self-observation self-awareness

“If you want great wealth, and that which lasts forever, wake up!

If you want to shine with the love of the Beloved, wake up!

You’ve slept a hundred nights, and what has it brought you?

For your Self, for your God, wake up!

Wake up!

Sleep no more.”

–Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)

Notes on the Satsang with Sahajananda

Watch the satsang here. Find notes from all of Sahaja’s satsangs here.

The following notes are offered to support your understanding of the satsang Sahajananda presented on April 20, 2020. Note that this is not a transcript and should not be seen as an alternative to viewing the satsang itself (available here). If you don’t watch the satsang, you will likely miss the context for the ideas presented here and will therefore not grasp their subtleties. And, as importantly, you will miss Sahaja’s transmission. The word satsang comes from the Sanskrit words sat (“truth”) and sangha (“association”) and refers to “associating with truth,” or “being in the company of the wise.” By being in Sahaja’s company via watching the video of the satsang, you will be receiving the teachings directly from him and you may understand them on a deeper level.

TOPICS

Warning!

While reading these notes about being aware of yourself, there may be a great chance that you forget about yourself…

Me, Here, Now, What a Mystery!

This is the integrative basis from which we start, from which the satsang flows!

Further Clarification about Psychological Self-Awareness and Spiritual Self-Awareness

We’ll call psychological self-awareness “self-observation.”

It is limited because:

  1. The observer, the subject, the “me,” is limited, and
  2. Correspondingly, the awareness of such a personal observer is limited.

In real Self-Awareness, the Subject is the pure “I am,” and its awareness is not limited in any way (by specific and labeled thoughts or sensations).

Even when we observe ourselves globally, from the perspective of personality there is still:

  1. A personal conclusion expressed in the form of thoughts-emotions (I am like this, I need to change that, etc.)
  2. This generates an intention to fix something.
  3. There can be further actions inspired by such personal motivation, which is still egotic.

Self-observation is a common form of attention, which is not the same as Pure Awareness.

  • Self-observation can become a first step towards real Self-Awareness.
  • We were conditioned by education to give attention to something specific which automatically implies ignoring everything else. We see the stars and ignore space; we hear a phrase and ignore the silence between words; we read a text and ignore the page; we see the movie and ignore the screen; yet it is obvious that the ignored space, silence, page, and screen are as fundamental to our observations as the stars, words, the text, and the movie, which hold our attention.
  • Attention works through noticing something in contrast to something that’s ignored, while Self-Awareness is the non-dual space that sustains both the noticed and the ignored. It exists in and behind all experiences. It remains pure and unaffected by its content.
  • Attention requires effort; Awareness simply is.

How Self-Observation Leads to Self-Awareness

  • These two attitudes are different, but they do not oppose each other. On the contrary, self-observation can lead to Self-Awareness. This fact is very important, with many practical consequences for us.
  • We usually speak about three states of consciousness: wakefulness, dream, and deep sleep. Becoming Self-Aware has been compared to an act of waking up.

In the twelfth century, the great Afghan Sufi Hakim Sanai wrote:
“Humanity is asleep, concerned only with what is useless, living in a wrong world.
Stop weaving a net about yourself; burst like a lion from the cage.”

After nine centuries the situation is remarkably similar…

  • Becoming Self-Aware, is in a way similar to the process of waking up from sleep or falling asleep. But at the same time, it is opposite to such states.
  • Those periods are like a key for us, where we can learn to enter a different realm than the one of just sleep or just normal wakefulness. This realm is called in yoga turya and can be accessed in other moments of our wakeful state as well…
  • We hear such recommendations: take a deep breath, or be aware of the chest area, or of the moment after inhalation, or focus on a candle flame for a while with no thoughts… These are moments of self-observation, moments of phenomenal self-awareness. Phenomenal in the sense of perceptible with the senses, an object (breath, chest, flame, etc.) … It can bring us an increased sense of clarity, presence. It is like a short meditation.
  • But quite soon, even when we use such anchors, we find ourselves drifting away in a dream-like state, we call it daydreaming.
  • We use what we call “anchors,” that means things which can anchor us in different states of consciousness, help us remember ourselves and stay in it. They can be equally named “pointers,” and they are a first step on this path in which we can change our normal way of functioning, shift our consciousness.
  • Precisely here, in that stage in which a drifting away comes, we have a unique chance to shift something. This constant self-observation can lead us to a sense of flow (of course, if we allow it), which is similar to the drifting that happens when falling asleep or daydreaming, just that now the flow is not about dream-like images or new thoughts that appear mechanically. It is about a flow in higher sense, a flow of harmony, a kind of sense of unifying presence.
  • Saint Teresa of Ávila spoke about Recollection—a stage in contemplation in which the powers of the soul re-collect, gather in the soul as bees gather in the beehive. This re-collection of ourselves (our emotions, power of will, energies in general) is experiential and it doesn’t need to be spiritual, in the sense that anybody can experience it.

