Peace And Happiness Are Inherent In Consciousness
The mind, body and the world appear to Consciousness, to ‘me,’ to ‘I.’ They are objects and Consciousness is their subject, that which experiences them.
Consciousness, that which we call ‘I,’ is always present in every experience and does not disappear between experiences.
Have we ever had the experience of our Self, Consciousness, disappearing? That is not possible. There would have to be something present to witness that disappearance, and that something would have to be conscious. It would in turn be that which we call ‘I,’ Consciousness.
When an object appears within this conscious Presence, this Presence knows itself as the witness of that object.
In deep sleep, ‘I,’ this conscious witnessing Presence remains exactly as it always is in the waking and dreaming states.
There are no objects present in deep sleep and therefore there is no memory of that state. On waking, the mind interprets that state as a blank, a nothing, a void. However, an absence of memory is not a proof of non-existence.
On falling asleep the well organised images, sensations and perceptions of the waking state are gradually replaced by the less well organised images of the dreaming state but, during this transition, there is no experience of a change in the presence of Consciousness.
Likewise, as images fade from the dream state, Consciousness remains as it is, and this presence of Consciousness without objects is referred to as deep sleep.
At no stage in the transition from the waking state to deep sleep does Consciousness ever experience a change in its own presence or continuity.
Just as Consciousness remains completely unaffected by the changing flow of experience during the waking state, so Consciousness remains exactly the same during the transition from the waking state to the dreaming state, during the dreaming state itself, and during the transition from the dreaming state to deep sleep.
In fact the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep are misnamed. These three categories are based on the assumption that there is an entity, called ‘I,’ which makes the transition through these three states. Once it is clearly seen that there is no individual entity, it is seen, by the same token, that there are not three states.
A state is something that lasts for a certain period of time. It comes and goes. It would be more accurate to say that there is one condition, one ever-present condition, which we call ‘I,’ Consciousness, Presence, in which all apparent states come and go.
The apparent states of waking and dreaming are modulations of this one Presence.
Deep sleep is in fact simply the presence of Consciousness shining by itself. That is why it is so peaceful and enjoyable!
It only becomes a state, appears to become a state, when it is mistakenly conceived of by the mind to have lasted for a certain length of time. However, there is no time in deep sleep.
These three states are not well-defined categories. It would be more accurate to say that there is a flow of objects, gross and subtle, that takes place within this ever-present Consciousness.
During the waking state the objects seem dense, coherent and closely packed together. There is not much space between them. As the dream state begins, the objects become lighter and more loosely held together. There is more space between them. In deep sleep there are no objects. There is empty space.
That empty space is the presence of the background, the presence of Consciousness, ‘I.’ It is referred to as being empty only from the mind’s point of view, because there is nothing objective there. However, from its own point of view, it is experienced as fullness, as Presence, Self-luminous, Self-knowing and Self-evident.
It is the same space that is present during the intervals between objects in the dreaming and waking states. It is also the same space of Consciousness that is present during the appearance of objects in the waking and dreaming states.
In the dreaming and waking states, the emptiness of Consciousness seems to be coloured by the appearance of objects. However, Consciousness is not coloured by anything outside itself.
Consciousness itself takes the shape of every appearance although it is itself shapeless, just as water takes the shape of a wave, although it is itself shapeless.
This Consciousness that is present during the appearance of the subtle object we call a thought, is exactly the same Consciousness that is present during the appearance of the subtle object we call the dream.
Likewise, the Consciousness that is present during the appearance of the gross object we call the world, is also the same Consciousness that is present during the appearance of the dream.
In this respect the world is a form of thought. The world is made of perceptions. These perceptions are made out of perceiving. They are made out of mind, out of the same substance that a thought is made of.
A thought, a sensation, a perception and a dream are all made out of the same ‘stuff’ and they all appear in the same space. They are made out of and appear within the same Consciousness, and it is this same Consciousness that is present during the gaps between appearances and during objectless deep sleep.
As the object changes or leaves, either during each state or during the transition between states, the Consciousness that is present behind the object as its witness and within the object as its substance, remains exactly as it always is, ever-present and unchanged. Any changes that are experienced either in the body, mind or world are changes that appear to this Consciousness.
Consciousness itself is not changed by the images that appear to it or within it any more than a mirror is changed by the changing images that are reflected in it.
In fact Consciousness is not only present as the continuous, unchanging witness of objects, but it also expresses itself simultaneously as objects. It is the substance of objects.
However, although objects are made out of Consciousness, this Consciousness does not change as the objects change, any more than water changes when waves change.
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Consciousness knows itself all the time. How could something whose nature is Knowingness, not know itself all the time?
How could something whose nature is Consciousness, not be conscious of itself all the time?
