Of course, a rose is a rose by any other name, but what is a rose? What is Self?
Let’s start with a rose. Perhaps we’ll find it’s very much like our Self!
It’s natural enough to turn to the mind for what it believes to be true about this knowing of a rose. Turning there, I find a lot of descriptive data – information about the colors of roses, even the “sweet” smell, perhaps a little botany in memory, the sight of it is in my imagination, and even some vague sense of what they feel like when I touch them with my fingers. So far, all of this information is “descriptive” – that is to say, mind qualifies and quantifies the rose conceptually but not actually. There is recognition at this point, that there is no real knowing, but pure labeling as if I know. Of course, this is an easy observation for you and I to make –we automatically note continuities and differences in things to ourselves every day – but the real situation as we gaze into the actual experience of our life is almost always profoundly overlooked.
In truth, we do not know the simplest things, including the very stuff of a rose. Or a frog. We may dissect a frog into its many parts, describe it as if we understood it – but have absolutely no real understanding about it or the nature of anything, including especially what we think is our self. Just as we do not understand a rose or a frog in its very nature, we likewise bring the same unknowing to our self. If we are sincere in our search for this knowing of a rose or a frog or our self, we come to see that in truth our mind and our feelings are only our pure conditioned experience stored in memory. Memory in turn, is a fragmentary storage of experience. Note here we say of an experience that it is past, or perhaps we may find we like to speculate about a future experience – in either case, our minds may cast backwards or forwards conceptually, but still they have not actually comprehended reality. The actual evades the conceptual because the mind, like our other five senses, is not equipped to truly know anything other than its own limited, binary data which it methodically sifts and sorts. Our mind constantly and consistently contrasts and compares information and labels it “knowledge” based on “experience.”
Now let’s turn for a moment from “experience” to its verb form “experiencing”. Obviously experiencing is not what we would call a stored experience. It is acting, living, vital – and only so in this moment. This experiencing is not, nor can it ever actually be, apprehended by the mind which is based totally on memory. (Note the “me” in memory) So experiencing is catching life on the wing – in the moment that we see a rose or a frog or whatever is happening now. So if we’re living in our memory – which most of us are – that experience is a dead thing. Only experiencing is alive.
When we recognize that we do not know what a rose is, and that life is only known in the experiencing of it, we come to see that this present experiencing is a mystery and a miracle! And behind this revelation is the greatest revelation of all – that that which we in truth are, observes and is aware of the totality of consciousness.
That is the truth of our being; this noumena, or awareness, encompasses all the phenomena – all the expressions of spirit in form – but does not need to know with the mind or the feelings, what this reality is. Life or spirit is a witness to itself without any attachment to what it sees. Our natural state is this life, and it has absolutely no requirements from a mental perspective. Life, like a sleeping cat on a chair, simply is. So reality is not our ideas about it. And while most of us for most of our lives think we are knowing and doing, the fact is that life itself is living itself, and we, with our minds and feelings, are providing a kind of color commentary filled with conditioned hopes and expectations about this unfolding moment to moment reality. A reality that is unknown even while it seems to be known. The knowing is this thing we call “awareness” aware of itself. With this recognition, there is the bliss of knowing that one does not know. We are free from the need to know.
The now of this moment teaches us all we need to know –if we’re listening. This listening or learning is an active moment to moment apprehending of the total content of life – not as it is stored in memory but as it happens! Fully experiencing life is nothing that we as a person, achieve or do. It is a resting in awareness, a trusting, an accepting of whatever life presents without bringing our conflicted minds programmed likes and dislikes into the picture.
Life is abundantly full of reality and profoundly empty of our human interpretations of it. Life has no needs other than to live – to delight itself in itself – to intrinsically know itself as one expression in all things – like a rose and a frog, and a Tom and a Gerry.