Awakening of me is the only awakening that is happening on the level of who we are. With other states of awakening, we are either moving beyond me or becoming something more; something is being added to us that is not of me. For that reason, we even hesitate to call the realization of conscious me ‘an awakening’. We could refer to it instead as some kind of a higher development of our sense of me. However, we choose to call it an awakening because even though me is not stepping beyond itself, still, within the construct of its identity, me is opening the space of pure subjectivity, the essence of which is universal. Through deep internalization of its inherent sense of self, me is discovering within itself the original light of creation that lays at the very root of its identity. Awakening of me has its limitations due to its initial disconnection from the soul and universal reality; however it is because of these limitations that we need to respect this awakening even more. There is something very human and dignified in the evolutionary effort of me to awaken to the essence of its own existence.
The desire to know oneself is what elevates man above all other creatures, which are only concerned with survival and the pursuit of pleasure. In this regard, we may question the humanity of most humans, who live solely for the sake of their survival. Even among those who think they want to know themselves, their concept of self-knowledge is restricted to their psychological reality. They want to know what kind of person they are or which kind of life direction will most suit their personal development. They never question the fundamentals: their very existence and the mystery of their identity.
The nature of me is such that it evolves in time through the process of learning and acquiring life experiences, and most of that evolution is actually collective. Humanity as a whole is an evolving organism, expanding its knowledge and social skills. The problem is that this overall evolution is happening within the basic limitations of being locked in the state of ignorance: forgetfulness of our true nature. When we grow a tree inside an enclosed space, it can grow but it can never reach its full potential; for that, it must be planted under the open sky in the sun, wind, and rain of the real world.
As individual beings, we are locked in the collective mind – like in a greenhouse – unable to step beyond it into the open. To reach a certain point of maturity, we need to grow up within the context of collective consciousness; otherwise we will never develop mentally and emotionally. However, as much as we need the collective context, at some point it begins to block our further evolution; it becomes a prison for our mind. No one is an island. We live in the complex multidimensional space of totality. To enter the path to self-realization is to move the perception of our existence from an earthly point of reference to a higher, more universal context. And yet, even beyond that universal context is the noble intention to know who we are without any context at all, so that we can become an island unto ourselves before that island is consumed by the continent of universal existence.
Those who seek true self-knowledge seek to solve the mystery of aloneness. One of the reasons that most seekers fail on the path is that they run away from being alone. They fear aloneness. They seek imaginary spiritual achievements, but they do not seek their own self. They think that they want to realize oneness while their hidden agenda, beyond the desire for oneness, is fear of being alone. There is something fundamentally insincere in the search for oneness. It is fear of being nothing that translates as desire to be everything. People take themselves for granted and then want the whole universe to be added to them. This is what they call oneness. They want oneness because they refuse to enter the cave of their inner self. They are scared to death of realizing their naked self because for the personality our true self is nothing. But there is no love, no intimacy, and no peace unless we have entered the temple of our bare self. To awaken in our being the yearning to return to the heart of aloneness is the true and only beginning of the path to reality.
There is evolution of me and there is evolution into me. The evolution into me is a revolution, a new era in our existence as human beings. Before one can know oneself, one has to know where to look. When seekers engage in some kind of contemplation as to who they are, they keep dreaming instead of looking into their self. The same goes for so called self-enquiry. Self-enquiry is another type of dreaming, imagining things. It is like trying to discover where our head is located and making a big fuss about it. It is odd that the area that people are the least in touch with is their sense of me. They take it for granted, forgetting that it is the essence of their existence. Evolution into me begins from that turning point when me awakens the desire to know what me is. There are those who want to know who they are, but they do not want to know who their me is. It would be extremely liberating if the question ‘who am I?’ was changed to ‘what is me?’ This alone would take the seeker much closer to the answer because the better is the question, the closer is the answer.
It is so difficult to define what our sense of me is because it is intrinsic to who we are. It is almost too obvious to even know that it exists. On the other hand, to which extent our me is tangible is directly related to how much it has evolved into itself, which refers to two things: how conscious it is of itself and how much its identity is energetically solidified. For instance, the most common me on this planet is the subconscious me. It is called ‘subconscious’ because it is not able to refer to itself in a clear way; it is similar to dreaming when being awake. Most of what is happening in our body is below the threshold of the conscious mind. Some of it we could call ‘unconscious’ and some ‘subconscious’. But even the unconscious is not fully unconscious; it is just so deeply subconscious that we don’t even register it. The subconscious me can function on many levels. It can be more or less subconscious, and then it can be so close to the conscious mind that we are not really certain whether it is still subconscious or already semi-conscious.
