All Is Well

When we consider the nature of our own apparently fragile existence, as well as that of the world and all of its varied phenomena, many questions tend to arise, so let’s take a brief moment and see if we can recognize what’s actually going on.

First of all, it’s obvious, with a bit of clear observation, that we are not living this body which we presumptuously call “mine”. Rather, this body itself is being lived. That is, we don’t willfully expand and contract our lungs, beat our heart, pump blood through our veins, grow our hair and fingernails, and so forth. What does?

Well, all sorts of answers have been proposed over the ages, but when it really comes down to it, we don’t really know. Our actual condition, we must finally admit, is one of not knowing, despite all the machinations of the human persona’s intellect.

Perhaps we can just say “life”. Life is living us, and likewise, it is living everything. Furthermore, nothing is happening independently of anything else, so we can also see that everything exists “dependently”. Nothing is really separate from anything else. Everything is connected.

Also, we can notice that we are not the same person we were as children. Everything has changed, everything except our awareness of being-ness itself. When all is stripped away, there is that one thing that has not changed: awareness. This awareness — it is not even “ours”, is it? We did not bring it into being, and whatever we do, it remains just as it is, regardless of the modifications of consciousness stemming from our fleeting notions, agendas, and experiences.

The more we step back, turn our attention around, and become aware of being aware, the more the vagaries of existence cease to puzzle and trouble us. All the questions we once imagined were so critical now crumble and dissolve, as we proceed with this simple practice of being aware of being aware. We are immersed for the first time in a silence. This silence, if we are to persist in it, reveals something wonderful — the most amazing miracle! It is indescribable, but those who have plunged into it will know.

In retrospect, the initial recognition which we all seem to share is “everything is real”. Beyond that, the next realization (perhaps after a spiritually transformative experience, like a profound NDE) is “nothing is real”. Both stages depend on the idea of a personal self experiencing them. When even that idea is eventually seen through (because we have recognized that everything is appearing dependently, and is being lived by a power or process beyond its own design), pure awareness spontaneously comes to the forefront. The emotional highs and lows spawned by hope and fear are replaced by simple ordinary living, undefined and unlimited by the previous self-absorption. We grasp at nothing, we turn nothing away, because that is just the natural way of being.

With grace, a kind of unconditional love begins to peek its head out from beneath the covers. It is unconditional, because it does not depend on satisfying the desires or soothing the fears of a personal self. The sense of personal self remains as a navigation tool in the midst of the objective world, but we know now that the objective world itself is a very provisional proposition, a kind of holographic projection, as is everything but this simple awareness that is prior to the body, and prior even to the consciousness which forms the constituent essence of all appearances.

The natural affection we now feel for all of life springs from the realization of both its amazing beauty — that there is something at all, rather than nothing — and also its impermanence — that nothing lasts, it is all just appearing, thriving, and disappearing in waves of some kind of ecstasy for which nobody has a name. It is one indivisible whole, a bright flash of light in an ebony dark, and even though it is also a kind of mirage, we can still say, with the same confidence of the illumined mystics, “All is well”.


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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20 Responses to All Is Well

  1. Sky McCain says:

    Thanks for this essay which I find quite thought provoking and, of course, coincides with a lot that I agree with. The other day it came up in a discussion that many people just don’t review or challenge their basic beliefs.

    Interestingly, Jean Klein once said that “we are being lived.” I also agree that we don’t know. Over the years, I’ve become comfortable with that but still wonder how I have avoided the fear it seems so many have about not knowing.

    “Being aware of being aware.” Jean Klein speaks of “the witness”?

    The jury is out for me concerning real and not real. I tend to get caught up in the lack of a language to express what I feel on this.

    I’m not sure that anything is prior to consciousness. Perhaps there is only consciousness? But here again we lack definite, agreed upon definitions which makes it difficult to communicate with others.

    “The natural affection we now feel for all of life…” Yes, there is something and it is fleeting.

    “With grace, a kind of unconditional love begins to peek its head out from beneath the covers.”

    You mention grace. This is an enigma for me I suppose because it is bound to divinity. Divinity doesn’t exist for me anymore. All is divine or nothing is divine – this is my conclusion. My feeling and understanding of unconditional love came from being loved by my soul mate. From there it seemed that love is not something that I have but a spirit or energy that envelopes my awareness. This knowing melds with my thinking function and works for me mainly because it deepens my understanding of non-duality. Perhaps it helps me to play the dual role of (1) knowing that there is not a self in here looking out on the world (2) and participating in a social situation where most everyone I know has no idea what I’m on about!

