Dogzen Email Newsletter
Reprints of the Dogzen Email Newsletters
Number 4 - October, 2004
4th Email Newsletter - Naked Awareness, Part 1
[The whole naked awareness thing will take a few newsletters to cover. This is the first one.]
What exactly is this "naked awareness" and how do you develop it? One way to get at it is to talk about what makes awareness not naked.
Let's start with the five senses and their effect on awareness. Your eyes produce what they call "eye consciousness" (vision). Your ears produce what they call ear consciousness (sounds). The others are tongue consciousness, nose consciousness, and touch consciousness. Each one affects awareness in its own way, but in one way, they are the same: they are all appearances in the field of awareness.
[An aside: This topic could get intellectual and irrelevant really fast unless there is a concrete experience to tie it to your life. We'll get to that, so don't bail yet!]
Let's stick with one channel, eye consciousness, and follow it through. It's more or less the same for any of the five consciousnesses.
Your eye consciousness contains the raw, immediate impression from your eyes. By raw, I mean that you're getting pure information, raw data, just what is coming in through your nerve system.
OK! Right now stop reading this and see if you can look at something and tune in to the raw experience of eye consciousness. Just sit still and stare at something.
[Another aside: the image of the "open-faced sandwich" One day I was having lunch with a dear friend. On the menu was an "open-faced sandwich." I looked up with a totally open face (use your imagination) and said, "an open-faced sandwich!" He got it, and looked back with an equally open face. Over the years, we'd do this from time to time for a laugh (easy to amuse, I guess!). In the exercise for experiencing raw eye consciousness, maybe try doing it with an "open face" at first, just to get it started.]
Eye consciousness is "mute." There are no words. There are no labels identifying what you see, no meaning, no opinion about it, no desire, no associations with previous experiences, and no "me." There's just the raw TV picture.
Try it again. Do it for a minute to get the pure eye consciousness experience. Try it with other sense channels too.
A pure sense consciousness, such as eye consciousness, is figuratively described as someone who can see (hear, feel, etc.) but can't talk. The eye consciousness, presents an image to awareness, but makes no comment about it. There is just the immediate and direct sense-experience itself. No labels or judgment are attached. All of the five sense consciousnesses are like this. They do not have any mind elements such as ideas, words, judgments, preferences, evaluations, or anything like that. They are just pure sensory things.
The mind consciousness has been called the "sixth consciousness." It is not capable of direct contact with the outside world like the five sense consciousnesses. It gets information from the images or impressions created by the five sense consciousnesses. (Its experience is indirect.) It is likened to a blind person that can talk. It adds the captions to the pictures and impressions that arise in awareness. These captions are what make awareness not "naked."
To cultivate naked awareness, just take a moment from time to time to use the senses without mixing the experience with any of those mind things. Just get the raw cable feed. You have to actually try this (and have at least a little success) for it to be real to you. You will notice that if you do it for a little while, the 6th consciousness (mind consciousness) is left behind. If you do it a lot, it begins to dissolve away. It just disappears.
There is a bunch more to understand about the six consciousnesses. Stay tuned and something really wonderful will unfold in your life.
Best regards, Edrid
Dogzen Evening Practices
7:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Edrid's house in Menlo Park. (Usually scheduled for alternate weeks.)
We've just completed an evening practice series. We will be announcing a new schedule soon.
The next ODP is Saturday, November 13, 2004, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Bring some food to share for the lunch pot-luck. Contact Edrid if you want to attend. Space is limited so you have to reserve a place.
Hope you can attend,
Contact info: email Edrid at firstname.lastname@example.org