From an introduction in Stoutenburg, August 28, 2005 - Part 3
Q: You point towards the open lucidity, even in dreamless sleep. I understand very well what you mean, but when you go to sleep, you disappear. When you wake up again, there is a sort of recollection of this openness. Some people claim that they can retain this lucid openness when they sleep. Is that really so?
Douwe: When you have consciously recognized this original openness somewhere, you recognize this sphere more and more frequently. In the waking period of the day you recognize more and more of those quiet moments, even though they were previously there as well. If you haven’t recognized this stillness somewhere in a conscious way, then you also don’t recognize it in many other moments that are open and still. So when the recognition is there in a given situation, such as in deep meditation, the process of recognition goes even further, especially during the day. Then you notice the moments when it’s just totally still and open, moments about which there’s nothing to say because there is no content. Between thoughts everything falls quiet. Thought flows are not continuous. Also, you aren’t always busy. If momentarily you don’t have anything to do, everything disappears. Slowly you recognize that these periods are more frequent and become larger. It happens just like Swiss cheese: the holes just get bigger and bigger. At first there is cheese with a few holes. But at a certain point there are holes with a little bit of cheese. That also happens by itself at night.
Of course, it’s a completely different kind of consciousness. It is not a ‘consciousness of’ something. That is the difficulty of recognition: in the West consciousness is always defined as ‘consciousness of something’. So when there’s nothing, it’s difficult to recognize. If you want to be well aware of something, right away you ask where you should look. When it’s about the recognition of your own openness, it’s a completely different type of consciousness. It’s an internal consciousness and certainly without content. It’s very strange, and therefore you frequently make mistakes. You want to be aware of the dreamless sleep where nothing is. So you say, “I will focus on nothing.” But then that’s wrong, because there is no object there, also no empty object-space that you could become aware of. No, it’s your own being-aware self. It’s a blank being-knowing without a someone who confirms something.
What’s that like, then? Is there a kind of aware presence-ness?
You are going in the right direction when you suggest ‘an aware presence-ness’. But look out, and see what else is there. For as long as there is a sense of ‘I confirm that’, you’re still saddled with an ‘I’ and an object. The best approach is to point towards the disappearance of this structure ‘I perceive that’. ‘I’ gone, ‘that’ gone and the perceiving gone. That is the original blank state about which you can’t say anything other than: “it is blank”, “there is nothing”. And still, there is an internal knowing of this original nature.
But isn’t that internal knowing then a memory afterwards?
Of course not. If there were to be a memory, there would be a memory-image. Now, that can also happen, such as in the morning when you say: “I had a wonderful sleep”. In that confirmation there is still a memory of this wonderful state of emptiness in which there was nothing. This memory can become stronger, so that you recognize that this ‘state’ which was there, is also here now. It is not something which stops in the transition from dreamless sleep to dreaming and waking. No, this always remains as a certain kind of knowing, a being-knowing. This continues by itself and intensifies. So we can only speak about the transitions. But then, the direct recognition can also come: “Yes, this”.
Learning to see these transitions is important in itself, because then, they can flow more easily. Then you know the direction of development and can see what's still stuck. That confirmation immediately allows the fixation to become relative. Then the block is no longer absolute. Seeing through, itself means that the blockade is lifted. Therefore, be precise in your seeing, in your recognition, otherwise you will easily remain hanging somewhere.
In that blank consciousness, the ‘consciousness of’ something also manifests.
Yes, ‘consciousness of’ something is always a limited sort of consciousness. Usually we call that ‘attention’. Attention is a focused consciousness and therefore a limited form of consciousness. So there are all different kinds of consciousness-forms during the day. Sometimes you are concentrating here, and then something else asks your attention, then there is a more spacious consciousness. That just continues. The one thing that remains is yourself as open being-awareness.
But then in that 'consciousness of’, you are everything. Because if there is no consciousness of something, then too that something is not there. It’s just like thinking without thoughts; that can’t be, because the idea is the same as thinking. So 'consciousness of' is the same as what is seen.
When there has been a clear recognition of yourself as being-awareness without restrictions, then all kinds of forms arising within it do not restrict you. Of course, as long as life goes on, all the living functions of seeing, feeling, hearing, thinking and so forth, also go on. When there is a recognition of that original source, then everything else also comes free. With enlightenment, all life functions become enlightened. Through this, the tensions disappear, the feeling-sense patterns of holding on to internal but also external things. When you remain in a limited identity, you imprison not only yourself, but also the whole world. When enlightenment comes, the whole world becomes enlightened. So nothing needs to go; you are everything. Only the tension-limitations disappear. Then everything is open, infinitely open.