Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change… It is the common matrix of every experience. ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

primordial awareness

Stillness Speaks is pleased to offer the Preface and first chapter from Pir Elias Amidon’s book, The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness as a FREE pdf download.  Read this overview of Pir Elias’ writing about intimate awareness and learning to see with the eye of the heart.  All text in italics is text taken directly form the book.

“This book is a guide for awakening to the spontaneous presence of awareness that is our most intimate nature and the silent ground of all being. It is meant for anyone committed to realizing this awakening now, and for learning to sustain and express it in the diverse conditions of one’s daily life.”

Originally written as a manual to accompany the Open Path trainings held in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States, many Open Path students thought that the information taught in the course should be made available to a wider audience. The result is this book The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness.  The teachings in the book are drawn from many traditions throughout the world…

”…the methods and practices of the Open Path have been drawn from many different sources: classical and modern Sufi practices and teachings; contemporary psychological methods for releasing mental and emotional fixations; meditation practices from various traditions; forms of inquiry from Zen, Advaita Vedanta, and Tibetan Dzogchen and Mahamudra traditions; and from the teachings of many historic and contemporary Western nondual teachers… The approach of the Open Path is inclusive. It does not claim to be original, and it borrows freely from many other traditions and teachers.

What is Nondual Awareness? Elias says this question is at the heart of the work and that although we do exercises and use language to focus on this core principle, “the answer that comes will have nothing to do with words. It will appear intuitively to us, from the inside out.”

transparent awareness

Awareness is not a thing or an object as it has no shape or color…

“… {awareness} is completely transparent and invisible. What is more, it cannot be felt or sensed in any way that would reveal awareness to us as something knowable out there. And yet we know we are aware, we know awareness is. Awareness is the foundation of everything we have ever experienced or will experience.”

“Every object, every thought, every emotion, every sensation, every memory is known because it appears in awareness. Otherwise it could not be known. Awareness is the root of our entire sense of existence, and yet where is it? What is it? How can it be apprehended? We know it is, but whenever we try to look directly into awareness we see… nothing!”

How do we investigate awareness? Elias claims that the exploration must be original, experiental and for ourselves, not in the abstract. He encourages readers to investigate directly, right now, as they read words, see the letter shapes, the white of the paper or light of the screen and notice the shapes of walls, tables, etc in the periphery.

“Look as deeply and as steadily as you can. Become familiar with that looking, as if you were turning 180 degrees around from looking out of your eyes and now are looking inwardly at what is looking. What do you see?”

heart of awareness

As we look carefully, Elias encourage the watcher to relax, to see with the eye of the heart,…

“… shift your sense of looking for something with your eyes or your intellect and allow your heart to open to… the whole presence of awareness in which intellect, sensations, and emotions appear. This is what Sufis call the eye of the heart…the whole of awareness as it is experienced through your body. Open to the presence of awareness with your whole heart.”

Pir Elias talks about the difficulty of language when exploring and explaining nonduality. Part of the problem is that language itself is dualistic. Words such as nondual awareness, pure awareness, open awareness, presence-awareness, unconditioned mind, rigpa, primordial experience, buddha nature, original nature and many more are merely labels pointing “to the ultimate goal of all human desire for fulfillment, happiness, and belonging.”

To simplify, Elias states…

“I refer simply to open awareness and awareness as a name for this fresh, ever-present reality, because these words are relatively free of religious connotations and point to a more directly experienced reality than, say, the words enlightenment or realization.”

unconditioned awareness

Elias turns to the distinction between the awareness of ordinary contents (conditioned awareness) and awareness that is devoid of content (the unconditioned).

“The conditioned mind believes in an entity, a me, that needs to get what it wants and avoid what it doesn’t want to be happy. A complex field of likes and dislikes, of hopes and fears, swarms around the idea of a me, making the me seem substantial and existent. Our identification with this me is at the root of our discontent and suffering.”

Elias has a solution to this predicament of suffering…

“Deconstructing our long-established assumptions and mental and emotional conditioning is not always comfortable… we tend to consider our various personal fixations as having a concrete reality when in fact they have no substance at all. When faced clearly and steadily they vanish like snow falling on water.
This vanishing, so to speak, is the spontaneous presence of the unconditioned in the midst of the conditioned. Everything we believe to be true is conditioned. Releasing our grasp on our beliefs, we open to the clarity of unconditioned, self-occurring awareness.”

nondual awarenessTo conclude Elias grapples with the paradox embedded within our understanding of awareness which is often limited by the words and expressions that “define” awareness for us…

“Paradox in this context is a collision of language that helps break the dualistic, subject-object arrangement of thought and language that defines our everyday world and our assumptions about it.
Although paradox may best describe the experience of open awareness, it is, nevertheless, an unmistakable experience. It is precise, yet at the same time this experience is free of all structures and attributes….”

“At first we may catch only the quickest glimpse of this ‘it’ we are speaking of. But through the reminders and practices you will engage in throughout this work, you will…return again and again to this glimpse. Gradually the glimpses will get longer and we will develop more comfort to rest in unconfined, uncontrived, pure awareness.”


We are honored to offer this guest post authored by Pir Elias Amidon, published with his gracious permission. Here’s a recent post on this site which includes a brief BIO of Pir Elias Amidon in lieu of his teacher page on Stillness Speaks, which will be added shortly.

Opening quote by, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,  is taken from The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness by Pir Elias Amidon.

Images: (edited, text, logos added) 1 and Featured: Primoridal Fire by ArtBrom, CC by-SA 2.0  2) PHX-CC-IMG, by Niko Pettersen, CC by 2.0  3) Purity by Pixle, CC by 2.0  4) Sunset Swim, by 1LT Christopher Snell, CC by 2.0  5) Swan Feather by Mark Strobl, CC by 2.0
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