There are no objects present in deep sleep, therefore there is no memory of it. And yet on waking up, something lingers, something is left over. The saying, ‘I slept well,’ refers to an experience. It refers to the experience of Peace that was present during deep and undisturbed sleep.
The saying, ‘I slept badly,’ refers to some sort of disturbance, that is, to some sort of object. Either we mean that we woke up in the night and remained awake while wanting to be asleep. In this case the term ‘sleeping badly’ actually refers to the waking state not the deep sleep state. Or we mean that we had disturbing dreams that kept us from the Peace of deep sleep, and in this case the term ‘sleeping badly’ refers to the dream state.
In neither case is the experience of deep sleep itself referred to as a bad experience. In fact when we say that we slept badly it is always to the absence of deep sleep that we refer.
There are, by definition, no objects present in deep sleep and for that reason it is peaceful there. And because deep sleep and Peace always coexist, it can be said that Peace is inherent in deep sleep. It is not even true to say that Peace is inherent in deep sleep, because we do not experience two things there. Rather deep sleep is Peace.
Therefore, if Peace is identical to deep sleep and, as we have seen, deep sleep is the presence of Consciousness without objectivity, it follows that Peace is inherent in Consciousness, that Peace and Consciousness are one.
We acknowledge this experience every time we say that we have slept well. That statement comes from an experience.
There are no objects present in deep sleep and therefore Peace cannot be dependent on objects. This in turn implies that Peace is independent of any of the states or conditions of the body, mind or world.
Consciousness is always present, not only in deep sleep but in the dreaming and waking states as well. As Peace is inherent in Consciousness, Peace must also be present at all times, under all conditions and in all states.
It does not make sense to talk about the presence of Consciousness ‘at all times,’ because Consciousness does not exist in time. Time exists as an idea in Consciousness. However, we have to accept these limitations of language if we are to speak of Presence.
If Peace is independent of all conditions of the body, mind and world, it implies that Peace is not a state, that it does not come and go. It is present behind and within all appearances of the body, mind and world.
For this reason Peace cannot be the result of any activity in the body, mind or world. It cannot be the outcome of a practice. It cannot be created, maintained or lost. It always is.
In fact we can go further than that and say that just as everything is ultimately an expression of Consciousness, so ultimately is everything an expression of Peace.
Every experience is the shape of Silence.
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From the experience of deep sleep it is clear that Peace is inherent in Consciousness, that it is not an attribute of objects, situations, circumstances or events.
However, there are other occasions in the waking state when the experience of Consciousness without an object is also present. For instance, there are many moments in the waking state between one perception and the next when Consciousness stands alone, without an object.
These gaps or intervals are experiences in the sense that Consciousness is always experiencing itself, whether or not objects are present, but they have no objective content.
Of course, it does not make sense to assign these intervals a duration in time. Time is the distance between two events and during these intervals there are no objects and therefore no events. If no objects are present there, no time is present there.
This timeless non-experience cannot be remembered, in the same way that deep sleep cannot be remembered. No memory of this interval appears in Consciousness, because there was nothing present there apart from the transparent objectless presence of Consciousness itself.
In that sense these intervals are non-experiences. However, it would be incorrect to say that there was no experience during these moments. There is no objective experience and yet Consciousness is present ‘there’ experiencing itself.
Consciousness is the witness and substance of every objective experience, and when no object is present, such as in the interval between perceptions, Consciousness remains as it always is, knowing itself. This objectless Self-knowing is the substance of these intervals.
So experience does not stop when the object vanishes, only the objective aspect of experience, the name and form, ceases. Experience itself, experiencing itself, continues.
Once we see clearly that it is only Consciousness that is experienced during the waking and dreaming states, by the same token, it becomes clear that when no objects are present, the same experience of Consciousness experiencing itself, simply continues. In fact, nothing else has ever happened, other than this experience of Consciousness knowing itself.
These intervals are ever-present and timeless, just as the blue sky, which seems to be present only in the gaps between clouds, is in fact present behind as well as within the clouds themselves.
These intervals are the timeless background of Consciousness, in which objects, including the concept of time, appear from time to time. The sense of duration that is suggested by the term ‘interval’ is due to the limitation of language only, and should not be interpreted as implying that these intervals last in time.
The experiences of Understanding, Love and Beauty, are all experiences of this timeless, objectless Self-knowing, Self-recognition.
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During these timeless intervals Consciousness is simply present, as it is in deep sleep. It knows itself directly.
After this timeless interval, Consciousness takes the shape of the next appearance and may identify itself with a part of this appearance, a body. In doing so it ‘forgets’ itself and thereby appears to veil itself from itself.
The same is true as we wake in the morning, when the Peace of deep sleep still pervades our experience, before the appearance of separation has become fully established. The waking state emerges out of this Peace itself and is, for some time, saturated with it.
