If the world of nondual spirituality ever seems muddy to you, take a swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Colin Drake. I love Colin's work. -Jerry Katz

The e-Books of
Colin Drake

About Colin Drake

Colin has been seeking the Truth since he was born in 1948, and has been meditating since 1978. In 1996 encountered a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Gangaji, who said : 'Stop! Be still, you are already That'. The message being that the effort and search were masking that which is always present; all that was required was to 'stop' and see what is always here. This news came like a breath of fresh air and he glimpsed the essence, that undeniable ever-present reality. He then undertook a 7 day silent retreat which resulted in his first 'awakening', and also in an ecstasy that slowly faded over the next year.

His books are based on the realization that occurred then and matured over the following years. During this time he has written many articles and poems, based on his meditations/contemplations, which have been collated into books.

Buyers Note: Email [email protected] for free email support (Q/A) or for latest poems and articles.

Click on a book cover for more details

Beyond the Separate Self
by Colin Drake


I purchased your eBook Beyond the Separate Self some weeks ago.  I have to tell you it has been a tremendous help for me.  I am 47 and have been wading through material since my teens to try to come to what your book ultimately described. 

I have been so close for so long but did not know just how close.  It almost seems some authors make finding "it" a shell game using verbose terms.  Their material seem more interested in building a business of spiritual materialism than helping the seeker.  Once I realized what you were saying in your material I realized I was ... home.  Your words were the simple key to unlock the door.

Thank you.

Would it be possible for me to purchase a printed version of your work? 

M.E. (full name on file and available upon request)

Your book is excellent in its brilliance and clear simplicity. I must have read hundreds of books on the subject by now and this is truly a great treasure. I just wanted to say thank you and I might get back to you later on. I also want to say that I feel drawn to recommend this beautiful work to many friends on the "seeker circuit" and I sincerely hope that many of them will buy it and love it as I do. Deep gratitude and good wishes from Sweden. Peter Signell

"Colin has a passionate love affair with Truth. This has culminated in him writing, simply and clearly, what has been revealed to him. His writings are an invitation to those with a similar interest, to explore and discover for themselves. Enjoy." Isaac Shapiro

Enjoyed Colin Drake's new book. Clear, unpretentious and honest. Tim Rowe

I bought Colin Drakes book off the internet . He has to be congratulated on the most clear and succinct book on the subject that I have read. He has managed to distil the essence. A must read for beginners and for seasoned travellers. Garry Booth

~ ~ ~

Beyond the 'Separate Self'
The End of Anxiety and Mental Suffering

A Simple Guide to Awakening

Based on the Meditations, Contemplations, and Experiences
of Forty Years of Spiritual Search and Practice

by Colin Drake


Introduction 5

1 The Problem 9

2 Investigation of Experience 17

3 Simply Free to Be 26

4 The Perceiver Not the Perceived 40

5 Nothing to Achieve, Find or Get 46

6 On 'This' and 'That' 52

7 Nothing Special 58

8 Home Is Where the Heart Is 62

9 Nothing Matters 66

10 Relax into Self-Realization 71

11 Mantra as a Vehicle of Revelation 75

12 Every Thought and Sensation Reveals Reality 80

13 Nothing to Do, No Problem to Solve 84

14 So What? ... What Now? 88

15 All or Nothing 97

16 The Full Potential 102

17 The Best of All Worlds, Humanity at its Peak 112

18 Purpose and Meaning 117

19 The Absolute Reality 124

20 The Essential Self 150

21 Self-Liberation Through Naked Awareness 172

Appendix - Spiritual Experience 180
Glossary 190
Bibliography 194
Index 196
Biography 207


This book is designed to help its readers go 'beyond the separate self'; that is to free oneself from obsessive thinking and worrying about one's self-image, health, wealth, status, achievements, lack of achievements, past, future and ultimate survival. These are all caused by identifying oneself as an individual object in a universe of multiple objects, and also by comparing oneself with like objects (other people). How we identify ourselves is at the heart of how we view the world and our place in it. If we fail to correctly identify 'what we are' (in essence) then this leads to an unfulfilled life, with its consequent frustrations and mental suffering. 

The discussions that follow are concerned with coming to a valid conclusion regarding self-identity, and then learning to operate from this level of being. This is to be achieved purely by investigating our existence, which comprises an unending stream of moment-to-moment experiences from birth to death. Even during sleep there is experience of dreams and sensations. If a sensation becomes strong enough it will wake one up. This investigation requires no dogma or belief systems, and these need to be put aside for the investigation to succeed. 

The author, who had spent over thirty years in various Christian, Hindu and Yogic practices, only progressed (had the first real 'awakening') when he abandoned these and entered a deep investigation of the question 'Who am I?'. The appendix contains an account of this questioning, the experiences that it produced, and the insights that it revealed. The appendix also shows how the experiences, which resulted from the direct recognition of true self-identity, related back to the preceding belief system of the author. However, although these beliefs colour the experiences that follow the direct recognition, they are of no use in the investigation itself. 

This is not to say that the religions of the world do not point to this same realization and chapter 19 attempts to show how they all do this in their own way. The problem is that the truth of this realization is so incredibly simple, one could say obvious, that the various religious traditions have been unable to accept such simplicity; so their followers, and commentators, have overlaid this simplicity with many levels of dogma, beliefs and philosophical systems. 

Chapter 1 is devoted to a general discussion of the various problems associated with misidentifying oneself as an object, such as: self-obsession, self-loathing, selfishness, self-aggrandizement, self-importance, etc. The list is almost endless. This chapter also sets the framework for the investigations of those that follow, many of which read as if they are meditations or contemplations, which is exactly what they are. These stem directly from the author's direct investigations over a twelve year period since his first 'awakening'. They are given as pointers and aids for the reader's own investigations into, and contemplations on, the problem of self-identity. There is necessarily some duplication between them as what is being discussed is so simple. They are different 'takes' on the same simplicity, presenting the material in various ways whilst building upon what has been discovered, so some repetition is unavoidable. It should also be noted that each of these are, as far as is possible, stand-alone meditations or contemplations, thus needing to make sense by themselves. Therefore some sections of each will contain similar passages, so that they are relatively complete when read in isolation. 

Chapter 2 gives the basic format for investigating one's direct moment-to-moment experience and is the basis for the chapters that follow. Chapter 3 was written on a seven day solitary retreat of investigation, meditation and contemplation in 2000. It represents the author's first attempt to discuss, in writing, the problem of self-identity, and has been published as a stand-alone pamphlet. Chapters 4 to 13 are further meditations and contemplations, each delving deeper into the nature of self-identity and 'reality'. Chapter 14 details how to live from the level of self-identity that has been discovered and the benefits of this. Chapter 15 highlights the importance of committing to this level to access the full potential of 'awakening'. Chapter 16 discusses this 'full potential' and shows how this truly is 'the end of anxiety and mental suffering'. Chapter 17 shows how humanity could live together in perfect peace and harmony by the realization of this deeper level of self-identity and the nature of reality, which have been revealed by one's investigations. Chapter 18 considers how living from this deeper level of self-identity makes life so enjoyable that no extra purpose or meaning is necessary. Chapter 19 studies how the religions of the world describe the Absolute Reality and compares this with what is discovered through direct investigation into the nature of moment-to-moment experience. It also shows how mystics of each religion have arrived at the same conclusion. 

Chapter 20 shows how two seemingly opposing concepts of self-identity - 'essential self' and 'no essential self' - can ultimately lead to the same conclusion that is discovered by direct investigation of experience. It is a fairly detailed discussion of the Hindu and Buddhist concepts of self-identity, and it compares the various ideas that these religions contain. In simple language it offers an introductory insight into these two major world religions and may be useful for 'non-dualists' who regard the word 'Self' as the 'essential self' and are somewhat unhappy about the phrase 'separate self'. Chapter 21 shows how the discoveries made by direct investigation of experience tally with those given in the fourth chapter of The Tibetan Book of the Dead , 'Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness'.

Chapter One

The Problem 

A general discussion on the problem of identifying oneself as an individual object in a universe of multiple objects. It also sets the framework for the investigations that follow which reveal a deeper level of being than that of thoughts and sensations. 

For most of us much of our waking time is spent in obsessive thinking about 'ourselves' and our relationships with other people. This is especially true when we are not working, using our minds in a productive activity; or when we are not relaxing in such a way that engages the mind such as reading a book, playing a game or watching a screen. For the mind is akin to an onboard-computer which is a wonderful tool for problem-solving, information storing retrieval and processing, and evaluating the data provided by our senses. However, when it is not fully utilized it tends to search for other problems to solve, and if these are not presently available it tends to speculate about the future, delve into the past, or imagine in the present, creating non-existent problems which it then tries to solve! 

