Questioning Advaita: Another Wonderful Dialogue


This is a dialogue between me and someone we will call Bob. I think you’ll find this very interesting. The initial post is a blog post that Bob initiated a series of comments. Please comment.

Me: Last night I was considering a problem. All the esoteric teachings say that our true and deepest identity is awareness … just awareness without anyone who is aware. Yet, there is this persistent sense of a personal me – seeking – desiring.

The person we believe ourselves to be, we are told, is just a dream and everything he/she believes to be real is also a dream. It is ALL, we are told a dream.

Thus anything (and I mean anything) I can do to get awake or enlightened is just an action within a dream. It’s what we do to sustain the dream of me and my world. This life of seeking (wealth – happiness – oneness) is just a dream.

That is the end of seeking for seeking is, itself, a dream. It’s the energy that keeps the dream seeming real! As long as we seek, we prolong the pain of endless lack! Awareness sees all of this, but it is blazing awareness when the narrative is experienced, directly, as a dream.

What does this mean? It means that there is nothing “I” can do to become awake – for I am, already, awake as awareness founded on the rock-solid knowledge that all else, everything without, is a dream.

Does that mean that the dream is meaningless?

No, not exactly. But it does mean that any meaning we place on it is dreamlike and conditioned by our culture, socialization, and inheritance. All of that is, of course, nothing less than a dream. So make as beautiful a dream as you can and live and walk in beauty!

When we see EVERYTHING in the dream as ourselves – for it is our dream and only our dream; then we can LOVE it all for it is our own immediate reflection! That’s the end of conflict, the end of violence, the end of division, the end of seeking.

Bob: So if this is a dream then at night I have a dream within a dream! Who sees the awareness?

Me: No one sees the awareness. The awareness is prior to anyone being aware of it. Notice how everything without exception is an object within awareness.

Bob: I have heard this before from non duality teachers that I am the awareness that it is not personal. Yet I told them this awareness seems attached to only this body/thoughts etc and was not aware of others thoughts feelings etc and things around the corner. They could never answer this.

Me: You raise a great question here and my own experience conforms the point you make in your comment. It is, like everything else in the universe both a paradox and a dialectic. So, I think we could say that it is both personal and impersonal, which also forms an ever-changing dialectic.

Bob: This is where the other teachers struggled with. Their whole argument was based on them selling themselves as this personal impersonal awareness yet as I said to them I am not aware of anything beyond my body, thoughts vision. So why is this awareness so attached to my body etc. Why not around the corner. This is where the I am awareness argument falls and they change the subject. Not one has yet answered. Can you Eric as your book is based on this idea/belief/feeling?

Me: I am all but certain of the understand that This awareness is both personal and impersonal or that it has the capacity for both qualities. But let’s talk, just briefly for now, about the personal. I will dig it up later, but I made a post that sought to distinguish the quality of “attention”, which is personal, from that of awareness. It can be seen that attention is an objective energy that manifests within awareness. I has a personal quality because the quality of attention only affixes to the self (you or me). Moreover, when the attention has a psychological quality to it (it’s judging, evaluating, assessing, analyzing) then it also carries with it the underlying message that it is working to make Your life better. If I just understand this one quality, then I will be happier, it seems to be saying.

Also the aspects that appear personal, as opposed to those that are impersonal also conform to the foreground and background of experience. There is a chapter in the Liberation book that deals with this issue.
There is a lot more that could be said about this issue, but this should suffice for now.

Bob: Yes. I know what you mean. However as you said in your writing above that ” I am awake as awareness” as do the non duality writers and eastern writers, this is where they all fail. My question remains completely ignored. Why if I am awareness only aware of my thoughts, my feelings, etc and not beyond to anothers or to another country if I am this awareness.
Why is the awareness so limited to this body? So its personal. This is why all the writers fail. They miss this and pretend its answered. It seems being awareness is incredibly limited and personal.

Me: Bob – I suspect that your question is really pointing to a source of personal discomfort in your own being. It sounds to me that you are not at ease in yourself and are looking for some “opening” in this school of philosophy that will bring comfort to this unease, hence you call this awareness limited and, god forbid, personal. Your question, it seems to me, is more psychological in nature than it is in just seeing what is true.
Being psychological in nature is not at all unreasonable, it is in fact the very place you need to be in this moment of your life.
Since you are coming from unease, then there must be some identification with deficiency lurking there somewhere – after all you are human and there is no stigma in that. Welcome to the human being club. You are an honorary member.
But this longing for release, as powerful and as self-sustaining as it appears to be in your life, is also seen in the very same field of awareness. It is an actual object of awareness and in becoming aware of it, it becomes “known”.
So when you say that this awareness seems personal and limited, it only seems that way because you are identified with that specific object of awareness. That is exactly what stuckness is and it does give the impression that awareness is indeed limited. Anything we need to be identified with is an anchor in our life. We “think” we are aware of this quality as if it is equal to any other object in your experience when, in fact, that is not true. Since it is embraced as the core personal identification, it is not equal. Is masquerades as the core.
When we are identified with any specific cluster of qualities that are psychological in nature, we will experience underlying dis-ease in life. When that happens we are believing the fundamental “lie” of our conditioned selves.
Try going back and see where this identity first lived. See and feel the child you – with this quality. What happens then. See it as perfectly right and good. Where does that take you?

