"Stillness" and Awakened Awareness
By Aruna Byers
The word “stillness” is often used in referring to someone living in Awakened Awareness. Does this mean they spend a lot of time in bed or on the sofa barely moving, or even a lot of time in meditation? Though any of these behaviors can be exhibited by someone living in Awakened awareness, none point to stillness. The term “stillness” in reference to an Awakened one has nothing to do with physical movement or any particular endeavor. Instead, it refers to a quality of mental presence and responsiveness. It is the ability to be witness to the human experience without thinking about it or reacting to it. It is being inwardly still, no matter what is going on around the body — in other words: living as True Self in the world.
This way of being human does not suddenly happen when an Awakening moment occurs. In my case, my ego-mind immediately became very active because it feared loss of the control it was accustomed to having over my body’s human experience. Instead of the “quiet mind” I was pursuing, even more thoughts arose. Just how desperate will an ego-mind get to prevent a quiet mind as a gateway to stillness? Here’s one example:
In my case, I was accustomed to not studying for tests in high school and college because I photographically remembered paragraphs and whole pages of answers. But after being thrown into the rearview mirror during a minor car crash there was more than a damaged front tooth and a deep bruise on my forehead: my wonderful photographic memory was gone.
Within a few days following my Awakening, over 30 years later, after the inner pictures had vanished, my ego-mind began serving me images again, and even though they happened to be of Ramana Maharshi, about which many people might remark ‘”that’s great,” these were still a displacement of the stillness. Even the “wonderful feelings of bliss” I had been having up until my Awakening were a displacement of stillness. Yes, I’m saying every thought and feeling, good, bad, uncomfortable, enjoyable, negative or indifferent must be allowed to come and GO, because attachment to any of them all interfere with stillness.
So I quickly became committed to having a quiet mind using Self Inquiry; constantly notifying the ego-mind there was no “me” interested in any thoughts it tried to offer. Self-Inquiry became a regular part of my daily life. Whenever thoughts appeared they would meet the Inquirer, and this tool eventually dissolved whatever thoughts arose. As the number of thoughts decreased, the space between them increased. Eventually I realized that they had stopped altogether! How do I know that? Because that realization was punctuated by an event that happened to me in Uruguay, shortly before returning to Japan in 2011:
I had just closed the shower door which, having a defectively fitted glass panel, suddenly shattered, sending shards flying. The majority of the “safety glass” stayed in its frame, but I had numerous stabs and gashes on one forearm, the backs of both hands, tops of both feet, and a few slices on my stomach. Giaccomo heard the sound, came in and quickly had towels down so I could step out of the sharp debris.
There was glass, there was a lot of blood, there was physical effort to stop the bleeding and to get me to a hospital for more help. It was all going on around me, but there were no thoughts or emotional reactions before, during or after all the stitches. I recall only the stillness and my presence within it as everything unfolded just as it apparently was supposed to.
Now 2021, only rarely does a thought appear in my mind or an emotion show up in reaction to a situation. The peace and stillness of body and mind are consistent. It’s as if there is “nobody” caring about what just happened, is happening, or perhaps as Papaji often said: “nothing happened at all.” Whatever was observed came and went, with only a mere bit of awareness of its occurrence at any particular moment. All is bathed in stillness.
For anyone drawn to living in stillness, I can suggest appropriate and efficient techniques and tools to approach and eventually be in this stillness . . . that as your goal, and diehard commitment is all you need. Contact me to get started.