#4181 - Friday, March 4, 2011 - Editor: Jerry
The Practical Application of
by Colin Drake
'By observing mental states you also become aware of the seven
factors of enlightenment [awakening]. These are: awareness of awareness,
investigation of the Way, vigour, joy, serenity, concentration and equanimity.'
(The Buddha, Maha Sattipatthana Sutta 14-16)
The first two are paramount and the last five are outcomes of
these. This is what my book Beyond the Separate Self is all about,
becoming 'aware of awareness' through direct investigation and then continuing
with further 'investigation of the Way' (the Tao, the nature of reality). Once
one is 'aware of awareness' then one can undertake further investigations not
needing to relying on any 'teachings', although these may be useful for
confirming what one has discovered. These investigations lead to awakening, but
many people question the usefulness of this in helping us to live in the
My neighbour is the sole carer of three young children.
Consequently he finds life very hard and, having had two children of my own, I
can fully sympathize with his plight. However this is not very helpful. For us
to sit together and agree how difficult such a situation is will not improve
things. It will only strengthen his opinion of the problems of raising three
infants and increase his desperation. The negative mind state can only be
strengthened by other's sympathy, for this fuels one's justification for feeling
What is required is a paradigm shift which will change his
moment to moment experience for the better. The easiest way to do this is for
him to enquire into the nature of life which entails investigating experience
1. Consider the following statement: 'Life, for each of us, is
just a series of moment-to-moment experiences'. These experiences start when we
are born and continue until we die, rushing headlong after each other, so that
they seem to merge into a whole that we call 'my life'. However, if we stop to
look we can readily see that, for each of us, every moment is just an
2. Any moment of experience has only three elements: thoughts
(including all mental images), sensations (everything sensed by the body and its
sense organs) and awareness of these thoughts and sensations. Emotions and
feelings are a combination of thought and sensation.
3. Thoughts and sensations are ephemeral, that is they come
and go, and are objects, i.e. 'things' that are perceived.
4. Awareness is the constant subject, the 'perceiver' of
thoughts and sensations and that which is always present. Even during sleep
there is awareness of dreams and of the quality of that sleep; and there is also
awareness of sensations; if a sensation becomes strong enough, such as a sound
or uncomfortable sensation, one will wake up.
5. All thoughts and sensations appear in awareness, exist in
awareness, and subside back into awareness. Before any particular thought or
sensation there is effortless awareness of 'what is': the sum of all thoughts
and sensations occurring at any given instant. During the thought or sensation
in question there is effortless awareness of it within 'what is'. Then when it
has gone there is still effortless awareness of 'what is'.
6. So the body/mind is experienced as a flow of ephemeral
objects appearing in this awareness, the ever present subject. For each of us
any external object or thing is experienced as a combination of thought and
sensation, i.e. you may see it, touch it, know what it is called, and so on. The
point is that for us to be aware of anything, real or imaginary, requires
thought about and/or sensation of that thing and it is awareness of these
thoughts and sensations that constitutes our experience.
7. Therefore this awareness is the constant substratum in
which all things appear to arise, exist and subside. In addition, all living
things rely on awareness of their environment to exist and their behaviour is
directly affected by this. At the level of living cells and above this is
self-evident, but it has been shown that even electrons change their behaviour
when (aware of) being observed! Thus this awareness exists at a deeper level
than body/mind (and matter/energy ) and we are this awareness!
8. This does not mean that at a surface level we are not the
mind and body, for they arise in, are perceived by and subside back into
awareness, which is the deepest and most fundamental level of our being.
However, if we choose to identify with this deepest level - awareness - (the
perceiver) rather than the surface level, mind/body (the perceived), then
thoughts and sensations are seen for what they truly are, just ephemeral objects
which come and go, leaving awareness itself totally unaffected.
When one identifies with awareness each moment is encountered
freshly and directly, uncoloured by past experiences. Most of our mental
suffering and frustration is caused by our mind judging our experience as
unsatisfactory, or by projecting into the future and worrying about the
imaginary problems that this might hold. Whereas from the viewpoint of awareness
itself each moment is enough (in itself) as awareness does not judge but just
witnesses 'what is'. With this outlook one is much more capable of handling what
the world may throw at us, as each moment is taken as it comes without relating
it to the past, future or any imaginary self-image based on identifying with
thoughts and sensations (mind/body). This does not imply that life will be
without problems just that we will become more able to solve these as they
With regard to solving these problems we have at our disposal
the most amazing instrument, the human mind, our own inbuilt onboard computer.
This is a wonderful problem solving device, but to function properly it needs to
be supplied with accurate data. All computer errors are due to incorrect data or
program bugs. The main program bug in the mind occurs when we identify ourselves
as the mind. In this case it colours all of the data it receives with its own
opinions, judgements, self-interests and so on, which naturally leads to
erroneous conclusions. As we learn to identify with the deeper level of pure
awareness, this bug is fixed, and we learn to see things 'as they are', rather
than through the filter of the mind. Now data is fed in uncontaminated, and
problem-solving activity continues more accurately and spontaneously.
So when one is 'awake' each moment is encountered freshly and
responded to (rather than reacted to) appropriately, which enhances our
problem-solving ability, thus making life easier and more
~ ~ ~
Much of this article is taken from Beyond the Separate
Self - The End of Anxiety and Mental Suffering
Beyond the 'Separate Self'
The End of Anxiety and
A Simple Guide to Awakening
Based on the Meditations, Contemplations, and
of Forty Years of Spiritual Search and Practice
Your book is excellent in its brilliance and clear simplicity.
I must have read hundreds of books on the subject by now and this is truly a
great treasure. I also want to say that I feel drawn to recommend this beautiful
work to many friends on the "seeker circuit" and I sincerely hope that many of
them will buy it and love it as I do. Deep gratitude and good wishes from
Sweden. - Peter Signell
Enjoyed Colin Drake's new book. Clear, unpretentious and
honest. -Tim Rowe
I bought Colin Drake's book off the internet . He has to be
congratulated on the most clear and succinct book on the subject that I have
read. He has managed to distil the essence. A must read for beginners and for
seasoned travellers. -Garry Booth
Colin has a passionate love affair with Truth. This has
culminated in him writing, simply and clearly, what has been revealed to him.
Hiswritings are an invitation to those with a similar interest, to explore and
discover for themselves. Enjoy. -Isaac Shapiro