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Cultivation and Investigation

With meditation and mindfulness practices, we are cultivating the mind to experience from a quieter, less distracted space and to become aware of what is arising and passing away, moment-to-moment. Through these practices, eventually the mind becomes more quiet, open, clear, stable and focused and we are able to perceive and observe without so many obstructions, the random thoughts that tend to take us for a ride into the past or future, or offer incessant (and often annoying) commentary on the present. We are able to witness what is happening, internally and externally, from fundamental, pure awareness itself unfiltered by thoughts, feelings and associations. We cultivate this ability, which is everyone's birthright, for our peace, mental stability, physical health and the wellbeing of those we encounter daily.

As we progress, we learn we can choose between following our thoughts into thought labyrinths from which it is difficult to emerge, or simply watching as thoughts and feelings come and go. It is only from this primal, bare awareness that we can witness in this way. As the mind becomes quieter and clearer, it becomes possible to shift from being embedded in our thoughts and feelings with little or no self-awareness such that pure awareness is overshadowed, to being a silent witness to our thoughts and feelings as they come and go. It becomes our choice. And this is how we cultivate: we favor the simplest form of awareness, the silent witness that sees all other thoughts, feelings and phenomena, and even our very self-sense, come and go.

One technique for shifting into pure awareness is to ask when experiencing anything, "What is aware?" What is it that is aware of what is experienced? This question can't be answered, yet we look for what is aware at this moment just the same. What is aware of what is reading these lines right now? Pause. Reflect. What is aware?

Investigating what is aware can be a catalyst for the shift into pure awareness when the mind is sufficiently relaxed and clear.

From pure awareness, or pristine mind, we see all thoughts and feelings arising and passing away, and indeed all things becoming, being, dissolving. It is from pristine, naked awareness that we can be a witness even to the temporal arising and passing away of our sense of self, which is simply a mental construct built layer upon layer of life experience but has no actual substance. It is from this quiet, stabilized mind that we can investigate truth, investigate how things actually are as they come into being, persist and fade with time, investigate the nature of reality. It is from pure awareness, present before any sense of self arises, that we can discover our true nature.

In this way, cultivation and investigation are two sides of the same practice. They are reciprocal. We cultivate the ability to perceive from the simplest form of awareness -- silent, bright, open, unbound, ubiquitous awareness. And we investigate "What is aware?" Shifting perspectives, as awareness itself, we look deeply into what is actually happening as it happens to unfold and discover our true nature and the nature of the material world. This investigation starts with being able to perceive from a quiet mind, so we meditate. It is from this quiet, open, receptive mind that we practice as life presents all that life presents. And it is from here that we investigate the same leading to ever broadening, ever deepening, ever clarifying, awakened mind.

[Photo: Silent Witness - Amador County, California 2024-03-19 7:31 PM]

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