Our first event of the new year for Conscious Cafe Skipton was all about one of life’s big questions: “Who am I really?” beyond all the work and roles and ego?
To help navigate through that enquiry we welcomed Yorkshire-based spiritual advocate Philip Wade, a former Civil Engineer who walked away from his role director of a large Consultancy business at the height of his career, after experiencing an awakening. That awakening experience took him to a deeper exploration of life and he now works as a guide for people all over the word. Nearly 40 of us gathered at Avalon Wellbeing Centre prepared, or at least open if not fully prepared, for a deep conversation. Here are notes and insights from the evening…
The Big Question: We started with the big question which people often ask themselves “Who am I?” But what kind of answer do you get, if any? Do you think in terms of your roles .… your accomplishments .. who you are in your family?
Follow this with another question: “Who am I without my memory?” Perhaps this has taken you into a feeling of being in the NOW .. feeling present. Words may come like Love, Truth, Nothing, No Thing … maybe even Fear.
Our Identity is strong: We spend all our lives building our identity, creating our story with our roles, and around our gender. But your true nature is not this identity that you have created.
There is actually an eternal unchanging self.
What Changes: Everyone has experience emotions, feelings, sensations, thoughts. These are all constantly changing… each thought comes like a wave. It passes through .. leaving behind the feelings. But it does not stay. You catch the thought wave, you can even get lost in the thought. It can take you in many directions, but none of these will be your Truth. What is seen and felt passes and is actually temporary. The waves can be violent or gentle, but they keep coming.
The Unchanging: What is it that notices the arrival of the wave? What is it that is beyond all that?
That is the silent witness – within awareness. What is it the notices all the things that move and change? It’s the observer or Silent Witness.
You might feel you are that emotion, that thought …. that feeling sensation, but it will pass. Then afterwards comes the realisation that “I can’t be that because I am the Unchanging rather than what keeps changing.”
Mistaken Identity: What do you identify with and attach yourself to? Most people think they are their bodies or mind… the Body/Mind … and that’s all there is. This is the mistaken belief. And it’s at the root cause of all suffering. That’s why we’re talking about a mistaken identity. We need to see the truth behind all the beliefs.
To realise the Infinite Silence, you literally have to be out of your mind …. not in the sense of being mad but simply realising the true YOU is Universal Awareness or Infinite Silence.
Success: a question was asked about how the concept of awareness relates to what you think of as success and achievement? The world gives a definition of what success is. It is an external and changing concept. Accessing the Silence within you actually gives you power. You can use that power for what you choose.
Key Distinction: Your body is what you have but you are not your body. Your body becomes the vehicle of the awareness of consciousness. Your body is simply a gift from awareness.
Inspiration: this comes from within, from this inner space and our action follows that inspiration. An outward expression of an inner awareness. There is a distinction here between action and activity. Lots of activity that you can engage is actually busyness. But this is very different to inspired action, actions you choose as opposed to activities and busyness you can get lost in. Trusting your inner voice helps you choose. The inner voice guides, it takes you through a doorway, a gateway to awareness. We realise we are already this.
Beliefs: The body/mind ego can give you a hard time. It can be full of beliefs that it does not like to let go of. In opening to a higher truth, seeking awareness or hoping to achieve awareness, you find that a great realisation comes which is that “I have never not been this awareness”.
The Wake up call: this is when life stops and changes for whatever reason, and it could be an illness that stops you, brings you to a halt. An awareness to awareness comes. A waking up to the inner voice, inner truth.
But the timing has to be right. You can hear new knowledge but at the time you can dismiss or run away. Then later it sinks in .. and maybe you move along step by step. That can be a gradual shift or a gradual opening up.
Then there can be feeling that everything that ever happened to you in your life has brought you to that point, to this moment…. what can be called the new, virgin territory of awareness, awakening.
Meditation: this helps. Yes it can mean sitting still and being quiet and if your mind is not used to doing this it can feel like an inner battle. That is simply because a mind is used to being full of whatever thoughts it likes to think. Training and practice helps the mind quiet down which is helpful. But it is not the only route to stillness.
Being in the woods in nature, being in stillness, being in the quiet. That’s just like meditation. It’s another way of doing it. Being still. Making a commitment to the quiet keeps you going. That helps to train you to be still. What we call mind will naturally be still.
To access the awareness: You just need to accept totally the invitation that comes from awareness. You access the awareness that remembers itself. This is not something that you can do, it’s only something that you can realise, something that is here now for you.
The idea that meditation is hard is just a belief. So you can create it that way and make it hard so that it fit your beliefs. Or you can let go. The heart says to let go. The body mind ego hangs on by its fingernails.
Question: It feels like Awareness comes and goes. Awareness is constant always. Your mind asks questions but awareness knows you are already that which you seek. The purpose of all spiritual practice is so that you don’t have to. You don’t have to practice who you already are. Self Realisation rests on nothing. What is it that sees the changes and the comings and goings in life? That is awareness.
If you attention is in the present, then you are in, or realise you are in, awareness, which is a form of meditation… the Living Meditation. Then you begin to realise “I am not that thought. I am not that challenging emotion. I’m experiencing it, but I am not it.” Living in our ego identity of the small “i” you can think the answer is in someone or in something …. but the bigger “I” the awareness knows. This is living in the knowing and as the knowing!
Intuition: Sometimes a crack will appear. Intuition is that crack that opening, something comes up into the field of awareness, gives us a knowing, as it communicates with us. And a call will come from awareness itself. Then you start listening from within. That is when you start to turn from transmitting to receiving. It’s like a beam of light reaching you, coming through that crack.
The Iceberg: You can think that you are separate from others .. from the source but we are connected. Think of a big iceberg sitting on the ocean. It sees the ocean but it thinks it is not the same. Eventually the iceberg melts and becomes a sliver of ice in the ocean. And then it realises that after all, it is the ocean. We live life, like we are all separate and yet we are all the same. We are all Universal Awareness or Infinite Silence.
Philip was asked if he believed in eternal life. He said that he does not hold a belief about that as it is a knowing, and it is a knowing that comes from awareness. it is in fact part of the Realisation or Self Realisation that one is eternal awareness. The human body/mind ego is actually filled with fear and particularly holds a fear about death. Opening to awareness becomes a portal and leads to the dissolution of the fear of death. One Realises one is and always has been eternal Awareness or Infinite Silence.
Philip used a fibre optic fountain light to demonstrate what happens when you turn your attention inwards. You can take your awareness down the column of light to the light source. You can understand how we are all connected to the same source. You reach the light source within, this represents the being part of human being, the part that is not personal. The part that is infinite for all intents and purposes and the power behind which give rise to the light is Eternal Awareness itSelf or Infinite Silence – this is like the battery in the fibre optic an Infinite one.
The Realisation of this experientially is that Self Realisation ends the case of mistaken identity! This is the gift from Life to Life as Life and you are Life. Life = Awareness. This is both the meaning and purpose of Life. This is its greatest gift to itSelf to realise this experientially.
Conscious Cafe Skipton events take place monthly at Avalon Wellbeing, on the Broughton Hall estate near Skipton.
Tuesday 25th February: Where Does Love Come From in Your Life?
Monday 16th March: The Genius Groove with guest speaker Dr Manjir Samanta-Laughton