Awakening is the experience of consciousness seeing itself, in the absence of objects, in its total freedom and independence, in its autonomy. It is a revelation of absolute happiness, of absolute splendor, of absolute love and intelligence. That would be awakening or enlightenment. As a result of this transforming event a gradual elimination of the residuals of ignorance takes place. That could be called the self-realisation process and ends up in the experience of our natural state which is the absence of any illusion as to what we are, either at the level of thought, of concepts, or at the level of bodily sensations, feelings or sense perceptions.
Duality is the belief in the existence of more than one reality. Non-duality could be expressed by the simple formula ‘there is only one reality’. Another word I think deserves to be defined is the word consciousness, or awareness. In my vocabulary I use both as synonyms. Consciousness is that, whatever that is, that is hearing these words right now.
We are absolutely certain that these words are not lost, there is a receiving end, there is some entity in this moment which hears and understands these words, they are not lost in some nothingness, some oblivion. They are being heard, being perceived, and consciousness is precisely that, whatever it is [that perceives].
We usually believe it to be, if you come from the materialist vantage point, the physical body that does the perceiving. If we come from the idealist vantage point we believe it to be the mind. In other words we identify this consciousness in most cases with some kind of an object which is limited, the limited human body or mind. Now, my contention is that there is no evidence of such limitation, that there is no experiential evidence that there is such a limitation of consciousness or in consciousness. We believe that there is plenty of evidence that consciousness is limited, we believe there is a full body of evidence, but we believe that only for as long as we don’t try to take this evidence into consideration, to look at it. As we try to look at we discover there is none.
All questions boil down to one single question ‘Who or what am I?’ If we look at our human experience, everything we know we know it either as a thought, or as a sensation in the body, or as an external sense perception, something we hear, something we see. That’s the nature of everything we know at the phenomenal level. Now our experience is composed of two sides if you will, on the one side phenomena and on the other the consciousness that knows. That’s all there is to our experience, that which is known and that which knows.
Also, there is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, an element of reality to our experience. If I come to you and say that your experience is a complete illusion, it is non-existent, you would say now wait a minute, in my experience there is something rather than nothing. What I perceive may be a dream, however the fact that there is consciousness, that there is perceiving is beyond a shadow of a doubt at least to me, and that is sufficient for me to say that there is something rather than nothing.
There is an element of reality to experience, so where does this element of reality lie? Where is it to be found? Certainly not on the perceived side of things, because, that which is perceived always changes, is never the same. Thoughts, perceptions, sensations, they come and they go. Since they are not lasting, they are impermanent, reality cannot be found there.
The only thing that is permanent in our experience is the consciousness. Therefore the reality of our experience, the centrality of our experience, the core of our experience is the consciousness. It is that which we call ‘I’ or the Self. So ‘I’ or the Self is the reality of our experience.
See for yourself, on the one hand without a shadow of a doubt there is an element of reality to your experience, and this reality cannot belong to that which is perceived, because after all what you are perceiving could be a dream in this moment. When we are in the midst of a dream we are not aware that we are dreaming, the implication being that right now we could be in some kind of a dream. I am not saying a night dream, but some kind of a dream. However that which is common to the dream and all the states is consciousness. Therefore since everything we perceive could be an illusion the only place where reality could be found is in the consciousness. Since we are so certain that there is an element of reality to our experience then that reality could only be found in and as the consciousness which perceives. I think I rest my case.
Culled from the Francis Lucille non-duality interview on conscious.tv (between the 4th and 16th minute)