Most people tend to identify with their mind, rather than seeing it as a tool, which creates myriad problems. This causes everything to be seen through the filter of the mind: its opinions, judgements, and self-interest. When this happens we cease to see things as they really are which lessens our ability to relate to the world in a natural healthy way. Imagine the problems it would cause if your computer decided that it was 'you' and coloured all the information it retrieved from the internet with its own arbitrary opinions and judgements. In this case you would be unable to rely on any of this information, and if you did then any decisions made using this would be liable to be faulty. 

In the above example 'you' are obviously not the computer but the perceiver of the data provided by the computer and all of its multimedia functionality. In the same way, we have a deeper level of being than the mind (thoughts and mental images) and body (physical sensations), which is also the perceiver of this 'data'. However, when we identify at the surface level of mind/body we are unaware of this and tend to suffer due to the shortcomings of our mind/body. This is akin to suffering because our computer is not the most up-to-date, fastest attractive model available. 

This is exactly what most of us do, worrying about our body-image and mental capacity and ability. We tend to expand our concept of self-identity to include an imaginary self-image consisting of our physical appearance, mental ability, status, occupation, position in society, family situation, achievements, lack of achievements, ambitions, hopes, fears, memories and projections into the future. Not only do we consider this to be who or what we are, and continually obsess about this, but we also spend large periods of time comparing this with the equally erroneous images we have formed of other people we relate to. 

So we have identified ourselves as an imaginary object, in a universe of separate objects, which we then compare with other imaginary objects! This is bound to lead to confusion, suffering and an increased feeling of separation, which is exacerbated by the fact that we do not even see these other objects as they actually are, but as we imagine them to be through the filter of our mind's opinions, judgements and self-interest. 

To free ourselves from this nightmarish scenario and the continual obsession with the 'separate self' we imagine ourselves to be, we need to connect with the deeper level of our being as the 'subject' rather than an 'object', where we are the perceiver of our thoughts and sensations. This level is ever-present as there is continual awareness of our thoughts and sensations. Whilst we identify with the mind this level is overlooked; the mind continues the vicious circle of obsessive thinking by processing these thoughts and sensations and relating them to the imaginary self-image that it has concocted. 

However, we can easily escape from this vicious circle by simply investigating the nature and relationship of these thoughts and sensations and our awareness of them. When this is fully accomplished we discover that, at the deepest level, we are the perceiver of these thoughts and sensations. These are just ephemeral objects which come and go, leaving the perceiver totally unaffected, in the same way that the sky is unaffected by the clouds which scud across it, or the ocean is undisturbed by the waves and swells that appear on its surface. 

This is what this book is designed to achieve, to take one beyond the 'separate self' we have imagined ourselves to be. In this we discover that most of our worries have no foundation for they are just the mind projecting into the future, wallowing in the past, or obsessing over the imaginary self-image it has conjured up. Once the mind is put in its place - as the servant and not the master - we start to see things as they truly are, and to recognize not only the deeper level of being within ourselves but also to recognize this in those around us. Then we see that our self-image and the images we have created of other people are all just illusions. At this deeper level we relate to others in a much more loving, wholesome way, for it becomes clear that there is in fact no separation between ourselves and others, as at this level we share the same constant conscious subjective presence. 

This is not a question of belief or imagination but of discovery by direct investigation, and for this to be effective we need to put aside all belief systems and acquired knowledge concerning who we are at the underlying level beyond thoughts and sensations. The only knowledge of this that is valid is that which is revealed to each one of us by direct experience. The easiest way for this direct experience to occur is by enquiring into the nature of experience itself, and for this enquiry to be effective we need to start from the position of believing and knowing nothing. 

The chapters that follow are aids to this enquiry, and as such should not just be read and intellectually considered but need to be taken slowly, step by step, not moving onto the next step until one fully 'sees' the step that is being considered. This does not mean to say that one needs to agree with each statement, as any investigation is personal, but one needs to understand what is being said. They map the author's own investigations, over a twelve-year period, and are given in the order in which they occurred. They each stem directly from a prolonged period of meditation and contemplation, and chart a growing understanding, through experiencing and seeing, of the nature of reality and our place within it. As such they need to be taken in the order given, as each one builds on what has been 'seen' in the preceding chapters. Also to get the most out of each chapter one needs to spend some time contemplating it until one 'feels' what it is pointing to; if a chapter is just read without due attention then its significance may well be missed. If, however, the reader becomes somewhat impatient because they truly feel that they have 'got' what is being offered, then they can go on to chapter 14, 'So What … What Now?', and return to the earlier unread chapters, when and as they wish. It would be unadvisable to do this until one has finished chapter 4 'The Perceiver Not the Perceived'. 

Before starting we need to discuss the nature of awareness itself. It is obvious that we would not 'know' (be aware of) our own perceptions without awareness being present. This does not mean that we are always conscious of each one of them, as this is dictated by where we put our attention, or upon what we focus our mind. However, all sensations detected by the body are there in awareness, and we can readily become conscious of them by turning our attention to them. It is also true that our thoughts and mental images immediately appear in awareness, but these require less attention to be seen as they occur in the mind itself. So awareness is like the screen on which all of our thoughts and sensations appear, and the mind becomes conscious of these by focusing on them. Take, for example, what happens when you open your eyes and look at a beautiful view: everything seen immediately appears in awareness, but for the mind to make anything of this it needs to focus upon certain elements of what is seen. 'There is an amazing tree', 'wow look at that eagle', 'what a stunning sky', etc. To be sure, you may just make a statement like 'what a beautiful view', but this does not in itself say much and is so self-evident as to be not worth saying! 

The point is that the mind is a tool for problem-solving, information storing, retrieval and processing, and evaluating the data provided by our senses. It achieves this by focusing on specific sensations, thoughts or mental images that are present in awareness, and 'processing' these. In fact we only truly see 'things as they are' when they are not seen through the filter of the mind, and this occurs when what is encountered is able to 'stop the mind'. For instance we have all had glimpses of this at various times in our lives, often when seeing a beautiful sunset, a waterfall or some other wonderful natural phenomenon. These may seem other-worldly or intensely vivid, until the mind kicks in with any evaluation when everything seems to return to 'normal'. In fact nature is much more vivid and alive when directly perceived, and the more we identify with the 'perceiver', as awareness itself, the more frequently we see things 'as they are'. 

However, as long as we identify with our imaginary self-image we are always trying to better ourselves, achieve more - knowledge, possessions, power, fame, etc. - polish this self-image and generally build ourselves up. This tends to make us live in the future and stops us living fully in the present moment. The other side of this coin is to live in regret as to what might have been, self-loathing, melancholy or nostalgia and yearning for the past. This, once again, stops us seeing 'what is' here and now, either by making us live in the past or by the mind spinning on our failures and lack of self-worth. 

The following chapters are aids in the investigation of one's moment-to-moment experience. These are designed to enable you to discover this deeper level of being where you are truly the 'perceiver' not the 'perceived'.

The Author – A short spiritual biography 

I was born into a strict, but joyful, Methodist family. From the ages of 11-17 I was sent to a Methodist boarding school, which I left with the conviction that organized Christianity was not for me. I could see that what Christ said about living was wonderful, but that the church did not really promote his teachings rather concentrating on him as our ‘saviour’ and on the purportedly ‘miraculous’ facets of his life. It was also very apparent that many so called Christians were not interested in practicing what he taught. This was now 1965 and living in central London during the years of flower-power  I experimented with various hallucinogens, finding them very beneficial for opening my subconscious which allowed years of conditioning to pour out. This left me feeling totally ‘cleansed’ and unburdened, ready to start life anew in a spirit of investigation as to the nature of reality. The psychedelic states also presaged, gave a glimpse of, mystical states which I suspected were attainable through spiritual practices. I then embarked on a study of Gurdjieff  and Ouspensky which I found absolutely fascinating and was convinced that self-realization was the purpose of life. However they made the process sound so onerous that (being young, foot-loose and fancy-free) I decided to shelve the whole project temporarily. 

