Awareness and Who is this ‘I’? – Quotes and Resources

What you’re looking for is that which is looking. – St. Francis d’Assisi

Watercolor by Taylor, Jan. 2020.

Thanks to meditation and many teachers, this mind has come to a growing realization.  That meditation, zazen and aspects such as peace (平常心, heijoushin), freedom from suffering, kendo at the “highest” level, mushin, enlightenment, being in-the-moment or in-the-zone are intimately tied to re-discovering who we really are.  When I reflect on “Who is this ‘I’?”, “Who is thinking these thoughts?” and re-orient my attention back on to itself via the approach of Self-Inquiry (or Self-Enquiry) [KendoNotes_Self-Inquiry], I am neither the thoughts nor the body it seems.  But rather awareness* which experiences.  That which experiences thoughts, sights, sounds, body sensations, pain, pleasure, keiko, life, … You may notice this quality (minus the keiko) more readily in babies and infants.

Here’s a side story which points to the value of its re-discovery in the context of kendo.

I recently read a story about the famed swordsman Yamaoka Tesshu (1836-1888) and his teacher Asari Yoshiaki (1822-1894) [Fuliot, Chap. 27 “Asari’s Shadow”] [Samurai Tesshu] [Yamaoka 20Teachings] forwarded to me by a fellow dojo member.  For over a decade, Yamaoka kept losing to Asari. Yet he persevered ceaselessly to discover a way to win through physical, mental and spiritual training – as detailed in the references.

Then, one morning in 1880, when he was 45 years old, Tesshu attained “Enlightenment” while sitting in zazen.  Upon seeing Tesshu, Asari recognized at once that Tesshu had reached enlightenment. Asari declined to fence with Tesshu acknowledging Tesshu’s attainment by saying, “You have arrived.”

Here’s two sets of quotes (below).  The first set is from a number of teachers who describe this awareness and address this fundamental question of “Who experiences the objects of attention?”  Quotes specific to kendo from many revered swordsmen and kendo teachers are listed in this companion article “The Mirror in the Heart of Master Swordsmen (and Jedi Masters)” – where this awareness is described using the metaphor of a “mirror”.  The second set is on the related concept of “Attention.”  Here’s the breakdown:

  • On Awareness
    • Nisargadatta Maharaj
    • Douglas Harding
    • Richard Lang
    • Brian Thompson
    • Arthur J. Deikman
    • Will Wright
    • Stephen Levine
    • Ram Dass
    • Rupert Spira
    • Sam Harris
    • Michael L. Fournier
    • Nancy Colier
    • Marshall Rosenberg
    • Erwin Schrodinger
    • Georges Gurdjieff
    • Peter D. Ouspensky
    • Rajneesh (Osho)
    • Ramana Maharshi
    • From Friends
    • Additional Quotes
  • On Attention
    • Richard Davidson
    • Amishi Jha
    • Alison Bonds Shapiro
    • Chris Bailey
    • Others

Resources can be found in the articles, videos and websites cited in the References section at the end and among the quotes.  I’d highly recommend reading the writings of any of the authors and teachers mentioned above.  For example, Michael L. Fournier has written many insightful articles posted online at Enlightenment Through Self Awareness at  A nice summary of Attention Training can be found in [CCI_AttentionTraining].  As usual, I plan to add more quotes and resources as I discover them.

May we all re-discover who we really are!

Updates:  Added a section of quotes from friends on Jan 17, 2022.  Moved the quotes on “Experiencing” and Non-Duality to [KendoNotes_NonDuality] in Aug 2020.  Added some quotes from Douglas E. Harding and Richard Lang.  Added a quote by Yamaoka Tesshu on Non-Duality on Feb. 13, 2020.  Added quotes by Georges Gurdjieff and Peter D. Ouspensky in Dec. 2019.  Added a new category of quotes from Non-Duality teachers and moved the quotes on “Self-Inquiry” to [KendoNotes_Self-Inquiry] in Oct 2019.  Added quotes from Rupert Spira, Erwin Schrodinger, Michael L. Fournier in Aug. 2019.

* Awareness is also referred to as consciousness, presence, capacity, spaciousness, stillness, oneness, the absolute, mushin, being present to this moment,…

On Awareness

Nisargadatta Maharaj

  • From [Nisargadatta_IamThat]
    • As I can’t be what I perceive, I am not this body-mind or any thing that I am conscious of.
  • From [Nisargadatta_Pointers]:
    • Ah!  Now we shall come to the truth.  Please understand as truth, that you are not an individual, a ‘person’. The person, that one thinks one is, is only a product of imagination and the self is the victim of this illusion. ‘Person’ cannot exist in its own right. It is the self, consciousness, that mistakenly believes that there is a person and is conscious of being it. p. 16
    • As long as you identify yourself with the body-mind you are vulnerable to sorrow and sufferingOutside the mind there is just being, not being father or son, this or that.  p. 16
    • That which is sought is the seeker himself!  Can an eye see itself?  p. 25

Douglas E. Harding

  • As recounted by Richard Lang and Richard Archer in [Lang_BATGAP_Text]:
    • Because I’m face-to-‘no-face’ with others, confrontation is a lie.  It’s the end of confrontation.
    • Now that I see that all the world is in me, I must grant the same condition to you.  Therefore, I think the world of you.

