Awareness vs Experience

The only moment you can be aware of anything, is right now. Awareness is not a memory or a thought. Somehow it is different from thinking, isn’t it? It does not require thinking.

Imagine that you are looking at a tree, with thousands of green leaves slowly waving in the wind. The sunlight shines on the leaves and a complex pattern of shadows moves on the ground below. You hear the leaves rustling. Suddenly you are aware that there is a squirrel watching you from one of the branches. You didn’t notice him before, but NOW you do! The squirrel looks at you for a while and then suddenly jumps off the branch and is gone…

Did it require any conceptual thinking or beliefs to be aware of the squirrel, of its colour, its moving tail, its piercing black eyes?  No. It did not, right?

Now that the squirrel is gone, you may begin to think and say to yourself; “That was a cute one! I hope I will see him again, it was such a nice experience…”

But was it an experience at the very moment you were aware of the squirrel? No. It became an experience when you started to think about it afterwards, right?

Do you see the difference between awareness and experience? Awareness does not require thinking or any concepts. It is direct.

Would it possible to be aware most of the time, instead of constantly thinking and having ideas about everthing?

(PS: welcome to awakening)


  1. You made an important, but quite subtle, distinction between two words that can almost be used for the same thing. Your example makes it more clear. To me it feels like experience belongs to an individual, whereas awareness belongs to being itself. Does that make sense? There is always awareness of being, but if part of it can be attributed to an “I-thought”, that is turned into experience. Behind experience, there is always awareness. Awakening begins by recognizing that there is more truth in awareness than in experience.

  2. Yes, awareness is in the moment of now. Experience usually is something we look back on in the past with thoughts. They could also be considered as happening at the same moment. Does awareness experience though? Or awareness could very well be experience and they are essentially the same. Experience in the small mind seems to be a thought process. In the big mind, awareness and experience seem to be very similar. Experience is of and within awareness and visa versa, but they do seem to have a difference that I can’t quite grasp. Both rely on each other.

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  48. What role does mindfulness play in the described scenario of observing a tree, and how does it enhance the sensory experience of noticing the leaves, shadows, and sounds? Can you reflect on the change in awareness when the squirrel is suddenly noticed and the impact it has on the observer’s perception of the surroundings?
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