Andre A. Pais:

Awareness cannot be independent or separate from the appearances it knows. If it was, there could be no connection between knowing and known - and thus no experience could arise. All perception must be non-dual, despite having [conceptually] implicit in its functioning a subject and an object.

But if awareness is not separate or independent from the appearances that are known, it must be as transient and fluxing as the very appearances that are known. There is no sensible way in which one single thing (in this case the [conceptual] union of awareness and appearances) can have a split nature or a contradictory way of being.

These being the case - that no awareness exists outside of the arising appearances; and that awareness is thus of a transient nature -, it follows that all there ever exists is the self-knowing, self-luminous appearances, free of an observing or knowing subject beyond themselves, meaning that awareness, mind or any knowing principle are merely beliefs imputed on the flow of naturally luminous appearances.

It follows that we are not experiencing an external reality (naive realism), nor a mental representation (scientific materialism), nor even modulations of our own awareness (most non-dual traditions). There is actually no experiencer, no witness, no observer, no center or core, no knower - and no awareness (as awareness is always posited as "that which knows"). Let's allow that to sink in. This is one of the most powerful insights available to us.

What this means is that there isn't even perception going on. There is no one perceiving anything. The dualistic idea of perception itself is merely conceptually constructed and imputed onto pure manifest activity. What appears is reality as it is - as real, authentic and direct as it gets. Luminosity arises naturally and dependently, empty of any duality of knowing and known, mind and matter, inside and outside, subject and object, etc. Curiously, if one had to choose between the reality of either subject or object, the presence of the "objective world" would be far more undeniable than that of any subjective entity.

Further investigation must happen as to deeply understand the unestablished, empty and merely transient nature of what appears. This will help clarify the answer to "what is this?". However, the main question of all spiritual traditions, "who/what am I?", is answered when reality is understood as being without any observer, experiencer or entity of any kind and thus free of knowingness itself (and its ideas of "distorted" or "undistorted" perception).
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