Richard Lang

  • I am present when I am absent.
  • From the interview [Lang_BATGAP_Text]:
    • Someone said “So, what’s the difference between awakening and mindfulness?”
      • And Amaranatho said “Well, awakening is seeing this (the nothingness and fullness).  Mindfulness is going on seeing this.” (25:32min)
    • I remember asking Douglas once:  “Does this give you peace of mind? 
      • And he said, “No.  … It shows you that you are peace.  It doesn’t give you it.”
      • And so peace is within you – even in the most tumultuous situations.  And what a resource – to be aware of that inner peace.

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson’s articles like those cited below at flow like poetry.

  • From [Thompson_Awareness]
    • Beyond all of your senses, including your mind, is the clarity of your true nature — your awareness itself. It is an infinite space of emptiness — where anything is possible. We all have it, and it is where our true self is found.
    • It is a place of non-judgement and discrimination.

    • This is our true self, not any of the perceptions we think we are.
      • No matter if you think you’re a student or a mother, an artist or an entrepreneur, a success or a failure, thin or fat, beautiful or ugly, clumsy or agile, popular or not — these are only concepts of identity that exist within your mind and that you have attached your perception of self onto and that you now believe to be true. But the real you is your awareness.
  • From [Thomspon_I-Awareness]
    • Your true self nature—Awareness—is not an “object” that can be perceived like a thought or a tree.

    • It evades all conscious perception because it is empty of any attribute, even though it is the emptiness in which all attributes appear.

  • From [Thompson_BeStill]
    • You mistakenly believe yourself to be whatever the mind implies.  You are not any thought, for you are the presence of awareness in which all thoughts appear.
    • You are that which is aware, here and now.  Everything else is a momentary event that’s passing through awareness, including every thought, emotion, sensation, perception, and belief.
    • Any sense of unhappiness, displeasure, or discontent experienced is not truly yours; it is the mind’s. And the mind is not you.
  • From [Thompson_Wanting]
    • There is no end to that which you believe you don’t have. And, once you self-identify yourself with this nonsense, it (the feeling of dissatisfaction and despair) will seem to permeate your entire being.
    • When you live in such a way, your whole existence is then defined by whatever you believe you lack—including happiness, self-worth, confidence, peace, love, contenment, and joy.

    • Drop out of the game entirely. No longer seek anything at all. Free yourself from your imagined self.

Arthur J. Deikman

  • [Deikman_Observing]
    • Be aware of what you experience, then close your eyes. Awareness remains. “Behind” your thoughts and images is awareness, and that is where you are.
    • The observing self is not part of the object world formed by our thoughts and sensory perception because, literally, it has no limits; everything else does.
    • Thus everyday consciousness contains a transcendent element that we seldom notice because that element is the very ground of our experience.  The word transcendent is justified because if subjective consciousness – the observing self – cannot itself be observed … 
    • What we know as our self is separate from our thoughts, memories, feelings, and any content of consciousness.
      • (Western psychological theory) … describe(s) the self in terms of everything but the observer, who is the center of experience. This crucial omission stems from the fact that the observing self is an anomaly  — not an object, like everything else. 
      • In contrast, we cannot observe the observing self; we must experience it directly.  It has no defining qualities, no boundaries, no dimensions.
  • [Deikman_Freedom]
    • There is some kind of awareness, something basic that observes everything, and, although I usually don’t notice because it is drowned out by all the noise, it’s always there.
    • If I turn back to find myself, look inward to the deepest, the very heart of me where I actually live, that awareness is me.  It seems to have been there always, just as it is, while everything else changes.

Will Wright

  • From [Wright_Sun]
    • We think, feel, and act in the world as though we are an individual person, separate and unique from all the other beings. It’s obvious that we are all unique individuals, but if we look closely at our experience we are not separate. Nothing separates us from an other or anything else except the idea of separation.
  • [Wright_Discover]
    • All you need to discover is the limitless, timeless nature of awareness – that which knows the coming and going of all things but doesn’t come and go with them.
    • Look at that within you that is aware, or awareness itself, and see if you can find an edge or boundary to it. When you firmly establish that there is no end to awareness, in other words, it is infinite, then see if you can discover a time when it is not present. When you firmly establish that there is no time when it is not present, or, in other words, it is eternal, you are home free.

Eckhart Tolle [Tolle_NewEarth]

  • Instead of being lost in your thinking, when you are awake you recognize yourself as the awareness behind itThinking then ceases to be a self-serving autonomous activity that takes possession of you and runs your life.
  • Awareness takes over from thinking.  Instead of being in charge of your life, thinking becomes the servant of awareness. 
  • Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.
  • Awareness is …  Presence; consciousness without thought.
  • For some, the awakening happens as they suddenly become aware of the kinds of thoughts they habitually think, especially persistent negative thoughts that they may have been identified with all of their lives. Suddenly there is an awareness that is aware of the thought but is not part of it.

