The Three Stages of Understanding


0:00 question on consciousness and awareness
0:05 when you speak to the knowing from what
0:13 I experienced awareness is very dry
0:16 neutral almost like just a blank board
0:22 when you bring up knowing from this feel
0:29 I become kind of like it’s almost like
0:37 is it the mind that appropriated and
0:41 make it into an object so knowing
0:50 everything that comes up I became
0:55 confused with the mind okay okay I used
1:01 the words consciousness awareness and
1:05 knowing synonymously they all mean
1:09 exactly the same thing in this approach
1:11 but let me explain why more and more of
1:17 the last year or so I’ve started using
1:20 the word knowing instead of awareness or
1:24 consciousness the term awareness is very
1:28 good for the initial stage of the
1:32 teaching when we distinguish
1:35 consciousness or awareness from its
1:37 objects most people’s attention is
1:40 exclusively involved with thoughts of
1:44 feelings sensations and perceptions so
1:46 as a first step the teaching says notice
1:49 that there is something that is aware of
1:51 thoughts feelings sensations and
1:54 perceptions and in this way the teaching
1:57 draws attention to awareness as opposed
2:00 to the objects in order to establish the
2:04 presence and the primacy of awareness
2:07 and this is a legitimate distinction to
2:09 make
2:09 for one whose attention is exclusively
2:14 involved in the objects of experience so
2:18 this is a valid first step the second
2:22 step is then to contemplate the nature
2:26 of awareness now the only thing in
2:31 inverted commas that can be aware of
2:33 awareness is obviously awareness
2:36 there is no other aware entity present
2:44 other than awareness itself that could
2:47 know anything about awareness so the
2:49 second step is this awareness being
2:52 aware of awareness being aware of being
2:56 aware Oh self-awareness we’re being
3:00 aware of itself a when’s being aware of
3:02 itself it is a resting of awareness
3:06 looking in and as itself simply knowing
3:10 its own being and this is the second
3:14 step where and it’s in it’s in most
3:19 cases it’s a gradual process where our
3:22 attention actually or the mind or
3:24 attention sinks into its a source
3:27 awareness sinks deeper and deeper into
3:29 itself and in doing so is gradually
3:32 relieved of its super imposed
3:34 limitations and at some point there is
3:36 this recognition the awarenesses nature
3:39 is is empty of objects innately peaceful
3:45 without any limits not in time and space
3:48 so that’s the the second step in other
3:52 words the recognition that awareness is
3:54 eternal and infinite but now the third
4:00 step involves going back to the objects
4:03 of experience from which we have
4:06 somewhat artificially separated
4:09 ourselves in the neti neti process the I
4:11 am NOT my thoughts I am NOT my feelings
4:14 process so this involves a collapsing of
4:17 the apparent distinction between
4:20 awareness and it’s
4:21 because and so it for this third stage I
4:27 used the word knowing rather than
4:30 awareness I usually use the word knowing
4:34 and for this reason because there is no
4:41 real distinction between awareness and
4:44 its objects in other words that the
4:45 metaphor of the sky and the clouds is
4:49 useful for the first stage of the
4:51 teaching but in this third stage we
4:54 forget the sky and the clouds metaphor
4:57 we go to the screen and the image
4:58 analogy because in the screen of the
5:02 image there’s only one thing there
5:03 there’s not the sky with the clouds
5:08 inside it there’s just the screen and
5:10 remember this is not an old-fashioned
5:13 projector it’s a it’s a it’s a laptop
5:16 weather or weather weather light the
5:19 image and the screen are all the same
5:20 thing so the image is just a modulation
5:25 of the screen so in the same way all you
5:29 know of your experience now is mind yes
5:33 all you know now all that each of us
5:36 knows or rather all that each of our
5:38 minds know is the experience of thinking
5:42 hearing seeing touching feeling
5:47 imagining yes that’s all that each of
5:51 our minds unknowing now and whatever it
5:58 is that knows the experience of thinking
6:03 feeling sensing perceiving is not
6:06 separate from thinking sensing and
6:09 perceiving yes you are now let’s just
6:14 call it thinking and perceiving it it’s
6:17 easy but understand all of objective
6:19 experience they go now to the experience
6:22 of thinking and perceiving now whatever
6:26 it is that knows thinking and perceiving
6:29 is one with thinking embassy
6:33 it’s not separate from it in the
6:35 background witnessing it from a distance
6:37 yes so thinking and perceiving is we
6:42 could say it’s pervaded by knowing
6:44 exactly but even that is not right
6:48 because it suggests that there is
6:50 something called thinking and perceiving
6:52 which is pervaded by something else
6:54 called knowing we would never say the
6:56 image is pervaded by the screen that
7:00 would suggest there is something called
7:02 an image with its own existence that is
7:06 then pervaded by the screen but there
7:08 isn’t a thing called an image the thing
7:13 the stuff that it really there is the
7:16 screen the image is just a modulation of
7:20 the screen so thinking is just a mud so
7:24 we for this reason we say that the
7:26 screen is the reality of the image or
7:29 the essential irreducible element of the
7:32 image likewise knowing pure knowing is
7:36 the essential irreducible element of
7:39 thinking and perceiving it is the stuff
7:43 that thinking and perceiving are made
7:44 out of so here we have collapsed the
7:47 apparent distinction there was never a
7:49 real distinction we have collapsed the
7:51 apparent distinction between
7:52 consciousness and its objects so
8:04 can we know this without these these
