Looking at What Matters
It is not so easy to disidentify from the stream of thought and mental activity. The mind has been running us collectively and individually for so, so long. It's a rocky transition out of those waters. There has to be forgiveness. There has to be innocence and a willingness to start again each time.
The truth is that the entire world is telling us that the “content” of our life is all that matters. Nobody is pointing to the space that all this activity is taking place in! It is too subtle, too quiet, too uninteresting to the grasping mind. To actually look within and not "buy it" is a radical act.
From birth till death, we're told (consciously and unconsciously) that everything that matters is "out there" and that the main use of the mind and the internal world is "to make out there better." The mind is seen as a strategizing machine for improving and "shoring up" conditions.
But the basis of awareness practice is that happiness is not found in conditions. It is actually not found in any object at all, because all of them without exception are impermanent and ephemeral. This is why, in deep moments of stillness, the world takes on a dream-like quality; compared to our nature-as-awareness, it is indeed a dream.
This dream-like quality is also the experience of death. As we lie there, taking our last breath, what is going to matter to us? How important will our current list of problems be then?
Even now, how real is that relationship we had 10 years ago? Where did all that go? We don't have to wait until death to realize how many lifetimes we lead, even in just this life. What we swore was "so important" 5 years ago barely exists now.
This noticing tells us about where value lies. The moments that do stand out, that do imprint deeply, do so because something timeless is being touched in us (and sometimes simultaneously in the person we are with). This indicates that it is our state of being that is bringing the potency. It is presence itself that is creating the depth and the fulfillment that the ego is constantly seeking in the world of objects.
The truth of impermanence is not a call to coldness or indifference. Actually, it's the opposite. The heart cannot really open to the vastness of love until the mind's tendency to search for security in objects is put in check. This is because that search creates an almost constant sense of insecurity in the system. There is no stability in objects, and the system knows this deep down. So it won't open, won't release when we are engaging that strategy consistently.
Awareness - as homebase and refuge - is what creates the necessary safety for the heart to open.