Stephen Levine [Levine]

  • Wherever awareness is consciousness arises. … Without awareness coming to hearing, there is no hearing consciousness.  There is no experience without awareness present. p. 180
  • Awareness is like a beam of light that shines endlessly into space.  … When the light of awareness touches an object of thought, a moment of hearing, of tasting, of seeing, the light from that object is reflected in perception, just as the reflected light of the sun allows the moon to be seen by night Awareness is the light by which we see the world. p. 180.
  • We mistake the reflected is-ness of “I am” for the object of awareness and say, “I am this thought.” … Attachment to and identification with the objects that float in consciousness gives rise to the small self which imagines its contents to be all it is.
    • In many spiritual practices the word “ignorance” denotes not stupidity or a lack of intelligence, but rather the misidentification with contents of consciousness as being who we are. p. 181
  • Few can tell the difference between awareness and the object of awareness.  Most often we mistake thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and even consciousnesss itself for some “I,” and forget our true nature by which all is seen.  We forget that we are the light itself and imagine that we are the densities that reflect the light back to us.  p. 181
    • Even what we call the body is just a mass of sensation, an image in the mind. … There are simply moments of sensation, instants of experience, which the mind puts together, draws an outline about and imagines, to be some solid reality.
  • Follow “I am” to its root.  Experience consciousness itself.  Don’t identify with the reflection. p. 183
  • At each moment, focusing on the light, we ask ourselves, “Who is it that thinks this thought?  Who is seeing?  Who is sitting in this chair reading this book?”  There comes a time … (a)fter surveying all the evidence, we simply don’t know who or what we are.  You have let go of who you think you are to come to who you really are.  p. 184

Ram Dass [Dass_ThoughtPrison]

  • You are awareness attending to your ears hearing.
    • It’s like when you’re reading something so absorbing that you fail to hear someone enter the room. The sound of their steps triggers the process of hearing, yet you do not “hear.” For you are busy reading and thinking. Just as you are not your ears hearing, you are not your other senses either.
  • You are not the eyes seeing, nose smelling, tongue tasting, or skin feeling.  Only your thoughts are left.
  • Here is where most people cannot escape. For they identify totally with their thoughts.
    • They are unable to separate pure awareness from the thoughts that are its objects.
    • Meditation allows you to break this identification between awareness and the objects of awareness.
    • Your awareness is different from both your thoughts and your senses.  You can be free to put your awareness where you will, instead of it being grabbed, pushed, and pulled by each sense impression and thought. Meditation frees your awareness.
  • A being whose awareness is totally free, who does not cling to anything, is liberated.

Rupert Spira

  • [Spira_Awareness]
    • I am aware of my body, I am aware of this room, I am aware of these words.  I am aware of my feelings, I am aware of my thoughts.  I am aware of, I am aware of, I am aware of ,…  That’s all your life consists of: ‘I am aware of this, I am aware of that.’  Just stop with the ‘I am aware.’ at the 0:35 min mark.
    • Instead of giving your attention to what you are aware of … emphasize the ‘I am aware.’  Focus on the first part of your experience: the ‘I am aware’ – irrespective of what you are aware of. 1:14 min
    • Shine that awareness on the experience of being aware, in other words: on itself! 2:12 min.
    • Allow your attention to come back to itself, just to rest in itself. 2:22 min
  • A meditation colleague shared with me a line by Rupert Spira which goes something like this:
    • Audience member:  Where did the awareness go when I was lost in thought or busy working?
    • Rupert Spira:  Who is saying that?  (I love this because the question brings forth the awareness of awareness at this moment).
  • [Spira_Dream]
    • 0:25 What is it that knows or is aware of my experience?
      • We saw (yesterday) that whatever it is that knows or is aware of experience is called “I”. 
      • I am aware of thoughts and images.  But I’m not myself a thought or image.  I am aware of feelings and sensations but I’m not myself a feeling or a sensation. …
      • 1:35  I am that which is aware of all object experience but I am not myself anything that can be experienced objectively.

Sam Harris

  • From the Section “Dzogchen: Taking the Goal as the Path” of Chapter 4 of [Harris_WakingUp]:
    • In the teachings of Dzogchen, it is often said that thoughts and emotions arise in consciousness the way that images appear on the surface of a mirror. … (A)n insight that one can have about the nature of the mind. p. 139
    • … you are consciousness itself – you are not the next, evanescent image or string of words that appears in your mind.  Not seeing it arise, however, the next thought will seem to become what you are.  p. 139
    • The gesture that precipitates this insight for most people is an attempt to invert consciousness upon itself – to look for that which is looking – and to notice, in the *first* instant of looking for yourself, what happens to the apparent divide between subject and object.  Do you still feel that you are over there, behind your eyes, looking out at a world of objects?  p. 140
  • From the Section “Having No Head” of Chapter 4 of [Harris_WakingUp]:
    • … (S)elflessness is not a “deep” feature of consciousness.  It is right on the surface.  And yet people can meditate for years without recognizing it. p. 146
      • After I was introudced to the practice of Dzogchen, I realized that much of my time spent meditating had been a way of actively overlooking the very insight I was seeking.
    • It is very difficult to imagine someone’s not being able to see her reflection in a window even after years of looking – but that is what happens when a person begins most forms of spiritual practice. p. 147
      • Most techniques of meditation are, in essence, elaborate ways for looking *through* the window in the hope that if one only sees the world in greater detail, an image of one’s true face will eventually appear.
    • But one must start somewhere.  And the truth is that most people are too distracted by their thoughts to have the selflessness of consciousness pointed out directly.  And even if they are ready to glimpse it, they are unlikely to understand its significance.  p. 148.
  • From Sam Harris’s Talk on “Gradual vs Sudden Realization”:
    • 0:46 But the deepest goal of spirituality is freedom from the illusion of the self and to seek such freedom as though it were a future state to be attained through effort is to reinforce the chains of one’s apparent bondage in each moment.
    • 1:00  Traditionally, there have been two solutions to this paradox.  One is to simply ignore it and to adopt various techniques of meditation and in the hope that a breakthrough will occur. …
    • 3:14  The other traditional response to the paradox of spiritual seeking is to fully acknowledge it and concede that all efforts are doomed.  Because the urge to attain self-transcendence or any other mystical experience is a symptom of the very disease we want to cure.  There’s nothing to do but give up the search.