It was not until eight years later that I resumed the spiritual search when Janet (my partner) introduced me to my first yoga-teacher, Matthew O’Malveny, who inspired us by quoting passages from the Upanishads, Dhammapada, and other scriptures during the class. He also emphasized the importance of relaxation and meditation. There followed a few years of investigating various spiritual paths including a prolonged dalliance with the Brahma Kumaris (Raja Yoga) whose meditations were wonderful, but whose dogma was very hard to take. We then moved into the country to start a pottery and immersed ourselves in Satyananda Yoga, an organization which had no dogma but taught a wide range of yogic practices. We were both initiated into karma sannyas by Swami Satyananda and adopted a yogic lifestyle consisting of asanas, pranayama, yoga nidra, meditation, kirtan and vegetarianism. 

During this time I was at a silent retreat when I happened to pick up a volume entitled The Gospel of Ramakrishna which introduced me to this amazing being who practiced many spiritual paths, within Hinduism and also Islam and Christianity, discovering that they all lead to the same result. He was then approached by many devotees from these various paths all of whom he was able to teach in their own path, whilst emphasizing the harmony of religions. A few years later I was lucky enough to find an erudite nun in the Sarada Ramakrishna Order, based in Sydney, who initiated me into the worship of this amazing being. This entailed two to three hours of daily meditation, japa (mantra repetition) during daily activities, reading every word said by or written about him, including daily readings of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and chanting. I continued this sadhana quite happily for ten years. I then encountered a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Gangaji, who said ‘Stop! Be still, you are already That’. The message being that the effort and search were masking that which is always present; all that was required was to ‘stop’ and see what is always here. After many years of struggle and effort this news came like a breath of fresh air and I glimpsed the essence, that undeniable ever-present reality. This was followed by a seven day silent retreat which resulted in my first ‘awakening’, and also in an ecstasy that slowly faded over the following year. 

This book came about from the realisation that occurred then and has matured over the following 12 years. During this time I wrote a series of articles, for an e-mail news group, based on my meditations and contemplations, around which this book is based. At the same time I have also completed an honours degree in comparative religion and philosophy, using the insights gained by my spiritual practices to inform my essays. Some of these essays have been adapted to include as chapters in  this book.

Beyond the 'Separate Self'

The End of Anxiety and Mental Suffering

A Simple Guide to Awakening

Based on the Meditations, Contemplations, and Experiences
of Forty Years of Spiritual Search and Practice

by Colin Drake

Copyright 2009 by Colin Drake. All rights reserved.
ISBN: [978-0-646-52907-3]

Beyond the Separate Self
by Colin Drake

A Light Unto Your Self
by Colin Drake

A Light Unto Your Self:
Self Discovery Through Investigation of Experience

Colin Drake

‘By observing mental states you also become aware of the seven factors of enlightenment. These are: awareness of awareness, investigation of the Way, vigour, joy, serenity, concentration and equanimity.’ (The Buddha, Maha Sattipatthana Sutta 14-16)

The first two are paramount and the last five are outcomes of these. This is what this book is all about, becoming ‘aware of awareness’ through direct investigation and then continuing with further ‘investigation of the Way’ (the Tao, the nature of reality). Once one is aware of awareness then one can become ‘A Light Unto Yourself’ by undertaking further investigations not needing to relying on any ‘teachings’, although these may be useful for confirming what one has discovered.

Comments from Peter Signell on the Author:
'I know Colin Drake through his magnificent writing.’
‘Your words seem to always ring so true to me.’
‘You can only imagine how much I have wished for this clarity.’


Introduction 3

Prologue – The Problem 20

1 Each Moment Reveals the Absolute 28

2 A Light unto Yourself 36

3 Separation is Suffering 43

4 Awakening 46

5 The Myth of Doing Nothing 51

6 Restless Mind … No Problem 57

7 Memories are Made of This 66

8 Nonduality 71

9 Awakening is not an Experience 76

10 Awareness a No-Brainer 82

11 The Fundamental Secret 88

12 Awareness of Awareness 95

13 Hakuin’s Song of Freedom 101

14 Investigation is Experiential not Intellectual 105

15 Nonduality and Religion 112

16 Instruments of the Absolute 119

17 Purpose and Meaning 125

18 On This and That 142

19 Nothing Has Essential Meaning 149

20 Free Will … Myth or Reality? 158

21 The Practical Application of Awakening 166

22 Love: Agape and Eros 173

Appendix One: So What … What Now? 191

Appendix Two: All or Nothing 202

Spiritual Biography 208

Glossary 211

Bibliography 213


The aim of this book is twofold: firstly to help you, the reader, become ‘a light unto yourself’.  This will be facilitated by providing a framework in which you can investigate the nature of your moment to moment experience, which hopefully will result in you achieving what the Buddha called ‘the first factor of enlightenment’: becoming ‘aware of awareness’.  The second is to provide pointers so that the book can help shed ‘light onto your Self’.  That is to point to the nature of your true Self, which can be discovered by your own investigations.

This book is the sequel to Beyond the Separate Self (hereafter called Beyond) and is a collection of articles written since this was published.  These are mainly of two types: the first being replies to questions, comments and criticisms from readers of the book; and the second being the outcome of my ongoing investigations.

I carry out these investigations to deepen my own understanding of the nature of Reality and then write them down when new insights arise.  This is so that I can re-read them and then continue my investigation from any of these ‘staging points’ that have been discovered.  Some of these insights are so subtle, and tenuous, that they are easily buried by day-to-day living. It’s rather like exploring a trackless wilderness in stages and adding to the ‘map’ after each exploration. 

However, these additions are rare and most investigation involves re-covering mapped ground.  Moreover, even this is very useful as one ‘sees’ deeper and discovers nuances that were missed on previous excursions.  This deepening entails becoming more established in identifying with and as pure awareness … which is ‘the name of the game’.  The continual ‘seeing’ slowly changes one’s psyche and mind-set from identifying with the body/mind to identifying with the deeper level of pure awareness. 

Another idea to bear in mind is that the ‘map’ is not a linear path and that any staging point that has been discovered after one has become ‘aware of awareness’ may be used as the starting point for further investigation.  Rather like being able to dive into the ocean from a variety of locations.  Now I can use any of the discoveries that I have made as a springboard from which to re-commence the exploration.  The wonderful thing is that there is no end to this investigation as what is being explored is limitless.

As time goes by you too will make your own discoveries and verbalize your own pathways into this recognition of pure awareness.  I strongly advise you to record in writing these discoveries and pathways, as the reading of them before your practice will put you in the right frame of mind, and inspire you.  In the final analysis your ‘pathway in’ will become particular to your own mind, and writings produced by your mind will always appeal more than those produced by another mind.  Ultimately you have to become, as the Buddha said, ‘a light unto yourself’.

One other point is that the aim is to become completely established in ‘awareness of awareness’ and identified with pure awareness.  For this no effort is required, just relaxing into and recognizing awareness itself.  Rather like jumping into the ocean and then floating effortlessly… As this takes place one is carried by the prevailing ‘currents’ and new insights are encountered spontaneously.  If these do not occur this is not a problem as awareness of, and identification with, awareness is the goal.

So these articles were written by me in the spirit of being ‘a light unto myself’ and it is hoped they will be of some use to you, the reader, in your own investigations.  As you follow this ‘map’ you need to consider each scene (staging point) carefully and see whether you can truly ‘see’ what is being said.  Hopefully when this ‘seeing’ occurs they will provide staging points from which you can start your own inquiry.

There is necessarily some duplication between them as what is being discussed is so simple.  They are different ‘takes’ on the same simplicity, presenting the material in various ways whilst building upon what has been discovered, so some repetition is unavoidable.  It should also be noted that each of these are, as far as is possible, stand-alone investigations/contemplations, or answers to readers, thus they need to make sense by themselves.  Therefore some sections of each will contain similar passages, so that they are relatively complete when read in isolation.

This duplication can in fact be very valuable for it is not enough to become ‘aware of awareness’ once and assume that this will produce profound awakening.  This seeing is an awakened moment which will soon tend to be submerged by old thought patterns.  To overcome these requires experiencing these awakened moments regularly on a daily (hourly, or by the minute would be better) basis.  That is why I recommend relaxing into the recognition of pure awareness at least three times daily … see ‘So What … What Now?’ in the appendix.

To aid this process the basic eight steps of investigation which reveal that we are awareness itself (and that everything arises in, exists in and subsides back into this) are repeated at the beginning, middle and end of the book in the first, eleventh and twenty first chapters.  Every time I use this process myself I find it grows in power as these steps become more obvious. Even now ten years after they were developed I still use them occasionally to deepen my identification with awareness.

