Consciousness is Not Superfluous

We tend to think of objects as being here anyway, and the consciousness being something like “my mind” that sees them. But that’s not how it is at all. Those objects that we think of as “being here anyway” are not here – not without consciousness. Without consciousness shining on an object, it does not appear. Objects are not “here anyway,” waiting to be picked up by consciousness. Consciousness is primary.

“Objects” includes your body and mind. Your body and mind only appear when consciousness shines on them. So your body and mind cannot be the place where consciousness originates. Consciousness cannot originate in your mind. Consciousness is first.

A “person,” or body-mind, is a mixture of the knowing Self confused with an improperly-known object.* We know really nothing about this ever-changing conglomeration of shifting thoughts and unstable material substance. And yet we confusedly think that object is who we are. The object I take myself to be isn't even an object as I think it is. It's not even something that can be, without consciousness. Consciousness is my true identity.

The bodies are always going to be improperly known, but the natural peace and happiness of consciousness are known in full all the time. It’s amazing that we miss this.

*I borrowed this wording from a wonderful article on Atmananda’s teaching, found here on the Advaita Vision website.

I Just Want to Be Happy!

I wrote a blog entry a few days ago in which I made the case “I am pure consciousness.” But it occurred to me that I hadn’t answered the obvious next question, which is, “So what? Does knowing that you are pure consciousness make you happy?”

Well, in a word, yes. But that only brings up the next question, which is: Since there is not a real, experiencing person who is “happy,” what is the happiness that is experienced, and how?

Happiness is the nature of consciousness. This normal, ordinary, witnessing consciousness that is here making all of this be perceived and known – it is a restful, easeful happiness. “Happy” is actually normal, contrary to popular opinion! If you take a moment to look right now, see that happiness is always immediately available, as the “okayness” that sees all this activity but isn’t moved by it. This “happy” is consciousness, which is you.

And so we are all already happy, as a quality of normalcy, but this natural, constant happiness is not noticed any time we get into a state of contraction around our notion of being a separate, conscious being, in charge of our own self-preservation and self-fulfillment. Which is pretty much all the time, for most people!

But luckily it’s not
all the time, so happiness peeks through the clouds here and there, for most people; it is glimpsed when the body-mind and its world of objects are forgotten for a moment. But the clouds always return before too long.

When the thoughts of separate existence finally get annihilated with self-knowledge, the clouds totally evaporate, and happiness is just here, where it always was, shining as me, awareness.

There is Only One Awareness

It is obvious that I am conscious. That much is clear. But I have to find out if I am the one unlimited consciousness, or some other aspect of consciousness, more suited to a person in a body – perhaps, as they say, “reflected” awareness? Which one am I, reflected awareness or pure awareness?

blue glow
Two of the four Mahāvākyas, or Great Sayings, that derive from the Upanishads are: “This self is equivalent to Brahman” (Ayam ātmā brahma), and “I am Brahman” (Aham brahmāsmi). So these ought to give me a clue. Does it say in there that I am a reflection of Brahman? No, it says I am the same as Brahman.

There is only one consciousness. And I am undeniably conscious. This that I know as myself, then, my consciousness – is it the one indivisible, unlimited consciousness? That is the only possibility.

The notion that I am only a reflected version of pure consciousness, and therefore subject to all kinds of limits due to what I am reflected “in,” arises out of an idea that I am affiliated with a body. “Reflected awareness” is conditional upon my being “coupled to” a body. Do I have any evidence that I am coupled to a body? I really don’t.

How will I know that I am Brahman, pure consciousness? Through reflected consciousness? No, that’s not possible. I can’t know anything through anything other than pure consciousness. I only know myself through myself, and not through the conditional idea “reflected awareness.” And this I know now, always, not at some time in the future. It is always known.

Recommended Teacher

Michael Damian
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a lovely self-realized man named Michael Damian who is teaching the Direct Path of self-realization. Michael was influenced by James Swartz and Francis Lucille, among others. I find him to be very clear in his communication of this teaching, and he understands all the common pitfalls. He is a very good listener – he can identify what you are unclear about, and pinpoint your answer with precision. I recommend sending him your question.

Michael answers questions by email, and also offers talk sessions in person or via Skype, by donation. Michael also has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is in private practice.

This is Michael’s website,
The Light of Self-Realization.