8:10 objects when I say itself sorry when you
8:17 say then we know this without these
8:19 objects what kind of phone to is like
8:21 this we we are using these objects as a
8:26 pointer to this to this less a blank
8:30 screen so I keep drawing back to the
8:38 awareness which you know it’s it became
8:41 it became an object of oh yes oh yes you
8:44 see the other screen that that’s it
8:46 you’re so because my screen behind a
8:50 screen size games a kid know you you’re
8:52 mixing these two different these two
8:55 different analogies up in the first
8:58 stage it is legitimate because of the
9:01 minds fascination with objects it is
9:06 legitimate to propose that awareness is
9:10 the witnessing subject of those objects
9:13 so awareness is the witnessing subject
9:18 and thoughts feelings sensations and
9:21 perceptions are the witnessed objects so
9:25 here we are Raph eyeing awareness we are
9:28 making awareness into K thing albeit an
9:32 open empty transparent self-aware thing
9:35 yes there is still a very subtle
9:42 objectivity to consciousness it’s an
9:47 object it is a subject of experience as
9:51 opposed to the object of experience in
9:53 other words we’re still in duality here
9:55 we could call it enlightened duality so
10:00 in this in in the third stage we are
10:04 collapsing this distinction we can no
10:07 longer find them we don’t remove
10:12 ourselves from thinking and perceiving
10:15 in order to know
10:17 knowing that the knowing is no longer in
10:21 the background of experience it is
10:24 experience let me give you in another
10:27 analogy and this is a watching a TV
10:30 screen but now this is a conventional
10:32 screen that you’re watching from your
10:33 sofa for one whose attention is
10:37 completely lost in the movie it is
10:40 legitimate to say see that the screen is
10:43 behind the movie it’s not really behind
10:48 the movie but if we are exclusively
10:51 focused on the objects in the movie it
10:54 is as a first step legitimate to say
10:56 that the screen is behind it once that
11:00 that’s the awareness plus objects step
11:02 once that becomes clear then you can say
11:05 to your friend actually look more
11:07 closely the screen is not behind the
11:11 image there is no such thing as an image
11:14 with a screen behind it you’re looking
11:18 at one thing not to things the one thing
11:22 that you are looking at the reality of
11:26 the movie is the screen in fact there is
11:29 no such thing as a movie there is
11:32 nothing as a movie with its own
11:35 independent existence the only thing
11:37 that exists and in fact he doesn’t exist
11:40 it doesn’t stand out of it is is the
11:44 screen and the apparent existence of the
11:48 movie is a modulation of that
11:51 ever-present screen now if we translate
11:54 that to our experience the only thing
11:57 that exists in experience and it doesn’t
12:00 really exist because it doesn’t stand
12:02 out it is I am is consciousness and or
12:07 thought sensation and perception isn’t
12:10 they are not objects of this knowing or
12:16 consciousness they are this knowing or
12:19 consciousness modulating itself and that
12:22 is why I that it’s for this reason that
12:25 I call mind the activity of
12:27 consciousness there is no entity called
12:30 a mind there is no such thing as a mind
12:32 the only the only thing in existence is
12:37 consciousness the the thing in itself is
12:43 always consciousness there are no other
12:47 things and consciousness of course is
12:49 not a thing so I use the word knowing to
12:54 try not to create this artificial
12:57 distinction between thoughts and
13:00 consciousness between objects and
13:03 consciousness so now look around your
13:09 experience all your experience consists
13:12 of seeing hearing thinking touching but
13:16 ask yourself the question is there
13:18 anything present in any of those
13:21 experiences other than the knowing of
13:23 them no no you see knowing is not just
13:27 in the it’s not just the background of
13:29 experience it is the reality of
13:32 experience it is what is real in all
13:36 experience that doesn’t mean to say that
13:42 all of this is not real experience is
13:45 absolutely real there is no such thing
13:48 as an unreal experience but what is
13:52 important is to ask what is it about
13:54 experience that is really real and it is
13:58 consciousness only and or knowing and
14:03 yet in the relative world that we live
14:07 in which is you need to interact with
14:09 the next person in the next person as
14:12 you walk through the street or as you in
14:14 classroom you are aware of all of this
14:18 so in that sense I feel that too duality
14:27 of it even though I know that this is
14:31 also part of me yes you’ve seen them
14:34 saying so good that’s fine you couldn’t
14:36 go back
14:38 to the consciousness plus objects stage
14:43 if you want to it’s fine to it’s
14:45 perfectly legitimate to realize that you
14:50 are the open empty space of awareness
14:52 and thoughts images sensations are
14:55 flowing through you that is a perfectly
14:57 legitimate stage to go back to but you
15:01 can also experiment with with the
15:05 understanding that what you are is not
15:08 just the open empty space in which all
15:12 experience appears and with which it is
15:14 known but also out of which it is made
15:18 it is This Is It this is the step where
15:25 we collapse the distinction between the
15:27 witness and its objects but you can go
15:30 back and forth from the two because
15:31 they’re both perfectly legitimate
15:33 positions yeah some teachings never go
15:38 beyond the witness plus objects stage in
15:43 fact I would say most don’t and it’s
15:47 perfectly okay there are beautiful
15:49 teachings that are based on the
15:52 awareness plus objects stage okay

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