A Friend You Can Never See.

Via on Aug 15, 2011

As a spiritual teacher, one of the most common questions I’m asked about meditation is, “What should I be paying attention to?”



What I usually say is, “nothing in particular.

In meditation, you want to discover what awareness is, free from attachment to any object. In the enlightened mind, awareness itself becomes the object of awareness. To discover what this means, you need to let your attention expand beyond all objects in consciousness—beyond the body, beyond the mind, beyond the world, beyond this infinite universe. Even the universe can become an object in consciousness. The hardest thing to understand about enlightenment is that the object of our seeking is not an object. Most of us are locked into a dualistic experience of subject and object, self and other, self and world, even self and enlightenment. And too often, spiritual techniques for practicing awareness end up inadvertently reinforcing this fundamental duality.

My teacher once said to me, “I’m glad you’ve found a friend you’ll never see.” That’s what the enlightened mind is: a friend you’ll never be able to see. That friend emerges when you discover that the most authentic part of your own self is already completely free. It is not possible to be mindful or aware of this already free part of yourself in any ordinary way, but when you have the courage to let go, you will find that miraculously, it can and will respond with great passion and incredible precision, seemingly with no premeditation whatsoever. Out of the blue, the right response will appear. And only after such a faster-than-thought response do you become aware of the fact that a part of yourself that you’re not normally conscious of is paying attention all the time. That part of yourself is always awake—even when you don’t seem to be. The expression of that wakefulness is the shocking spontaneity of enlightened awareness.

Many of us say we want to be enlightened, but how many of us are ready to let our whole lives be guided by a friend that we will never be able to see? For most of us, it’s unbearable even to conceive of, because it points to a kind of surrender that is unimaginable. A surrender in which the ego no longer gets to run theshow. Finally, all the weighing and measuring is given up, because you have no doubt that what you are seeking for is something you will never be able to grasp with the mind. This is the dawning of humility: when you begin to discover a non-materialistic, not-knowing relationship to the immeasurable, ungraspable, inconceivable, all-consuming mystery that is your own deepest self. It is this that opens the door for that friend you will never see to begin to speak through you and ultimately to become who you are.

Andrew Cohen is a spiritual teacher and founder of the award-winning EnlightenNext magazine. Click to learn more about his new book Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening.

About Andrew Cohen

Andrew Cohen is an American spiritual teacher and visionary thinker widely recognized for his original contribution to the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality. Through his talks, retreats, publications, and ongoing dialogues with the leading philosophers, mystics, and activists of our time, he is becoming a defining voice in an international alliance of individuals and organizations that are committed to the transformation of human consciousness and culture. The founder and editor in chief of the international, award-winning EnlightenNext magazine, formerly What Is Enlightenment?, Cohen is dedicated to creating “nothing less than a revolution in consciousness and culture.” Since 1991, Cohen and his small team of editors have met with mystics and materialists, physicists and philosophers, activists and athletes in an effort to create a popular forum for dialogue and inquiry regarding the meaning of human life in the postmodern era. You can follow him on his Facebook page. Download a free chapter of Andrew's book, Evolutionary Enlightenment, by clicking here. You can also join him for a series of free monthly broadcasts by registering here.

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3 Responses to “A Friend You Can Never See.”

  1. Padma Kadag says:

    I understand your metaphor. But this being "a friend you will never see" is, to me anyway, not Enlightened Mind. The mere fact that you have named it as you have in order to make "enlightened mind" "accessible" does nothing other than to lay another concept on top of the already conceptualized term of "enlightened mind". Like so many of the articles written here on EJ they are written in order to sell something…ie, your book and yourself as a spiritual teacher. I am sure you are a nice fellow and have students who find you to be authentic…this is good. But this article which is geared to those who are starting on the path of meditation really is another layer of confusion…unless of course we are speaking about two different things. At first glance one may assume that the enlightenment to which you refer is as Shakyamuni exemplified…but this "new path to spiritual awakening" you are selling has carried you how far? Evolutionary enlightenment? So this means only those are the "fittest" survive to enlightenment". Its funny because Shakyamuni says that we are degenerating…the antithesis of evolution.

  2. [...] true nature of reality—meaning the true nature of mind and all the phenomena it perceives—is luminous awareness. This awareness transcends conceptual labels and expressions, and even transcends the duality [...]

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