It’s rather like having a disease and being given a course of antibiotics and pain-killers.  It’s not enough to take the medication once and feel much better, one must continue until the course of medication has been finished and the disease is completely cured.  In the same way, for most of us, the dis-ease of misidentification with the body/mind is chronic, having been established as long as we can remember and to cure it completely is going to require a prolonged course of treatment. 

However, in the same way that each pain-killer relieves the symptoms of a physical disease, so each investigation and discovery of awareness will relieve the symptoms of misidentification.  Also as one takes more pain killers when the symptoms return, so when mental suffering and anxiety (the symptoms of misidentification) return these can be dispelled by becoming ‘aware of awareness’ and re-identifying with this.

This brings up a very important point: any time where there is any mental suffering caused by identifying with painful thoughts, or feelings, this should be a wake-up call to the fact that we are misidentifying.  Any mental suffering can be used as a direct pointer back to the deeper level of our being: pure awareness.

As the chapters of this book build upon what has been discussed in Beyond many of them contain portions of that work.  The focus of that was self-identity, which has been broadened in this present work to include other aspects of Reality.  This book also contains more practical information with regard to enhancing one’s own investigations and living in the world.  Beyondalso contained such pointers which sometimes just needed rearranging to inform the topic under consideration.

It could be argued that I should have reworded these sections to avoid repetition.  However, as these were all written spontaneously as a direct result of my inquiries/contemplations they would lose some of their directness and aliveness if they were changed.  I have come across teachers who are continually rewording their message in an attempt to avoid well worn words and phrases, with the result that what they say gets more and more obscure.  It is said that ‘the Tao cannot be spoken’, which is true, but there are words which point to it quite clearly. When you abandon words such as awareness, The Absolute, enlightenment, awakening, emptiness, nothingness etc.  the message becomes very ‘muddy’ and almost unintelligible. 

Each chapter should be treated as an aid to your enquiry into the nature of Reality, and as such should not just be read and intellectually considered but need to be taken slowly, step by step, not moving onto the next step until one fully ‘sees’ the step that is being considered.  This does not mean to say that one needs to agree with each statement, as any investigation is personal, but one needs to understand what is being said.  Also to get the most out of each chapter one needs to spend some time contemplating it until one ‘feels’ what it is pointing to; if a chapter is just read without due attention then its significance may well be missed. 

The prologue describes, clearly and succinctly, the problem with misidentifying as a separate object and the need to overcome this.  It also sets the scene for the chapters that follow.  This is an edited version of chapter one of Beyond The Separate Self  and, as such, may be skipped over by its readers if they wish.

Chapter one is a result of a recent contemplation into my direct experience of the moment and quickly morphed into investigating the properties of the Absolute.  When I came to write this down I found I could do no better than use sections of writings resulting from other contemplations.  However, this was very useful as I had decided to start this book by recapping the basic framework for investigating one’s moment to moment experience, and when I reread the finished article it had done just that … plus a bit more.

Chapter two was the reply to a reader who compared Beyond with teachings he had acquired from A Course in Miracles.  The gist of the response is that the initial investigation of experience must be carried out from a position of ‘knowing nothing’.  Then one’s discoveries are one’s own, not second hand, and if the process is pursued one becomes ‘a light unto oneself’.

Chapter three was the outcome of my own mental suffering caused by re-identifying myself as an object … an old habit my mind occasionally relapses into.  I decided to really stick it to my mind by putting together a punchy article to which I could refer whenever this old habit resurfaced.  This brings up the point that I write these articles for myself as much as for others.  They are a case in point of me being ‘a light unto myself’.

Chapter four resulted from a contemplation concerning who indeed is the experiencer? What is it that has always been present and has witnessed my entire life?  The investigation took a slightly different, and much more direct, route than is often the case.  The results are then confirmed by agreeing with passages from the Upanishads.  However, such confirmation is useless unless the results are the outcome of one’s own experiential investigations.

Chapter five was inspired by a friend who had been interested in nonduality, reading books and attending satsangs, for many years but who still suffered from acute existential anxiety. However, when questioned it turned out that he did nothing, on a regular basis, to establish himself in nondual awareness.  He had been greatly influenced by teachers who say there is nothing one can do, and that everything just ‘happens by itself’, but that had just left him with the feeling of complete despair. 

Chapter six was the direct result of my own experiences of ‘relaxing into awareness’ when my mind was very busy or restless.  I discovered that this was absolutely not a problem as there is nothing to achieve, find, or get as awareness is always present.  This very recognition meant that the restless mind was no longer regarded as an obstacle, and this in turn tended to result in the mind settling by itself.  But even if this did not happen it wasn’t a problem as awareness is totally unaffected by anything occurring in it.

Chapter seven is my reply to a reader who had read in Dialogue of Consciousness that ‘memory is just a concept’ and that ‘nothing exists’.  She did not know quite what to make of this evidenced by her query: ‘But sometimes I also wonder if people are still there when I’m not there.’  This chapter is my ‘take’ on these two earlier statements.

Chapter eight was written in reply to an invitation to define nonduality.  I was going to be interviewed on the radio and the first suggested question was ‘What is Nonduality?’ My reply starts with a definition of nonduality and then relies heavily on chapter four of Beyond: ‘The Perceiver not the Perceived’.  This is because I could not find any way of saying it better … for me it put it in a nutshell.

Chapter nine was written as a direct response from a reader who said he was longing for the experience of awakening.  This very common and I suffered from it for over twenty years. However, awakening is not an experience but a recognition of something that has never been lost, and the experiences that result from this realisation are ephemeral and vary greatly from person to person.

Chapter ten is the response to a sceptic materialist who had read one of my articles in a general newsletter.  It does address the most common issue, which is that most people think that there cannot be any awareness without a brain.  In fact many people hold this as self-evident due to identification with their body/mind.  So I was glad to posit that ‘awareness is a no-brainer.’

Chapter eleven was my response to the movie The Secret which posits that one can gain everything one wants by applying ‘the law of attraction’.  ‘Ask, believe and receive’ is the motto of those that wish to create abundance by applying the power of their mind and positive thinking.  However, there is a much more fundamental secret by which one realizes that ‘absolute abundance’ is always present.  This only requires a simple recognition and then it is always available.

Chapter twelve came about due to the intransigence of one of my readers, with whom I have had a lengthy correspondence, who could not recognise the difference between awareness and thought.  I decided to point out as many differences as I could and also to stress the importance of becoming ‘aware of awareness’.

Chapter thirteen was the result of my studies during which I encountered the beautiful ‘Song of Freedom’ by Hakuin.  I could see that to fully appreciate this one needed to understand key Buddhist terms so I decided to write a commentary on it.  These terms are also defined in the glossary.

Chapter fourteen was a direct response to someone who said they had realised pure awareness but this had not banished their anxiety.  This is because this realisation was intellectual, rather than experiential; or because they had not cultivated this realisation until it was firmly established.  This chapter elaborates on these issues.

Chapter fifteen was stimulated by the comments of one of the keynote speakers at a nonduality conference.  He posited that spirituality is breaking away from religion.  However, spirituality (and, up to a point, nonduality) are basic to all of the major religions, so I felt the balance needed to be redressed.

Chapter sixteen is a result of my own investigations and contemplations into the function of conscious beings.  For this to be experiential I had to start with my own body/mind and then extrapolate the results as applying to all conscious organisms.  I also consider how the world’s religions see this and show how the Upanishads concur with my findings.

Chapter seventeen is a combination of the chapter in Beyond on ‘Purpose and Meaning’ and a more exhaustive essay, on the same subject, that I wrote as a major assignment for a philosophy unit.  The main difference is that this new article is deeper and distinguishes between purpose and meaning.

Chapter eighteen is an updated version of ‘On This and That’, the poem that appears in Beyond.  It clarifies a few points in the original, and has been provided with a more extensive commentary.  The purpose of the poem is that it is short, easy to remember, and is a précis of just about everything I have discovered.

Chapter nineteen investigates whether anything has essential meaning.  That is whether any ‘thing’ has meaning with regard to our essential identity, who or what we are.  It also addresses the major human problem of ‘reading meaning into things that have no meaning’ In addition there is a discussion about the essential meaning of nothingness.

Chapter twenty is my response to a teacher who is a determinist, which means that he believes that we have no free will at all.  At the Absolute level this is clear, for there is no personal self and therefore no personal free will … only the will of the Absolute.  At the surface level of mind/body this is less clear and this chapter explores this.

