This is the second in a series of guest teachings that I’ll be presenting. I have several other people lined up for coming weeks, so if you want to get to know the Nondual teaching community, this will be a good spot to do so. I hope this will prove fruitful for both teachers and readers; I expect that it will. We’ll continue to reprint short sections from previously published works, to let readers see how well they resonate, and just to get a feel for what different authors are saying, and how they’re saying it. At the end of each post there will be helpful links.
Today’s teaching is from Greg Goode’s 2009 book, Standing As Awareness. If you are looking for a practical, yet brilliant introduction to Advaita’s Direct Path teachings, this is it. The book is relatively brief—109 pages, plus an index. Don’t let the length fool you; it’s far from being a quick read, but it is a wholly wonderful book; full of the wisdom and insight culled from a lifetime of intense study, meditation and inquiry. Beyond the initial introductory pages shared here, which provide a complete teaching within themselves, the book’s format is question and answer. Dr. Goode has heard it all, and answers with both authority and compassion. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the teaching of Atmananda Krishna Menon and the Direct Path. Let me go on record as saying that this post contains everything one needs to discover their True Nature.
Greg grew up an atheist among atheists. He studied Western philosophy at California State University, went on to study in Germany, and holds both a Masters and a PhD from the University of Rochester. In a seemingly chance event, he found his "heart opened" by a gospel song at a Christian auditorium event in 1986. Afterward he joined a Pentecostal church and was a member for several years. Meanwhile, he began to study Advaita, and then several paths of Mahayana Buddhism under established masters. Decades later he’s equally comfortable with the language and teaching of either Advaita or Buddhism. He teaches when his schedule allows, leads occasional retreats, and has recorded a DVD on the Direct Path, Illuminations, with Chris Hebard. Dennis Waite, editor of Advaita.uk.org, and author of Back to the Truth: 5,000 years of Advaita, calls Greg a master of both disciplines. I call him friend and mentor.
Greg Goode is truly one of the pillars of Western Nonduality. After more than twenty years of being at the forefront of the gathering Nondual wave, he’s been in many hundreds, if not thousands of satsangs as both participant and teacher. He knows scores of spiritual teachers, and is a sought after speaker and teacher himself. He is both a working philosopher and an IT professional. Greg is married and lives in the New York area. He has a new book coming out this spring that will be the experiential companion to Standing As Awareness, entitled The Direct Path: A User Guide. He also has a new website coming out on emptiness teachings.
Dr. Goode is patient, compassionate, and generous to a fault. Sadly for him, wonderful for me, he spends much of his free time answering my emails.
How to Stand as Awareness
What is awareness anyway?
Before talking about standing as awareness, let’s talk about awareness itself. Awareness sees what arises. Awareness sees what arises. Whatever appears, appears to awareness. In order for form, thought, feeling, sensation, time, space, unity and multiplicity to appear to awareness, awareness itself cannot be limited or defined by these factors. Awareness is the single subject of all objects. It is the formless that sees all form. It is the unseen seer.
Sometimes awareness is called consciousness. The two terms are synonymous in this teaching. Sometimes awareness is called being. This is to underscore that awareness is not nonexistence or voidness. Sometimes it is called knowledge. This is to convey that it is the antidote to ignorance. And sometimes awareness is called love. This is to emphasize its open, inviting, generous, intimate nature that is free from limitation and suffering.
Awareness sees, and I see. They are the same thing. Awareness is the “I”, or as Sri Atmananda calls it, the “I-principle”.
Awareness is not an object
This leads to a realization that seems trivial now but will have transformational consequences later: since awareness or the I-principle is that which sees (since it is the subject of seeing), awareness itself cannot be seen. Awareness is not an object, but the subject. It is not the thing seen, but rather that which sees.
The reason that this will prove to be transformational is that it will dissolve the seeking tendency that tries to objectify or behold awareness. If you hear that awareness is your nature, it then becomes quite natural for you to want to bring awareness up close and personal. You wish to zoom in on it before your mind’s eye, or behold it in front of you as though it were sitting on a plate.
