Lesson 3 – Becoming a Container for Awareness
Cultivating the witness allows us the possibility of finding freedom from our attachments. When we view ourselves from the vantage point of the witness it is like seeing our incarnations through the eyes of the guru – with unconditional love. The witness place inside you is simple awareness, the part of you that is aware of everything — just noticing, watching, not judging, just being present, being here now.
Watch the weekly introduction with Ram Dass below before moving on to this week’s article, audio and practices.
“The witness is actually another level of consciousness. The witness coexists alongside your normal consciousness as another layer of awareness, as the part of you that is awakening. Humans have this unique ability to be in two states of consciousness at once. Witnessing yourself is like directing the beam of a flashlight back at itself. In any experience — sensory, emotional, or conceptual — there’s the experience, the sensory or emotional or thought data, and there’s your awareness of it. That’s the witness, the awareness, and you can cultivate that awareness in the garden of your being.
The witness is your awareness of your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Witnessing is like waking up in the morning and then looking in the mirror and noticing yourself — not judging or criticizing, just neutrally observing the quality of being awake. That process of stepping back takes you out of being submerged in your experiences and thoughts and sensory input and into self-awareness.
The witness is your centering device. It guides the work you do on yourself. Once you understand that there is a place in you that is not attached, you can extricate yourself from attachments. Pretty much everything we notice in the universe is a reflection of our attachments.”
02: The first step towards gaining freedom from your attachments is to develop a witness. Ram Dass explains the basic concept of the witness, the non-judgmental place inside of you, and how we can learn to live life from that place.
03: Ram Dass leads a 14-minute meditation on becoming a container of light. In every human being there is a quality of spirit and truth, how can we expand the light within ourselves to contain an essence of softness, caring and warmth for those around us and for ourselves? Any time of day you can come back to that container, within the breath.
04: This is the mahamatra (the great mantra) of the Heart Sutra, a Buddhist scripture that is chanted in the meditation halls of Northeast Asia. This mantra is designed to move one’s consciousness beyond physical form, into pure awareness. The mantra is “Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha.” And the in-breath is a silent “Om”….
The mantra translates into, “Gone, gone, gone beyond to that which realizes, I make an offering…”
You are making an offering to your self that is pure awareness.
Your Weekly Reflection
Swami Rama Tirtha once wrote:
I am without form, without limit,
Beyond space, beyond time,
I am in everything, everything is in me.
I am the bliss of the universe,
Everywhere am I.
Reflect on your ability to cultivate a spaciousness in your moment-to-moment experience, so you are not constantly reacting to phenomena around you. As you deepen your capacity to become more aware of your motivations for each action you take throughout your day, you are further developing the witness (non-judging mind).
WEEKLY QUOTE & RESOURCES
“Keep the awareness gently riding on the breath like riding on the wind, on a breeze. Within the subtlest whisper of the breath passing at the tip of the nostrils, arising and falling in the abdomen is contained a mystery. ” – Ram Dass