Regular visitors here may notice a similarity between the title of this post and the post of 12/23: “Can there BE such a thing as lack?” The word “suffering” easily could be substituted for “lack” in that post, and be read on that basis.
You may be wondering why some of these posts are long, and consist of several parts. What is said here sometimes refutes popular “teachings.” So rather than give short, “pat” answers (even though the short answers may be true), it seems wise to clearly, carefully state the basis on which the statements here are made.
This forum also provides an opportunity to simultaneously reply to many similar questions. These may have come in not only on this website, but via email, through formal talks, or even phone calls—or they may simply be general issues of spirituality. So while a post written here may “start out” in response to one question, it often will branch out to cover a much wider range of points.
This post is primarily in response to Jean’s comment of Jan. 2 (below), yet it is not directed to any one “person,” for there is only Self.
The question of suffering.Does full awareness prevents or diminishes pain and suffering? I feel – or it seems I feel – Oneness ( I am a zen practiser – but I(i?) feel overwhelmed by suffering, particularly before innocent victims, humans or animals. Could you be so kind to give me any light about this crucial problem? Thank you heartedly. Jean
The short answer is—No, Full Awareness (and there is no other kind of Awareness) does not actually prevent or diminish pain and suffering. Why? In Full Awareness, which is the only Self alive, existent—suffering never occurs or begins, so does not exist to be prevented or diminished. The very question implies such a thing is possible—yet from the standpoint of the Allness of Self, no such thing is possible.
That being said, even in what appears as “daily experience” yes, it MUST seem, (but only as a seeming) as if pain and suffering do diminish because they have no place, no presence, to this Present Awareness being aware here, now.
This notion of “suffering” brings out a key difference between Infinite Reality as stated here, and what appear as various “teachings.”
In the so-called human scene, there often is an expectation that spirituality will relieve suffering; that there should be an end of suffering, and sometimes even that there has been an end of suffering! If this is the case, there obviously must be an assumption that suffering began. The very clinging to this mistaken assumption–that suffering can occur–is why “suffering” seems to continue.
Shocking as it may sound at the moment, “suffering” has zero history of existing, and zero possibility of ever occurring, from the standpoint of Self presently alive here, now. To make this crystal clear, and to “blow this mistaken notion out of the water forever” is why this post is in three parts.
(REALITY CHECK—To Self Itself, the Pure Infinity that this present Awareness is, are there even such things as various teachings, differences, mistaken assumptions, or even blogs about Reality, Self? No—there is only the Alive Now-Presence that is Self Itself—fully being Itself!)
What is said here always is said from the standpoint of, or AS, this Alive Present Itself. It is said on the basis of the Allness, the utter Total Presence of Self Itself, the Infinite, or what could be called Full Awareness. Do not assume that this right now is some body named “Peter” talking to other bodies. It is THIS very Aware Presence that is presently aware NOW—and It is said from this standpoint because only Awareness is now present to be a standpoint. And It is really not a “standpoint” but is ALL.
All that can honestly be said to be present, to actually exist, and have genuine presence to “operate” is this Aware Being Itself, also called the Timeless NOW, the Pure Present. This may be clear via logic and words, or with what sometimes is called “direct experience.”
If this seems like a lot of heavy-duty spiritual talk so far, just relax and see what is actually existing, functioning and operating here right now. See what is honestly present now.
First, there certainly is Awareness. If not for Awareness, Being, being present, it could not even be said there was such a thing as existing—so there certainly wouldn’t even be suffering either. Absolutely nothing can be said to exist beyond or apart from this Awareness. Also notice that It is Awareness Itself that is being presently conscious. This Presence of Awareness certainly is not something a Peter or Jean or any other so-called body knows how to do or sustain.
Now notice that Awareness only can be present. Pure Awareness is present tense only—It does not move in time. Awareness can’t be moved back into a past or ahead into a future—and Its Present-ness never changes. Try to move Awareness out of being present. Can’t be done. So again, read this AS this Aware Presence Itself—not as a body sitting in front of a computer that knows about “an” Awareness.
Awareness also is all that is genuinely present. How is this true?
