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Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - issue #1284 - editor - michael
The Mystery of Awareness
I remember the moment clearly. I had
escaped from my sisters, over therocks and around the point. I was barely seven.
Above me, a rough
escarpment of boulders singing in the midday heat, at
my feet a rock pool of perfect,
inviolable stillness, and beyond, the
blue vastness of the South Pacific.
There was no other living creature. I
was by myself, barefooted, between the
cliff and the ocean.
As I squatted there, watching the
reflection of the wind in the unrippled
pool, hearing its exhilaration high
above me in the bright emptiness of the
sky, I became aware for the first time
of awareness itself.
I had no name for it, but I could almost
feel it, as if it had substance, like
the water in the rock pool, or breath,
like the shouting wind. I saw that I
was entirely by myself in a boundless
ocean of awareness.
In the same instant I understood that awareness is the single mystery
of life, that it enfolds all other mysteries,
even the secret of the separate self.
From that moment I was indelibly
astonished, and I knew that all my life
I would be pinching myself and asking,
What is awareness? Nothing else would
ever command my attention so completely.
How could it? For nothing else mattered
next to the constant pressure, the
single compulsion of this mystery.
A quarter of a century went by, and one
day my teacher placed in my hands a
copy of Mukerjee's edition of the
Ashtavakra Gita. I had by then, in the ordinary course of my seeking,
read a great deal of scripture, enough to know
the truth of Ashtavakra's admonition,
halfway through his own Song:
My child, you can talk about holy books
all you like. But until you forget everything, you will never find
Understanding the vanity of scripture,
I hardly expected Ashtavakra to solve
in a single epiphany the mystery of awareness.
And yet, as I read his spare and simple
verses, I felt that here at last were
words which in some measure consumed my astonishment. They spoke so
directly, and so modestly. They
seemed so austere, and yet so generous.
I found myself once more a child of
seven, tipped between the sea and the
sky, but hearing now in the wind's
exuberance a clearer music, touching
the heart of the mystery.
What is the rising or the vanishing of thought?
What is the visible world, or the
invisible? What is the little soul, or
Awareness. Pure awareness. The clear
space, the sky, the heart of awareness.
from Translator's Introduction of The
Ashtavakra Gita a dialogue b/w King
Janaka, the father of Sita and his guru Ashtavakra
by Thomas Byrom
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