consciousness is

Excerpts from a talk by Rupert Spira, titled: “Non-duality and the nature of consciousness.” [YouTube: starts at 3:43] Link:

Consciousness is that which knows or is aware of our experience. So, whatever we are experiencing, we are aware of it; our thoughts, sensations in the body, the sound of somebody talking, or the view of our room seen from where we are sitting. Whatever it is that knows our thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions is not itself a thought, feeling, sensation or perception. It is consciousness or awareness – I use the words consciousness and awareness synonymously.

Most people completely ignore consciousness in favour of the content of their experience, thoughts, feelings, sensations, activities, relationships and so on. And yet, without consciousness there would be no experience. Consciousness is that which makes all experience possible but is not itself, an experience. All experiences appear and disappear but consciousness remains consistently present. The consciousness or awareness with which we are aware of our current experience is the same awareness with which we were aware of our experience when we were two-year-old children.

Consciousness is the changeless factor in all changing experience, it is never aged or modified or tarnished by experience. The reason why experience is felt as one smooth, continuous flow, rather than a series of disconnected experiences, is because they are unified by the presence of consciousness, just as a movie is not experienced as a series of intermittent images on account of the screen from which it derives its seeming continuity. In other words, what we consider to be continuity in time, is in fact the ever presence of consciousness.

Consider the space within which all experience arises, try to find an edge to the field of awareness within which your experience takes place. We believe that awareness has a border or an edge only because we believe it to be contained within the body, and our feelings simply conform to and substantiate that belief. But if we stay close to the evidence of experience, the body and world are experienced as a flow of sensations and perceptions all contained within awareness.

Everything appears in awareness which is not limited to the individual mind, or the sum total of all minds, human or otherwise. Indeed, the individual mind is one such mind in the infinite field of universal awareness. Whilst awareness is the innermost aspect of our self, at the same time it has no personal qualities. It is the essence of our self but sharing none of the limitations of our objective experience, it is impersonal and infinite, imminent and transcendent.

Awareness is self-aware just as the sun is self-luminous, consciousness knows itself just by being itself, just as the sun illuminates itself just by being itself. Consciousness never ceases to be aware of itself but its awareness of itself is so thoroughly mixed with content of experience, that it ceases to know itself as it essentially is and knows itself in a modified form. The primary and essential nature of our self, pure consciousness, becomes mixed with and seemingly qualified by the content of experience. The infinite becomes or seems to become the finite, the eternal appears as time.

If we pose the question, what is consciousness and resist the temptation to answer that question with a word, our attention is gently invited away from its contents and in most cases gradually, occasionally suddenly, it sinks back into its source the presence of awareness from which it arises. This sinking of the mind into the heart of awareness is the essence of meditation… the highest form of prayer.  [ends at 24:39] Continues next week 26 May 2023.

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2 thoughts on “consciousness is

    • Thanks for pointing that out. There are so many layers built on the question, what is consciousness, that we overlook the simple understanding of what is.

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