Radiant Awareness


 When we feel we know someone, it is really the awareness of that person that we know. (paraphrased from S. Shankarananda’s book, Happy for No Good Reason.)

 To really know someone is to catch a glimpse of that dimension of awareness in another, which has been variously described as another's inmost heart or essence. This might also be described as the power, force, fire or soul, in her.

 To truly know another, is to go beyond the surface of things, beyond her mere form and appearance, into her own fathomless depths.

 Such a one is not, for instance, the wife, but my wife, with a name and personality uniquely her own, and with a depth and mystery to her that continues to surprise and astonish. 

 The mystery is always there. It’s the mystery of an incredible awareness at the heart of her being.

 In the Upanishads, this dimension of awareness is called the Atman, described by philosopher, Daniel N. Robinson, as that dimension, which by its presence, "gives reality to things and to us."

 “We have,” says Robinson, "the breath of fire within us. We have soul within us. It is an imperishable feature of our very nature." (Daniel N. Robinson, From the Upanishads to Homer, Lecture 1, The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Ed.)

 In the best of friendships, there is a shared sense of awareness as the most deeply binding force that exists between us. 

 For friends such as these, there is something deeper going on than merely that 'we both like golf,’ or that, 'we like to shop til we drop.’  

 No. We define ourselves in loftier terms. We are kindred spirits on another level entirely, in the sense of a shared spiritual awareness. 

 We indeed feel graced to be aware that 'in Him, (or 'in awareness,’) we live, move and have our being.’

 We understand that 'in that Light (awareness) we shall see light, the true light which enlightens the whole creation.” (Daily Prayers from the Language of Jesus)

 It could be said that the awareness in you connects with the awareness in me. That shared awareness makes us one.

 We each feel the presence of awareness in the other. It is this dynamic, more than any other, that makes the relationship work.

 What makes another dear, as an Upanishad states, is that the inner self,  soul, or essence, is active and unobstructed. Awakened, this force of awareness comes shining through. 

 When sufficiently activated, nothing impedes the free flow of energy. All blockages have been removed.

 Those who experience such an electrified relationship understand, and it takes our breath away, that there is more to each of us than bodies and minds inter-acting. We are connected at the level of a deeply shared awareness. 

 Now, to the degree that someone is in touch with, or aligned with, or, better, is fully identified with that awareness, is the degree to which she is attractively and alluringly alive. In fact, if this goes far enough - if she is acutely aware, blessedly aware - she is ablaze with life. She’s a lit-up torch.

 To be otherwise, is to be in a drearier state, cut off from the power source, out of sync with awareness, and therefore appearing more and more death-like as time passes.

 We might say to such an unconscious being: 'Hello! Can you slow down for a moment? Is anybody there? Is anybody home? There’s a lot of movement going on. It seems you’re awfully restless and busy. Have you been with yourself lately? Ever? Where did you go? What happened? You seem to be dislocated. When will you return?’ What caused your fire to go out?’ 

 We might wonder: ‘Whatever would it take for such a one to find awareness? Would he allow himself to be irradiated, so that he could come shining through as a vivid and vivifying presence?

 What would it take? Some great blessing that might open his buried dimensions? Some crisis where he's called up short? Something that brings him to the edge or limit of himself? Will it require a tragedy? How much suffering will it take?

 How long will he persist in being unaware, his inner self or awareness "obscured by the thoughts and emotions that play in the mind?” (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras)

 Before his life is over, might there still be the chance that that deeper self might be accessed, may yet arise - surprising everyone by a breakthrough into awareness?

 Now, the prerequisite for the transformation into awareness is the stilling of the mind. As Patanjali explains: “When the mind is still, the Self shines forth.” (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras)

 The barrier to enlightenment is the restless mind that often manifests through constant and continous chatter. The problem to be solved is the tense, jumpy mind that blocks the emergence of soul and awareness. This mind needs to be stopped in its tracks. 