    Thanks again for sharing your stimulating thoughts.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      And Thank you, Dear Sky, for your very thoughtful response! Just a note: in terms of awareness vs consciousness, I have an essay here that delves into all of that

      Thanks Sky!

      • Sky McCain says:

        Well, I see that I am confused as regards to consciousness and awareness. Often I cannot find an appropriate word for what I sense. When I read a word, I know that my understanding is limited to what my thinking function can drag up from my experience. Perhaps I can never know what another means by a particular word. Let’s see, maybe I am hung up on this understanding: In a way, there is nothing beyond what I am conscious of. Even if there was, I could not claim a knowing of it in the accepted sense of what it is to know. Yet, looking further, I constantly sense something beyond what our culture deems as a result of knowing. It is like the Tao. I don’t understand it, cannot define it, can’t speak of it but when I follow it there is a sense of rightness, a yes, here is where I’m happy to be. Now, I can’t boil this down to either awareness or consciousness. It is like a guide. I’ve exhausted the moment so will sign off. May your way be peaceful and well lit.


      • Bob OHearn says:

        Thanks for your ponderings, Sky — indeed, the human intellect can only take us to the threshold at best, and it is something else which pulls through. Going back to your original reply, that something else, whatever it is, is what I call “grace”. 😉

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    I am an obligate aerobe. Can’t think of anything more definite to say. 🙂

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Oxygen Magic

      There are countless micro-magi
      wandering through our bloodstreams,
      following the stars’ bidding, the pilgrimage
      of blood, performing the miracle of oxygen.

      In a feat of magic beyond compare,
      each one of us can inhale and exhale
      with nothing up our sleeves but air.

      Everything conjures itself
      into this amazing breathing trick,
      and all is changed in the blink
      of a wink by every aspiration.

      Voila —
      now we see it
      or maybe we don’t —

      in any event,
      our breathing
      guarantees our seat –
      we may as well enjoy the show!

      Life poured some breath
      into these lungs –
      just the right amount.

      Is it any wonder
      that our heart applauds
      this wizardry of oxygen?

      We petition no magician to make us
      real, nor leap through hoops
      for audience regard.

      We’re always awake
      where the sorcery ends, here
      within this breathless heart,
      happy, silent, breathing.

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        That’s lovely, Bob – thankyou.

        What do you think, would awareness know itself as itself if no being drew breath?

      • Bob OHearn says:

        I’d offer that there are a vast multitude of sentient forms throughout the multiverse, and certainly there are many that do not require aspiration, but within whom awareness is present and cognizant.


      • Hariod Brawn says:

        What would you say about awareness if there were no sentient forms; could awareness know itself as itself (still)?

      • Bob OHearn says:

        The Lankavatra Sutra notes:
        “As long as there are deluded minds,
        There will be no limit to the number of vehicles.
        Once delusion comes to an end,
        There will be neither vehicles nor sentient beings.”

        Now, one could also say there never was a trace of delusion, nor even one sentient being from the very no-beginning. In fact, that is actually true. However, it is not something we would hear about, say, in the presidential debates.

        Given that whatever appears is like a dream figment in the unfathomable mind of Source, what can we actually say about awareness being aware of itself? Even as we are about to open our mouths to speak, a great wind would carry our voice away, and what remains would only be an inexplicable silent smile.

        Of course, others may beg to differ, and they would certainly be entitled to do so! 😉

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        That is very beautiful, Bob – thankyou, once again.

        Although science seems uncertain as to what constitutes the physical, do you think there is something to which the term refers, and which is not purely an immaterial thought-form, not purely a configuration of merely apparent (so not ontologically discrete) phenomena in awareness?


