Thinking imagines that our essential nature of pure Awareness shares the limits and the destiny of the body. With this belief, a limited, temporary self comes into apparent existence, on whose behalf most thoughts, feelings, activities and relationships are undertaken.

Only Awareness is Aware

Could it be that the mind is so quick, powerful and versatile that one of its functions is also the ability to perceive itself?

Dear Rupert,

It is often said that the perceiver cannot be the perceived. So, if I can be aware of my mind, by definition, I cannot be the mind. But I wonder whether this is really the case. Could it be that the mind is so quick, powerful and versatile that one of its functions is also the ability to perceive itself? Much like a multi-cored computer can set its processing to make calculations and also at the same time set aside time to watch the processing and analyse the results of that processing.

Best wishes, 



Dear John,

For the sake of clarity, let me define the way I use the terms ‘Awareness’ and ‘mind’. By ‘Awareness’ I mean whatever it is that is aware of our experience. By ‘mind’ I mean thoughts and images (although in a wider context I sometimes use the term to include feelings, sensations and perceptions as well.)

The relationship of Awareness to the mind (thoughts) is very similar to the relationship of the screen (a self-aware screen) to an image that appears on it: the image is made of the screen but the screen is not made of the image. All thoughts are made out of Awareness (that is, they are made of the ‘knowing’ – awareness – of them) but Awareness is not made out of thought. 

Awareness is ever-present; thoughts are intermittent. Something that is ever-present cannot be made of or indeed be known by something that is intermittent. This is, of course, said from the point of view of Enlightened Duality in which we provisionally concede a distinction between Awareness and its objects, in this case, thoughts.

If we go more deeply into the nature of experience, we do not find this distinction. In this case, the thought is understood to be nothing other than Awareness itself (if we can still legitimately call it ‘Awareness’). As such, a thought is the shape that Awareness is taking at that particular moment – a temporary name and form of its ever-present, nameless, formless substance – and it is Awareness that knows it as such. In other words, it is Awareness that knows itself modulating itself in the form of an apparent thought.

So it is Awareness, not the mind (using my definitions of the words) that has the ability to perceive – either to perceive an apparent object (Enlightened Duality) or to know itself alone (Embodied Enlightenment).

The belief that the mind perceives or is aware, doesn’t make sense. Mind is perceived; it does not perceive. Only Awareness is aware.

With kind regards,