Chapter twenty one came about when my neighbour asked me for help in achieving equanimity whist beset with worldly troubles.  I realised that, although I had sympathy for his plight, this would not help him at all.  What was required was a paradigm shift so that he could respond to his worldly problems in a spontaneous and therefore appropriate (for him) manner, rather than to react to them.

Chapter twenty two is an adapted essay from my honours degree, which considered the differences between Eros,  a form of individual love, and Agape, universal love. It attempts to show that the former is exhibited by those who identify themselves as ‘separate beings’, and the latter by those identify themselves with the universal – the Totality of consciousness and energy.

Wrapping up the book posed me a problem for I was looking for a way to finish by offering practical pointers on how to become fully established in ‘awareness of awareness’, that is identification with and as pure awareness, whilst living one’s day to day worldly life.  So I decided to add appendices consisting of two vital chapters from Beyond which contain this information.  I took this approach as I found I could do no better than repeating ‘So What … What Now?’ and ‘All or Nothing’.  They are my own set of practical suggestions and I find them as fresh and helpful as ever when I read them, so I offer no apology for including them.  They are yet another example of me being ‘a light unto myself’. 

They also make this book ‘complete’ in itself so that it does not rely on the reader owning a copy of Beyond, although for going completely Beyond the Separate Self  this would  be beneficial.  If you have any questions or would like to leave feedback you are welcome to e-mail me at [email protected] .  I am quite happy to clarify any points that you do not understand; however, I would rather not field questions on topics that are clearly covered in the text.  If you are not sure it would be advisable to wait until you have finished the book, as you may well find that your question is answered.

A Light Unto Your Self:
Self Discovery Through Investigation of Experience

Colin Drake

Copyright © 2011 by Colin Drake
All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-0-646-55269-9

A Light Unto Your Self
by Colin Drake

Awakening and Beyond
by Colin Drake


Introduction 4
1 The Razor’s Edge 12
2 Awareness and The Environment 18
3 The Myth of Yoga or Integration 24
4 Give Up the Story 28
5 Why Do Anything? 32
6 Are there Different Degrees of Awakening? 42
7 Is Practice Necessary? 46
8 No Seeker 53
9 How to Apply Nondual Awareness 58
10 Proof 67
11 Overcoming Negative Thoughts 73
12 The Awakened Eye 80
13 Awakening, Karma and Renunciation 87
14 Awareness and Emotions 96
15 Awareness and Awakening 102
16 In Praise of The Absolute 108
17 Awakening and Beyond 114
18 The Universe and Consciousness 128
19 The Case Against ‘Sitting Meditation’ 136
20 Good and Evil 148
21 Is a Guru Necessary? 152
22 Love is ‘No Separation’ 159
23 Love Loving Itself 166
24 Nirvana, Awareness and The Absolute 177
25 Two Nondual Perspectives 182
Buddha and The Upanishads
Appendix 1: Investigation of Experience 199 
Appendix 2: Instruments of The Absolute 206
Spiritual Biography 211
Glossary 215
Bibliography 219
Index 221

Awakening and Beyond, by Colin Drake, is a series of articles written since the publication of the Author's second book A Light Unto Your Self. It is the third in the trilogy which started with Beyond the Separate Self. Each book deals with Awakening, from the dream of being a separate object on the earth, and each is written so as to stand alone … not requiring the reader to have read the other works.

‘I really enjoyed the book. Anyone reading it should have no problem "getting" what awakening, awareness, and the function of the body/mind are all about. And you provide lots of supportive text from traditional sources to back-up your teachings.’ – Jerry Katz

Here are some comments by readers of these articles.

Thanks, Colin for another fine dissertation……you are speaking the unspeakable clearer and clearer.- Paul Bedson.

Superb article. Fantastically well put. So simple any 'one' could get it! – Piers Mooreede

This clear recognition was brought about by a particularly radiant pointing by Colin Drake - Hanumandass

As usual, this is an exceptionally lucid and practical discussion of the ephemeral “I” and the changeless Reality which underlies all. Well done! – Don Wolfe

This is a great article - Jerry Katz on reading 'Is a Guru Necessary'.

In his brilliant email newsletter, (Nirvana, Awareness and The Absolute) author Colin Drake ... - Colin Yardley

Great article (Love loving Itself). Thanks. Love, Isaac Shapiro

Introduction to Awakening and Beyond

This book is the follow up to Beyond The Separate Self and A Light Unto Your Self. All of these books deal with self-identity, ‘Who am I?’; which is vital, for without a clear idea of one’s essential identity one cannot relate to the world, and others, in an appropriate way. To give a stark example: we have all heard of people who are incarcerated because they believe they are Jesus Christ, or Napoleon Bonaparte say, and it is fairly apparent that any relationship to such a person will be somewhat unusual to say the least! In the same way whilst we believe that we are separate objects, in a universe of separate objects, then we will naturally treat ourselves and others as objects, which I think we can see to be an unsatisfactory arrangement. For this tends to lead to blatant self-interest and exploitation of our fellow beings, the outcome of which is apparent in the modern world.

So the quest is to inquire and discover that which is beyond objectification, the deeper level that is the perceiver, the subjective level in which objects (thoughts and sensations) come and go. This is easily achieved by directly investigating our moment to moment experience, and the previous books provided a simple framework in which this investigation may be easily carried out, see appendix 1. Beyond The Separate Self also included a series of contemplations delving more deeply into what is discovered, and chapters on how to live from this deeper subjective level. A light Unto Your Self continues this whilst concentrating on the need to discover for oneself so that no outside authority is necessary. It also provides a series of contemplations on how to cultivate the first awakening which is the outcome of the initial investigation, and on how to ‘apply’ this awakening to our day to day existence.

This book continues this theme whilst providing pointers as to what can be expected when one is ‘awake’ and some of the outcomes of awakening. It also stresses the need for continued cultivation of this, for we have all lived for so long misidentifying as a separate being that we readily ‘nod off’ again requiring another awakening. The author knows this only too well and makes no claim to ‘lack of sleep’! However, when one is awake one is awake … so that anything that is discovered, or encountered, in this awakened condition is a valid topic in the smorgasbord that is Awakening and Beyond. For more on this see chapter six: ‘Are there Different Degrees of Awakening?’

Much of the information in the following articles relies on the discovery that our body/minds are instruments through which Consciousness can sense, contemplate, experience, act in, engage with and enjoy Its manifestation. The chapter from A Light Unto Your Self , which deals with this, has been included as appendix 2 and it would be advisable to read the appendices first.

Chapter one considers the concept that staying awake is like ‘walking along a razor’s edge’ as has been defined in The Upanishads and was the topic of a famous novel by Somerset Maugham. Or as Jesus is purported to say: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7 v.10) The thrust of this chapter is that awakening is actually remarkably simple, see appendix 1 (Investigation of Experience) which outlines the framework for investigating one’s moment to moment experience. It also highlights how easy it is to fall asleep again and in this respect staying awake could be said to be like ‘walking a razor’s edge’. Luckily however, re-awakening is even easier than the first awakening and so ‘nodding off’ is not a problem provided one continually wakes up again …

Chapter two considers the looming global environmental catastrophe and posits that humanity can only overcome this by solving the problems of overpopulation and the unsustainable exploitation of the earth’s mineral resources. These are caused by those old chestnuts - lust and greed - and this chapter considers how these may be reduced by awakening to our true identity.

Chapter three is concerned with debunking the myth that we need to achieve union (yoga) or integration with the Absolute, for when the subject is examined there is no separation to be found, and thus no union or integration is possible.

Chapter four deals with giving up our personal ‘story’ of a separate being (object) and seeing this as it actually is … just a story.

Chapter five is the answer to a question I received, the gist of which is: If I identify with Awareness why would I want to do anything? The answer concerns the function of conscious beings and the purpose of life itself. This was the first article in a set of four I wrote for the spiritual ‘blog’ of Hanumandass.

Chapter six is the second of these which deals with the questions of whether there are different degrees of awakening, and whether awakening is gradual or sudden.

Chapter seven is the third in the series and is my answer to the question: Is practice necessary? The article deals with this on three levels –body, mind and awakening.

Chapter eight is the last in this series which deals with the problem of identifying oneself as seeker, or practitioner. It also highlights the essential meaningless of labels that attempt to categorize human beings, and deals with the pitfalls of ‘reading meaning into things that have no meaning’.

