17 Oct 2012

Teaching: Awareness of awareness is also known as shamatha without a sign. Sign refers to a target, so there’s no vector of attention. During the meditation, when you do the warm-up exercise of directing awareness in the 4 directions, don’t meditate or visualize the 4 directions. Just send out your antenna, or expand the space of awareness.
Meditation: Awareness of awareness. With your eyes open, evenly rest your gaze in the space before you. Simply be present in the present moment. Accentuate your awareness of being aware. A) Do the following oscillation at your own pace (coupling with the breath if helpful). Withdrawing from all appearances and really focusing with effort, invert your awareness on being aware. Utterly relaxing, release your awareness into space with no object. Invert on your sense of being the meditator, the agent doing the inversion. Invert on your sense of being the observer or subject experiencing your own awareness, and observe closely. If there’s an appearance of self, what’s aware of that appearance? B) Direct your attention straight up into space as far as you can. Let it come to rest in its own place. Direct your attention to your right as far as you can. Let your awareness come back to the center. Direct your attention to your left as far as you can. Let your awareness come back to the center. Direct your attention straight down into the space below you as far as you can. Let your awareness come back to the center. With closed eyes, rest your awareness at the heart chakra. With open eyes, release awareness into boundless space. Rest your awareness in the sheer luminosity and sheer cognizance of awareness.
Q1. In awareness of awareness, what’s the distinction between awareness in space and awareness holding its own ground?

Q2 In awareness of awareness, I’ve heard 2 terms used. When I hear awareness of awareness, I think of awareness of awareness of awareness, etc… You’ve also mentioned sheer awareness. 

Q3. In awareness of awareness, is this supposed to be like a Zen koan because of the conceptual impossibility of knowing that I’m aware?

Q4. In awareness of awareness, if awareness is still, how can I move it?

Q5. What’s the distinction between letting your awareness descend into the body and letting your awareness illuminate the space of the body?

Meditation starts at 06:15

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I would like to return once again to shamatha without a sign. Sign, just for a reminder, it’s one term used for many things, here it means, kind of, a target, a target; something you direct your attention to. Just that simple. So here there is no vector for attention; as you well know now, you are just resting at home

But I am going to introduce the penultimate or almost last days of this practice as taught by Padmasambhava. I haven’t taught it this time in this retreat and I want to give a very brief introduction so when I’m actually, when you are doing the meditation you don’t kind of just wonder how on earth do you do this? As some of you already know, this entails directing the attention up, straight up in the sky, to the right, to the left, down to the heart; and so when we do this you might very well think ok,well I’ll visualize something up there and then I’ll visualize to the right and so forth which means then you are right back into meditating on a sign. It is not that, it is not that; but I’ve found a little analogy or a kind of a parallel that works very, very closely, so I would like you to all be very quiet for a moment (there was a pause) and see if you can you pick up the sound that is quite distant way off to my right? It is coming from long distance away, way off to my right. Can you hear that sound? If you can you have much better ears than I do, because I don’t pick up anything out there. Now there is a sound and if you have very, very good hearing you’ll definitely you pick up something over there; if you have a dog’s ears or something like that you’ll do very well.

(2:53) The point there was when I said that, you didn’t need to visualize something, a half kilometer, one kilometer. You did not need to visualize anything and you were directing your attention far away when I said it’s coming from a long distance away, then we know how to do that. If I say can you hear something behind me? Or above you? Can you hear the airplane going by overhead right now? You know, two miles up? You know how to do that, but it does not entail visualization but it does entail simply directing your attention sending out an antenna ok, anything there, anything there? And unless your ears are better than mine when you attended way off to my right you didn’t pick up anything, right? But you were attending way off in that space. So that is for the auditory field.

And now we are going to do something very similar but in a mental field.

So we’ll direct the attention straight up in the space above us, one kilometer, one light year, you know, twenty light years whatever you like, just as far as you can but it is not giving yourself a target, like a little dot or something like a ball to look at, but just like we did, you didn’t need to visualize the sound to direct your attention way off to my right, but you were directing your attention off into that auditory space.

(3:52) So in a similar fashion, as we come to that phase of the practice, I will suggest, now direct your attention up into the space above you, and you do not need to look up with your eyes, and what you are doing here is just you did when attending, trying to hear the sound off to my right; you are directing your mental attention as far as you can, OK? Way up, as far as you can, and then down and down. And the idea here is to expand the space of your awareness, so it is really, just that; very, very spacious, ok? So that is it.