Michael L. Fournier

I found the writings of Michael Fournier on the path towards enlightenment (self awareness) very clear and helpful!

  • [Fournier_Awareness]
    • The path to Enlightenment begins with self awareness. A self aware person is one who is capable of impartially observing his or her own thoughts on a continuous non-judgemental basis and take corrective actions as may be required. The key phrase here is continual basis, not just once in a while when you happen to remember.
    • Any conversation requires both a speaker and a listener. Likewise a theatre needs both a projector and an audience. You can think of the mind as having both “entities” present. An enlightened person has learned to shift their consciousness from the position of being the speaker (to the listener). For visual thinkers, this is a shift from being the projector to being the audience.
    • The most important thing to remember is to never judge your thoughts.
      • They are what they are.  Because the mind operates in feedback loops, judgement only feeds the loops and will eventually create a new thought loop.
      • Simply observe the thoughts and take corrective action, such as letting go of the thought, not acting on impulse, and choosing not to follow it just to see where it leads.
    • The better you become at this process, the more enlightened you become.
  • [Fournier_Thoughts]
    • In order to know that the mind has or has not stopped its constant flow of thoughts, some part of one’s consciousness must be aware of the thoughts. To be aware of the thoughts then implies a separation between the part of ones self that produces the thoughts and the part that is aware.
      • To one who thinks in terms of words, like a conversation in the mind, this entails shifting perspective from being the one doing the talking to becoming the listener. For one who thinks visually, in terms of pictures, this means shifting perspective from being the “projector” to being the viewer.
    • This shift of perspective is a critical first step in developing self awareness.
    • Investigation of self begins with asking one’s self who is doing the thinking, and what is it that is aware that thinking is taking place.
  • [Fournier_Enlightenment]
    • The first essential skill is to learn to steady the mind by developing strong concentration skills and increased awareness.
      • This can be accomplished by simply paying attention to what is going on inside, with the intention of catching the mind whenever it wanders off, and continuously pulling it back to an object of meditation, such as the breath.
    • The second essential skill to develop is to take those increased awareness and concentration skills and turn them inwards, to observe the flow and patterns and content of thoughts and emotions, … 
      • Practice being the observer of thoughts rather than becoming lost in them.
    • This practice will eventually bring about a calming effect on the mind, allowing quiet space between thoughts to open up.
      • When you observe this silence between thoughts, allow your attention and awareness to shift toward sustaining the silence.
      • This is not done through any forceful means, but by simply allowing the mind to rest and abide comfortably in that state, holding the intention that when the mind drifts, to keep pulling it back, in the same way as pulling back to the breath in Breath Meditation.
    • Allow this silence to become your meditation object. From this silence, be on the watch for the earliest beginnings of any mind movements.
      • Observed from this vantage point, the beginning of a thought can be easily dropped, returning to silence.
      • Missing the beginning of a thought can allow the discursive processes to hijack consciousness again. As this practice develops, the duration of the silent periods will increase and eventually begin to appear spontaneously.
    • These periods of quiet mind need to be transitioned into everyday life, otherwise all of this work will have served little purpose. … Going about your daily activities of life, use the skills learned in meditation to maintain concentration and awareness, and to keep the mind focused on the five senses, as well as any mind activity.
  • [Fournier_Hallmarks]
    • For those who are brave enough to weather the storm of thoughts that must be faced in all of the early meditation sessions, the first hallmark quickly becomes self evident, the realization that the free flow of discursive thought is of such volume and intensity as to have become an impediment to one’s own well being.
    • The key to developing both of these skills (listed above under [Fournier Enlightenment]) is sustained awareness and attention.
      • Awareness is a silent knowing, knowing that you are thinking, knowing what you are thinking, knowing what emotions you are experiencing, and knowing what is going on in your five senses.
      • This skill is developed simply by paying attention and being aware of everything that is going on inside at all times.
    • Formal meditation is the training ground for learning these skills, and everyday life is where the training is put to use.

    • The process of repeatedly noticing thought patterns and behaviours that do not serve our best interest, and dropping the habit of indulging in them causes them to gradually become less frequent. These thought patterns require our indulgence in order to exist. … When we form the habit of letting them go over and over again, we are retraining the mind to understand that they are not important, and eventually will stop arising. …
    • To the beginning practitioner, this may cause some confusion, since it is easy to think that we can not exist without thoughts.
      • We are not losing or inhibiting any ability to reason, plan, learn or problem solve. We are simply learning to stop allowing conditioned thought patterns to colour our judgements and reasoning, and to stop engaging in mind theatrics and the mental role playing of the Ego that seems to spontaneously spin off from legitimate uses of the mind.
  • [Fournier_Manual, p. 106]
    • The majority of people alive today identify with their thoughts; … The shift of perspective that is needed is to shift from the thought to the observer of the thought,…
    • The first step is to recognize which side of the fence you are on.  Are you identifying with the thought or the observer of the thought?  If you are not sure which side of the fence you are on, there is a simple test. … A conversation by definition requires both a speaker and a listener.  Simply observe yourself when thinking.  Are you doing the speaking or you doing the listening? 

