The ground of awareness
I don't know if we ever feel anxious. That feeling of uncertainty, of not knowing, as if floating in mid air. There is nothing to grasp on, and everything, life, marriage, career, future, and all that is implied in what we call living, seems to exist on tenuous structures, a tower made of paper, and capable of falling apart any minute. I think this is our life everyday. This creeping anxiety, although we suppress it, or distract ourselves from it with music or shows or incense, this anxiety is always waiting to explode. And when it does, it might become depression, uncontrollable anger or loneliness, and all forms of neurotic breakdowns. If we could, from the very root, dissolve this sense uncertainty, then we could perhaps live with a background of absolute security. After all, security is what most of us seek. A sense of being safe, protected, certain. So, it is quite important to ask, what is the cause of our anxiety and uncertainty? How is one to live on a ground utterly immovable, like walking on earth, and therefore anxiety has no root to flower?
In our time, anxiety is managed with many different techniques. Some meditate, do breathing exercises, or go play some sports. Some take medicine. Some go pray, or recite mantras over and over. These techniques work to a certain extent. If they did not, any somewhat intelligent human being would reject them. But we also see, that anxiety has only subsided. It is reduced, yet not completely eliminated. It is like weed, and if we don't remove the weed from the root, it shall grow again when the condition is right. So we resort to repetitive practice, doses, and so on, to keep this mellowness, this relative tranquility in our mind. We remove the weed over and over again.
Yet, it is also true that, by relying on a technique, a medicine, or something external for a peace of mind, we have created more roots for anxiety to flower. Because, the reduction of anxiety now depends on a method, which might not be accessible, or doable at all times. So life might become very small and limited, limited by the method, because now the method has become important. The dependence on this method elicits the worry that it might not work. And when it suddenly or gradually fails, like all methods or medicines are, anxiety is still there waiting, prowling, ready to unleash itself.
If we see the inadequacy of our current methods, whatever methods they are, we then naturally ask, are there no better ways? But why are we anxious? Why do we worry? Is it because we are attached? We are attached to our house, our reputation, our images, our country, family, lovers. And being attached, there is naturally the worry of losing. I have something, and being attached to that thing, I do not want to lose it. Yet we all somehow understand, deeply, that we cannot keep this thing, or anything, forever. So the worry is always there. As long as I am attached, I worry. Then anxiety is a given. Anxiety is our way of life, because attachment is our way of life. Yet, how am I to get rid of attachment?
What is attachment? When I look at this attachment, what is it? How does it move? What is its form, its sound, its feeling? I am attached to my reputation. I observe my thoughts, and I see the imagined scenario where others disrespect me, scold me, discredit me, and so on. Or, I am attached to my lover, and I cannot bear the thought of losing, of conflict, of an utterly ugly relationship, so I avoid that thought. There are these images, imaginations of what might be, what will be, and it is in the avoidance of these imaginations, in words, in images, in sounds, that I begin to be uncertain. Yet, is the awareness of these imaginations uncertain? Can I be uncertain about what I think, what I project, what I see or hear? When I do not wish for anything to happen, which means, when I stop trying to transform my thoughts, my sensations, and simply to be aware of them, am I uncertain? Or can I only be uncertain when I want to transform something?
This is an important point to see clearly. If we can see this clearly, without any mistake, then we can be totally clear and in such clarity no anxiety is possible. That word, mistake, means to take wrongly, to miss, to not meet at the same level at the same time. It is like touching the point of a needle with another needle. It must be extraordinarily precise, or it is a mistake. So, am I uncertain when I am aware without effort? Effort means to attempt to transform something. If I want my lover to stay, or my child to succeed, or my mind to be quiet, then I am making effort. I have a goal, and to arrive at that goal, I must make effort to transform, to change. When there is not this effort, which means, I do not want to change a thing, then am I uncertain? Or is it because I want to change things, and for most of us, we want to change so many things, and in this word change is also implied maintaining and keeping, which are all essentially effort; is it because I make effort that I become uncertain of the outcome of my effort? Is effort the root of anxiety? Is this pursuit, to keep, to possess, to overcome, suppress, oppress, control, and so on, is it the source of worry? I can only worry about something that hasn't happened yet. And because I want it to happen in a specific way, determined by the mind, I become anxious. Yet, when I am aware without effort, I am absolutely certain. Anxiety is as it is. Without the effort to transform anxiety, anxiety has no root. Only when I wish anxiety, or anything for that matter, to conform to my will, can anxiety flower. Anxiety is uncertainty. Awareness is certain because it sees everything exactly as it is.
That is the beauty of awareness. It is tremendously precise. In awareness, without effort, everything is as it is. There is no longer the outcome, the goal, the projection. And when there is projection, that projection is also grounded in awareness. That projection is like a weed that grows on the earth, and no matter how much it grows, it cannot affect the depth, the immense stability of the earth. Our thoughts, anxieties, sensations are like the weeds, and they might flower endlessly, but they cannot affect awareness, because awareness allows everything to flower. When one lives from this effortless awareness, one lives a stable life, with stable mind and heart. Such stability cannot be derived from any organized belief, religion, dogma, ideology or faith. Nothing can ever touch this stability, therefore it is indestructible. And, strangely, it is not obscure, remote, closed off, fortified. It is completely open, sensitive, immediate, and so it is flowing with the beauty, the vitality, and the urgency of life.
The ground of awareness is not a literal ground. In this ground, there is no footing, so it is freedom. And because there is no footing, which means no attachment, one finds oneself to be completely secure, so no fear is possible. And without fear, one can observe anything, feel any sensation, yet remain utterly clear and intelligent. Effort is the maker of errors. Awareness makes no mistakes.
#Awareness #Security #Anxiety #Attachment
Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash