Unconditioned Awareness: Exploring the end of all seeking

Excerpts from a dialogue with Peter Fenner at the Omega Institute
July 2006

Peter Fenner: My understanding of being, in the way that it’s understood in eastern traditions like Buddhism and Hinduism, is that being doesn’t exclude anything, because it’s unconditioned. If, in order to be, we have to, for example, be still, or be silent, or be meditating, then that would be a conditioned way of being. Whereas we’re exploring unconditioned being.

So there’s no condition, there’s nothing that stops us being. This kind of being is such that we can’t actually stop it happening, as though it is ever-present. It’s like we can tune into it, and it’s there. It’s not there in the sense that it’s located somewhere, but it’s ever -present.

And if we’re beginning to taste this space, to feel our way into this, we can feel that it’s really quite interesting, quite amazing. Because it’s a state that we can have individually, but which has nothing to do with us as an individual. It’s not ours, it’s not like something we can own. We can participate in it, we can join it, we can enjoy it, we can be suffused by it, we can live in, but it has nothing to do with us as an individual. This is why it is sometimes spoken about as pure consciousness, or universal consciousness. So if we’re tuning into this, we’re tuning into the same space.

From my point of view, we’re doing it now, tapping into a possibility, a potentiality, that’s there all the time. We’re just undoing things, in a way, so we can tune in together to the unconditioned dimension of being, at the same time that we’re connected with ourselves in a very ordinary way. It’s not as though we have to transform ourselves radically in order to participate in this space. In fact, we don’t have to change anything. For me, it’s an experience that runs in parallel with the experience of being human in the way that I am. So I can know it through who I am, and you can know it through who you are.

It’s simply awareness in contrast to what we’re aware of, like the objects of awareness. The main thing to appreciate about the experience is that when we connect with it, there’s nothing more that we need. In a fundamental way, everything we do is designed to bring us to a point where there’s nothing more we have to do—we’re complete. And it’s possible for us to taste that now, to be that.

Member of the audience: It’s always here.

Yes. It’s always here.

Gooood!

Yes. Then we can begin to relax.

But if you’re in a physical body, you can’t stay there.

Where? It’s not anywhere, so we don’t have to be somewhere in particular to be participating in this experience. It’s paradoxical.

But as soon as you start to talk, then you bring yourself out of it, because you’re thinking about something.

It depends upon the way we’re thinking. It’s subtle. Because it’s an unconditioned experience, it really doesn’t matter what we’re thinking. It’s not affected by out thoughts, by what we’re thinking. You can perhaps feel that.

At the same time that we’re involved in our lives, that we’re finite, that we’re thinking what we’re thinking, that we’re involved in our activities – we’re here and you’re there, I’m here and we’re different – there’s at the same time, a universal experience that’s impersonal, that we can both be experiencing, that all of us can be experiencing.

Experiencing the oneness?

Yes. We can say that. Even though you’re there and I’m here, we can know that we’re really sharing something. We can know that we’re in the same place. So this is a real experience of oneness, real intimacy and connection, because you know exactly what I’m experiencing at that level. You can fully enter my experience, and I can fully enter yours at this level of universal consciousness.

Can it be defined as “is-ness” or “such-ness”?

Yes. In Buddhism it is spoken about as “is-ness”, “such-ness”, “thus-ness”. I personally like those words, because there’s not a lot the mind can do with them. I think it is a great way to identify what were talking about, what we’re sharing.

It’s getting rid of all the restrictions in us, what bogs us down, so we can open a space?

Yes. It’s going beyond simply me, my existence : “What is important for me?” “What are my preferences?” “Is this working for me?” It’s going beyond that, going beyond a preoccupation with ourselves.

Can you describe it as unconditional love?

Yes. I think unconditional love comes out of this, because this is a non-manipulative experience. If we’re in this state, it’s not possible to manipulate ourselves or anyone else. So for me, this is what unconditional love comes out of. It comes out of being fully open without any barrier, and not having any manipulative energy within us. Also allowing people to come both into, and go out of, our energy field, into our mandala. Move into and out of it in a way that is consistent for who they are.

It seems the way to regularly tap into it would be just to notice the judging mind?

Yes. Becoming more attuned, more sensitive, to how that’s happening. But then not judging that—not judging the judging mind. If we’re not judging the judging mind, then it takes the energy out of the judging. And then they’re simply thoughts that are simply moving through our consciousness.

Would it be a place without perspective? It feels like there’s no filters.

Yes. Because it is going beyond our opinions. In the state, we don’t have opinions about anything. And this can be a difficulty, because we’re expected to have opinions about things. Part of the fabric of our social network is that we have ideas and opinions about things. So not to have opinions can be a challenge. I’ve experienced this. People say, “So what do you think about such and such?” and I say, “I don’t. I haven’t. I don’t think about that.” And people find that strange. So we have to accept whatever people are going to make of us, whatever opinions people will have about us, without being bothered by that.

So really, the very fact that you are running workshops is counter to what this is?

No. It’s completely consistent. Because what I’m doing at essence in the workshops is nothing. That’s what I’m trying to do as best I can.

It’s like flying. We go for a journey, for a ride, together. So we join within the assumption that there’s somewhere to go, somewhere to get to. We go on this journey together and arrive at this point where we realize that it’s arrived, it’s already here, and in a way, it already always was. And that we didn’t need to do what we have just done. But if we didn’t do that, it wouldn’t be happening.

There is no other way to tap into it, other than through dialogue?

Yes, there are other ways to do it. For me, this works well. I’ve been exploring for thirty years what, for me, is the most efficient way to do it. I find that dialogue, along the style that we’re doing it now, accelerates the process, accelerates the induction, accelerates entering into the space.

Even for you, though you’ve been doing it for thirty years?

Yes.

And the mental activity can obscure it?

Yes, it generally does. Most mental activity, ninety-nine percent of mental activity, does obscure it. It requires a particular type of enquiry, dialogue, along the lines of what we’re doing tonight, to reveal it.

Why would mental activity obscure it, if it’s all inclusive?

Again, it’s paradoxical. There’s nothing to obscure, but what happens is that we can easily become identified with our interpretations. This keeps us locked into the conditioned mind in a way that doesn’t allow that expansion to happen.

So now that we’re here, we can come back here, because we know where “here” is.

Yes. And when you do, there’ll be like a recognition, a re-remembering, like : “Ah, I’m back there”, which is not localized.

[Silence]

Thank you so much. It has been a great pleasure to be with you tonight.

Peter Fenner

About Peter Fenner

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom and Founder of Timeless Wisdom, a California nonprofit. He is a pioneer in the development of nondual therapy. He created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.Peter also offers retreats on 4 continents. He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa. Stay in touch: • Join Peter Fenner's network on LinkedIn • Like his page on Facebook
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