The first thing we need to understand: what is "awareness" exactly?
Awareness is our ability to perceive either the activities of our minds, the input from our sensory organs or the nature of our awareness itself. And so based on these three, we can begin to comprehend the way in which our awareness functions in these varied experiences.
To simply observe our thoughts we experience two dominant elements: The "subject" and the "object" perceived. Awareness is the subject and of course our thoughts are the objects perceived. In this case, what is the nature of the subject, the awareness? What is it? The brain? The nervous system? No, the brain and nervous system are both just relay systems of information. Who is receiving this information?
There is "something" or "someone" at the center of all these perceptions as the "perceiver". What is this "perceiver"? Well, I'll tell you, it's "you"! Now what is "you"? We have thoughts of "me". But when we think of "me" or "I", we still have someone perceiving this concept or sensation of "me". As an example, if someone offends or criticizes you in embarrassing way, you may get this strong sense of "me" being attacked or harassed. At that moment, you could easily capture that strong sense of "me" if you noticed deliberately. "No one can talk to ME that way!" That sense of "me" is our ego. Our ego is the sum total of our thoughts about who we think we are in that moment. It's a self-definition that we hold in our minds. It's purely a product of thought, a cumulative progression of assumptions and decisions that began in our earliest years all the way up to today. It's not a fixed idea, as our opinion of who we think we are is always changing to some degree or another. So we have this psychological or mental image of who we think we are. That mental entity, our "me" thought, is not "awareness". And its not "who" we are. BUT, that mental entity or ego "thinks" that it is an actual and enduring self! But that is just another thought! Ok, so we can say our mind generates an idea of who and what it thinks it is. BUT, we are "awareness" not our mind. Our "awareness" can observe the mind... so it must be somehow separate from it. Get it? Our "awareness" is separate from our mind. Our "awareness" can experience all sorts of physical sensations, as the perceiver of those sensations. So it must not be the body either. It's not the physical body.
Ok, so let's summarize: Our "awareness" is not our thoughts, not our ego, not our "me" thought, not our brain, not our nervous system, not our mind, not our body... then what is it? Where is it? Who is it?
That's our first exercise: Ponder what we covered above and post your best guesses or if you know, then share that too!
End of Part 1: What is Awareness?