We normally think that to be a separate self is natural and effortless, and that to be the open, empty presence of Awareness requires effort. In fact, it is the other way round: to be the open, empty presence of Awareness is natural and effortless, but to be a separate self requires a continuous and subtle effort of thinking and feeling.

The Many Names Of God

When my attention is pointed to the paper on which the words are written then I become aware of it, where I was not before....

I have just read the foreword to your book “The Transparency of Things.” I really liked the metaphor (or maybe simile) of the paper on which the words are written. When my attention is pointed to the paper on which the words are written then I become aware of it, where I was not before. Although the paper was always there and the words could not exist without the paper. And now I see the words and the paper together. Just exactly as things are - the things in the world cannot exist without That which is, the ground of all things.

You say: “When my attention is pointed to the paper on which the words are written then I become aware of it, where I was not before….”

In fact, when the paper on which the words are written is pointed out, we become aware, not of the paper, but of the fact that we were always aware of the paper.

Previously we thought we were aware of the words and did not notice the paper. Now we see that we were in fact only aware of the paper all along.

However, when we first notice the paper there is a tendency to say that we suddenly become aware of the words and the paper. This is true but only half true!

There are in fact no words as such, that is, existing in their own right, entitled to their own label ‘words.’ There is only the paper which takes the shape of the words without ever becoming anything other than itself.

The name ‘word’ is in fact just another name for the paper when it seems to become something other than itself.

Likewise, when we become aware of the presence of Awareness we usually notice it first as the witness of all experience. This is true but only half true!

When the apparent objects of the body, mind and world are looked at from the point of view (it is not really a point of view) of the witness, they are seen to be made out of nothing other than this witnessing presence of Awareness.

At this point it becomes clear that Awareness is not just the witness but also the substance of all experience. It becomes clear that Awareness is immanent as well as transcendent.

The names we give to the objects of the body, mind and world are in fact just other names for Awareness when it seems to become something other than itself. They are the many names of God.

Hence our tradition of Christian names in which the one Self is denoted by many names.