(4:24) Now the culmination of the practice is where Tsongkapa starts and ends, because his description of awareness of awareness is the most concise that I have seen anywhere, from any teacher, and that is he says ok, now just rest your awareness in the sheer luminosity and sheer cognizance of awareness [Tibetan] and that’s it, that’s all he has to say about it. And so the instructions can be very concise, that is some of the most concise and that is where we end.

(5:15) So we will do once again the oscillation, the release, the inversion, release and inversion, we will do that; we’ll move through pretty quickly right? And I’m almost finished here with the preface, and then we’ll go through this expansion and then when we’ve finished all the different kind of exercises, it is like working in a gym, really is, but when we’ve finished all of that, very much like (and Miles knows exactly what I’m going to say) very much like warming-up before you run a marathon, or even a triathlon; you’re really going to warm up before then and then once, you know, you’ve stretched all the muscles, got them nice and warm, ok now set out in your great challenge.

And so likewise after we’ve warmed up, we’ve kind of stretched, inverted in all different directions, when you’re kind of all warmed up loose and relaxed and flexible then you go simple; and then you just rest in awareness of awareness; and that is it; and that does not change from that it’s from there until shamatha. And that is why I really like this image of the burning coal; that is, if the coal says ok now that you’ve put me on in the snow bank, what do I need to do? What do I need to do here? How do I get down to the bottom of the snow bank? And don’t do anything, you are a lump of coal what do you think you can do? You are a lump of coal, you can’t do much, just sit there and be bright.

Ola so, find a comfortable position.


Settle your body, speech and mind in their natural state and for a little while relaxing and releasing deeply with every out breath. Calm the conceptual and discursive mind with mindfulness of breathing.

Let your eyes at least partially open, evenly rest your awareness in the space in front of you and for little while do not focus your attention on anything at all, do not meditate on anything, and simply be present in the present moment, sustaining a flow of mindful presence, without distraction and without grasping.

Then accentuate your awareness of something of which you are already aware, and that of course is the awareness of being aware; rest right there without deliberately directing your attention to anything else, to any appearances, to any objects of the mind. Let your awareness be silent releasing all thoughts that may come to mind.

Then at your own pace, begin the oscillation. This entails forcefully, that is with concentration, with some effort, inverting your awareness right in upon the experience of being aware, which is to say, it is not coming inside your head or coming into any other place, it is simply a withdrawal, with concentration, of your awareness away from all appearances, really focusing in upon this immediate sense of being aware. And then utterly relaxing, releasing awareness into space, but space with no object, space with no concepts or thoughts. Ever so gently, sustaining the flow of awareness of awareness, arousing and focusing your attention in upon itself thereby overcoming laxity, and utterly releasing, relaxing fully, thereby overcoming the imbalance of excitation. Set your own rhythm. As a preliminary practice you may do so with the breath if you wish, if it is helpful, otherwise set your own pace.

Invert your awareness in upon your experience of being the meditator, the one who is inverting and releasing your awareness. Do you have a sense of being the agent, the one who is doing, as you invert? Focus your awareness in upon your sense of being the agent and release into space as before.

Even when you are not consciously doing anything, when you are just being present, do you have a sense of being the observer, the witness, someone in here, the subject who is experiencing appearances, experiencing your own awareness? As you invert your awareness, invert it right in upon that which is observing, and see what comes to mind. Nothing? An appearance? Observe closely, arousing and focusing your attention and release your awareness without object into space.

As you invert your awareness in upon the observer, if an appearance comes to mind, the sense of yourself as the subject, then examine more closely what is aware of that appearance? With form or without form?

Now direct your attention straight up into space above you. With no object, simply extend your awareness, then focus your attention, as far as you can, directly up into objectless space.

And let your awareness come and rest in its own place.

Direct your awareness out into space to your right, as far as your attention can reach, with no object.

And back to the center.

Direct you’re your awareness out into the space to your left.

And back to the center.

Now direct your awareness down into the space of the mind below, so not into the earth element, not into any form, down into the space below as far as your awareness can reach.

Back to the center.

And now, with eyes closed, let your awareness descend to your heart, as if the very locus of your awareness, your perspective, from which you are looking, is in the center of your chest, the heart chakra, rest your awareness there.

And now with eyes open once again, release your awareness into space, with no boundaries, with no directionality, just releasing with no-object into boundless space.

And now simply rest effortlessly, your awareness coming to rest in its own place, holding in its own ground, sustaining a flow of awareness of the sheer luminosity and cognizance of consciousness itself. Whatever thoughts arise release them or just let them be as your awareness holds in its own ground.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by Corinne Dobinson

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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