However, in most cases, Consciousness immediately and inadvertently loses itself in identification with a fragment. It condenses itself into a body/mind and the world is correspondingly projected ‘outside.’
The illusion of separation reappears. One pretends to be two. Consciousness becomes a fragment, a ‘me,’ and the world correspondingly becomes ‘other’ and ‘separate.’
Consciousness/Existence becomes Consciousness and Existence.
As a result of forgetting itself in this way, of apparently becoming an object, the Peace and Happiness that are experienced during this interval, that are this interval, are seemingly lost. The world then becomes their apparent abode, the place in which they can be sought and found.
Thus the search begins and the contracted ‘me’ becomes a seeker.
This contracted ‘me,’ which is simply Consciousness-pretending-to-be-a-separate-entity, overlooks or forgets that the experience of Peace and Happiness is inherent in its own nature. Instead it seems to become an intermittent experience that can be lost and therefore.
Every time we have the experience of someone or something that once made us peaceful or happy, but now makes us agitated or unhappy, should be enough to indicate that Peace and Happiness are not delivered by objects.
Peace and Happiness are inherent in Consciousness.
Although Consciousness is always present and therefore Peace and Happiness are always present, under all circumstances, we do not always experience them.
However, it is not objects themselves that veil Peace and Happiness. It is the fact that we think and feel them to be objects, outside and separate from ourselves.
With this feeling that objects are on the outside and separate, comes the corresponding thought and feeling that ‘I,’ the presence of Consciousness, is on the inside and is similarly separate.
It is this division of the seamless totality of our experience into a perceiving subject and a perceived object that veils the Peace and Happiness that are present under all conditions and at all times.
It is for this reason that meditation is sometimes described as sleeping while we wake. In meditation we take the same attitude towards objects that we take in our sleep, that is, no attitude at all.
We simply abide as we are.
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Most activities are governed by the desire for Happiness. Happiness is a non-objective experience. It is simply the presence of Consciousness.
As Consciousness is by nature conscious, it could be said that Happiness is the experience of Consciousness knowing itself knowingly.
It is the experience that is revealed every time a desire comes to an end. Desire is agitation and Happiness is the ever-present background of all states that is revealed when this agitation ceases.
Of course, it is also present during the agitation itself as it is the background of all states, but it is not experienced as such.
This desire for Happiness does not come from memory. Happiness cannot be remembered for it has no objective qualities.
It is inherent in Consciousness, which in its unmanifest condition, is objectless, such as in the experience of deep sleep.
Consciousness cannot be experienced as an object and therefore cannot be remembered. However, it is always present and therefore whatever is inherent in it must also be ever-present.
The current object is continually changing but the desire for Happiness always remains the same. Therefore, Happiness cannot be caused by the object that is present.
Likewise the experience of Happiness is always the same, irrespective of the object that seems to deliver it, so the object itself cannot be the aim of the search for Happiness.
Once it is understood that Happiness cannot be a memory, it has to be concluded that the desire for Happiness comes from the current experience itself, even if the experience is unpleasant. Where else could it come from?
However, it is not from the objective aspect of the current experience that Happiness is sought. It is from the knowing or experiencing aspect.
The fact that Happiness is sought in such a wide variety of objects and activities indicates the intuition that Happiness resides in the knowing and experiencing aspects of an experience or an object, in the Consciousness aspect, not in the objective aspect, because the knowing or experiencing aspect of all experiences is always the same.
However, the knowing and experiencing aspect of experience is veiled by the name and the form of the experience, and therefore we keep looking for Happiness in new and different objects.
In fact our engagement with objects is, in most cases, precisely for the purpose of unveiling the Peace and Happiness that is inherent in every experience. However, we wrongly assign Peace and Happiness to the objective aspect of the experience.
Our exclusive focus on the objective aspect of experience veils this Happiness. However, failing to notice that Happiness is in fact already present, we search elsewhere for it. We search for it in a new situation, in a new object.
In fact even the desire for Happiness comes from Happiness itself.
Desire is the form of Happiness. It is the shape that Happiness itself takes when it overlooks its own presence and begins to search for itself elsewhere.
It is Happiness itself that seeks itself.
We are already what we seek.
What governs the type of object in which we search for Happiness will depend on the objects that, in the past, immediately preceded the non-objective experience of Happiness.
Unlike Happiness itself, these objects can be remembered and so we try to reproduce them in the hopes that they will deliver the same Happiness.
Once this is clearly seen, the nature of desire changes radically. An object is no longer desired in order to produce Happiness but rather to express it.
Once desire is liberated from the requirement to produce Happiness, it does not disappear. It is simply liberated from the confines of serving a non-existent entity.
Desire as such is experienced as energy, as life. It is already its own fulfilment.