Only Awareness is Aware


Awareness vibrates within itself and assumes the form of the finite mind. The finite mind is therefore not an entity in its own right; it is the activity of awareness. There are no real objects, entities or selves, each with its own separate identity, appearing in awareness, just as there are no real characters in a movie. There is only awareness and its activity, just as there is only the screen and its modulation.

Awareness assumes the form of the finite mind by identifying itself with the body, through the agency of which it knows the world, in the same way that at night our own mind collapses into the mind of the dreamed character from whose point of view the dreamed world is known. Just as the activity of our individual mind appears to itself in the form of the dreamed world, so awareness appears to itself as the world in the form of the activity of each of our minds. It is only from the point of view of the apparent awareness-in-the-body entity – the finite mind – that awareness now seems to be limited and temporary, and that the body and world seem to have their own independent status as objects.

In order to illuminate an object, the sun must direct its rays away from itself, towards that object, but in order to illuminate itself the sun doesn’t have to direct its rays anywhere. Likewise, to know an object, other or world, awareness has to rise in the form of mind, which it does by locating itself in a body, from whose point of view it can now direct the light of its knowing towards that object. But in order to know itself it doesn’t need to direct its knowing in any particular direction. It doesn’t have to go anywhere or do anything.

For awareness, being itself is knowing itself, just as for the sun, being itself is illuminating itself.All objects and selves are known by awareness, but awareness is known by itself alone. Thus, all objects and selves depend upon and are relative to awareness, but awareness is relative to nothing. All knowledge is relative except awareness’s knowing of its own being. Awareness’s knowledge of itself is thus absolute. In fact, awareness’s knowledge of itself is the only absolute knowledge there is, and is as such the foundation and fountain of all relative knowledge.

The belief that awareness needs a mind in order to know itself is a common misunderstanding in the field known as Consciousness Studies, where the disciplines of non-duality and science meet, and particularly in contemporary expressions of the non-dual understanding. Awareness need only assume the form of an apparently separate subject of experience, the finite mind, in order to know a separate object, other or world. To know itself it need not assume the form of a separate subject, nor can it know itself as an object.

For awareness, there is no distance between itself and the knowing of itself. It is simultaneously the subject and the object of its own experience. The essential, irreducible nature of awareness is to be and know itself alone. The knowing of its own objectless being is awareness’s primary experience. Just by being itself, it knows itself. Awareness is the knowing element in all that is known or experienced and is, therefore, the only ‘one’ present to know or experience anything, including itself. The ordinary, intimate and familiar experience of simply being aware is, in fact, awareness’s awareness of itself.


__Spira, R. (2017). The Nature of Consciousness: Essays on the Unity of Mind and Matter, New Harbinger Publications.





One response to “Only Awareness is Aware”

  1. Michael+Grove Avatar

    [IN] the very context of the entirety of this ONLY AWARENESS IS AWARE discussion, and my soul-mate & I’s 64 years together in mind and body [BE]ing AWARE of awareness [IT]self • having walked the entire length of [THE] walk-way atop the Grande Dixence dam – and back in the Swiss Alps – is to equate the experience, somewhat, to the astronauts who first “walked in space” to make repairs to their space shuttle. I say this because both Linnie and I felt a total loss of scale as a result of our own individual senses being unable to connect with the vastness of our surroundings. The only other time that a slight glimpse of this feeling was experienced by me was travelling by car across the Istrian peninsula which I put down to the fact that the normal sense of the distance to the horizon, did not apply.

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