 I recall a Meditation Intensive where a good friend spent the first day looking baffled and confused. Her face was pale. Her eye brows furrowed. 

 Whenever I looked over at her, I could never catch her eye.

 But, of course, she wasn’t looking to connect. For she was disconnected from awareness. The condition of her mind and emotions was blocking awareness. 

 She was troubled, disturbed. She wasn’t there, or barely so. 

 Her unspoken message to everyone was that she was finding it difficult to be there, that it had been a mistake to sign up for the event.

 Her body language was communicating that she didn’t want to be there. I imagined her bolting for the door.

 And then something changed. The next day when I glanced back everything had changed. She was all lit-up. Angel-like. She was awake. She was aware. She was awareness. And more herself than I’d ever seen before.

 Here now on display was the most powerful version of my friend that I had ever seen. She literally was glowing. An inner fire had been kindled. She was radiantly aware.

 I later asked her about it. 'I don’t know,' she said, as she fumbled for words, but then made reference to some kind of grace that had broken through. 

 Some kind of energy had moved through her. She had somehow become a channel of awareness. An awakened vital force was now moving through her. It was the most striking thing about her. There she was, sitting there radiating like a powerfully lit-up torch. 

 She was like the blind man in the New Testament whose sight was restored. He was asked: ‘Who did this?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. 'But one thing I know. I was blind and now I see.'

 Something greater had completely altered my friend's demeanor. I felt like bowing down to her. The word, goddess, came to mind. She had become radiant.

 When this inner dimension isn’t activated, physical beauty has no effect on you, unless you're some kind of troglodyte. For example, John O’Donohue talks about noticing a beautiful woman across a crowded room but upon approaching her, the goddess then opened her mouth. The opened mouth took care of the goddess effect. A broad was gabbering.

 In December 1577, a man named John, later to be known as St. John of the Cross, was put in prison for his efforts to reform the Church: "His conditions were grim. He cell was unlit and had no source of heat. The ceiling was too low for him to stand upright and the air was foul. He was given bread and water, along with sardine scraps flung on the floor. He was whipped daily. His body became infested with lice and he suffered from dysentry."

 And then the change occurred. At the age of 35, after six months in prison and in the midst of great suffering, John experienced a mystical ecstasy that transformed him: “His cell became filled with light seen by the bodily eye, even though it was night and there was no lamp or other source of light."

 St John later told of the heavenly light lasting through the night. Full of joy, the night passed as if in a moment.

 John had passed through the grip of mind and emotions into a transcendent state of awareness. He later would become famous for describing the nature of transformation as when a soul passes beyond everything to a state of ‘unknowing.’ (B. Viljakainen and Ted Wood Soul on Fire, The Life of St. John of the Cross.)

 In his state of unknowing, his mind having relaxed into the heart, he, too, had become radiantly aware.

 I don’t know if there is anything more powerful in the world than the presence of a radiantly aware human being. What we call being positive or enthusiastic pales in comparison.

 As the Indian saint, Muktananda was described: “He was completely present. He brought his full beingness and energy to every moment, not in a state of enthusiasm or passion, but as radiant awareness." 

 "You could feel it," says Shankarananda. "Many a time I would arrive frazzled with the stress of the day. Then sitting in his presence, it would fall away.” 

 Notice that it wasn’t the saint’s mere positivity that had the effect. It was the state of his being. He was radiantly aware

 Who therefore might be the most effective teacher, CEO, parent or friend? It would be that person who has passed through the fire of transformation into the state of radiant awareness.

 The counsel of meditation master, Shankarananda, is very practical and encouraging at this point. “Look”, he says, "for a place within where there is life-force, a vibration, an upliftment, an expansion. It may be hidden and faint within you, but search for it and locate that current, however slight, and be with it. See if you can coax it to become larger…” 

 This is wise counsel. Don’t force the transformation. Do a little bit of coaxing and then a little more.

 And then perhaps one day it might be said about you that, more than anything else, you have become radiantly aware. 


Journey to the Center, Parijat