Robert Haynes points to an experience where consciousness separates from the stream of thinking, enabling one to directly experience that which is always present, one’s real nature.
As a young man I had an experience of something so beautiful, so awesome, some living mystery beyond the usual life – and I wanted more. So like many people of my subculture I became a spiritual seeker. I took up meditation and tried various methods to attain those beautiful spiritual states.
Over the years I had many experiences of awakened states, but they would eventually pass and I would feel like a failure. I was incapable of holding on to those states, and when they left, my mind would go into negative self talk of not being good enough, not spiritual enough, and I would feel depressed. In 1996 I finally admitted to myself that my best efforts had failed. I didn’t have what it takes to get what I wanted most in this life. I was a spiritual flunky.
I took time off from my work as an alternative healthcare practitioner and drove down to southern Colorado, to a hot springs in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, to contemplate what I would do next. After a few days of meditation and contemplation, I made the short drive to Crestone, Colorado, to catch-up with some friends. They informed me that a woman was going to be speaking that evening. I felt a strong inner urge to attend.
I found myself in Satsang with Gangaji. She advised us to be still, give up the search, stop all of our business long enough to inquire, to ask ourselves, ‘who am I?’ To look and see for ourselves what is present under the searching mind. I was inspired by her confidence and her clarity. I somehow knew she was speaking the truth and there was a kind of shaking inside me.
The next day, while driving back north to the hot springs where I was camping, I noticed that my mind stopped – and I remained – as consciousness. A thought would arise, then fall back, consciousness remained, untouched, free, and whole. It was immediately clear, obvious, that my true nature is and has always been consciousness itself, and that cannot go away, is always present.
I was overjoyed. At last! That is free – and I am that! In that moment, my sense of identity flipped. The form of Robert continues to appear of course, but as an appearance to the field of silent awareness.
Over the years there has been a deepening and grounding in this. The ego tried many times to assert itself and reclaim its ruler-ship. Many tests, many divine humbling moments – and asking, ‘what is really true?’ In that questing for truth, my awareness would drop back into the ocean of consciousness, and a profound peace and recognition would stand out over anything my mind and false identity would come up with.
The experiences of usual life unfold as they do; changing circumstances, gaining, losing, emotions and thoughts, but they don’t matter that much. More important is the peace and freedom of abiding as this fundamental silent awareness that is the core of everything, holding everything.