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Mirror Like Awareness

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mirror Like Awareness?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mirror Like Awareness

Discriminating Mirror-Like Consciousness

This development is called discriminating mirror-like consciousness. Everyone and everything is seen as it is. This is the realm of the mind in which it is seen that emptiness is form and form is emptiness. Your mind is spacious and empty; your consciousness is released so that everything is seen as it is. All the content of experience is seen exactly as it is, without a wish to manipulate, or label, or value things according to the unconscious. This is also experienced as clear mind, a sense of clarity and precision. Forms are exactly themselves, thoughts are just thoughts, feelings arise without impression or response, things are seen without the subjective filter. It is seeing things without the past, completely fresh and new. Cosmic consciousness is more primordial than this quality. Cosmic consciousness is the knowingness itself, the capacity to be conscious. In the mirror-like consciousness, the fundamental capacity for consciousness is functioning to simply reflect back what is there without distortions.

Mirror-Like Awareness Inseparable From the Presence of the Essential Identity

At this stage, seeing where we are transforms smoothly into the state of self-realization with objective awareness of ourselves. There is the presence of the point (Essential Identity) and the nondual experience of it; the point is present within a clear and transparent medium. We know ourselves as a transparent and clear presence, crystalline in its clarity and precision, the center of which is the blinding brilliance of the Essential Identity. The presence is totally clear, totally devoid of any obscurations; it is sharp, vivid, and rich, with inherent luminosity. This is the mirror-like awareness, which is now inseparable from the presence of the Essential Identity, but in a faceted and precise diamond-like form. There is a precise, clear, and objective seeing of oneself inseparable from the simplicity of being oneself. Seeing where one is and following the thread of one’s unfoldment is the teaching of this manifestation of Essence. This manifestation of Essence is a whole dimension which manifests as a diamond-like clarity, with the various colors and qualities of the essential aspects. The clear, crystalline medium manifests itself both in a colorless form, indicating clarity, and also colored with the rich hues of the essential aspects. As we become clearer about this self-aware, clear presence as it manifests as and through the essential aspects, we come to understand the various elements needed in mirroring.

Mirror-Like Awareness Makes it Possible to Perceive Objective Reality

The quality of mirror-like awareness is what makes it possible to perceive objective reality. Working with, understanding, and realizing the Holy Ideas, brings us closer to that mirror-like awareness as the view of reality expands to include the whole of reality, rather than being oriented around the delusion of a separate sense of self. The view of objective reality of the Holy Ideas makes it possible for the soul to correct the distortions of perception that dominate the egoic view of the self and the world, thus clarifying the soul’s awareness, or “polishing the mirror” of the soul. The clear awareness of the human soul, then, perceives the objective view of the patterns of creation with an understanding of the place of the human being in this creation. This understanding awakens the soul to its own unfolding as the expression of Being, and its own participation in the greater pattern of unfolding whose nature is wholeness, dynamism, intelligence, and openness.

Facets of Unity, pg. 293

Mirror-Like Awareness of the Soul

This primal quality -- the most original, intrinsic nature of the soul -- is pure clarity, transparency, luminosity, awareness. Thus, the soul is primarily an organ of perception with the capacity to see things as they are. You could say that Being perceives through the soul. How does God see? Through the soul. How does Being experience? Through the soul. This basic quality of the soul is sometimes called "mirror-like awareness." It is mirror-like in the sense that it functions in the way a mirror functions. A mirror reflects things exactly as they are with no distortion. Part of the development of ego in the context of inadequacies in the holding environment is the loss of this mirror-like awareness, a loss that is both a result of the reactions based on distrust and a factor causing the reactions. This loss is the loss of the capacity for objectivity, for seeing things without subjective filters.

Facets of Unity, pg. 292

Mirror-Like Understanding

We call a certain kind of consciousness mirror-like understanding because it has no distortion or projection and is complete rather than selective. It is not mirror-like in the sense that it is dead, inert, or nonresponsive; on the contrary, it has love, admiration, value and joyfulness, excitement and satisfaction. The developing self can recognize and cherish aspects of herself which are mirrored in this way and integrate them into her sense of identity. These qualities of the self grow in the light, into the light. The manifestations of the soul that are inadequately mirrored remain in the dark recesses of unactualized potential. The child tends not to experience them as part of herself, or not value them. She might even view them as a threat to her connection to her parents. They do not become integrated into her sense of who she is, or if they do, the identification is conflictual. These elements of the self then fail to develop or become distorted. Thus, the development of the self as a whole lacks harmony and completeness, resulting in a general weakness of the identity.

