless. The mere glimpse of this vast underlying reality infuses the individual with an unshakable peaceunmoved by the restless dramas of the furious sensory world.
The full recognition of Being liberates the contracted mind, allowing that which is aware to expand beyond the limits of conception. True freedom unfolds as the mind loses its ability to separate, judge, and define. The endless motion finally comes to rest as the individual self begins to remember who it was before it decided to play out its role on Earth. A secret joy wells up in the heart as we come home to the place where we are all One.
In that final recognition of our deepest truth, what remains is nothing less than love. Love is discovered to be the Source, the path, and the goal, as we allow its magic to effortlessly touch all that surrounds us. It is this deep indwelling love that quietly invites others to remember.
And in that remembrance the world is birthed again and again.
Eugene A. Alliende has been practicing meditation and yoga for twenty years and facilitates weekly meditation groups and classes at his healing center. His passion is the exploration of consciousness, and how a deeper understanding of our true nature can help heal the individual and the world. Read his book Dimensions of Being here