March 21 by The Running Son
Putting Attention on Awareness:
the ‘Awareness Watching Awareness’ Method
by Tom Stine
A friend and reader with whom I’ve corresponded many times over the past few years recently sent me an email with some questions. In my reply, I made reference to a practice that I had done that had made a real difference in my experience. She wanted to know what the practice was, and so I replied as follows:
The practice is discussed in a book by Sri Sadhu Om, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, and it is what Sadhu Om calls “Self-Enquiry”. Now, self-inquiry is batted around in many spiritual circles, and I’m sure it gets defined in many, many ways. But according to Sadhu Om, Self-Enquiry is exactly the same as a practice that Adyashanti refers to as “putting attention on awareness”.
Sadhu Om says that this simple practice is the only real practice, and further he insists that it is the heart of Ramana’s teaching. Interestingly, this coincides with statements made by one of Ramana’s principle disciples, Sri Muruganar. Interestingly, Adyashanti has said on more than one occasion that the only thing you really need to do is put attention on awareness.
It’s funny, but once you know this simple practice, it shows up in all kinds of places. Nisargadatta, Ramana, Adyashanti, Eckhart Tolle, it’s everywhere! And yet, most of these teachers spend little time talking about it even though it is a practice that they most glowingly recommend.
You might ask: why do they spend so little time talking about it? And the answer, I think, is that almost no one will do the practice! You see, the practice is too simple, too passive, and too “vanilla pudding” (in other words, bland!). There are no bells and whistles, nothing for a mind to get excited about.
I suspect, too, that if you are a spiritual teacher, and you talk about putting attention on awareness (Self-Enquiry) all the time, you’ll drive away the crowd! Not that Adyashanti or Eckhart Tolle per se are concerned with having a crowd (and the same can be said of Ramana and Nisargadatta), but they are all very focused on meeting people exactly where they are. And if the people coming to you as a teacher are not ready or able to even hear you tell them “do this one practice,” then what is the point of repeating yourself over and over? It will do no good. Adyashanti spends 90% of his time helping people get to the point where they will do the one thing that will work. And Adyashanti has said many, many times: the hardest thing for a human being to do is one simple thing.
Several years ago, I did this practice every day for about 9 months, and then I experienced awakening. I can’t say that the practice CAUSED awakening, but I suspect it made me “more accident prone” as Ken Wilbur says (“Awakening is an accident. But we can make ourselves more accident prone” – Ken Wilbur). Doing this one practice has a curious effect on me, almost as if it is dissolving me from the inside out. And in fact, it is.
But you want to know what is REALLY humorous to me about this one simple practice? I resist doing it! It really is hard for a human being to do one simple thing. I have never, repeat never, done a practice (you can’t even call it a practice, really) that has such a “Swiss Army knife” practicality to it. In fact, it does it all. I’ve taken almost every single life issue one can have into “putting attention on awareness” and watched the issue literally dissolve. Amazing, really.
The reason for this all-purpose-ness is simple. When you do this one simple thing, you are in effect disconnecting from the entire mental-emotional system. You don’t have to find the particular thought, feeling, belief, memory, trauma, experience etc, that is causing you problems. You don’t have to weed through feeling after feeling, belief after belief. You are, in effect, choosing to chuck the whole lot, even for a brief moment. And that creates an opening for the divine to enter. All it takes is a very tiny opening, too, for the Universe to do it’s thing!
Okay, that’s a pretty good sales pitch. Now the obvious question: how do you do the practice? Well, you just do exactly what it says: put your attention on awareness. That’s really it. You absolutely cannot do it wrong. But if you want to read something that will give you a good idea of how it works, I suggest you read the following:
- The Awareness Watching Awareness Practice Instructions
- Further Clarification of the Awareness Watching Awareness Method Practice Instructions
- How I Discovered the Awareness Watching Awareness Method
The author of the above, Michael Langford, does a nice job of presenting the practice.
You also can have a look at John Sherman’s eBook, “Look at Yourself”.
I find John a bit like a broken record, but what he does is very valuable. In fact, John is a nice contrast to Adyashanti. John has one teaching: put attention on your Self (awareness). Although his teaching is a bit monotonous, he is a very interesting guy and a good teacher.
This one practice is quite likely all one really needs. That said, never take my word for it. Try it out, and if you feel inclined, do it for a few weeks. If not, then do something else. By all means, follow your inner guru. But once you try Self-Enquiry, you will probably find yourself drawn to it time after time. Then someday you just might recognize that you are being dissolved from the inside out, and even better, you just might realize that there is no you to be dissolved.
[ Repost from: http://tomstine.com/putting-attention-on-awareness/ ]