From the perspective of the flow feeling, re-collection can be compared to lucid sleep with no dreams. You just feel yourself flowing in a unification of yourself. Try to feel this—you can experience this when you take some conscious breaths, or look at a candle flame, or at the sun: suddenly you are not just the one that observes the sensation of the breath, etc. but you are re-collected, unified, in a deeper harmony.

  • For example, fixing your gaze on a candle flame or any other object and letting your eyes rest steadily for more than a few seconds may become “trance-inducing,” or more correctly “flow-inducing”—when you are really present.
  • In the same way in which meditation is similar to trance (and for people who don’t practice meditation they seem the same, while in reality they are quite opposite), re-collection and drifting away have the similar features of a flow state. During a real meditation you are fully connected with yourself, there is a re-collection, while in a trance you are drifting away, and you may not even remember what happened, because lucidity was missing.
  • Because we are not used to staying in such a re-collection of ourselves, not being able to “protect it” from thoughts, we soon drift away. But, if we learn to appreciate only the flow quality and we manage to remain without thoughts, it is not drifting off anymore, but flowing in a larger, nonconceptual ME. (We can still call it a drifting in no story, a drifting in a quiet Me). This is re-collection, a remembrance of myself in integrality.
  • So again, I stop doing things, which means being myself is just an ego story, and stop in Me, Here, Now…

The Practice of Re-collection in Transition Periods

When you just wake up from sleep, try to observe this sense of flow—appreciate the flow. When it tends to drift off again, come back to the flow itself.

If you manage to keep this balance—this would be re-collection, an integrative remembering of yourself.

  • Here, there is still effort, a “me” wanting to keep that balance, to remember something greater.
  • Even when it seems that nothing special is happening in this transition phase, that you either go in dreams and unclarity or you are just ready for action in a new day, lost in thoughts, continue to stay in that transition, come back again and again to a sense of presence, a re-collection of yourself.
  • In that re-collection of yourself you will learn after a while to honor a kind of sweetness; and with this, you will be able to acknowledge it, to keep your attention on it. If you ignore this transition, of course nothing special will happen, but if you learn about its magic and charm, it can become one of the most beautiful moments of your day.self-observation
  • People speak about morning joy. This delight, elation is not coming just from outside—birds singing, nature waking up—but from inside as well. During these times of confinement, for many of you there is no need to rush to go to your job, so you can explore and discover this sweetness, which is exactly the flow I am speaking about. At first, it may not be so obvious, but it will come. And it carries with it an increased sense of clarity, presence.
  • For example, if I ask you, what was the taste of your toothpaste this morning? And your shower, how did it feel?
  • If you were present at those times, you can remember. Presence in all such momentary sensations brings an echo Now. You are enriched with all these echoes, in this is re-collection.
  • This integration brought by a re-collection of yourself is not just a rational experience, it is devotional, integrative, bringing a deep sense of gratitude for life, a gratitude for no reason and for all reasons.
  • This gratitude of being carries with it a larger presence, re-collection—an integrative Self-remembrance leading to the pure “I am.”
  • It is like the perfume of your lover, or better said, the fragrance of the presence of your lover when you wake up, that somehow remains like a subtle nonconceptual memory all day. It is there in an intimate way when you cook or go shopping or speak with people. And this sweetness, flow, points to a different kind of experience, because it refers not just to a memory, or a simple sensation, but to the re-collected you.
  • In this integrative mood everything is clearer, life flows differently, you are more awake.
  • In this re-collection and clarity, the experience changes in a similar way it is changed when we shift from a simple dream to lucid dreaming… Different new phenomena are now observed. Synchronicities will appear precisely because you can embrace more in your attention. Or just in simple things: maybe you observe that the position of the toothbrush, or of an item is different from its usual position, and now you realize that you did that, and you weren’t aware. (In a normal state, we wouldn’t even notice this. Or some would say, it was somebody else who did this, or if they are alone they would affirm “It is a spirit playing with me, moving my things,” thus avoiding the most simple explanation—Occam’s Razor—you did it, but you simply weren’t aware.)
  • Therefore, in this journey to Self-Awareness, first try to re-collect yourself, re-center, entering a flow like that of a dream, but with no images or thoughts. This will lead to the pure “I am”-feeling.

