Recognition Sutra #13
With Chapter Thirteen of The Recognition Sutras, we reach a turning point. Chapters One through Twelve charted the ‘movement’ of divine Awareness from its unparticularized, fully expanded state of absolute potential to its condition of contraction and confusion. (Of course this narrative structure should not be taken to imply an actual linear progression: in truth, all aspects of the process are happening at every moment.) In dialectical terms, Kṣhemarāja has stated both thesis and (apparent) antithesis. With Chapter Thirteen, he initiates a turn: the movement toward full awakeness and seamless unity with all things. This is the required synthesis of the dialectic. Sūtra Thirteen reads:
॥ तद्परिज्ञाने चित्तमेवान्तर्मुखीभावेन चेतनपदाध्यारोहाच्चितिः ॥१३॥
When there is full realization of that truth, the mind, by turning within, ascends to its expanded state and is revealed as nothing but Awareness.
Here Kṣhema does an interesting thing: he tells us that this sūtra is the inverse of the previous sūtra when in fact, apart from its first phrase, it’s actually a precise inversion of Sūtra Five! This tells us that he regards a contracted mind as the normal state of affairs when one is deluded by one’s own powers (see Sūtra Twelve), and that the disappearance of that delusion/contraction is concomitant with the mind attaining its expanded, fully conscious state (cetana-pada). So in his commentary, he weaves together the inverse of both Sūtras Five and Twelve to describe the condition known as ‘enlightenment’ (bodha, correctly translated ‘awakeness’ or ‘[full] awareness’), according to the teaching of the Recognition school:
When there is full realization of that, i.e., the fact that you are the author of the Five Divine Acts, the state of being deluded by your own powers ceases, because the cause [of such delusion]—which is the absence of Recognition [of your true nature]—disappears. When that occurs, then, due to attaining one’s [innate] autonomy, the mind discussed above [in Sūtras Five and Six] relinquishes its contracted state of outward focus and by turning within, ascends to its expanded state. [In other words,] through this process of reaching the level of the [expanded] perceiver by [gradually] dissolving even the last remaining trace of contraction, [the mind] becomes Awareness, attaining its true nature. This means that it becomes immersed in its own highest expression, which is Awareness.
Here Kṣhema argues that the key element of recognition of your true nature is realizing that you—the real you, not your mental construct of selfhood we call ego—are the performer of all five Divine Acts. You are creator, in that everything you experience is a direct expression of your essence-nature; you are sustainer, in that whatever you pay attention to in your field of experience is magnified by that attention (and tends to persist longer and recur more often); you are dissolver, in that everything that dies or disappears dissolves back into the ground of being with which you are seamlessly one; you are concealer, in that you have veiled your own authorship of the previous three Acts; and you are revealer, in that, when you are ready, you reveal to yourself your authorship of all Five Acts. This last act, when sustained, is self-realization. We must note that believing the statements in the sentence before last is not realization; rather, we speak here of a direct nonverbal seeing of the truth of what you are, made possible (but not caused) by deep spiritual practice and contemplation.
In this state, delusion falls away, and when it does, your innate autonomy is revealed. In this awakened mode of being, free of confusion and connected to freedom, the mind tends to behave differently. It no longer looks to external things, people, and situations for fulfillment, driven by contracted desire and fear; it begins to turn inward and repose in its deeper/wider self, Awareness.
Another way to say the same thing is that contracted-mind is immersed in Awareness-self and eventually dissolves completely into Awareness-self (though beneficial forms of contraction, like the ability to focus, still remain). There is an indefinite (but finite) amount of time between the mind attaining its natural state of reposing in Awareness and the dissolution of all nonbeneficial forms of contraction (such as self-images and emotions rooted in ignorance, like envy and hatred). This is a gradual process, since for the ‘last remaining trace of contraction’ to dissolve, your deepest saṃskāras need to be digested and resolved (not all of them, just the ones that constitute an impediment to abiding in your essence-nature). But that’s okay, because if your mind is truly settled in its natural state, then you will be content with however long that process takes. As described in Chapter Eleven, this process, which many teachers today call integrating your awakening, is contingent on a willingness to see and feel whatever needs to be seen and felt, as well as an ability to rapidly digest the stories and self-images that form out of or relate to the saṃskāras that surface in the process.
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This post is an excerpt from Chapter Thirteen of my forthcoming book, The Recognition Sutras.
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NEXT: Chapter Fourteen addresses this objection: "Surely, if the essence of the ultimately significant and desirable state of the Power of Awareness is its capacity to 'devour' all kinds of things, then it must do so even on the level of Māyā, just as the sun retains its capacity to illuminate things even when it is obscured by clouds."