Happiness and the Art of Being
The hypothesis formulated by spiritual scientists, or sages as they are more commonly called, is that we are not the body composed of inconsistent matter, nor are we the mind consisting of thoughts, feelings and perceptions, but that we are the essential underlying consciousness by which the body and mind are both known. This hypothesis has been independently tested and verified by many sages before us, but unlike the findings of the objective sciences, the findings of this spiritual science cannot be demonstrated objectively. Therefore, to be truly benefited by this science of self-knowledge, we each have to test and verify this hypothesis for our self. In order to do so, we must each experiment to see whether or not the consciousness that we experience as ‘I’ can stand alone without our body or mind. If we are able to remain as consciousness in the absence of any kind of body or mind, we no will prove to our self that we are neither of those two objects known by us. In order to remain as our mere consciousness ‘I am’ without any awareness of our body or mind, it is necessary for us to know our consciousness in its pure form, devoid of any contents – devoid of any objects of knowledge.
We are so accustomed to identifying our consciousness ‘I am’ with our body and mind that it may initially appear difficult for us to distinguish our essential consciousness from these objects known by it. Because of this identification of our consciousness with its objects or contents, our knowledge of it appears to be clouded and unclear. Therefore, in order to distinguish between our consciousness and its objects we must gain a clear knowledge of it as it really is. Whether we are a scientist or just any ordinary person, when we seek to obtain knowledge about something, the primary and essential instrument we use is our power of attention. Without paying attention to something, we cannot know it.
In their experiments, scientists often use mechanical aids to observe things that they cannot perceive directly through their five senses, but it is nevertheless only through their five senses that they are able to read and interpret the information provided by those mechanical aids. It is only by means of one or more of our five senses that we can obtain knowledge about anything in the external world. However, though our five senses provide us with information about the external world, we can only know that information by attending to it. If we do not pay attention to the information provided by our senses, we can fail to see something that happens right in front of our eyes, or to hear a conversation between two people sitting just beside us. Therefore all knowledge is ultimately obtained by us only by means of our power of attention. Since our consciousness is not an object, it cannot be observed by means of any mechanical aid, nor can it be observed by means of any of our five senses.
The one and only instrument by which we can observe and know our consciousness is our own power of attention, unaided by anything else. Since we are consciousness, and since our consciousness knows itself without any sort of aid, all we need to do to obtain a clear knowledge of our consciousness as it really is.
Since our power of attention is our power of knowing or consciousness, which we are free to direct towards whatever we wish to know, concentrating our attention upon our own consciousness means concentrating our attention upon itself, or concentrating our consciousness upon itself. Since we experience our consciousness or power of knowing as ‘I’, as our own essential self, attending to it is not any form of objective attention, but is a purely subjective attention – a perfectly non-dual self-attention, an attention to our own essential self or ‘I’. Only by thus attending to our own essential consciousness, which we experience as ‘I’, will we be able to distinguish between this consciousness and all the objects known by it, including the body and mind that we now mistake to be ‘I’.
By thus attending to our consciousness and thereby distinguishing it from its contents, we can experiment and know for certain whether or not we can remain as mere consciousness, entirely separate from our body, our mind and all its thoughts, feelings and perceptions. If we are able to do so, we will prove to our self that in essence we are only consciousness, and that we are neither the body nor the mind that we now mistake to be ‘I’.
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