WHEN BUDDHA AWAKENED
When Buddha opened his eyes and saw the Morning Star, he uttered the most famous quote in Buddhism. What he reportedly said has a number of variants, but the most literal is, “From the earth below to the sky above, I am the only one.”
Buddha realized that everything from the external world, to his thoughts, feelings, and body were only known through his consciousness. His body and the world were just appearances in his consciousness.
I don’t understand why many readers have not understood this sentence and take it to be a denial of the existence of the external world. It is not. The existence or not of the external world is irrelevant.
It is realizing that the world is only known through YOUR consciousness. For all intents and purposes, it may or may not exist independently of your body, but your consciousness contains all your knowledge, your mind, your experiences, as well as the sense that you exist, the sense that you are. But this sense that you are has generally been identified with the body. The body is the source of consciousness that reveals the external world. But Buddha realized that all that he ever knew was really about himself, and he no longer identified as a localized body, but he identified with the entirety of his experience. He was one with everything, not just the body.
This understanding is twofold. Many people experience in meditation unity consciousness where the body appears to disappear and one feels like one has become the entire visible universe. These experiences open you to the possibility that you are more than just the body.
In this experience ‘you’ are no longer Fred, Ted, Sam, or Linda, ‘you’ experience yourself as everything that you see, hear, smell and touch. There is no longer any separation between you and the world. The totality of you as body mind, has become one with your experience of the external world.
You also realize that the forms of the world, like clouds, are constantly changing and impermanent. Even a mountain changes in appearance as you walk or ride around it, but in a sense, that mountain is always you, for it alone is your mountain, not Fred's, Ed,s, or Ted's. It is an appearance in your awareness; it is in your consciousness as a temporary experience, just as is your body.
With this experience you become free. There is no longer anything to be attained, anywhere to go, because each moment you are complete, at rest as self.
Of course your body continues to function using your mind to attend to day to day affairs, but you know deep down inside that all that you know is your own consciousness, and it contains everything.
Robert Adams said, “I see the world like you do, but I know that you are consciousness. You do not know that you are consciousness; you think you are a very limited body.”
The second most common first sentence the Buddha made was, “From the earth below to the sky above, I am the world honored one.”
This reflects two “facts.” One is that early Buddhism was heavily slanted to worshiping and idolizing the Buddha as someone very beyond you and me, and therefore, it is a mistake. Buddha's consciousness was the same as yours, but the understanding is different.
The second way this phrase may be understood is that with this experience, one obtains a new sense of wonder and a deep sense of gratitude, and peace. It is a different sort of existence than you have now where you imagine yourself to be a limited human. You have stepped beyond the limits of being human to becoming unlimited, and with it, the world becomes totally benevolent. It is not separate from you, as it does not exist without you, and in a sense it serves you, not the limited human you, but you as the manifest totality of your consciousness.
Everyone and everything is a guest in you, and you are the ultimate host, the owner of your consciousness. The knot in your heart that is the ego identity with your body, has opened, and you dwell resting in the totality.