Nancy Colier [Colier_Monkey]

  • At the beginning of this journey, we are unaware, asleep in the cockpit.  We are whatever bird is moving through the sky of our consciousness.  Our awareness then awakens and we begin to see our experience, watch it pass through our consciousness, be ‘with’ it – not ‘of’ it.  Awareness then grows wider and stronger, big enough to see not only our experience but also the space around – the space in which our experience is happening – the birds ‘and’ the sky.  Finally, awareness expands so wide as to be able to include itself; awareness becomes aware of awareness, with nothing outside of its field of knowing. p. 137
  • We are presence, the energy that ignites experience, the awareness that is everywhere and in everything, but identified and identifiable nowhere. p. 138

Marshall Rosenberg

  • We are this divine energy.  It’s not something we have to attain. We just have to realize it, to be present to it.
  • If you think ahead to what to say next – like how to fix it or make the person feel better – BOOM! Off the board. You’re into the future. Empathy requires staying with the energy that’s here right now.  Not using any technique.  Just being present.
    • When I have really connected to this energy, it’s like I wasn’t there. I call this “watching the magic show”.
    • In this presence, a very precious energy works through us that can heal anything, and this relieves me from my “fix-it” tendencies.

Erwin Schrodinger

  • Our perceiving self is nowhere to be found in the world-picture, because it itself is the world-picture.
    • Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence.
    • The world is a construct of our sensations, perceptions and memories.
  • We do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us.  We are not in it; we are outside.  We are only spectators.
    • The reason why we believe that we are in it, that we belong to the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture.  Our bodies belong to it.  Not only my own body, but those my friends, also of my dog and cat and horse, and of all the other people and animals.  And this is my only means of communicating with them.
  • Consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown. There is only one thing and that which seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception, the Indian maya, as in a gallery of mirrors.
  • The total number of minds in the universe is one.
  • For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.

Georges Gurdjieff

  • [Ouspensky_Search, Chap. 7]
    • … you can know consciousness only in yourself.  Observe that I say you can know, for you can know it only when you have it.  And when you have not got it, you can know that you have not got it, not at that very moment, but afterwards. I mean that when it comes again you can see that it has been absent a long time, and you can find or remember the moment when it disappeared and when it reappeared.
    • You can also define the moments when you are nearer to consciousness and further away from consciousness. But by observing in yourself the appearance and the disappearance of consciousness you will inevitably see one fact which you neither see nor acknowledge now, and that is that moments of consciousness are very short and are separated by long intervals of completely unconscious, mechanical working of the machine.
    • You will then see that you can think, feel, act, speak, work, “without being conscious of it.” And if you learn to see in yourselves the moments of consciousness and the long periods of mechanicalness, you will as infallibly see in other people when they are conscious of what they are doing and when they are not.

Peter D. Ouspensky

  • People live in sleep, do everything in sleep, and do not know they are asleep.
    • When one realizes one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake.
  • Seek the Path, do not seek attainment, seek for the Path within yourself.  Do not expect to hear the truth from others, nor to see it, or read it in books.  Look for the truth in yourself, not without yourself.
  • The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief that one is already conscious.
  • When a man begins to know himself a little he will see in himself many things that are bound to horrify him.  So long as a man is not horrified at himself, he knows nothing about himself.
  • Man as a machine and not a machine:
    • Divide in yourself the mechanical (Editor’s note: “habitual” perhaps) from the conscious, how seldom it works, and how strong is the mechanical – mechanical attitudes, mechanical intentions, mechanical thoughts, mechanical desires.
    • Attaining consciousness is connected with the gradual liberation from mechanicalness, for man is fully and completely under mechanical laws.
    • Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine.  He is a machine which, in right circumstances, and with right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and having fully realized this, he may find the ways to cease to be a machine.
    • Many things are mechanical and should remain mechanical.  But mechanical thoughts, mechanical feelings – that is what has to be studied and can and should be changed.

Rajneesh (Osho)

Note that a number of controversies surround Rajneesh according to [Wiki_Rajneesh].  However, his quotes on awareness seem insightful and helpful.

  • You are awarenes.
  • They (awareness and relaxation) are not only connected with each other, they are almost two sides of the same coin. You cannot separate them. 
    • Either you can begin with awareness and then you will find yourself relaxing…because what is your tension? – your identification with all kinds of thoughts, fears, death, bankruptcy, the dollar going down…! All kinds of fears are there. These are your tensions. … Your body also becomes tense because body and mind are not two separate entities.
    • You can start with awareness; then awareness takes you away from the mind and the identifications with the mind. Naturally, the body starts relaxing; you are no longer attached. Tensions cannot exist in the light of awareness.
    • You can start from the other end also.  Just relax…let all tensions drop…and as you relax you will be surprised that a certain awareness is arising in you.
  • Awareness is a transforming force. Whatsoever deepens with your awareness is virtue. Whatsoever disappears with your awareness is sin.
    • The first thing to be understood: awareness should be moment to moment, but it can be only when it has become effortless. With effort you will lose contact again and again, with effort you will have to rest.
  • Ordinarily, we are just a loose bag. No crystallization, no center really, just a liquidity, just a loose combination of many things without any center, a crowd, constantly shifting and changing, with no master inside.
    • By awareness is meant, be a master. And when I say ‘be a master,’ I don’t mean to be a controller. When I say ‘be a master,’ I mean be a presence, a continuous presence. Whatsoever you are doing or not doing, one thing must be constantly in your consciousness: that you are.
    • This simple feeling of oneself, that one is, creates a center
  • Awareness is not action. The addiction with action is only the escaping of awareness. And we all have become addicted: one must do something, one must go on doing something.

