A peaceful woman sat quietly on her front porch drinking her tea and watching the birds frolic. One day a stranger was walking by and saw the peaceful woman sitting on the porch. Taken by her calm abiding, she asked if she could join her. The peaceful woman welcomed the stranger, and offered her a cup of tea.
“One who knows how to observe the mind with the mind is the best of contemplatives” -The questions of King Dewa Sutra
Mindfulness is our capacity to use the mind to observe the mind. The thinking mind is normally oriented toward action and doing. Through the processes of desire and aversion, action and reaction, the ego navigates reality.
There is nothing above. There is nothing below. There is nothing beside you, or within you. You are pure awareness. To be aware is to perceive, and to perceive is to contemplate an object, and the object is empty.
You are transparent. The horizon of emptiness stretches out beyond your gaze of awareness, opening beyond all limits, until it reaches the shore of otherness. The other is wholly other. It is majestic luminosity, the horizon itself. It reveals itself in its immediacy as you, as the otherness of you, as a glimmering intensity of Self and other without bounds or boundaries. I am you and you are me, and yet we are each distinct. Is that possible?
Over the course of a life, some individuals may experience the emergence of a new form of awareness. We may call this awareness ‘Self-reflective awareness’. This type of awareness is essential to spiritual awakening.
Self-reflective awareness may emerge as a response to some normal experience associated with the life course, such as mid-life or the death of a loved one. In such times we are more likely to turn inward, to mourn. If we are mindful in the process, such life transitions may encourage self-reflection, as a we think about our self or what it means to be a self.
For some, turning inward is coincident with as a sense of vague dissatisfaction with the material world. Aspects of material life that once seemed important have lost meaning and significance. The desires one once had for seeking and acquiring ‘things’ now seems rather empty and meaningless.
Immanence is an insight of philosophers, mystics, and sadhus alike: a realization that all of our efforts at transcendence are mere preparations for immanence.
Transcendence prepares us for an immanent turn, when we shift our gaze from fantasies of the ‘beyond’ and realize the truth of a divinity which saturates life. This immanent turn is available as we must move beyond the dualities inherent in thought and open to a world of multiplicity, possibility, and potential. It is an opening which leads us to the insight that the divisions we hold between sacred and profane, between good and evil, between one god and another, are but root illusions.