Verifying Pure Awareness
Verifying: to make sure
Pure: nothing added
When awareness (that’s what all sentient beings have) becomes aware of awareness, it finds only awareness. Finding nothing but awareness is known as emptiness or shunyata – that is pure awareness! This is how awareness and emptiness are inseparable, and that recognition is our true nature. That’s it!
The big question is how to verify this
When pure awareness (our essential nature – essence) looks out and does not react, that non-reaction is a reflection of empty awareness – shunyata. In the Chenrezi puja it states; “Appearances, sounds and awareness are inseparable from emptiness.” It’s pretty ordinary!
It is in the non-reaction to external events that pure awareness/emptiness is recognised. The senses remain wide open, paving the way for ‘conduct’. Our conduct is the continuity of empty awareness in daily life. And that solves the problem of dealing with karma: by not reacting, no new karma is created. The word Bud-dha means awake (recognising our true nature) and purified (all karma is exhausted). That’s it!
What about all this stuff going on around us?
This brings us to the next point. Out of habit, we react in the same old ways and our world stays the same. By creating spaciousness through non-reaction, inspiration arises to cut through these appearances. We cannot change the world, but we can change our view…our reactions! Our reactions maintain a mistaken view of reality, but it is in recognition of our reactions that we learn: our reactions are our enemy – and our enemy is our teacher! 😉 And ultimately, neither our enemy nor teacher exist.
All sentient beings have awareness; this is conventional reality/relative truth. In conventional reality/relative truth we only deal with this and that, and so go round in circles. Emptiness is our absolute nature. It is absolute truth, our Buddha nature.
However, these two truths or realities – relative and absolute – have to be recognised as a unity. This is the middle way. To have one without the other creates either nihilism (nothing is real) or eternalism (everything is real). Both views are deluded and lack love and compassion.
The ultimate verification of pure awareness is compassion, as it is empty of ‘selfishness’. This is empathy towards the confusion that blocks recognition, and is compassionate love. Of course, this is challenging to the “I”.
There is a very fine, subtle distinction between recognising pure awareness and being pure awareness. There are two ways of being pure awareness; one is to meditate for many years, when everything is gradually stripped away, and the other is to receive the “pointing out instruction”.
Pure awareness is natural, and it’s the only reality that is true, as everything else comes and goes. Compared to pure awareness, everything else is complicated and interesting. If it’s complicated and interesting, it isn’t pure awareness 😉 . Pure awareness is ordinary, and no big deal. It’s reading these words at this very moment, without comment. The problem is the translator, the conceptual mind, which constantly wants to interpet what we have acquired, loading it on to the next situation.
That’s a sentient being’s cycle of existence.
The challenge is seeing this clearly.