Ramana Maharshi

  • You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it.  All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is, of the not-self.  If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains . . .

From Friends

  • Unknown Wise one from Germany
    • Many people think that they experience life by thinking thoughts.  That is not true.  Thoughts are experienced like color, sounds and sensations.
    • Look at the scene but don’t overlook the seer. 
    • You are needed for the world (what you experience) to exist.
    • There is no entity (no separate self, no thinker) thinking, the thoughts arise and disappear.N
    • Not overlooking the absence of the looker.
    • Is “practicing” the correct word?  As a child, I would never say I am “practicing” football (soccer). Rather, I was having fun, doing it, just “doing it”.
    • Harding said you can have the experience of “seeing”. What is more difficult is seeing consistently.
  • Trying to describe the experience is complicated. The experience is simple. – Mike R.
  • People are looking at my spaciousness.  That face is staring right back into Nothingness. – Sqia
  • Hnk
    • It’s only available now.  It’s always available now.  It’s only available here.  It’s always available here.
  • Bchn
    • Am I in the room or is the room in me?
    • The more I search, the more I am lost.  However, the moment I stop searching, I am found.  The present moment is the answer.
  • Perishable to Non-Perishable. – Mary
  • Gd:
    • The content is always changing.
    • Before I would read the text to understand.  Now I read it to confirm the text.
    • A little girl wanted to talk with her new baby brother who arrived home – for the first time privately. Parents were alarmed thinking she harbor sibling rivalry. But then they remembered that they have a baby monitor in the baby’s room. They let the girl be alone with her new baby brother. She said to the baby brother “Tell me about God. I have almost forgotten.”

Additional Quotes

  • Suffering alone exists, none who suffer;  The deed there is, but no doer thereof; Nirvana is, but no one seeking it;  The Path there is, but none who travel it. – Buddha
  • Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are. – Jose Ortega y Gasset
  • The universe is looking at itself through your eyes. – a Jewish teacher via Rosie
  • Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence. – Alan Watts
  • For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
  • …you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it. – Michael Singer
  • I can see you better than you can see you.  You can see me better than I can see me. – Asbjorn
  • When aware, we are no longer robots. – Young,
  • Quotes synthesized from my readings and meditation teachers:
    • What is experienced and what experiences?
    • Wake up and become aware.  Especially of our thoughts.
    • Attend to who is seeing, who is hearing, who is sensing and/or who is thinking.
  • Patience can also be based on not expecting anything.  Think of patience as an act of being open to whatever comes your way. When you begin to solidify expectations, you get frustrated because they are not met in the way you had hoped… With no set idea of how something is supposed to be, it is hard to get stuck on things not happening in the time frame you desired.  Instead, you are just being there, open to the possibilities of your life. – Lodro Rinzler
  • We realize that all that we are, and all that we need, can be found right Now.  The search to become something, to lose something, to find something and to accomplish something perish.  We see through the illusion of looking for truth, joy, peace, and love in any place outside of ourselves.  We see the Truth That We Are mirrored in all beings and all things.  While the ego still exists, we become aware of the ego as simply a tool; not the Truth of Who We Are. Aletheia Luna

On Attention

William James

  • Every one knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence.  It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.

Richard Davidson [Hampton_Attention]

  • When people practiced open-monitoring meditation, their brain waves became modulated so that they were more receptive to outside stimuli.  They develop a kind of panoramic awareness.
  • If you toss a rock into a still lake, you can see the ripples very clearly; but if the lake is turbulent, you’ll have trouble making out the change produced by the rock.

Amishi Jha

  • From [Bayes-Fleming_Attention]
    • (T)here is a difference between daydreaming and mind-wandering. Daydreaming happens without negative cost.
    • But mind-wandering happens when you don’t want it to, and can detract from your ability to engage in spontaneous thought.
      • That capacity to let the mind engage in spontaneous thought is so generative. Positive mood increases. Creativity increases.
  • From [Boyce_Brain]
    • How does the brain create goals and hold those goals?
      • We can start by saying that the brain has an attention system because there’s far more in the environment than the brain can fully process.
    • Evolution resulted in attention as a solution to the brain’s problem of information overload. It constrains what we deal with so we can more fully process it.
    • When I refer to mind wandering, I mean having off-task thoughts during an ongoing task. That can certainly have deleterious effects.
    • The other version is when you’re not trying to complete a particular task at hand, but rather you are allowing the free flow of conscious experience.
      • That can look an awful lot like what I just referred to, but there is a critical difference: It’s consciously engaged and doesn’t have the kind of negative outcomes that can occur when you’re asleep at the switch.
      • (Cliff Saron:  This is where creativity comes in. You’re allowing for the emergence of that unconscious intelligence I referred to earlier.  That’s mind wandering with awareness.)

