An article by Eaden Shantay
Experience is awareness cast through karma.
Every sensation, emotion and thought is the direct result of past karma (action). In each incarnation we bring forth parabdha karma – that portion of sanchita karma, our total karmic bank account, meant to be experienced, learned from and neutralized in this life.
Think of parabdha karma as images on a film strip, vasanas (impressions) in consciousness left from past action. The light of true self, awareness, then shines through these impressions, creating a three dimensional, five sensory experience called me and my life.
Like any good movie, it’s easy to become hypnotized by the drama and lose touch with what is real. In realizing we are not the projected story but the awareness which animates it, we release the life or death grip we have on moment to moment experience. This is the process of dis-identification or non-attachment the Buddha spoke of.
Imagine the sky with clouds moving through it. The sky is a metaphor for awareness and clouds, the objects of sensation, emotion and thought. In meditation we practice welcoming the clouds, blessing them and then bringing our attention back to the breath. In time, we even let go of the breath and dwell in the space between the clouds – awareness, a reflection of our true nature appearing in the mind.
Most of us live our lives fully identified, even entranced by the clouds of experience. We believe we are this shame or fear, success or failure. Yet how could we be these sensations, emotions, thoughts or actions that arise for a time and then dissolve? If we were, when they disappeared, so would we. Yet, what always remains?
Consider your awareness for a moment. Does it ever change? It is surely colored by the lens of past action but only apparently. Is the light that shines though the film strip affected by the projected images? Per the ancient scriptures of Vedanta, light (awareness) is more subtle than and cannot be changed by the gross objects appearing within it.
When we believe we are sensations, emotions, and thoughts and try to control them, we suffer greatly. When we realize that we are not this body, heart, or mind but that they appear within us, as awareness, we experience moksha or liberation.
While many think of enlightenment as levitating yogis or radiant gurus offering shaktipat (the sharing of high vibration energy), enlightenment is neither an esoteric experience for the precious few or a supernatural event offering deep samadhi (a state of intense concentration). It’s knowing beyond the shadow of doubt, I am the light of consciousness and living from this place of sat/being, chit/consciousness and ananda/limitless-ness. We are not the projected story, we are the awareness which makes the story possible.
Great gratitude to my teachers: Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, two present day teachers of Vedanta, James Swartz and Ted Schmidt and my wife Deva who courageously provides a powerful mirror reflecting that which is still unresolved within me. Visit eadenshantay.com and www.truenaturehealingarts.com, a sanctuary for personal growth in Carbondale, CO.