Bob: Thanks Eric. Maybe you are right but really I am asking one questrion and so far no one including you seems to know to answer. Now its an personal attack on me for asking a question all teachers avoid as it exposes the fallacy of their teaching.
My question remains
Why is awareness only aware of my thoughts/feelings, my vision, my hearing and is not aware of anyone elses thoughts etc.? Why is it not aware of whats around the corner.?
Hence it is clearly personal and limited. Sorry to expose the inadequacy of the work but so far this question has been ignored.

Me: Awareness is not limited because it can contain anything, but it can only “see” what is there. Thoughts appear in this consciousness and are consciousness and clearly individual bodies are carriers of sense impressions. Awareness is limited in seeing that which is manifests in your individual body/mind. And this is exactly what makes life so complex and beautiful. For every other voice you encounter in your life can only be known as your voice. Thus, I am you on this level of understanding and you are me. It could be no other way.
This is a seeming paradox. We are absolutely identical with respect to our capacity to be aware, but our moment to moment experience is absolutely personal.
As far as I know, this is the constant of the universe – the dialectic within which all change manifests.
Here is another dialectic for you: The source of awareness is so small that it is, essentially, nonexistent, yet it can contain the entirety of the universe on every level it can be experienced.

Bob: Yes Eric. Thats exactly what I said. Awareness is incredibly limited. It can only see what is there. Just what I said.
It only sees what manifests in my individual body/mind as you say.
My point exactly-personal and limited.
As to every voice being my voice. I think thats another dream altogether and like the awareness argument is another fallacy.
I appreciate your honesty and agreenment with me. A pity the other non duality teachers ciould not but then that would end their jobs I guess.

Me: “Awareness is incredibility limited” – do we really agree on that? I said exactly the opposite. It is utterly without limits. When Walt Whitman said that “I contain multitudes”, that is what he was talking about; the unlimitedness of awareness. I suspect you are not ‘feeling’ that, is because you are identifying with the content of your psychological identification.
But I do think you’re right about self-appointed gurus losing their jobs. Given the state of our economy, this might not be a good thing!
Also, one more thing, have you noticed that this same psychological identification is inferring the separativeness of experience? When you say that awareness is limited, you are, inferring, that poor Bob is only experiencing a tiny fraction of the potential experience? But you are experiencing it all! You are only inferring that you’re not.

Bob: “Awareness is limited to see that which manifests in your individual body/mind”. “Awareness is limited.. ” Sorry Eric but you did say this above. I think its self evident.

Thats why awareness knows nothing of anothers thoughts/feelings whats around the corner. At death awareness dissolves too as its attached to as you say this body/mind.

Me: I’m not really interested in having the “last word” in this discussion, but since there is a lot I need to do today, this could be my last reply for the day. I also don’t want to in the role of convincing you of something you can’t see as true. But consider this.

There is a you that is dismissive of what awareness experiences as your life because it is being judged a by “you” that labels this experience as inadequate. This is the action of a fear-self that finds the world itself, inadequate. This “you” knows this to be true. This you already knows what happens at death. And, most importantly, this you currently suffers the pain and isolation of its separativeness.

This you over-shadows awareness itself, because it usurps awareness. Awareness is NOT limited, but Your experience of it is limited. And it is limited because you are placing your psychological identity in the center, when it is, actually, on the periphery.

I think you will see this in time, even if you’re resistant to the idea, which I suspect you are.

Awareness is perfect exactly as it is. Were we able to simultaneously channel the awareness of other life forms, we would become insane in a very short order. This awareness is exclusively for you and you alone. But this “you alone” has space for every manifestation the universe can create. How remarkable is that?


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  1. #1 by Martina Wagner on June 23, 2009 - 6:23 am

    This was a very insightful conversation. And I didn’t get to finish the whole thing, but from what I’ve gathered (and I just noticed you mentioned it already) awareness is NOT limited, and WE are the ones who are so limited that we do not experience the whole of awareness, really. I just hope that “Bob” will come to understand this point. Thanks for sharing this!

    • #2 by Eric on June 23, 2009 - 11:17 am

      Awareness is always One with its content and the one can contain anything. It is a dialectic. On one side is the ever changing events of our life. There is the bird at the feeder, the light on the leaves, these fingers typing on the keyboard, and everything else. On the other side is the light that sees all of it and is changed by none of it.

  2. #3 by bob on June 26, 2009 - 5:11 pm

    Yes and this ” light which sees all” cannot see beyond what I see. Its limited to me. Thats my points in the blog but always ignored. No body then no awareness . Awareness is I stated clearly and easily proven by observation, limited to the personal body. Its clear to see.

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