Another Method of Re-collection

(Not yet the Pure “I am,” but more than the personal, normal “me.”)

Nisargadatta Maharaj explains this marvelous transition:
“When the ‘I am myself’ goes, the ‘I am all’ comes [this is re-collection].
When the ‘I am all’ goes, the ‘I am’ comes.
When even ‘I am’ goes, Reality alone is and in it every ‘I am’ is preserved and glorified.”

Seeing Yourself as a Whole—Re-collection Leading to the Pure “I Am”

  • The more we observe ourselves in this way, the more we will get glimpses of ourselves as unified, as wholeness.
  • There are countless moments in our lives, and most of them we forget. But there are some (either pleasant or not) we still remember very well after many years.
  • Why are such moments remembered when many, many others are not? They are precisely those moments in which a state of presence was more intense.
  • But apart from the specific memory, there is this wholistic sense of ourselves, a re-collection, a flow pointing further to the Pure “I am.”

Practically

We carefully observe different moments of our lives in this re-collection of ourselves, in an integrated way.

  • This means that our consciousness of ourselves starts integrating in a synergistic way all that we experienced, also leading to a wider sense of being (wider knowledge, perspective, leading to a wider sense of existence). This is a re-collection. It is not yet completely non-phenomenal, it may still refer to that specific time frame, to you, but in an integrated, collected way.
  • You observe everything in yourself at this given moment—NOW. The awareness of your entire being, emotional state, thoughts, sensations, intentions, posture, movements, tone of voice, facial expression, and so on.
  • After a time, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in many of those moments from that period (for example the last day, or the entire period of confinement, or this whole year since January), all together.
  • As the next step, we surrender deeper to the flow and just open to the core of all these personal stories, time, space… They happened and somehow still happen to you, in You—that I Am, Life, God, the very essence of you.

[…] I felt I had no strength or will,
I was only capable of witnessing
my own death, my own corpse.self-observation self-awareness
Above all, I could feel in my dream
something long forgotten, something
that had not happened to me for a long time—
the feeling that it was not a dream but real.
It is such a powerful sensation
that a wave of sadness fills your soul,
of pity for yourself, and a strange,
as it were aesthetic way of seeing your own life.
When you feel compassion for yourself in that way,
it is as if your pain were someone else’s,
and you are looking at it from outside,
weighing it up, and you are beyond
the bounds of what used to be your life.
It was as if my past life was a child’s life,
without experience, unprotected.
Time ceases to exist, and fear.
An awareness of immortality.”

–Andrei Tarkovsky

  • Now, as a new step in this journey, if I manage to keep this flow longer, it will bring me to real Self-Awareness, which doesn’t refer to the ego anymore.
  • Only then is there just Presence, we become non-conceptual awareness, “I am.” It is an awareness similar to the clear blue sky.
  • And you keep this sense of flow with you, in your heart. You may do different things, but the attention is on the flow, you are re-collected and that leads to real Self-Awareness…

All These Are Observed, by Whom? Who Am I?

They are embraced from this inner Stillness—Zen, “one taste,” a nostalgia, the source, the background of aesthetic emotions…

This self-observation, leading to re-collection, leading to the pure “I am”-feeling can be nourished again and again.