First notice what else seems to be going on. There also may seem to be passing thoughts, passing feelings, passing sensations—even visual sensations of what seems to be seen on a computer screen. But these passing thoughts and sensations always seem to be the stuff one is “aware of”—they are not aware, not Awareness Itself. More importantly, they do not have genuine or “permanent” presence or present-ness. They are not Awareness, the Present Itself. Thoughts and feeling always seem to be coming, and then going, moving on in time, passing along, never being present. They never stop moving, passing on, to be present. This is the key.
It would be only in, or as, the passing thoughts and sensations and feelings where ALL so-called suffering would seem to be. What exactly is suffering anyway? It may seem to start with something felt by a body, or seen by a body. Then there are emotions about what is seen, or sensed—maybe a “tragic” picture—and the emotions are labeled as “unpleasant.” Then there may be lots of thoughts and worries (more thoughts, but now emotionally charged) about the suffering. which only seems to “increase” the suffering. But what is all that?
Just be honest. ALL, repeat, ALL of the so-called suffering seems to be only in the “aware of” part—never in or as Pure Awareness. Awareness Itself is not any thought, not any sensation, not any feeling. Awareness Itself is present-only, thus never is anything experienced in never-present passing time (like thoughts, sensations, emotions).
Most emphatically, this is NOT saying or advocating that Awareness, All, is “separate” from anything or is dualistic, as sometimes seems to be assumed. When starting 100% as Pure Present Awareness, there is ONLY Pure Present Awareness. Period. Stop Here. Stay Here. Present Awareness Itself is having no thought about including or excluding, separation or non-separation. It seems necessary to do this with words here, but Awareness Itself, Alive Infinity, is not saying any of this. It is unthinkingly being. Period.
So the “answer” is to cleanly, specifically, consistently and persistently start with, or AS, Pure Present Awareness only. Insist on being Pure Awareness only. Do not identify or claim those thoughts, sensations, and emotions as “yours” for they are NOT You, not yours. Do not negate or deny them either. The only You is Awareness being Itself—always AS THE PRESENT ONLY—and as such, as Infinity, You really do not experience finite sensations, thoughts and emotions that seem to pass in never-present time. So You can neither claim them, embrace them, nor negate or deny them.
Do not be half-hearted about this—for the Present never is half-heartedly present—and It is “You”! Do not pussy-foot about this. Be adamant and put Your All-Present foot down firmly and keep it down as Pure Awareness—meaning don’t let what may seem to be nagging, continuous thoughts and feelings pull You out of this Pure Aware Being You are (because they really can’t).
When it came to thoughts and feelings of a little “personal I” trying to arise and pretend presence—even gentle, loving Ramana Maharshi was ruthless and said to “grab them by the throat”—and see that this purported thinking, emoting, suffering “personal I” is not a conscious entity at all. You’re even going one better than that, by not dealing with them but being exclusively and pre-clusively “interested in” the sheer fascinating-ness, the grace and magnificence of Awareness only. (more on this is coming up)
One actually cannot escape or fail to be Present Awareness, for IT is the only One being aware, present in the first place, and It never fails to fully be present only! Never. Simply stop entertaining the assumption (mere thought) of time.
To start or identify merely with, or as, all the seeming sights and feelings and thoughts that one seems to be aware of is to totally ignore Awareness Itself. It is to attempt to function as un-Awareness, not-Present Life, and that’s why the suffering seems to continue.
Awareness IS what truly is present, and the feelings and thoughts are something that is trying to be present in addition to, or “superimposed” on top of Awareness which purely, changelessly IS. To ignore Awareness and identify with them is to seemingly “oppose” or function in opposition to, One’s very Awareness, Being—and that is why all the problems.
Suffering DOES NOT have some kind of independent presence of its own that will, or can, continue when totally “busy” being the Pure Awareness that truly is present. Why? Because only Pure Awareness, the Present Itself, can honestly be present! And to say there is something else, something in addition to this Purity, would be to think, to super-impose, to ignore and be dishonest with what truly is effortlessly and inescapably being present. Yet can the Aware Present ever actually ignore or be dishonest with Itself? No! So not even that is really possible.