Chapter nine is a dialogue between myself and Hanumandass which resulted from my answering his blogged question: ‘how to apply nondual Awareness to the external world?’ The gist of my answer was that one does not (need to) apply this in the normal way, for once one awakens then this changes one’s relations with, and interaction in, the external world for the better. To back this up I sent him a poem on the subject - Awakening is Immensely Practical – which had a profound effect.

Chapter ten is an attempt at a logical proof of the assertion that ‘I am Awareness’. It gives a set of premises to back this up and also presents the proof in the Aristotelian format – premise one, premise two, conclusion.
Chapter eleven is a dialogue between myself and a reader of Beyond The Separate Self who greatly appreciated the book but was still continually overcome by memories and negative thought patterns. 

Chapter twelve was written for a website called ‘The Awakened Eye’ which is dedicated to the visual arts created by those who have had some degree of awakening, and also to the fact that creating artworks can foster this awakening. It deals with the general subject of ‘Awareness and Creativity’.

Chapter thirteen is my response to a critic who questioned the fact that awakening was freely available to those who were prepared to investigate reality for themselves, and who also asserted that one had to renounce the world of form to achieve peace (by awakening).

Chapter fourteen is a dialogue with a reader of A Light Unto Your Self which concerns viewing one’s negative emotions from (identifying with) pure Awareness, how to allow the old thought patterns (that create these) to just come and go without buying into them. It also considers the fact that as one awakens one’s emotions gradually change, allowing for the enjoyment of the positive ones whilst letting the negative ones go.

Chapter fifteen is a dialogue with a German professor who had enjoyed a first awakening but was unsure of its veracity. So he asked a series of questions concerning the link between (identifying as) Awareness and awakening.

Chapter sixteen is a poem I wrote in praise of (Universal) Consciousness in its two modes – at rest as Awareness- and in motion as cosmic energy (manifestation). In Hindu mythology the first of these is denoted by Siva and the second by Sakti.

Chapter seventeen consists of my answers to a set of questions posed by Jerry Katz, my first e-book publisher, who was writing a book on ‘Life After Awakening’.

Chapter eighteen deals with ‘the universe and consciousness’ from a scientific point of view and attempts to show how this agrees with the model of nonduality: that there is only consciousness existing in two states - still, as Awareness, and in motion, as energy.

Chapter nineteen considers whether ‘sitting meditation’, which entails concentration on a mantra, or a symbol, or the breath is of any use in achieving freedom. Or, whether it is counter-productive as it posits something (in the future) to achieve when the concentration deepens, thus positing that freedom is not already here. Whereas, freedom is always ‘here and now’ just requiring the recognition of its presence.

Chapter twenty reflects on ‘good and evil’ and attempts to show that they both stem from the same motivation, that of becoming happy, or fulfilled. Their outward expression varies depending on the state of comparative ‘awakening’ exhibited by the doer.

Chapter twenty-one asks the question of whether a Guru, in the traditional sense, is necessary on the path of Jnana-Yoga (knowledge) or self-inquiry. 

Chapter twenty-two attempts to show that ‘Love’ can be defined as the state of ‘No Separation’ between the lover and the beloved.

Chapter twenty-three is an exercise using the body/mind as an instrument through which the lover – consciousness at rest, pure awareness – and the beloved – consciousness in motion, the manifestation – can ‘know’ and love each other.

Chapter twenty-four posits that the realization of the Absolute, by investigation of experience, leads to nirvana. Or you could say that nirvana is synonymous with being totally identified as, and with, Awareness - The Absolute Reality.

Chapter twenty-five considers how two nondual perspectives, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, through the Upanishads, reflect and inform one another.

Awakening and Beyond
by Colin Drake

Humanity, Our Place In The Universe
by Colin Drake

Examines how the five mainstream religions conceive of 'our place in the universe' by considering their beliefs concerning: God, the creation, the nature of man, the purpose of life and the afterlife. 

A clear, succinct and expanded edition of the author's Honours thesis. Here are some of the examiners' comments:

A well collated and analyzed selection of relevant scriptures. Clearly set out, well written and carefully considered, showing his understanding. It is an informative encapsulation of the material for any reader. A thesis of tight construction and careful categorization of the evidence. Ex. One

I read your thesis with great interest. I enjoyed reading it and think you have taken on a huge and important project. The established categories help enormously in making the subject comprehensible and your methodology is a good technique for exploring the complexities of religious thought. I think that your conclusion, that each religion posits that one must go beyond one's individual ego in order to attain higher realization, is valid. Ex. Two

This is a very interesting thesis, covering a vast topic area. The author's willingness to tackle such an involved and challenging task is to be commended. His ability to come to grips with many of the key tenets of each religion is commendable. A most fascinating discussion of the various religions. Ex. Three.

The streams examined are Judaism/Kabbalah, Christian Fundamentalism/Catholicism, Islam/Sufism, Advaita Vedanta/Vaishnavism, and Theravadan/Tibetan Buddhism.

~ ~ ~

to Humanity: Our Place in the Universe, by Colin Drake

This book considers the place of humanity in the universe according to the world's major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. This is accomplished by exploring the correlation between self-identity and world-view in each of these in turn; that is to say, the interaction between the way in which adherents of a particular religious viewpoint see, or define, themselves and the way in which they see and relate to the world. This exploration requires examining the central beliefs of these religions, for it is within the framework of these beliefs that the concepts of self-identity and world-view become apparent. There are many different forms of self-identity, examples being materialist, dualist, monist, universal and even that of no-self (anatta) in Buddhism. These inform and are informed by one's view of the world and one's place in it, and a change in either, by religious conversion for example, may radically change the other. 

This analysis highlights the similarities and differences of the place and function of the individual in the world's five major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. It also shows why some religions stress participation in the world and human affairs, whereas others are more focussed on the personal journey towards enlightenment and considers the relationship between self-identity and the belief, or lack of belief, in the afterlife. The world-view of each religion helps explain the different lifestyles adopted by its adherents, some seemingly centred on material acquisition and enjoyment, others on being 'good' so as to gain entry to heaven, others on devoting oneself or submitting to a chosen deity and finally the path of detachment and spiritual practices to attain enlightenment.

The world-view to be considered is the purely religious view of an adherent to a particular religious system and not the political, legalistic, or cultural view which may be imposed by the authorities of this system in different parts of the world. This religious view would be common to adherents of each system worldwide and is primary to the shaping of a sincere follower's world-view, whereas the local political, legalistic and cultural mores of that system are variable and would be of secondary importance in the formation of a devotee's view of the world. The laws, rules, rituals and practices specified in the system's scriptures are part of the framework in which an adherent can achieve life's purpose, as specified by that system, but are not to be considered here, as this part of the framework lies outside the scope of this book. 

In order to study this religious view, consider five elements, that is to say, the way that religious systems answer the five big existential questions:

1. God: Is there a God, or an Absolute and if so what is its nature? 

2. Creation: How was the universe created and what is the nature and purpose of this creation?

3. The Nature of Man: What is the essential nature of a human being - are we ephemeral material beings or do we possess some kind of indestructible essence? 

4. The Purpose of Life: What is the purpose of life? 

5. The Afterlife: What happens upon the death of the human body? Does this entail annihilation or is there some kind of afterlife and, if so, what is its nature? 

As can be clearly seen, the world-view based on the answers to these questions contain the notion of self-identity such that a sudden change of one's conception of self-identity by a religious experience or sudden conversion will lead to a significant change of one's world-view. 

In each religion is presented the orthodox or fundamental view, based entirely on that religion's scriptures, and at least one other view that has developed since these scriptures were written down. However, this book does not consider how or when these developments came about, for it is the present day view of the world and self-identity within these religious systems that is being studied. For instance, if you are a Catholic and thus believe that you possess (are in fact) an immortal soul, this is what is important to you, and not how this idea developed from the interaction between early Christianity and Hellenistic philosophy. This brings up an important point: what is being studied is the interaction between world-view and self-identity in the religious system itself, and therefore only applies to someone who accepts and believes what that system says. A once a week 'Sunday' Catholic, or a sceptic born into Catholicism who uses it as an 'insurance policy', may find that her life is only marginally influenced by the Catholic world-view.

It is already becoming clear that discovering the answers to these five questions and thus the religious world-view within any religious system can only be done by studying that system from the inside out. That is to say, finding out what that system itself says and believes, either by studying the scriptures themselves with informed comment from those within that system, or by studying the writings and teachings of prominent leaders and commentators within the system. External commentators can be useful only where they are entirely sympathetic to the system in question and are thus unlikely to distort the views of that system based on their own views and prejudices. To ameliorate the effects of my personal bias, I have attempted an empathetic approach to each system studied.

