When introducing people to get a "taste‟ of this natural presence which we can call awareness, for the first time, I often say: Just stop thinking for a second and see what remains.
... In fact, why don't you do that right now: for 5 seconds stop thinking about everything obsessively, and just relax. Just see what remains... notice that there is a natural presence which is here whether thoughts arise or not. A natural cognizance, you could say.
that you notice that there is something that remains when you are not thinking. Like a background that's just present.
The goal with this is not to motivate you to stop all thinking or to try and retain a non-thought state of mind. Instead, that initial moment is just to help you recognize awareness. It's just an introduction to make you aware of the fact that there is a constant, natural presence which is unaffected by the thoughts, ideas and experiences that are experienced within this natural presence.
Don't ever believe that awareness, or your recognition of awareness, is depending on your being thoughtless. It‟s simply not true.
If you notice that you are in fact believing you need to get rid of thoughts and emotions in order to be free, then let this very moment be the perfect moment to bring that belief to a complete stop
In fact, it is crucial in this world of pace and chaos, to be able to recognize awareness even while thinking and feeling many things at once. It is crucial that we all come to know ourselves as that openness which can maintain its openness in the face of great chaos.
Awareness is always aware, always simply present.
A Simple Analogy
Why do I tell you initially to stop thinking then? It's because we have grown so accustomed to being interested only in our thought-forms, that we miss the very basis of all our experienced. So when we stop thinking for a moment, we have nothing in our sight to distract us, and so we naturally notice that subtle presence that underlies all thoughts. We naturally notice that we are in fact that awareness that remains! Surprise: we are not our thoughts!
It's like this:
Have you ever watched television, and suddenly the image turns black? Or the black/white jitter takes over?
There is no content on the screen and suddenly you are reminded that you were actually staring at a television set...
When the screen was filled with stories that interested you, kept you distracted, you never even realized you were watching at a television screen. All you recognized were the changing forms that were displayed and the stories they were telling you. You were missing the obvious fact, that the television set is the basis of every single image shown.
And just like when something that pulls your interest is reflected in a mirror you are looking at, for example your face, all you see is your face and the story it seems to evoke, you notice all your facial imperfections maybe, or your beautiful characteristics. Because that is what you are interested in.
But when a mirror reflects nothing that pulls your interest, like for example an empty space of your room, you naturally notice that there's a mirror in your room
instead of being distracted by its reflection. For the first time you see the mirror itself, for what it really is, instead of being distracted by the story of what it reflects.
Similarly, Awareness is the basis of all your changing perceptions and is most easily noticed to be present, when we stop thinking about everything for a moment. There can be thoughts, but just stop thinking so excessively for a moment and notice that there is some natural cognizance, that‟s there „in addition to‟ the thoughts that may arise.
But as I said, it's important not to dwell on this initial instruction.
Now that you have realized that all images were actually just pure television screen, when the images and the stories they tell you start to fill up your screen again, you can start to remind yourself of the fact that every image is nothing more than
pure screen. You can now actually see the television screen as a screen!
No matter how elaborate, individual or authoritative the story of these images might seem, they have no individual basis or power and have never been anything more than pure screen. All images are now realized to be equal, even if their labels and stories tell you otherwise!
So where you might have needed that initial moment of blankness to recognize what was really true about the stories, now that you know this basic ground of the perceptions in your direct experience, you can start recognizing awareness in every perception, in every thought.
For that alertness that is naturally seeing the moment of no-thought, is still that exact same alertness that is witnessing the maelstrom of thoughts and emotions.
So instead of recognizing only the images of life, commit yourself from this moment on, to recognize the fact that you are aware of all these
images. Not as a separate entity, or a separate observer, but just as a natural seeing in which all experiences are perceived.
YOU are always that same peaceful, spacious, open awareness and YOU can never not be present. Thoughts come and go like the wind, but YOU are the space for them to either be in, or not be in. Completely unaffected, completely free already!