The subconscious me is how most animals experience themselves. They are living in a perpetual dream state of sorts, a waking dream. Their subconscious has adapted to be very efficient in coping with the empirical reality; hence they seem very aware of what is happening around them. For instance, they may be able to quickly react to a threat. But this is a bit of an oversimplification as even animals experience the subconscious me on many levels. The more they are evolved, like mammals, the more conscious is their subconscious me. In fact, in some of them we can already recognize the presence of a rudimentary observer.
As our brain develops, layer by layer becoming more complex and efficient, so does our me. The old parts of the brain are not being cancelled just because the new ones develop; each one retains their function. In a similar way, our subconscious me is not eliminated just because the more conscious me comes into existence. Every me has its unique function, and often they are present simultaneously. The subconscious me has an important role to play and is not meant to eliminated no matter how conscious we become. If we imagine how it would be if we were conscious of all our body functions – how our food is being digested, how the blood circulates – this would be unbearable and drive us insane. The subconscious is not meant to be conscious; it is just fine the way it is. It is responsible for most of the automatic and spontaneous functions in our body and in our mind. For that reason, to develop the observer too much through excessive mindfulness is unnatural and can be detrimental to the subtle balance of our psyche.
That which made us humans – the emergence of Homo sapiens – was the birth of the observer. The Homo sapiens basically is the observer. It is the observer that allows self-reflection, inner dialog, creation of self-image, and many other complex functions of the mind. It also causes us to be overly conscious of our existence, creating a sense of separation from the rest of existence. What some call ‘ego’ is in fact the observer. It is the development of the observer that made us leave our original innocence, the Eden of the animal kingdom. But we should not forget that it was not just innocence but also ignorance. True innocence is conscious. Though the arrival of the observer took us away from the state of unconscious unity with existence, it also was the first step towards regaining that unity in a conscious way and thus realizing the higher condition of innocence.
What is the observer? It is a more highly developed sense of me that can relate back to itself in the context of the mind. Yes, both subconscious me and the observer cannot exist without thinking. They come into existence as subjects to thoughts; they have no existence of their own. When the observer comes closer to the conscious me, it is able to refer to itself directly, but even this can be regarded as a subtle thought. Similar to the subconscious me, the observer can be more or less conscious; it does not designate a fixed level of consciousness. Its relationship with both thinking and itself defines how conscious it is, for the observer can already sense its own presence as the subject behind all thoughts. Most humans experience the lower level of the observer, the subconscious observer; meaning it is very weak and completely lost in the mind. The next level of the observer is the semi-conscious observer, where it begins to relate to itself to a higher degree. Then there is the conscious observer, who knows himself clearly to be the subject behind the mind. In fact, the conscious observer can already experience himself in separation from thoughts; he is at the threshold of the conscious me. The reason why the conscious observer is still not the conscious me is because its identity is still based on too much self-reference and lacks the quality of being.
Before we move to the conscious me, it is important to note that each me is using specific areas in the brain for its function. The subconscious me does not have an exact location, for it moves through the whole head, but if one were to place the area where subconscious thinking is taking place, it would be in the upper lobes of the brain. The observer is using only the frontal lobes; hence we humans have developed this part of the brain so much. The conscious me is using the same center as the observer since it is itself the deeper dimension of the observer; it is the awakened observer.
The awakening of conscious me marks the first step of entering the dimension of pure subjectivity. It is considered pure because it is experienced outside of the context of the mind or objectivity. There are deeper levels of pure subjectivity than the conscious me, but it is here that a completely new stage of our existence begins; a new man is born – the conscious man. The issue with awakening of conscious me is that it may feel as if it is nothing new even though it was not there before. Because our sense of me is so inherent to who we are, it is difficult to gain the deeper perspective in order to relate to it properly. Many want to develop psychologically because they can see clear benefits to it, but no one has a conscious wish to evolve into me. What is a benefit of being me? Who cares about our me? No one, really. Seekers can relate to the practices of mindfulness because they suffer from being tyrannized by their mind, but they do not want to meet the one who makes mindfulness possible. The yearning to develop intimacy with our own self, to get in touch with our fundamental subjectivity, is not something that can be perceived in the category of benefit. It is much deeper. There are obviously countless benefits to the awakening of conscious me, but they are more the by-products of becoming real. Similarly as we cannot convince anyone to long for their soul, we cannot use logical arguments to make one fall in love with their me. The existential need to realize our me has to be born in the heart of our existence. Those who either disrespect their me or have no desire to come closer to its essence miss the living essence of the path.