  3. Bob OHearn says:

    Hariod, perhaps this is what Sri Nisargadatta is pointing to when he uses the term “the Absolute”, which cannot by his definition be an object of consciousness, but nevertheless shines as itself. In other words, it is not perceivable or conceivable by the intellectual apparatus, and yet it is at the same time the Source of consciousness itself.
    The Absolute is reflected as awareness when a being appears, and in the process pure awareness becomes self-awareness. Without the being, the person, there is only the Absolute, which is actually our true nature.
    Relative to the above essay, the phrase and admonition, “being aware of being aware”, is intended to disengage the practitioner from the stream of consciousness to which they chronically identify, allowing pure awareness to move to the forefront. Of course, a lot more can and regularly is said in this regard, but I am not sure if I am providing you with the information you are seeking, so I will stop here. 😉

    • Bob OHearn says:

      “This absolute Knowledge is like
      The intrinsic fullness of the moon,
      Which is unaffected
      By its apparent waxing and waning.

      Likewise, that which is Consciousness Itself
      Does not possess the quality of being conscious,
      And is, therefore, not conscious of Itself.

      If absolute Knowledge required the aid
      Of some other kind of knowledge to know Itself,
      It would be nothing but ignorance.

      Of course, light is not darkness;
      But, to itself, is it even light?”

      ~From: “Jnaneshvar: The Life and Works of the Celebrated Thirteenth Century Indian Mystic-Poet,” by S. Abhyayananda, Chapter Four: Knowledge and Ignorance

    • Hariod Brawn says:

      Thankyou very much once again, Bob. I just picked this up on the off-chance as it wasn’t threaded to our conversation above. I think it self-evident to reason that our true nature (your term) is not perceivable, not apprehendable by means of perception within the senses; for it were, our true nature would be nought but a percept(!). It clearly must be a nonsense to seek the actualisation of Nibbana/The Absolute (call it what we will) as if revealed in or as an object of consciousness – a mere representation of the brain/mind – for again, our true nature would simply be a percept.

      Anyway, I accept that my question may not be answerable by means of binary distinctions, by couching it in terms of mind and matter, or subject and object, as distinct categories. Still, when you say “one could also say there never was a trace of delusion, nor even one sentient being from the very no-beginning. In fact, that is actually true” that does sound like a rejection of (what we think of as) materiality – i.e. the sentient being.

      I certainly imagine it true of you too, but I’ve had experiences when the dichotomy of subject and object dissolves, when awareness knows itself as itself (so to speak) and makes no distinctions as to the ontological (objective) nature of the tree ‘over there’ and me myself ‘here’ – it’s all simply and starkly a seamlessly integrated awareness, and the categorisations of subject and object are known very clearly to be mind constructs alone. You’ve experienced something like this – yes? Then the question (for me) remains, is there something that is ontologically discrete, and which we think of with our senses as matter, which is not in fact awareness or a phenomenological performance of awareness? It’s another way of couching a simpler question of whether out true nature is a monism, an outright and final rejection of not only mind-body dualism, but of multiplicity in toto.

      • Bob OHearn says:

        Thanks for your reply, Hariod! Yes, I am familiar with the experience you describe, also called unity consciousness, where the subject/object dichotomy collapses. In fact, that is the fundamental experience, except that conceptual designations, born of habitual conditioning, will often obstruct the view. So, it is more like phasing in and out, which is a bit like lying in bed in the morning, alternating between dreaminess and awake-ness. It’s fun!
        I am not committed to a particular mode or view — that seems too constraining, and unrealistic! 😉 In any case, to your next question, I would offer that awareness is not separate from its objects, in the same way the wave is not separate from the ocean, so what can we call that?
        Is it a monism? Well, yes, but it does not reject but includes what it transcends, as a fractal of itself. The mind-body dualism is a particular level of awareness, but again, a part of the dance, so to speak. All the levels are included — unity consciousness, ego consciousness, emptiness consciousness — all are embraced and at the same time gone beyond. Beyond where? I suppose that would be the Godhead Meister Eckhart points to, but here we have exceeded the verbal, and stand mute.

  4. gigoid says:

    Nice… It’s all okay, simply because it can’t be any other way. Which, in a natty fashion, places the ultimate responsibility for the realization/actualization squarely in the arena of personal acceptance… Well done…

    gigoid, the dubious

  5. Lovely word magic as usual brother Bob. Indeed my friend, all is well.

    Stars shining bright above you
    Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
    Birds singing in the sycamore trees
    Dream a little dream of me

    Say nighty-night and kiss me
    Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
    While I’m alone and blue as can be
    Dream a little dream of me

    Stars fading but I linger on dear
    Still craving your kiss
    I’m longing to linger till dawn dear
    Just saying this

    Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
    Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
    But in your dreams whatever they be
    Dream a little dream of me.

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