Alison Bonds Shapiro [Shapiro_Attention]

  • Attention is noticing and being with something without trying to change it.
  • Attention takes the time to fully explore, to discover whatever there is to know about something, to watch as things change by themselves without our trying to ‘fix” anything.
  • Attention is patient and attention is kind. No rush. No burden. No criticism.

Chris Bailey [Bailey_Focus]

  • A few years ago I began to observe something in my own behavior that made me a bit uncomfortable …
    • (F)rom the moment that I woke up to the morning to the end of the day, my life was a series of screens … my phone, … the iPad, … this little devil on my wrist.
  • If there’s one thing that I have found to be true after doing this deep dive into this world on how we focus, it’s that the state of our attention is what determines the state of our lives.
  • If we’re distracted in each moment, those moments of distraction and over-stimulation build up and accumulate to create a life that feels more distracted and overwhelming like we don’t have a clear direction.  But when we become less stimulated, when we make our mind more calm we get the benefits of added productivity and focus, ideas and creativity but we also live a better life because of it.

Mukesh Mani

  • From [Mani_TrainAttention]:
    • Wherever your attention goes, energy flows.
    • It is important to understand that your attention is pure energy. Whatever you give your attention to, starts to flourish.
    • If your mind is the soil, and thoughts are the vegetation, your attention is the sunlight (energy) that helps them flourish. Pay attention and a thought grows, remove your attention and the thought withers away.
  • From [Mani_BecomingConscious]:
    • True awakening begins once you start becoming aware of your attention/awareness/consciousness.
      • The perfect analogy for ‘attention’ is a horse without a leash and blinders. It goes wherever it wants to go. It follows whatever draws its fancy. Putting a leash on the horse equals becoming conscious of the horse (attention).
    • For the most part, your attention is lost in your mind. In other words, your attention is lost in the various thoughts/images/sensations your mind produces. It simply gets pulled around by all these thoughts.
    • To become conscious of your attention, simply ask yourself this question: Where is my attention focused on at this given moment?


  • You give birth to that on which you fix your mind. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Attention could be described as a spotlight that focuses an individual’s awareness on a particular facet of their environment, or on the thoughts in their head. The ability to pay attention to important things—and to ignore the rest—likely helped early humans survive and evolve.  Now, it’s a skill that can help children and adults alike succeed in school, at work, and in their relationships.  [PsychologyToday_Attention]
  • Pay attention to what you pay attention to. – Howard Rheingold
  • Thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it. – Anthony de Mello
  • What are you paying attention to now?  What is your mind looking at now?  – Igor [Jewel_Observing]
  • Other good articles


[Adams_Works] Robert Adams Satsangs:  The Collected Works eBook version, Edited by Ed Muzika, 2012 (PDF, 2,355 pages).

[Bailey_Focus] Chris Bailey, “How to Get Your Brain to Focus |Chris Bailey | TEDxManchester,” Apr 5, 2019 (15:56 mins).

[Bayes-Fleming_Attention] Nicole Bayes-Fleming, “How Can We Pay Better Attention to Our Attention,” Mindful, June 1, 2018.

[Bernie_Seeking] Jon Bernie, “The End of Seeking – awareness becoming aware of itself | nondual teacher Jon Bernie,, Sept 1, 2010 (3:54 mins).

[Boyce_Brain] Barry Boyce (Editor-in-Chief), “The Magnificent, Mysterious, Wild, Connected and Interconnected Brain,” Mindful, June 12, 2018.

[CCI_AttentionTraining] Chap. 4 “Attention Training” from”What?  Me Worry!?!” Center for Clinical Intervention (PDF, 9 pages).

[Cherry_Attention] Kendra Cherry, “How Does Attention Work?” VeryWellMind, May 18, 2018.

[Colier_Monkey] Nancy Colier, Inviting a Monkey to Tea:  Discover Lasting Contentment, MJF Books, 2012.

[Dass_ThoughtPrison] Ram Dass, “Thought Prison,”, March 4, 2015.

[Deikman_Freedom]  Arthur J. Deikman, Personal Freedom – On Finding Your Way to the Real World, 1976.

[Deikman_Observing] Arthur J. Deikman, “Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy,”

[Endless_Self-Inquiry] Nirmala, “Self Inquiry or Self Enquiry:  Who am I?”

[Endless_Self-InquiryPractice] Nirmala, “The Practice and Purpose of Self Inquiry”,

[Fournier_Awareness] Michael L. Fournier, “What is Self Awareness,” Train the Mind.

[Fournier_Enlightenment] Michael L. Fournier, “Deep Introspection, the True Path to Enlightenment,” Train the Mind, Sept 2015.

[Fournier_Hallmarks] Michael L. Fournier, “Hallmarks of a Successful Mindfulness Meditation Practice,” Train The Mind, Jan 2015.

[Fournier_Manual] Michael L. Fournier, The Enlightenment Training Manual, 2011.

[Fournier_Thoughts] Michael L. Fournier, “Awareness of Thought,” Train the Mind, May 2012.

[Hampton_Attention] Debbie Hampton, “How to Train Your Brain to Pay Attention,” The Best Brain Possible, Nov. 29, 2015.

