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Excerpted from A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine. Copyright © 1979 by Stephen Levine. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"When we attend to the ongoing mind we see that even "the watcher" becomes part of the flow."

Stephen Levine, A Gradual Awakening, Part 3

We discover we don't really need to ask anyone any questions, we needn't look outside ourselves for the answer. As we penetrate the flow, the flow is the answer. The asking of the question is itself the answer. When we ask, "Who am I?" who we are is the processes asking the question.

When awareness penetrates a bit deeper, we discover that we've invested the thinking mind with a reality which it doesn't independently possess, an absolute reality, not understanding that it is a relative part of something much greater. By not being addicted to thinking, we discover that we usually notice only a bit of the extraordinary activity of consciousness; attachment to thinking has blocked the rest. Thinking mind is quite other than the choiceless, open awareness that allows everything to unfold as it must. Thinking is choosing thoughts, itís working, it's measuring, it's planning, it's creating a reality instead of directly experiencing what's actually happening each moment.

When we attend to the ongoing mind we see that even "the watcher" becomes part of the flow. The who that's asking "Who's watching?" is another thought-flash we see go by; there's "no one" watching, there's just awareness. When the "I" becomes just something else observed in the flow we see we're not different from anything else in the universe. The true nature of being becomes apparent because there's nothing to remain separate, nothing to block our totality. We see that what moves one thought into another is the exact same energy that moves the stars across the sky. No difference. We are natural phenomenon as full of change as the ocean or the wind, a product of conditions.

We see that the nature of consciousness works a bit like the hand of God in the famous Sistine Chapel painting which is reaching out to give life to a waiting being, a being about to receive the spark. Moment to moment we're receiving the spark. That spark is consciousness, the knowing faculty, the perception of which arises from the contact of awareness and its object; from sight and the tree seen, from hearing and the music heard, from touch and the earth felt, from taste and the water tasted, from smell and the flower smelled, from thought and the idea imagined. Moment to moment, consciousness arises anew in conjunction with each object of the senses, including the mind sense of imagination and memory. This is the arising and passing away of all that we know of our life experience. For mindfulness to enter this process is to discover genesis moment to moment, the continual creation of the universe.

Interestingly enough, it is this act of creation which is the greatest cause of misunderstanding, in our life. Or to be more precise, it is our identification with this ongoing process as "I" which becomes the problem.

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