The book is divided into five chapters, one on each of the religions being studied. In the Western tradition, Judaism is considered first, then Christianity and finally Islam, as they developed in that order, the latter two with the preceding religion(s) and their scripture(s) as a base. With regard to the Eastern religions, Hinduism is considered first, as the older Upanishads predate the birth of Buddha. 

The following scriptures are the primary sources used extensively in the sections on Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism: The Bible, The Qur'an, The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita. When the first three are quoted, two translations were checked against each other, and where there were substantial differences the alternate translation is provided in brackets. In the section on Gaudiya Vaishnavism, all quotes from the Bhagavad Gita are from the translation by A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is the foremost authority of this sect of Vaishnavism. In this case no other source was used as it is the world-view of this stream of Vaishnavism which is being studied. In all of the above cases each quote is not individually footnoted, but the chapter and verse numbers are provided and the translations of the scriptures used are given in the bibliography. In the section on Buddhism all quotes are individually referenced as there is no single major scriptural source.

With regard to secondary sources, I relied on experts from within each system being studied, for these are the ones that enunciate the world-view of that system without any external interpretation. This means that books by, and websites of, such people as rabbis, theologians, priests, imams, Sufi masters, Swamis, gurus, Buddhist monks and Tibetan lamas, were all useful. External commentators were only accessed where they either quote such sources or where the writer is either a follower of, or obviously sympathetic to, the system in question.

Each chapter considers the five elements, that is, answers the big questions of world-view, from the scriptural and a later viewpoint. Within this enunciation of the world-view the concept of self-identity of the religious adherent becomes clear. These elements are studied in the same order within each religion: God, creation, man's nature, the purpose of life and the afterlife. There is then an analysis of the correlation between this view of self-identity and each of the elements within the world-view to show how they interact with and help form each other. Finally there is a chapter which sums up and shows the similarities and differences between the religions discussed.

About Colin Drake…

I was born in London in 1948 and, after a happy childhood, attended Kent College in Canterbury from 1959-65. I then took a degree in mathematics at London University before gaining a job as a trainee computer programmer and working on large mainframe computers until 1972, when during a visit to East Africa I met Janet who was to become my life-long partner. After some time living in London together and travelling to Canada and the USA, we came to live in Australia, which was Janet's homeland. We lived worked and studied in Sydney for seven years before buying an old run-down macadamia farm in the mountain range on the NSW/QLD border where we established a pottery, Janet having qualified as a studio production potter. Here we have lived happily ever since, having two fine sons who have now left home, and being deeply involved in yoga and spiritual life. Janet is now a qualified yoga teacher and I have recently completed an honours degree in comparative religion and philosophy.

This book, Humanity: Our Place in The Universe, is a direct outcome of my honours year at The University of New England, comprising my thesis and coursework essay on Ramakrishna, who was chosen to highlight the themes examined in the thesis. This is, to my knowledge, the only book published that directly examines the central beliefs of the world's religions within the same framework, which allows for straightforward comparison of these beliefs. 

I have also completed another book entitled Beyond the Separate Self, The End of Anxiety and Mental Suffering which is a 'simple guide to awakening' based upon over 40 years of spiritual search, practice and experiences. This book contains meditations/contemplations written over a twelve year period since my first 'awakening' in 1996, and also contains relevant essays from my university days which have been modified to highlight the themes explored in this book.

Humanity: Our Place in the Universe
The Central Beliefs of the World's Religions
by Colin Drake

Copyright © 2010 by Colin Drake
All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-0-646-53376-6

Humanity, Our Place In The Universe
by Colin Drake

Awareness of Awareness: The Open Way
by Colin Drake

Awareness of Awareness - Reviews

This book is composed of articles written since the publication of Awakening and Beyond, the final in my trilogy on awakening. It is written to stand-alone as a book of pointers to awakening, not requiring the reader to have read any of my other works. Here are some comments by readers of these articles:

Fantastic topic – thank you so much for this! I was holding back because I didn’t want to give up personality and character – this gives a different way of looking at things. Tracy Beshara

I want to thank you for expressing a clear way for seeing my true nature. Hugh Tollan

Dear Colin, I love this latest posting.....the open way.........I appreciate the clarity and lightness of expression.  Paul Bedson

Thanks Colin for the wonderful books. You write with so much clarity that one can immediately become aware of the awareness that we all are.  Love Jeff Bradley

Hi Colin, It is such a wonderful thing to see that your writings are engaging people in such a healing way. You invite them to arrive home and that awareness is the greatest gift they can embrace.  Love, Cheryl Freeman

I must tell you that I find your writings most helpful. They are full of very strong pointers that bring me immediately into pure awareness. Thanks very much for that. Best regards

Thank you Colin for your great work, their (the articles) arrival is always timely and inspiring. And that NOW is always the right time to get at it.
Best to you and yours. Continued success, Brent

If the world of nondual spirituality ever seems muddy to you, take a swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Colin Drake. I love Colin's work. -Jerry Katz

Awareness of Awareness: The Open Way


Introduction  4
Prologue – Awareness and Thought 16
1 The Open Way 21
2 Is Awareness The Absolute Reality? 26
3 Self-Referencing The ‘Original Sin’ 32
4 Analysis The Disease Not The Cure 39
5 Oneness 44
6 Loving ‘What Is’  52
7 Ego Is Misidentification  59
8 The Myth of Ego 64
9 Why Write About The Ineffable? 68
10 The ‘Problem’ of Negative Thoughts 73
11 Handling Prejudice, Worldly and Racial 78
12 Awakening by Awareness of Awareness  83
13 Simplicity and Complexity  91
14 The Miraculous and The Auspicious 96
15 The Apparent Elasticity of Time 104
16 The Final Obstacle to Freedom 111
17 Awakening and Ethics 116
18 Staying Awake by The Bodhisattva Vow 121
19 Three Questions For Nondualists 129
20 Duality and Nonduality 137
21 The Seer, Knower and Enjoyer 145
22 The Question of ‘Sin’ 150
23 Two Modern Views of The Divine 156
24 The Fundamental Teachings of Buddhism 171
Appendix:  Investigation of Experience 182
Addendum: Love Loving Itself 190
Spiritual Biography 202
Glossary  205
Bibliography 209
Index 211
This book is written as a stand-alone guide to Awakening and is composed of articles written since the publication of Awakening and Beyond.  At the time I thought that this would be the last book, so much so that I told someone that Love Loving Itself (chapter 23 in the above book) was my final word.  It certainly felt like it at the time.  But since then the questions, discussions and answers have continued resulting in this book.  As I have said before I have no control over this process for I do not choose to sit and write articles, they just emerge from my meditations and contemplations or in response to questions and discussions.  There are long periods when no writing takes place and then sometimes I can hardly stop!

To readers of my previous books the title of this one may look familiar but it has an extra element in an attempt to clearly redefine the term 'awareness' so that there can be no confusion.  For recently I have realized that many people do not understand what I mean by this term, and this even applies to my previous readership.  The confusion occurs due to the fact that there are two meanings of 'awareness', the limited (by the mind) and unlimited, the first being a partial version (or incidence) of the second.  In what follows I have denoted the first by 'awareness' and the second by 'Awareness'.  In general whenever I use this term I am meaning this second, apart from in the term 'awareness of Awareness' which includes them both.  I hope this will be made clear in what follows:

‘By observing mental states you also become aware of the seven factors of enlightenment.  These are: awareness of Awareness, investigation of the Way, vigour, joy, serenity, concentration and equanimity.’ (The Buddha, Maha Sattipatthana Sutta 14-16)

The first two are paramount and the last five are outcomes of these.  This is what my books are all about, becoming ‘aware of Awareness’ through direct investigation and then continuing with further ‘investigation of the Way’ (the Tao, the nature of reality).  I call this the Open Way for it is open to all and is a way to Awaken.  The are many ‘ways’ but most of them are closed in that they require their adherents to have special knowledge, ability and discipline; whereas, awareness of Awareness is a simple direct seeing which when cultivated leads to full Awakening.

At this stage we need to become clear as to the meaning of the term ‘awareness’ which has two meanings which we must not confuse.  The phrase ‘awareness of Awareness’ utilises both of these meanings and for this reason I have used a capital letter for the second one so that they may be easily distinguished in what follows.