But awareness does not occur as an object. Sure, you can think of concepts of awareness, utter terms supposedly representative of awareness, or see artistic renderings of awareness. But notice that in each case, what is directly experienced is a concept, a word or a picture. Awareness itself hasn’t been captured. After all, even if you think about this in an everyday logical way outside the scope of nondual teachings, it makes sense: for there to be all these objects, there must be some subject for them to appear to. Why should the subject itself be able to be an object as well?
And then, if you think about this more deeply, it will make more sense—to examine something mentally or visually is what is done with objects; it can’t be done to that which sees objects. You can’t catch this seeing in the act. You can experience this inability at any time. Just try to see awareness itself, or perhaps do the Douglas Harding experiments. Each time, you will fail spectacularly!
The more this difference between objects and awareness sinks in, the less one tries to prove awareness through looking at something special. One no longer tries to keep awareness close, or grasp onto certain objects that are believed to be definitive of awareness. There is great liberation in this!
Awareness is always already there. It is infinitely closer than any concept, term or image. It is that open clarity within which these objects arise. It is that in which they subsist, and that into which they subside. It is present even when they are not. It is the open, loving spaciousness of YOU.
Quick tour of standing as awareness
What if you took a stand, right now, as awareness? Sure, it can seem that “everything is awareness” is almost a cliché these days, but what if you really treated this pronouncement, this recent cliché, as true? Simply, you will discover that experience confirms your stand.
At the beginning of one’s search, it certainly doesn’t seem this way. It seems that experience is a very dualistic affair. Experience, we are taught early in life, has a personal inner observer who gets in touch with outer objects through the means of the senses, and communicates through language to other inner observers. There is an impassible barrier, we are taught, between in and out.
Many years of this cultural conditioning makes this inner-observer model feel so convincing that it is rarely questioned. This way of experiencing corresponds to a stand taken as the gross body. You feel as if you’re the observer beholding a world outside. As intimately related to a physical object (i.e., the gross body), you naturally experience the world as a large collection of physical objects.
If you stand as awareness, however the world will be experienced as awareness itself. Experience will no longer be felt as a dualistic affair. It won’t seem as though experience is of anything or centralized anywhere. “Experience,” as a word used by teachers of the direct path, is a synonym for awareness itself.
How you stand determines your experience
Experience usually seems dualistic, divided into an experience (subject) and that which is experienced (the object). This subject/object duality is perhaps the most fundamental duality of all. The two sides are related to each other. How you see yourself affects how you see the object of your experience. “What you be” determines what you see. And vice versa.
And yet not all of your experience seems split up into this dualism. There are many times such as being “in the zone”, caught up in a beautiful sunset or exciting movie, or being in deep sleep, when there is no subject/object gap felt whatsoever. At these times you stand as the zone, or the flow or the sunset or movie itself, which is another way of saying that you were standing as awareness.
Throughout the day, throughout life, you stand as different things. This “standing” isn’t necessarily something you do or necessarily the outcome of a decision or commitment. “Standing” characterizes the relationship between you and what you experience.
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Copyright 2009, Greg Goode, Non-Duality Press
Greg's website: http://www.heartofnow.com/
To view or buy any of Greg's material at Non-Duality Press: http://tinyurl.com/73qhwgf
To view or buy Standing As Awareness on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/73ztdzs
To view or buy Illuminations on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/7reg4jt
To watch an excellent interview with Greg on Buddha at the Gas Pump: http://batgap.com/greg-goode/
To watch an interview for Conscious TV by Chris Hebard: http://tinyurl.com/77cghm3
To watch a series of You Tube videos of Greg, by Roger Ingraham: http://tinyurl.com/7mwlgsm
Let me welcome Colombia and Sri Lanka to the ever-expanding list of countries visiting Awakening Clarity. There are now 59 countries joining us in consciously living in Clarity, and we’re seeing more international traffic than ever. We’ve also picked up some more subscribers this week, so let me thank you for that.
Let me remind you that The Nondual Diary, where I’ll be holding forth, is back; once again it is holding down its own page. If you’re inclined to keep tabs on it and you’re a mobile viewer, or a subscriber, you’ll want to visit the main site once in a while. Posts stay until there is no more room, and then they disappear into the ether. That in itself is a lesson for all of us. The button to access NDD is right above the Buddha.