The following is a dialogue which seemed to help the questioner in gaining some clarity about awareness. Clear understanding helps and then one has to apply it in practice.............same for me, same for you, same for everyone.
Questioner : I really must be missing something here, so I will go back to basics. I read somewhere the process of waking in the morning goes like this; ‘I – am – awake – in the world.’ So ‘I’ is already in existence. I think that is what you have been saying.
Answer : first is awareness, denoted as I AM, then arises the 'I' thought and so the wheel starts turning
Questioner : So the ‘I’ is the ‘am-ness’ , the awake-ness and that which is in the world?
Answer : I have noticed that there is an embodied feeling of 'am-ness' which seems to be more of an energy or a feeling rather than a thought. however this still pertains to the body-mind and can be witnessed therefore it is not the True I AM which is the witnessing consciousness itself.
I was taking this feeling of 'embodied beingness' to be the feeling-sense of 'I' however I no longer think this to be the case as I ask myself, 'who is experiencing this 'embodied beingness'? 'I am'. It is this prior sense of 'I' which is the feeling-sense of 'I'. it denotes the subject; the perceiver. the feeling of 'embodied beingness' is an object of perception. the 'I' is the subject; the experiencer. by following this feeling-sense of 'I' we arrive at the simple naked awareness from which this 'I' arises
It can be quite confusing what is meant by all these terms like 'I', 'amness', etc as they have two levels of meaning - the meaning as denotations of pure awareness and the meaning as reflections of that in the body-mind; Self and self. I notice that teachers are not always very clear in their use of these terms either which can lead to confusion.
you could say that the world is in the awake-ness as without the awake-ness we would not percieve any world and it is found that our perception of the apparently solid world changes as our lense of perception becomes clearer.
Questioner : So the question is, how will the ‘I’ be known when found and by who? Or is it that the ‘I’ cannot know itself, as you said before, like the eye cannot see itself?
Answer : Awareness simply Is. without it there would not be awareness of this and that. ' you' know awareness by being awareness. there is no separate ' you' to know awareness. awareness simply is and it is possible to abide as that and then all these ideas of 'I' and ' you' are seen to be simply thoughts coming and going within awareness.
you define yourself as your thought identity. this only has a borrowed sense of reality from the true I AM which is the prior awareness. you are not the patterns of thought. you are that in which these thoughts arise. it is a case of mistaken identity
Questioner : Then it comes down to a matter of faith.......I don’t like faith. I much prefer logic or evidence.
Answer : the only evidence that will satisfy your thirst is the actual experiential realisation of how simple this thing is. forget about enlightenment and self-realisation. it is so simple. here is the logic : without awareness there would not be awareness of thoughts. thoughts come and go; you, as the awareness do not come and go.
you are simply caught in the habit of identifying with thoughts. give attention to the prior awareness itself and the clarity and simplicity of this will dawn upon you with consistent and persistant intention in the right direction. the effort is not to realise awareness. awareness already is. the effort is to break the habit of thought identification and then the awareness of awareness will dawn upon you.
fix your attention on the feeling-sense of 'I' (that 'thing' which feels like me); keep attention fixed on that (with the help of 'who am I?' and/or 'I,...I,...I,'); keep refocusing on that when you are drawn out by thoughts. gradually the thoughts will lose their strength and the ability to keep attention focused on the feeling-sense of 'I' will gain in strength. you have to develop your attention muscle then once you have some stability in that you will be able to relax into the ever-present simple awareness from whence this feeling-sense of 'I' arises.
simple but not easy because we have the habit of a lifetime to change which has us basing our sense of self on objects (even thoughts are objects of awareness); we have to develop our attention muscle to be centered as the subject which is aware of all this.
it may be that there is a corresponding change or opening in the physical apparatus (brain, nervous system, endocrine, etc.) which supports this but that will happen gradually by itself.
don't split philosophical hairs of what if or what may be. eat the cake and find out for yourself. If this path of self-inquiry doesn't suit you and you feel more drawn to some other form of meditation then nothing wrong; that will help you and keep you moving in the right direction. some of the other things which have been suggested are perfectly good.*
* Please refer to the March postings 'on mantra and meditation' and 'a meditation upon 'I' (now stripped back to basic essentials)
Questioner (some time later) : Good answer. I can see now that there is only awareness. Everything else arises from this. That which is described as ‘I’ is in fact awareness.
Answer : That which is described as 'I' is Awareness. The 'I'-thought arises within this. So, great, now do it and Be It. Rome wasn't built in a day. The paper sets alight when you focus the suns rays with a lense and hold it steadily on one point. In this case the point is the feeling-sense of 'I' and the fire is one of Awareness. As for me, it's one thing to talk the talk, and walking the walk? a work in progress.
N.B. Ramana Maharishi has advised that at some point the current of Self-Awareness/Self-Inquiry becomes established in us all of the time, at first requiring conscious attention and later becoming effortless (like learning to ride a bike). It is very helpful to establishing Self-Awareness that one set aside regular dedicated periods where one gives this ones full, undivided attention. Twice a day for 20/40 minutes is good, starting off slowly and building up steadily. Having said that once a day is also good and whenever you can manage is certainly beneficial.
Remember, don't worry and don't hurry; what we are looking for is already here; we only have to become still enough to appreciate it. Apply the wisdom of the tortoise.