And now we deal with the most difficult stage, and that is, well you say I’m not my body and I’m not my mind and I’m not my personality. Well maybe, but at least...but what am I? Oh, I must be my consciousness, because I perceive this and I realize this and I remember that. But what do I mean by my consciousness?
So that’s what I am, my consciousness. I am that which is aware. The body is that of which I am aware and even my character. But I am that which is aware. I am the subject.
And even that has to go by the board as the most basic of all illusions. And it seems so obvious, it’s very, very difficult to get rid of it. And Buddha explains it his way, he says: Consciousness is like a flame. A flame depends upon the combustible. As long as there’s a log, well then there’s a flame. But if you run out of logs, then there would be no more flame.
Is that what you are? And then, is it the same flame that burns one log and then another log? And then when that fire is extinguished and you light again, is that another flame? How can you say, “I am this consciousness or that consciousness.”
And then you start realizing that there’s just consciousness. And consciousness splits out, emerges, when a formation has been built up, like a plant. Consciousness flows in a plant, or in a cell, or even in a crystal. But you can’t say this is the consciousness of the crystal. It’s the consciousness that flows through the crystal.
Or in the same way, if you could get in to the consciousness of an ant in an ant nest, you’d realize that the ant is so conscious of the will of the ant nest. In fact the consciousness of the ant nest is much stronger than the consciousness of the individual ant. It does the things that the ant nest wants to do.
And then you become aware of the total consciousness of the universe. You see, you’ve been systematically robbed of your sense of identity, and your body isn’t an entity, as I often keep on saying, it’s got it’s ramifications in the whole universe.
Scientists are beginning to see that now of course. Physics and subatomic particles are not an entity, it’s part of a whole field. In fact it’s an expression of the total field. It’s exactly the same thing.
I’ve been robbed of my sense of identity, my body which I thought was an entity, I see it’s totally embedded in the total universe. My mind, which I thought was individual, is also totally embedded in the thinking of the universe. My personality, which I thought was, at least, a very clear hallmark of me, is part of the qualities, the bounty of qualities, manifested everywhere. And my consciousness, which I thought was really, at least, the very epitome of me, is, when I say part, it’s not a separate part, but is totally implicated in the whole consciousness of the universe.
Now the practice consists in doing this, and that is, can you look upon your consciousness, in other words, upon consciousness as it functions when it is focalized in the notion of the individual? Can you look upon it objectively? Now what does it mean? What is you in all of this?
And the point is that the word “me” or “you” loses its personal meaning all together. So when I say, “Can you watch your consciousness,” we’re talking about “you” in two different senses.
Or can I watch my consciousness? What does it mean? Well it means that my sense of identity has kept on moving backwards, receding, let’s say, from the body and mind, the personality, and now even from consciousness. And so well, let us say, it is the universal consciousness.
I identify with the universal consciousness, totally impersonally, and by doing this, I am able to look at my personal consciousness, observing an object. Like I can say, “You think that you are watching this object? You are caught in an illusion.” I’ll give you another example. For example, there’s a man walking the streets of New York going to his office. Or there’s a woman pushing a pram in New York. And she thinks she’s pushing a pram in New York and that man thinks he’s walking in the street. And both of them are caught in an illusion. They are caught in their personal consciousness when in fact, that’s not where things are at.
So it’s an awakening you see. Awaken from the personal consciousness and you will realize that you were caught in that personal consciousness. And that it was just a perspective.
So exactly as you watch yourself reacting, for example, you get angry, you say, “There you go again!” You see, you are able to say “you” to your personality. That means that you have disidentified with it.
Exactly in the same way, you look upon the action of consciousness and you say, “I see. There’s a process of combustion going on. There’s a contact between what I think is me, my consciousness, and what I think is an object. And as a result of that contact, there is a desire that has arisen.
For example, I think that I see a beautiful object in a shop window and out of that contact rises a desire to possess it. That’s what happens when consciousness gets threaded into the idea of the self. Then desire arises to favor the well-being of that concept of the self.
Now if I am able to unmask that hoax, well then, I see the object and I experience no desire to possess it. And the consequence is that I am free of the pull of that object. Now if I were to acceed to that gravity pull, let’s say, that that object exercises on me, I would be drawn to my personal consciousness. And from the moment I get that object, I would have to look after it. If it’s an animal, for example, I would have to feed it, and take care that it’s not too cold and not too hot. And if it’s an object, at least I have to dust it. And if it were very valuable, I would have to have insurance on it, and so on and so forth.
So I get caught into a narrow perspective. That man walking the streets of New York or that woman pushing the pram is probably not conscious of the fact that the earth is whirling, and has forgotten all about the stars and is caught in what he is trying to do.
I was thinking the other day, it was on Friday evening I think, and we were at a concert at the Abode. All of a sudden I could see: here are these people sitting here at this concert and I could see those people grieving, and not just in Chicago, but all over the place because of the loss of their families in the crash. And then there were those people who are sitting there or lying in the straw in concentration camps having been beaten unconscious. And there are people walking the streets in Calcutta and there are people sleeping generally, and here we were just aware of the concert.
See what I mean how consciousness is threaded into an environment and a situation and just sees that, and has lost awareness of the totality?
And the consequence of this is that desire arises for that which one is is contact with in one’s small environment. And that desire keeps one in that environment, holds one in this very small environment. Whereas Buddha wants to free himself from everything that pulls him into a little space because he has to walk on the top of the mountain totally free and see the whole cosmic panorama of things. That you can’t do if you let yourself be caught in a perspective. And so it’s a way of freedom. And these were, at least the first four stages leading towards freedom and awakening.