The first occurrence (awareness) is synonymous with mindfulness, that is ‘seeing’ with the mind, or keeping (something) in the mind.  It also means ‘becoming conscious of’, noticing, or perceiving, as in ‘I became aware of …’ This is the normal everyday usage as in the OED definition of ‘aware’ – having knowledge or perception of …

So the term ‘awareness of Awareness’ means becoming conscious, or having knowledge or perception, of Awareness.  We now need to define this Awareness which is simply the total ‘seeing’ and perceiving (or seer and perceiver) of everything detected by the mind and senses, whereas awareness (becoming aware of) is the partial ‘seeing’ of those thoughts/sensations on which the mind is focussed, or which are noticed.  So these are not different, awareness just being a limited version (or incidence) of Awareness. 

This is easy to directly experience by closing one’s eyes and seeing whether you can simultaneously be ‘aware of’ (notice) all of the thoughts/mental images and sensations that are occurring.  This is found to be impossible and yet these are all there in Awareness, which becomes apparent when one focuses one’s mind on , or turns one’s mind to, any of them….  and there they are! About this I wrote the following in Beyond The Separate Sefl:

It is obvious that we would not ‘know’ (be aware of) our own perceptions without Awareness being present.  This does not mean that we are always conscious of each one of them, as this is dictated by where we put our attention, or upon what we focus our mind.  However, all sensations detected by the body are there in Awareness, and we can readily become conscious of them by turning our attention to them.  It is also true that our thoughts and mental images immediately appear in Awareness, but these require less attention to be seen as they occur in the mind itself.  So Awareness is like the screen on which all of our thoughts and sensations appear, and the mind becomes conscious of these by focusing on them.  Take, for example, what happens when you open your eyes and look at a beautiful view: everything seen immediately appears in Awareness, but for the mind to make anything of this it needs to focus upon certain elements of what is seen.  ‘There is an amazing tree’, ‘wow look at that eagle’, ‘what a stunning sky’, etc.  To be sure, you may just make a statement like ‘what a beautiful view’, but this does not in itself say much and is so self-evident as to be not worth saying!

The point is that the mind is a tool for problem-solving, information storing, retrieval and processing, and evaluating the data provided by our senses.  It achieves this by focusing on specific sensations, thoughts or mental images that are present in Awareness, and ‘processing’ these.  In fact we only truly see ‘things as they are’ when they are not seen through the filter of the mind, and this occurs when what is encountered is able to ‘stop the mind’.  For instance we have all had glimpses of this at various times in our lives, often when seeing a beautiful sunset, a waterfall or some other wonderful natural phenomenon.  These may seem other-worldly or intensely vivid, until the mind kicks in with any evaluation when everything seems to return to ‘normal’.  In fact nature is much more vivid and alive when directly perceived, and the more we identify with the ‘perceiver’, as Awareness itself, the more frequently we see things ‘as they are’.  1

This Awareness is the constant conscious subjective presence in which our thoughts/mental images and sensations arise, abide, are spied and subside.  Before every one of them Awareness is present, during each one of them they are ‘seen’ by This and This is still here after they go.  Just check this out now – notice that before each thought/sensation there is Awareness of ‘what is’ (the totality of these at any given moment) , during each of these there is Awareness of them within ‘what is’ and after each of them has gone there is still Awareness of ‘what is’.

 Rumi described this as: the clear conscious core of your being, the same in ecstasy as in self-hating fatigue.  That is to say the Awareness in which the ecstasy or the self-hating fatigue appears.  Now generally you would just be aware of, and affected by, the phenomenal state.  If, however, you become aware of the Awareness in which this state is occurring and can fully identify with, and as, this Awareness then the state loses its power to affect your equanimity.  For Awareness is always utterly still and silent, totally unaffected by whatever appears in it, in the same way that the sky is unaffected by the clouds that scud across it.

It is this identification with Awareness that can be achieved by ‘investigation of the Way’ and the easiest way to do this is to directly investigate the nature of one’s moment-to-moment experience, see the appendix.  When this is successfully accomplished and you can see that at the deepest level, you are Awareness itself then this is an Awakening.  If this cultivated by remaining ‘aware of Awareness’ (and identified as Awareness) then this leads to full Awakening.

The prologue is a reprint of an article which was actually entitled ‘Awareness of Awareness’ from A Light Unto Your Self  and is reprinted here as it is a useful prelude to the material that follows.

 Chapter one details how Awakening by becoming aware of (and identifying with) Awareness is an ‘open’ way not requiring any special esoteric knowledge or practices.

Chapter two addresses the question of whether Awareness is the Absolute Reality and, regardless of the answer, whether there is anything that can be ‘known’ beyond this.

Chapter three discusses how ‘self-referencing’ that is how considering oneself as a separate object, and referring to oneself (mentally or verbally) as this, leads to unnecessary suffering.

Chapter four posits that continual self-analysis (identified with, or as, the mind) perpetuates the dis-ease of misidentification.

Chapter five attempts to show, in a logical and scientific framework, that everything (or no-thing!) in existence is of the same essence – Consciousness.

Chapter six addresses ‘loving what is’ - that is loving existence moment by moment as it actually ‘is’ and not as seen through by any filter of the mind, caused by ideology or misidentification.

Chapter seven discusses ego and shows how, by considering its various definitions, it is synonymous with misidentifying oneself as a separate object (in a universe of such).

Chapter eight continues this theme to show that ego is actually a mythical entity.  It also highlights the differences between ego and character, or personality, and posits that these two are necessary whereas the former is illusory.

Chapter nine was prompted by people questioning my motives for writing on the subject of Awakening and Awareness.  It also came about when a friend posited that it’s pointless attempting to put the ineffable into words.

Chapter ten was my response to the question of why the majority of thoughts appear to be negative.

Chapter eleven was in response to the same questioner who ‘suffers’ from worldly and racial prejudice and was asking how this could be addressed.

Chapter twelve is a hundred line poem dealing with overcoming mental suffering and misidentification by  becoming aware of Awareness, the constant conscious subjective presence, and identifying with (and as) this.

Chapter thirteen discusses the absolute simplicity of this method of Awakening and compares this with the many complex systems, ideologies and categories of (mis) identification which seem to appeal to the human mind.

Chapter fourteen considers humanity’s fascination with the so-called miraculous and auspicious.  It attempts to show that every moment is auspicious for Awakening and, once Awake, then everything is seen to be miraculous.

Chapter fifteen is an attempt to explain the apparent elasticity of time that is encountered after Awakening.

Chapter sixteen discusses the (apparent) ‘final obstacle’ to Awakening and the importance of one’s thought processes in achieving freedom.

Chapter seventeen considers whether ethics are important in Awakening, or whether they are an outcome of this.

Chapter eighteen was written in response to a reader who had experienced ‘Awakening’ but whose mind continued to spin due to its lack of productive engagement with life.

Chapter nineteen was stimulated by a nondualist who continued to take things personally, act defensively and engage with the world through the filter of his own knowledge.

Chapter twenty was written to address the apparent paradox of, or opposition between, duality and nonduality.

Chapter twenty one addresses three ‘properties’ of The Absolute, give in the Upanishads, those of Seeing, Knowing and Enjoying.  It attempts to show that each of these may be used as a path to Self-realization.

Chapter twenty two considers the concept of ‘sin’ and offers a new definition of this which would apply equally well to all religions, tribes and cultures.

Chapter twenty three considers two modern views of the Absolute Reality by the mystic Georges Battaille and the feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray.  It discusses the resonances between their views and those elucidated in previous chapters.  It also compares their insights with those of the thirteenth century Christian mystic Marguerite Porete (the author of The Mirror of Simple Souls) and her peer the wonderful Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi.

Chapter twenty four explains the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, the four noble truths, and in this shows the resonances between these (teachings) and Awakening by becoming ‘aware of Awareness’.

The appendix gives the basic format for investigating one’s moment to moment experience which leads to the conclusion that, at the deepest level, one is Awareness.

The addendum has been added for it is a very useful practice to ‘sense’ and ‘know’ the Absolute – Consciousness – by using the body/mind as (its actual function) an instrument of This.  The process has the advantage of never referencing the illusory ‘small self’ and thus cannot foster misidentification of oneself as a separate object.

If you have any questions on topics which are not covered in the text, or are not sure about those that are, you may contact me at [email protected] .  Alternatively check out the contents of my other books at

Awareness of Awareness: The Open Way
by Colin Drake