In this live webinar, international philosopher and spiritual teacher Rupert Spira reflected with the Virtual Sanctuary community on the importance of self-knowledge; connecting with our essential, unchanging selves; and differentiating between awareness and experience.
The first step to which Spira calls us is to recognize that we are awareness and to separate this essential identity from the content of our experience.
Spira defines awareness, consciousness, or the self as that in which all experience appears and that out of which all experience is made. In other words, “awareness is the infinite, indivisible reality from which everyone and everything derives their existence.” Our awareness is our essence, or that which cannot be removed from us. When everything else is stripped away, what remains is the simple fact of being aware; what remains is awareness itself.
“Everything that we are aware of changes. But the fact of being aware is one changeless element of all experience.”
Spira emphasized that thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, activities, relationships, and all other experiences are non-essential. They all appear, exist, and then vanish. They are not continuous, and thus cannot be who we essentially are. The one element of experience that remains consistent throughout all changing experience is what we call “I.”
The second step Spira calls us to is to recognize the nature of the awareness that we are.
The awareness or “I” which Spira speaks of is the changeless medium in which all experience arises. Its condition is open, luminous, empty, and loving.
“Awareness resists nothing, nor does it hold onto anything. And, thus, the nature of awareness is peace. Not a peace that is the outcome of experience, not a peace that depends upon experience, but a peace that is prior to and independent of the content of experience.”
With this self-knowledge, we find that our peace, happiness, and sense of fulfillment and wholeness do not depend upon what happens in experience. Instead, it is part of our very nature. The more we stay with ourselves—with our awareness—and let the objective content of our experience fall away, the more we begin to find the peace and happiness that we previously sought outside of ourselves. As we become more in touch with our being, we become more radiant and joyful.
Because this is the nature of awareness, awareness knows no suffering. Spira suggests that it is for this reason that it is said: “The direct path to peace and happiness is simply to know oneself as one essentially is.” When we lack self-knowledge, our true nature is obscured, and we confuse our sense of self with the content of our experience. Therefore,
“The greatest help we can give anyone is to indicate to them that the peace and joy for which they long reside in their own being.”
Living with the recognition that we are awareness leads us to engage the world from a place of peace, joy, and love, instead of trying to extract those qualities from the world and other people.
Spira left us with an experiment to try.
He suggested that, in the coming days and weeks, we face every experience as the presence of awareness instead of simply reacting to our experiences. “Be, knowingly, the presence of awareness,” he encourages. Allow everything, welcome everything, and let it go. Living from a place of awareness, there is no need to escape the moment, no impulse to resist anything nor hold onto anything. One can simply be.
Amidst the uncertainty of life, and this particular moment of pandemic, Spira says that “there is one thing that is not uncertain, and that is your being. It has remained unwaveringly present through every moment of your life. It is the constant friend that is with you always.”
To learn more and attend Spira’s upcoming webinars, visit his website here.
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Rupert Spira, a renowned British spiritual teacher, has spent 40 years studying non-dual traditions, including the teachings of P.D. Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, Rumi, Shankaracharya, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, Robert Adams, Atmananda Krishnamenon, Jean Klein, and his main teacher, Francis Lucille. He is the author of The Transparency of Things, Presence, The Ashes of Love. and The Light of Pure Knowing.
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