[Harris_WakingUp] Sam Harris, Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, 2014.

[James_About] Michael James, The About page of “Happiness of Being – Ramana Maharshi,”

[KendoNotes_NonDuality] “…ing and Non-Duality – Quotes,”, Aug 4, 2020.

[KendoNotes_Self-Inquiry] “Self-Inquiry and ‘Who Am I?’ – Quotes and Resources,”, Oct 28, 2019.

[Jewel_Observing] Igor, “Meditation:  Observing Attention,”, 4:28,ins.

[Lang_BATGAP_Text] Transcription of “Richard Lang – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview”, June 25, 2014. (32 pages).

[Langford_Awareness] Michael Langford, “Awareness Watching Awareness,”, 2001 (PDF, 7 pages).

[Levine] Stephen Levine, Who Dies? – An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, Anchor Books, 1982.

[Maharshi_Teachings] Ramana Maharshi, The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharashi, Century Paperback, 1962.

[Maharshi_WhoAmI] Ramana Maharshi, Who am I? (PDF, 8 pags).

[Mani_BecomingConscious] Mukesh Mani, “Becoming Conscious of Your Attention (True Awakening),”, Nov. 2, 2017.

[Mani_TrainAttention] Mukesh Mani, “Powerful Meditation Technique to Train Your Attention,”, Nov. 6, 2017.

[Newman_Finland2018] “Jim Newman Non Duality / Introduction Finland 2018,” Dec 3, 2018, 3:12 mins.

[Newman_Life] Excellence Report, “The Meaning of Life and Longing for Wholeness,” (Interview with Jim Newman), Jan. 26, 2018.

[Newman_Toronto2018] “Jim Newman Toronto Okt 2018 Part 1 Non Duality,” Nov 28, 2018 (2:04:27 hrs).

[Nisargadatta_IamThat] Nisargadatta Maharaj, I am That:  Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

[Nisargadatta_Pointers] Ramesh S. Balsekar, “Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj,” 1982 (PDF, 145 pages).

[Ouspensky_Search] P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous:  The Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, 1949.

[Parsons_Amsterdam2005] Snow Dev, “Tony Parsons – Amsterdam [styczen 2005] [PL],” Jul 16, 2012 (1:45:44 hrs).

[PsychologyToday_Attention] “Attention,” Psychology Today.

[Rosenberg_NVCTools] Marshall Rosenberg, Living Nonviolent Communication:  Practical Tools to Connect and Communicate Skillfully in Every Situation, Sounds True Inc, 2012.

[Sadhu_RamanaPart1] Sadhu Om, The Path of Sri Ramana – Part One, 6th ed.,” 2005 (PDF, 233 pages).

[Shapiro_Attention] Alison Bonds Shapiro, “Paying Attention,” Psychology Today, July 11, 2010.

[Sharpe_Self-Inquiry] Vic Shayne and Janice Shayne’s Nov 14, 2018 response to “How do I do “I am” self-enquiry meditation?”, Quora.

[Spira_Awareness] Rupert Spira “How to Experience Yourself as Awareness – Nonduality Teacher Rupert Spira,” Aurelio Yuga, May 23, 2016, 5:54 mins.

[Spira_Dream] Rupert Spira, “Meditation:  A Dream in God’s Infinite Mind,” Mar 24, 2017.

[Stevens_NoSword] John Stevens, The Sword of No-Sword:  Life of the Master Warrior Tesshu, Shambhala, 1989.

[Sylwester_Attention] Robert Sylwester and Joo-Yun Cho, “What Brain Research Says About Paying Attention,” Educational Leadership, Dec 1992 / Jan 1993.

[Thompson_Awareness] Bryan Thompson, “What is the nature of awareness”,, July 15, 2015.

[Thompson_BeStill] Bryan Thompson, “Be still within awareness, as awareness,”, Oct 25, 2016.

[Thompson_Illusion] Bryan Thompson, “The Illusion of Separation:  Zen Thinking with Brian Thompson,” YouTube Video (16:06 mins), Feb 29, 2016.

[Thompson_Wanting] Bryan Thompson, “Abandoning the ‘Wanting’ Mind,”, July 18, 2017.

[Thomspon_I-Awareness] Bryan Thompson, “I, Awareness,”, Mar 6, 2018.

[Tolle_NewEarth] Eckhart Tolle, “What is Awakening?” – An Excerpt from A New Earth:  Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,, 2005.

[Walker_Attention] Rob Walker, “How to Pay Attention – 20 Ways to Win the War Against Seeing,” Medium, Dec 18, 2014.

[Walker_Self-Inquiry] Walt Walker, “Who Am I? Self-Inquiry, Part 1” (a Three Part Series),, Feb 5, 2019.

[Wilber_Awareness] Ken Wilber, “Always Already:  The Brilliant Clarity of Ever-Present Awareness, Integral Life, Dec 10, 2016.

[Wilber_NoBoundary] Ken Wilber, No Boundary – Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, Shambhala, 2001.

[Wiki_Self-Inquiry] Wikipedia on Self-enquiry (Ramana Maharshi).

[Wright_Sun]  Will Wright, “Stepping Stone to the Sun,”, Mar 23, 2019.

[Wright_Discover] Will Wright, “All You Need to Discover,”, Jan 11, 2019.

Keywords: Heijoshin

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