if we are reading this, and we are trying to make sense of it and understand what kind of concept or theory this is, then the conditions have not arised for us. only with diligent and actual practice can there be real understanding, which leaves one without any doubts.
Just a reminder for forummers who may find this confusing: this is not about concepts or figuring out or understanding what this means. This is not about meaning, this is about who you truly are, and this cannot be understood through a theory but by your own direct experience through self-inquiry and investigation.
Don't try to mentally understand reality/awareness/buddha-nature/Mind, whatever you want to call it. Thoughts can never figure out the true nature of Mind, Awareness. However humans have from beginingless time have gained the habit to try to understand things using the mind. This is not about bashing the intellect or the mind -- it works wonders in life and is something we can't do without, and even as I write this I am using thoughts, but nevertheless what I am pointing out is that the mind is the wrong, irrelevant tool for Self-Knowledge. If you want to know your true nature, (fixation on) thoughts is an obscuration because then, you're lost in the realm of objects, thoughts, ideas, trying to figure things out in the realm of thoughts, where you really should be turning within towards its source. It's not about having the right thought, it's about, what is aware of that thought? When you look within and have a good look at yourSelf, you realise you have always been the Source, never separated from It. It never needed to be figured out by the mind. It isn't a puzzle to be solved. Even if you think you solved an intellectual puzzle concerning the teachings, reality, etc, does that mean anything in terms of truly resolving with conviction what your real nature is? Nope. If you recognise this yourself, then it's all clear as a cloudless sun lit sky, no explanation is needed. Otherwise, 10000 explanations is not enough.
During the course of self-inquiry, thoughts may come up, but is naturally negated and then dropped as a result of persistent investigation. As Rupert Spira says, "The very best that the mind can do is to explore its own limits and come to the conclusion that it does not and cannot know what anything really is."
We don't resolve the confusion of the mind by dealing with the mind, trying to replace one confused concept with clearer concepts. Whatever concepts we have, are simply thoughts arising and subsiding, nothing to cling to. The end of ignorance is not by having a clearer concept, rather, it is to cease all false identifications, including to all concepts, thoughts, feelings, body, etc. This is achieved only by clear knowing of our true nature, by realising what you truly are, and nothing less. And in case you think that since the answer isn't found in the mind, that it should therefore be found in thoughtlessness, that's not it either. No experience, even the experience of thoughtlessness, is going to resolve this. Self-realisation does not mean you cannot have thoughts, feelings, etc, (and you may be a master at entering deep meditative states without thoughts, but nevertheless it's impossible to not have them in daily living for practical purpose) it's just that you no longer identify yourself as those thoughts, concepts, feelings, etc, and thus life flow through more smoothly because you no longer grasp and chase after those phantoms. Then, whether you have thoughts or not is no longer an issue. Thoughts are just part and parcel of reality, no different from what you see, what you hear, etc. No need to reject any part of them.
Thoughts emanate out of the clear thoughtless, formless consciousness that underlies and gives rise to all thoughts and all forms. The objects that are perceived through consciousness can never grasp it's source. Thoughts can never grasp or know it's source. Thoughts are themselves objects perceived by and through consciousness. Only Consciousness knows, for IT is the all-knowing power. Consciousness perceives and manifests as thoughts, but thoughts don't perceive consciousness. Only The Source, Pure Consciousness knows itself.
What is the source of thoughts? What is it in you, that is the source of all your whole world (thoughts, feelings, sensory perceptions), without which nothing is? Know your innate luminosity that is the source of everything, by turning the light around and just be.
When we turn within, we won't find a particular object that we could point to and say, 'ah, that is Awareness' (all objects are displayed in and as awareness but awareness is not limited to/by any one object) -- for whatever objects perceived through awareness is not itself the all-perceiving Awareness -- so instead of finding an object which we can see, we actually discover our original nature as vast luminous space encompassing the entire universe. The Seer cannot be seen (for what's seen are objects seen by the Seer), but in it, everything is perceived. It's all-encompassing. It's not that it's 'everywhere in the universe' (it's not objective), but rather, the 'everywhere' is itself occuring in and as the all-encompassing Consciousness. Don't get stuck at any states and experiences and inquire relentlessly, 'to whom is this occuring?', 'Who is aware?', 'Who am I?' -- the purpose of this is not to answer it by concepts, otherwise it will lose its purpose, which is to look within than get stuck on the level of thoughts and experience. By the way to say that Awareness is a 'Seer' is not exactly right, because eventually the Witness will dissolve into all that is witnessed, or rather the practitioner realises that the Witness is not other than whatever is witnessed. There is just One Witnessing, not divided into witness/witnessed. However the first step is to first recognise and realise the I AM, the Witness.
This is actually so simple, direct, and close (not in a sense of short distance, but in a sense of having NO distance at all) and intimate: it is what you already are. Any attempt to grasp it is to miss the point: when you're already at the North Pole, any movement towards anywhere is a movement away from that center. Any seeking (to understand, to experience, etc) is a movement away from what we already are. When we realise what we are, we see why we've been missing it: it's too simple and direct. This is why it's constantly overlooked, because the mind is always 'looking outwards', even when it comes to spirituality -- still trying to figure out a way to understand or experience It (whatever it is seeking), while all the while going in the wrong directions -- looking Away from the True Source. It is because of our constant identification and fixation on our thoughts, feelings and perceptions, that we do not notice what has been always and already here.
Also... by attempting to mentally comprehend reality, we have reduced the ungraspable living reality it into a dead concept, an object of grasping, which is an illusion. A passage from the 6th Patriarch Hui-Neng's Platform Sutra came to my mind:
"One day the Master said to the congregation, "I have something with no head, no tail, no name, no label, no back, no front: do you recognize it?"
Shen-hui came forth and said, "This is the original source of all buddhas, my buddha-nature."
The Master said, "I just told you it has no name or label; then you immediately call it the original source, the buddha-nature. Later on, when you have a bunch of thatch covering your head, you will still just be a follower of intellectual understanding.""
Seeing the utter futility of the mind with regards to self-knowledge, keep the advise by Tilopa in mind:
Let go of the past.
Let go of the future.
Let go of the present.
Do not analyze.
Do not meditate.
I hope the readers haven't learnt anything from this, but dropped everything. May the clouds of ignorance dissipate in all sentient beings and the pure sun of Awareness reveal itself.
“So many words you have learnt, so many you have spoken. You know everything, but you do not know yourself. For the self is not known through words, only direct insight will reveal it. Look within, search within.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj