Pretend you just slipped out of the womb. You peer around at the glaring hospital lights, feeling a cool breeze on your naked belly. Faces appear before your interested gaze. (Unless, of course, you’re annoyed to be here, frustrated and uncomfortable, wondering what the heck just happened.)
You look around. You have no words for anything. It’s all shape, movement, texture, energy. A world sparkles around you, an entire dream filled with the five senses and consciousness.
Consciousness is! It looks out your eyes and envelopes the entire room. It doesn’t create a separate self yet. Everything dances together and apart. It’s all simply presence, or now. It isn’t really aware of itself AS awareness. It’s undefined, non-conceptualized, simply what is, without boundaries, without limits. It’s free.
Now imagine yourself fifteen months later when Mama has called, “Annie!” or “Susan!” or “John!” sixteen thousand times. Every time you’ve focused on Mama’s face and lips she’s pointing at you and calling you a name.
That’s when a kind of pretending starts. Something dawns: “Ahhh, when she calls Annie she means ME! She means this body, these thoughts.”
The world, once undifferentiated, shrinks into a separate self and other. There’s Annie on one hand and Mama on the other. The world is now two. The world is now “me” and the 300,000 others!
By the time we’re an adult we’ve cemented this Annie-person into something extremely solid in our minds. Most of us have forgotten what we experienced as we slipped out of that womb. We’ve forgotten the undivided world of *simply everything*. We’ve now divided and cut and fractured the world into a billion pieces. The piece of self is the linchpin upon which the entire worldview rests.
Is there another stage in human development after adulthood?
That’s what many sages say. They say adulthood with its view of self/world is not the be-all and end-all of development. They advise us to look closer at direct experience–not at what we’ve been taught. They say look carefully out of your two eyes. Look at your direct experience and see–really see–if the world exists as you’ve been trained by Mama and culture and society.
Gaze across the room. Is there really a division between seer and seen? Is that chair, in the world of sight, separate from what’s seeing? In your direct experience (without the benefit of a mirror) can you even find a head? Can you see your own eyes? Can you see the seamlessness of seeing, the seamlessness of hearing, the seamlessness of touching?
Sages say we default to our natural human condition of recognizing seamlessness every single day. Sometimes every single hour. Moments exist where we’re not creating a separate self. We’re not conceptualizing–we’re simply here, now. We’re exactly the same as when we first came out of the womb, undifferentiated.
What is known as enlightenment, or awakeness or liberation is simply the recognition of who/what we are as seamless everything. From the adult perspective of a separate self in a separate body, the boundaries dissolve and we glimpse the identical truth of non-separation which has always existed and will forevermore exist.
This truth may be glimpsed a thousand times, over and over again. This is known in some circles as non-abiding awakening. Abiding awakening occurs when it’s recognized as absolute without any need to search or look again. Even as abiding awakening finishes seeking in a definitive way, it never finishes seeing anew, afresh, alive. It never finishes learning because it’s all infinite, isn’t it?
Pretend again that you’re just being born, slipping out of that comfortable enclosed womb into a brand-new dream-world. For just a second look around the room without labels, thoughts, memories. This/here/now is the only reality, isn’t it? No labels of Annie or nurse or Mama or Daddy. Simply this undulated undifferentiated whole.
Do you remember now?