Spirituality Magazine

Recognize That You Are Only Awareness #4

By Hanumandass @HanumanDass

Within the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta which is the primary nondual tradition originating in India the problem facing man is avidya. Avidya is Sanskrit for “ignorance”. What the Indian sages tell us is that the problem of human suffering is one of ignorance. Why do you suffer? Because you are ignorant of who you really are. Liberation is the knowing that transcends ignorance.

What sort of meaning does this Vedantist “ignorance” carry? This ignorance of avidya is not as if you were mentally deficient or otherwise unable to think properly or reason accurately. Avidya carries the import of the root found in the English equivalent “ignore”. The problem of ignorance is one of ignoring. You as an apparent individual, autonomous, separate person is that you have ignored knowledge that is at all times present and available.

When we think of an ignorant person we probably envision a cocky, know-it-all, “you can’t tell ME anything” ignoramus. Why? Because this person has the knowledge accessible to apply themselves in respect of whatever occasion arises. They simply refuse to admit they might need help or education. So we call them ignorant, they ignore the obvious which is of the utmost import to them and rather choose to act on their lack of wisdom or understanding. And of course they usually wind up in trouble.

So what the sages who wrote the Upanishads tell us is that we are ignorant of our true nature. I have read translations that call the ignorant man, he who refuses to heed the truth handed down by thousands of years of self-enquiry, a fool! Surely “fool” stands as an adequate synonym for “ignorant”. The foolish person knows that what appears to be their identity really is not the case and chooses to believe this falsity in direct disregard to what they know to be true.

Let me be clear, I’m not using “ignorance” in a derogatory manner. With utmost compassion I am trying to uncover the root problem that stands in your way. The fact is since you ARE Awareness you can’t avoid it. It’s always right there, present, behind what appears to be you. Without Awareness there would be no illusory self to claim as your identity. Even when you are utterly deceived by the self-assertion there lies the Awareness that makes the delusion a possibility. In order to not be It you have to first be It!

Imagine walking into your bathroom and looking into the mirror. You see a reflection of yourself. You know the reflection is not you. But what if, were it possible, the reflection thought to itself “This is me, I’m my own person.”? You would surely object, “Your just my reflection, you are nothing without me, the real deal!” Awareness is the same way. What you really are as Awareness is the original, the transparent, the indistinct, the unmanifest reality. The manifest collection of mentality and physicality you call you, the ego or self-assertion, is merely an arising, a reflection of the Original.

You have ignored the truth of your original nature by investing your identity in a temporary arising that is only an illusory, transient, and eventually passing phenomenon. It’s all vapor and mist, it will eventually dissipate!

What will remain? There is only You as Awareness. Isn’t it time to investigate what sits just under the surface of your ignorance, under the ignoring of your true nature? Take time today to recognize that the waves of “you” are illusory and under the disturbed crashing waves is a calm, peaceful, witnessing…an Awareness. Ignorance – avidya is nothing more than a state of mind. When a drunk sobers up he simply abstains from drink. What might occur if we abstain from tasting the ignorance of  duality?

We are already that which we seek to BE. You are already It, pretending to not be It. All that remains is to sober from your drunkenness and recognize you are only Awareness.



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