As we mentioned, the more the observer becomes conscious, the closer he comes to being transformed into the conscious me. Experiencing itself in pure self-referral, in separation from thoughts, the observer arrives at the threshold of the conscious me. The next step that pushes the observer over the threshold is a combination of deeper surrender into itself and falling into the condition of being. We are not referring here yet to the proper experience of being, which is realized through surrender into the source through the portal of tan t’ien. For now, it is more of a touch of being that links our me with the vertical dimension, with the now. This quality of being is felt in the front of the head as a condition of abidance combined with a gentle energy of rest. When the conscious observer relaxes into himself and through himself into the now, he becomes connected to the I am of verticality, the energy of I am that reaches into him as the reverberation of the source. And this is when he opens within himself the inner space of pure subjectivity and realizes his own self.
We must bear in mind that even though the conscious me awakens through the transformation of the observer, the function of the observer is not abandoned – but now the observer functions from the conscious me. The conscious me becomes the identity of the observer, who is no longer recreating a separate sense of self outside of the conscious me. This is similar to the fact that prior to the awakening of conscious me, the presence of the observer did not stop the natural function of the subconscious me. All the functions of the mind are retained, but now they are transformed by being referred back to the real me.
From subconscious me, we develop the observer, and from the observer, we awaken the higher identity of the conscious me. Each of these mes has a direct effect on the quality of our mind. The subconscious me is the base for the subconscious mind. The observer is the base for the semi-conscious mind. The conscious me is the base for the conscious mind. And our soul is the base for the higher mind – intelligence.
Awakening of conscious me is the final meeting of me with itself that is realized within the limitation of not having the soul awakened. The awakening of conscious me is not the end of its evolution into itself. Its further evolution is based on its expansion into consciousness and the soul. This begins when conscious me initiates the process of its surrender into I am. Of course for that to happen, the I am has to be first awakened to make this surrender at all possible. As we have explained on other occasions, through surrender of conscious me, pure me is born as the identity of the linking space between conscious me and I am. When pure me is merged with I am and our sense of self is fully transferred into the soul, through the further integration between the soul and conscious me, conscious me can fully embrace its pure nature. Surrender into the soul is decentralizing the identity of conscious me, allowing it to arrive at the condition of translucency.
The translucent conscious me is what we call ‘natural me’. Only from the place of horizontal surrender into I am can conscious me be natural. Before that, due to remaining too close to the mind, it could not be fully transparent. It was constantly colored by psychological states and a constant sense of self-consciousness. Conscious me cannot by itself reach freedom from self-reference. It is simply too present. A level of absence has to be added to conscious me for it to realize its natural state. That absence enters me through its surrender to the soul. The natural me is the me of the soul, the true and pure expression of our higher being, the translucent window of the soul into creation. This is the meaning behind the words of the Zen master who pointed at the flowers in the garden and said, ‘Nowadays no one is able to see these flowers’. Only the natural me can see the real flowers because its vision is pure and free from self-consciousness. Most humans live their whole lives in a world they don’t see.
Based on the logic of evolution, awakening of conscious me should come before awakening to I am. However, it is not uncommon that seekers awaken to I am first. This usually happens through the grace of a spiritual guide. The thing to remember is that while I am can be transmitted, conscious me cannot because it is the responsibly of each human to awaken it through their own evolution. Most humans are very undeveloped on the level of me. It is odd that many seekers want to realize the universal self or their Buddha nature when they do not even possess a basic clear sense of me – it is like an infant wanting to grasp an apple on high tree.
In the absence of conscious me, it is obviously the observer who is practicing self-remembrance. The problem is that due to the inherent limitations of the observer, its lack of continuity and depth, it is very difficult to establish continuity on the level of I am. The additional problem is that without the conscious me, we cannot awaken pure me, which means that we cannot embody I am. Conscious me is the link between I am and the mind, and pure me is the link between conscious me and I am. Those who have a hard time grasping their pure me usually lack clear realization of their conscious me. Fortunately, however, in the scenario that awakening of I am precedes awakening of me, it is possible to indirectly awaken conscious me as a result of cultivation of I am. In the process of stabilizing I am, the observer gradually evolves as well, and somewhere on the way it may transform into the conscious me, who in return gives birth to pure me.
In working with conscious me, a seeker must not fall into the pitfall of crystallizing their observer. When the observer is crystallized, it is experienced as concentration of energy in the front of the head. It is highly uncomfortable and prevents our surrender into I am. The tension in the front is constantly pulling our attention away from the depth of the headspace. For surrender to happen, our me has to be empty. Initially, it is never completely empty due to self-reference, but it has to be empty enough to be absorbed into I am, and then it becomes fully empty. In order to make sure that one is not confusing the observer with the conscious me, we need to understand their difference, which is both very tangible and very subtle. The experience of conscious me must be clear and stable, as well as spacious, relaxed, and restful. It has a quality that combines strength with gentleness and intimacy. When the correct me begins to surrender, there is no resistance but rather a natural and loving expansion into I am. Me drops into the depth of its original self, like a leaf falling gently onto the earth, allowing the soul to take birth within our existence as the supreme I am.
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