1.40 Steady and focused awareness reveals insight on all aspects of the universe from the smallest to the largest.
The Progression of insight into freedom
The final set of sutras in Chapter One elaborates on the process introduced in sutra 1.17, moving deeper into integration after your ways of being are released and when there are no obstacles or distractions pulling you away from full presence. This is a gradual journey to move beyond the limiting beliefs and opinions that confine your mind.
In the coming together of life and consciousness, life is ever changing activity while consciousness is the aliveness, the knowing, the noticing, the sensing, the unmediated direct experience of being. Our ways of being are a framework, a complete set of filters, not always internally consistent, that we use to participate in life. Although useful, each framework has limitations, especially when we don’t know what we don’t know. Those blind spots become a source of confusion because the framework provides limited, inaccurate or useless information when facing new, unexpected or unpredictable situations. In those situations, the shortcomings of our framework become obstacles as well as sources of frustration. Being aware of your own framework enables you to recognize its advantages and weaknesses. Besides, being able to set aside our framework for a while provides opportunities for seeing what may have been obscured by what you think you know, revealing what has been right in front of you all along. Many of the discoveries in the history of humankind have been accidental. They happened when a person noticed something that was unusual or unexpected, something that did not fit into the regular way of thinking at the time. Usually this happened when they looked at something from a different perspective or vantage point. The discovery is helped by being able to release the usual way of explaining or understanding a phenomenon, opening the door for a new way of seeing.
This verse reminds you of the importance of loosening your grip on the stories you have chosen to believe in, in order to see clearly, inviting the possibility of seeing anew. This is like when you are trying to remember a word that you know, and the more you try, the more the word recedes. As you relax and stop struggling, then the word emerges effortlessly. When you choose to minimize all your doings to create space for just being, what happens? What happens when your attention is not pulled in many different directions? What does it take to let go of what you think you know? Then, what do you notice when you look at the world through the eyes of deep peace and calm within? Is it possible that your inner silence enables you to perceive everything around you from the smallest to the largest with the utmost clarity? A simple exploration you can try is to find a comfortable position conducive to being relaxed and alert. Then feel the outermost layer of your physical body. Notice the sensations in the places your skin is touching something. Can you feel the space around you, just beyond your skin? Can you gradually expand your receptivity to feel sensations farther and farther from you? Might it be possible for you to keep expanding your awareness? You may also try a similar exploration going inward. Start in a relaxed posture conducive to being alert. Remaining still, feel your skin from the outside. Then, notice if it is possible to feel your skin from the inside. Gradually move your attention to the adipose layer beneath your skin. Continue by feeling the superficial fascia. Keep exploring inward to feel the deep fascia and its connections with muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels. Can you focus on your blood vessels? Is it possible to feel your blood flowing through your body? May it be possible to feel the cells in your blood stream? Deepening your sensitivity offers you the possibility to perceive with increasing clarity. Are you developing a greater sensitivity for insight? If so, how is insight different from what you think you know?
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can choose to chant it in its traditional form with some of the words coming together:
1.40 paramāṇu paramamahattvānto’sya vaśīkāraḥ
परमाणु परममहत्त्वान्तोऽस्य वशीकारः ॥४०॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually: