My son and I spent the day in San Francisco yesterday. Driving back, as we were leaving the Mission District, he saw some homeless people camped out under a raised highway. He suddenly asked, "How is it that we are all experience consciousness but what everyone is experiencing is so different?"
I found myself explaining that there really is only pure, primordial awareness and that he didn't need to believe me, he could find out for himself. When the mind settles sufficiently, it becomes self-evident that this is the awareness that is seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking. It also becomes evident that this awareness is not localized, it is not "my" awareness or "your" awareness, but omnipresent, universal awareness. It seems to become localized when we interact with the world and find others that are operating from the more gross level of thinking that differentiates inner and outer, and with the differentiation of inner and outer, the illusion of separation becomes predominant. We become habituated to see the world as separate from the self-sense that is produced from this division, especially since we are surrounded from our birth with people that are all doing the same thing. But, when our minds are most quiet, the separation falls away. We rest in undifferentiated, non-localized awareness. We still all have our unique experiences since we are all seeing from our physical location in time and space, but once you clearly see the underlying pure awareness, the separateness recedes and the unifying, common awareness becomes predominant.
He seemed satisfied by that and then asked if I wanted to hear music or just sit in silence. "Whatever you would like." He gave me my choice of anything available on iTunes and I chose Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He then fell asleep.
This morning he commented how amazingly fast we got home last night. He said it felt like an instant after we got done talking and we were home.
Sometimes, we forget how receptive, clear and present our minds were when we were young. I remember days when I was 13 that I seemed to embody the day itself and visa-versa. There was no consideration of the past or concern about the future. Just the unfolding of the present and the surprises and wonders it would bring. It seems our school systems do much to undo our natural ability to just be, and be quite content just being. As adults, we need to learn to meditate and even go on silent retreats to recover what we naturally had in our youth, our natural wonder and fascination with just what is happening when no artificial structure of constraints is imposed.
This time of year, walking through fallen leaves triggers memories of such times when perception was naturally clear and there was spontaneous oneness with the surroundings. Wouldn't it be great if we could retain that clarity, receptivity and wonder into adulthood and not let our attention get consumed by a thousand things that couldn't matter less? Fortunately, it is possible to regain this to an unprecedented degree through meditation on just letting go.