Is awareness personal?

May 25, 2017

Me (student): Is awareness personal?

Teacher: No!

M: But it feels personal.

And so it goes, back and forth. A conversation that, in one form or another, has driven students to sit face-to-face with their teachers for hundreds of years.

This was not the first time I had been down this rabbit hole. Awareness felt personal, like something happening inside my head. This time, however, the conversation took a surprising turn. After reminding me one more time that my idea of awareness taking place somewhere inside my brain was a delusion, my teacher continued:

T (pointing to the wall): Where is awareness of the wall?

M (silent)

T (placing his hand on the rug): Where is awareness here?

M (placing my hand on the rug and pondering): But the thought comes in so fast.

T (bowing): You have passed your first koan.

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