Wisdom and compassion. [14]. Macclesfield, 2013 (Transcript)

James Low
Wisdom and compassion, openness and presence.

Macclesfield, 22-24 February 2013

Transcribed by Lois Hague
Edited by Barbara Terris
Revised by James Low in March 2023
Translated into Portuguese by Madalena Pedroza in June 2023.
This text is included in the book “The Open Door of Emptiness”.

Download the PDF English Transcript
Download the PDF Portuguese Transcript


We, as people, die but awareness does not

When we take our body to be an entity, something we have or we are, then we are not open to our unborn ground. The basis of our emergence as ever-shifting co-emergent patterning is ungraspable openness. We are not a thing. The body is a site of dynamic communication. It manifests as a relational formation. As such, it is shaped by and with events and after some time its patterning ceases to support the manifestation of awareness. And this is what we call ‘death’.

The body as process is susceptible to outside dangers and internal diseases. There are many ways in which the dynamic function can come to an end. Every gesture that we make with our body is finite. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Every speech act is finite, finite and contextual. But the mind itself is infinite. As the Buddha said, “All beginning things are ending things.” Everything which has a beginning will have an end. Therefore, everything which is finite will go towards dissolution but the mind itself, awareness, has neither beginning nor end.

This is why awareness is the true refuge. We take refuge in the nature of our own mind. We do not hang on to a concept of our so-called ‘real nature’ but we enter into the practice again and again. We find our way into relaxing through the layers of stickiness of our habitual identification with thoughts, feelings and sensations until we fully open to infinite awareness.

Infinite awareness indicates that it has no beginning and no end. This has huge implications for how we understand death. The forms of the energy of awareness—our physical forms, our memories, thoughts, intentions and so on—are always changing while we are alive. Death is when this internal patterning of emergence ceases to emerge in a way that supports our dualistic consciousness. We, as people, die but awareness does not. Openness is the ground of awareness and awareness is like the sun shining in the sky of openness. Awareness is not consciousness. Consciousness is reificatory knowing focused on the particularities of experience. Awareness is non-reificatory.

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