Awareness is who we are. The body and mind are what we think we are. The world is what we—as body and mind—think we perceive and interact with externally. All three—body, mind, and world—are the localization of empty, luminous, open knowing awareness within the rubric of time and space. Time and space are themselves concepts, thus part of the finite mind. Being aware of awareness in itself, recognizing awareness as it is, divested of fabrications of finite mind, is an instance of awakening in its open luminous aspect (sa-upadisesa nibbana). Here, the process of fabrication as spontaneous activity of consciousness can be seen with total clarity. This awakening is also known as merging into saguna brahman in Yoga and Tantra. Once awakened to being, an ongoing re-alignment of body, mind, and world to the direct immediacy of sheer knowing ensues.
Empty knowing of knowing while direct, immediate, unbounded and infinite, and self-authenticating, does not know what it does not know. To say that such infinite awareness, however intuitive or real, is all there is to reality is an overreach. To say that infinite awareness is none other than God, the ultimate reality, who is none other than me—the pure “I am”—is to make a metaphysical assumption. This might seem like a direct intuition but is nothing other than a conceptual superimposition on experience, not wordless knowing itself. Knowing knows only knowing. Knowing does not claim “I am God.” Knowing does not and cannot claim anything!
Hence, what is beyond infinite awareness, if there is a beyond, remains unknown. From our side, we cannot say. Yet, when awareness transcends itself beyond even the subtlest conceptual fabrication, the deathless dawns. Nibbana or nirvana speaks of this unborn undying truth at the heart of awareness—an instance of awakening in its empty attribute-less aspect (anupadisesa nibbana). Here, there is only unfathomable cessation. In Yoga and Tantra, this is known as merging into nirguna brahman.
Awakening or nibbana in its twin aspect can be termed transcendence. This transcendence occurs not by effort or effortlessness located in the self, but by the unfolding of grace that meets and disrupts all that is deemed the knowing. The unseen margins of consciousness seemingly infinite are suddenly broken through. Yet, even this deathless nibbana is spoken as a concession to finite mind illuminated by awareness. The ‘other side’ of nibbana is an intensely intimate and personal dance of love in a triune communion of being and becoming.
A supernal light beyond all lights including the light of awareness melts all that we take to be true. Grace disrupts and disrupts totally. Only then, in the eternal moment of unspeakable revelation, is there an intimation of God who is uncompromisingly transcendent and selflessly immanent in our temporal history and atemporal being. Only through His self-revealing grace can we come to comprehend the immensity and ineffability of love—the love of a redeeming God in the ever-lovely face, person, event, and ground of Christ. In the language of my late tantric teacher Sri Sri Anandamurti, we can speak of Christ as taraka brahman—the entity of devotion who is tangentially realized: not so much that I know him but that I am known (and loved) by him. Amen.