In this re-collection there is:

  1. A new perception of ourselves, the re-collected “me” leading further to Self-Awareness, The Seer.
  2. A complete shift in the conception we previously had of ourselves (even few seconds ago),
  3. The development of inner aesthetic taste regarding the quality of what we perceive as ourselves and of all. Presence…

Once a Zen student quoted an old Buddhist poem to his teacher, which says:
“The voices of torrents are from one great tongue,
the lions of the hills are the pure body of Buddha.
‘Isn’t that right?’ he asked his teacher.
‘It is,’ said the master, ‘but it’s a pity to say so.’”

The same is with the majesty of your soul—you can cry of its sacredness, now. It is a pity to name it, to label it…

Remember:

“Everyone Is God speaking.
Why not be polite and Listen to Him?”
–Hafiz

Listen to… You…

The proper activity of attention is to be attentive at every moment to the whispers of your heart.

  • The Being Values lead to such integrity, flow, re-collection of being. Which is another way of expressing zooming out…

Awakening to an Absolute Inner Sincerity

  • This inner taste is not just a passive sensation because it is charged with a tremendous power of Reality, lucidity, waking up…

In its clarity you can recognize, for example, that you are lying to yourself or to others and this very lying is like drinking the poison of forgetfulness. Or you are identified with a state, desire, reactivity, or pride, although you are justifying yourself and protesting that you are not.

  • It requires your awakening to that absolute inner sincerity. Many people don’t even know what this is, or don’t even believe that it is possible. But without it there is no real chance for inner transformation. We become weak because of our incongruence…

Very Important:

Fears, desires, drives, attachments to dogmas, that can be the cause of such lies, can be transcended by the power of Trust, aspiration, by the very tendency towards re-collection.

It is not a sense of fight, but of Trust.

The Teachings of the Fish

Imagine relaxing on the shore of a river and suddenly seeing a fish leap out of the water, glitter for a moment in the sunlight, then dive back in a graceful arch.

This is all…

All that is, is just a surprise, wonderment, joy…

There is no need to engage emotionally, to react to the fish and to the whole situation. There is no need to start a mental dialogue about what kind of fish it is, its ability to fly. We don’t stay in expectation hoping that it will appear again soon. We don’t jump into the water to try to catch the fish.

Now, let’s look how this situation is reflected inside: Once the fish is out of sight, out of the perceptual mind, there should also be a conscious natural integration and dissolution of the perception, excitement about this, pleasant memory, etc. in a wider sense of me, this re-collection, presence.

All my being was awakened by such an event, I will not forget it all my life, yet now everything points to the silent “I am.”

The “fish of sensation” is falling down in the “water of the infinite ocean of Pure Awareness.”

  • We speak about a conscious natural dissolution because we don’t have to do something, to try to stop the thought, perception, etc. It is a rather a gracious 1) integration and 2) dissolution.
  • It is not just a passive, dull, lifeless, inert perception-state characterized by unclarity. It is not something that will be forgotten. It is not doing something with the mind, it doesn’t mean the darkness of confusion.
  • Also, it doesn’t mean a dry run to a transcendental reality, ignoring or denying such a magic occurrence.

Example Related to Meditation:
I can feel this inertia, lack of presence happening for some from the very beginning of meditation. It is not only the body that needs to eliminate an inert tendency, but also the mind (Mahamudra would recommend imagining being on the top of a mountain—a wider view represents zooming out, re-collection).

Meditation: Close your eyes, deep relaxation, drop everything…

Now, contemplate “Me. Here. Now.” …

Did you observed any difference between the initial state and what appeared when I said “Me. Here. Now.”?

If yes, this is not okay. You should already be (in) that Presence.

Learn in meditation to start and continue with a re-collection of yourself … Flowing in the river of Awareness…

It’s not a theory, an intellectual net in which we try to catch the “fish of reality.”

Actually, the fish of reality is like water—it always slips through the net, as in Tao.

“The long night;
The sound of the water
Says what I think.”
–Gochiku

self-observation self-awareness