Ongoing Mirror-Like Awareness of the Unfoldment of Presence

Persisting in this condition of primordial self-realization, we realize that even the concept of self begins to lose its meaning and significance. The ordinary sense of self, familiar for many years, falls away slowly, to be replaced by a sense of freshness and nowness of experience, as ever new forms and modes of experience appear and disappear. There is no more need to recognize ourselves through an old, familiar sense of self, for self-recognition is spontaneous and inherent in the primordial presence, as its own mirror-like awareness. It is a minute-to-minute recognition of ourselves as the ongoing mirror-like awareness of the unfoldment of presence, inseparable from its beingness. Self can only be the nondual presence that continues unfolding as an expression of its own dynamism. But then this is inseparable from, and nondual with, the totality of all presence, which is all of appearance.

Perception Without Recognition

We refer to this perception without recognition as nonconceptual awareness, for recognition and knowing require concepts. There is awareness of content but no recognition of it; recognition requires a further step in the functioning of consciousness. The traditional metaphor for this pure perceptivity is the mirror. The mirror analogy describes the soul’s primordial and original condition, which is the pure nonconceptual awareness of experience. This is the fundamental ground of any experience, which is the pure nonconceptual bare awareness of experience before recognition, reaction, categorization, or any such phenomena occur. Becoming conscious of this nonconceptual awareness is an important aspect of inner work, and something we begin to understand from the first glimpses of recognizing the soul. Simply understanding that the soul is a medium that is aware of experience within its own field, we begin to understand the mirror-like quality of the soul. A mirror reflects forms without adding anything to them. It merely registers the shapes, colors, and movements of the forms. Our consciousness functions like a mirror with respect to the forms that arise within it. This nonconceptual awareness is fundamental to the soul, a function that underlies and precedes all other functions of consciousness.

The Capacity to Perceive Things Simply as They are Without Knowing What they Are

As we have seen in chapter 3, whenever we have an experience, we are experiencing basic perception—often called mirror-like awareness—which is the capacity to perceive things simply as they are without knowing what they are. And we also are experiencing knowingness, often called discriminating awareness, which is the capacity to tell what the differences mean, to know what things are. These two levels of awareness are always implicit in our experience. In inquiry, we make them more explicit. First we differentiate the contents of our perception, and then we discriminate what those differences are. For instance, say I’m feeling some kind of emptiness, an open space, and within this space is a delicate atmosphere of warmth. So there’s an emptiness and a subtle presence that feels warm. If I can tell that there is an emptiness or spaciousness, but I cannot separate that from the pervading warmth, I will not be able to know, to fully discriminate, the truth of my experience. And if the warmth has in it some kind of sadness or hurt, without discrimination I won’t know that there is hurt separate from the sensation of warmth. I will experience all of it as one thing.

The Mirror of Self Awareness

The real mirror—which is the self-awareness you are cultivating in learning to mirror yourself—is to see yourself without judgment, without comparison, without self-hatred, without reification, and without conceptualization but with compassion and courage and kindness and love and presence and awareness and intelligence. The teachings in this book have been offered as support for the process of becoming your own mirror in these different ways. They can help you develop the confidence that you can learn to sit and meditate, to inquire, to recognize yourself where you are, to see your own personal thread and be able to remain with it so that it unfolds and reveals the truth of what you truly are—your True Nature. This is a practice that requires a sustained meditative, focused exploration apart from the activities of daily life. It takes quiet times of attention and reflection to develop the subtle attunement in our soul to our inner whereabouts. Only after continued regular practice with concentrated attention to our ongoing experience can our contact with presence withstand the constant distractions of our own busyness.

When the Self is Completely Transparent to Itself

Buddhists call this condition “mirror-like awareness”: The self is completely transparent to itself, can see and be itself fully, just like looking in the mirror. We then see things just as they are, without opinions, without projections, without ideas, without distortions: completely objective. When we realize mirror-like awareness, that transparency, clarity and complete colorlessness is seen at the same time to be complete perfection. This awareness makes us clear about ourselves, all the way to our true nature. So we are clearly and transparently cognizant of our condition at the moment. In the work of self-realization, the self regains its light, which is perception, which is awareness, which is clarity, which is understanding, which is consciousness. The inner journey is a matter of increased awareness, increased consciousness, increased clarity, increased perception, increased understanding, and increased knowledge, which inherently embody the spiritual qualities of love, compassion and so on, and the various faculties of functioning. Self-realization is the realization of the potential of the self with full awareness and appreciation.

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