Sunday, July 02, 2006

Excluding Illusions

This is a reply to Friend's comments below from an earlier post:

Friend,

“Doesn't that contradict what you have just claimed was your position in your latest reply regarding synchronicity and unity?”

I can see how it might seem so. Let me explain the nuances. When I say that seeing synchronicity rather than causality is good new because it implies unity between levels, or at the source of levels, I didn't mean to imply that syncrhonicity was the same as unity, or that unity exists as some force within and between existent levels. It's just that if one is coming from the separative position, and sees and experiences the bewildering chaos, arbitrariness, and separation of life and all its levels and worlds, syncrhonicity is a good sign, a sign that implies unity somewhere, somehow. You know what it's like when some kind of bizarre or unlikely syncrhonicty appears in your life? It tends to lighten you up, fill you with wonder and mystery. Scientists who look at everything from a causal point of view will scoff and explain probability theory to you, but syncrhonicity isn't a contradiction to probabilities, it's simply a sign of the interconnectedness of things which is not causal in nature. So that's the good side of synchronicity. The bad side is that synchronicity is still a symptom of separation. Sure, it's the way things really are interconnected between levels, but it is not a sign that levels are themselves unified in some way. It is merely an “echo” of unity, of a unity long gone from this universe.

If you recall the myth of Narcissus, “Echo” is Narcissus' lover, who he ignores after falling in love with his own image. She fades away from neglect, and finally dies, until all that remains of her is the echo of her voice. And that is how it is with our original unity. We have become obsessed with our own image in manifestation, and our original unity has died, so we are left with only the echoes of it. Syncrhonicity is one of those echoes. It's an invisible reflection of something we have neglected and forgotten. So it's good news when we begin to hear the echo. But hearing the echo leads us to see what we have done, and that is not pleasant news. Finding out that we have neglected to the point of death our true love and unity is very hard news to face up to. So syncrhonicity has this negative message also. Of course, that negative message is also a good thing, in that if we face up to it, we can rediscover the unity we have neglected and lost. We can “follow the echoes” back to the source, which in many respects is what self-enquiry really is.

So synchronicity is one of those echoes pointing back to the source, but in the world of echoes, which is what conditionality is, it also directly points to the nature of our conditional existence as separation and fragmentation, which we have to face up to if we want to rediscover our original unity. The point being that synchronicity is not consoling. People tend to take it that way, and get stuck in the feeling of unity that comes with synchrononous recognitions, and mistakes those signs of unity for unity itself, skipping over the negative implications of synchronicity in order to stay positive about conditional existence. People even go around looking for those magical signs of connectivity, little synchronous moments they think “mean” something. It's no wonder that Wilber and so many other sensible people hate astrology and anything smacking of synchronicity. So the point is that syncrhonicity is both a positive sign that unity is the nature of reality, but also that fragmentation and separation is the nature of conditionality.

The problem comes in when people think that non-dualism means that non-separation is the nature of conditionality. It isn't. Conditionality is an illusion. There is no conditional world. What we see and experience as conditionality isn't even there, isn't even happening. The structure of conditionality is based on separation and illusion, and synchronicity is one of the mechanisms of that separation and illusion. It's dualistic, in other words, because it requires separate objects and levels to exist and be synchronous with one another. It points to unity, because that's its source.

“From my point of view, your insistence on the separation of reality and the physical world or the fragmentation of attention is just your particular prejudice at the moment, which of course one is entirely entitled to.”

You're not getting my point, even if you think you are. The world as we experience it IS separate, no question about it. You're telling me you don't feel separate from the world, from others, from your own body, on and one? You're telling me everyone and everything doesn't feel that way, look that way, actually seem by all accounts separate and individuated? People get the idea that non-dualism means that it's just that feeling of separation that's unreal, that we can feel and be “connected” to everything in a non-separate manner. And that's true, we can, at least to some degree. But even the feeling of being connected is a sign of separation. You only connect things that are separate. Going beyond separation means going beyond all things, all conditionality, not just the physical universe, but any object or feeling. And what does “going beyond” mean? Somehow the idea is that conditional things actually exist, and going beyond them either means going beyond their illusory separateness, or going beyond them in an “unbalanced” exclusionary way, which Wilber decries. But what it really means is seeing that there are no things at all, that there is no conditional world, there is only unconditional reality, not just a world of things that are connected, but no world at all, just One without a second. Everything else is just “sentimentality” so to speak.

“The message that "the world is not real" is not something that people don't want to hear at all. In fact, from my own experience I can say that that insight, if I can call it that, was exactly the understanding that initiated my whole disatisfaction with the scientific/atheistic view of things and my whole search for a resolution in the first place and I am sure I was hardly alone in that.”

Well, I didn't mean everyone. It's good that you find it attractive. But people in general like to think there is something real about all this world of ours.

“But, as even franklin famously points out, reality is still not absent, despite all the fragmentation and multiplicity. The denial of that is where I see your fixedness.”

Of course reality is not absent from the conditional worlds. It's the only “thing” that is actually present. But reality is not a quality of the conditional worlds either, one of its attributes. Reality is not found in or as any conditional thing. It's not even the “basis” of conditionality. There is no basis to conditionality. That's what makes it possible to transcend.

“Our usual confusion is just a matter of what we are identifying as reality and what we are identifying this obvious reality with. Once we realize the relatively simple fact that reality is not limited, defined or identified solely by what is fragmented and changeable then one is free to exist in the multiplicity or fragmentation of the physical world, and of attention, in full cognizance of, and relative comfort with both reality itself as well as the unity of the physical world and the unity of reality altogether.”

We are already living in multiplicity and fragmentation, and nothing about that is “free”. When you use the word “solely”, it implies that reality is, indeed, in some sense defined or identified by conditionality. My point is that reality isn't in any way defined or identified with conditionality. True, for us this seems only partly true, as we begin to get a sense for reality, for our uncondiitonal nature. But one of the mistakes we make in that process is to somehow try to see the two as actually being “one” with one another, that illusion is somehow “at one” with reality, that the two bleed together. This only works for a while, and then even that breaks down. One begins to realize there is no coexistence between the two, there is no compromise, there is no two even. There is a choice between reality and illusion, and that is of course a fairly easy choice if understood that way. It's not an easy choice if one is presented with a half-real, half-unreal world that seems to have both “qualities”. The temptation is to try to see this world as a unity, and to look for signs of unity in it. Synchronicity is one of those signs. It's not a false sign, but it's a sign that points beyond the world, not to the world as somehow a unified manifestation. There is no unity in it. Even synchronicity is not “in” it.

“I was simply arguing for the one point regarding the seniority of consciousness over materiality (and it's necessary frole in and influence on the physical world), or depending on one's use of words, the seniority of the witness over attention and its fragmentation, or the seniority of what is real over what is relative, or the seniority of unity over multiplicity.”

I understand the argument of “seniority”, but I have to disagree with it, because it makes unity a dualistic quality, rather than simply the nature of reality. It's not that consciousness is senior to matter, unless you mean conditional consciousness. Conditional consciousness and matter simply co-exist, there is no superiority or seniority involved. Conditional consicousness doesn't tell matter what to be or do. Try telling a table to be a walrus. Doesn't happen. We think we manipulate the world around us, but we don't. Only the body does. We are simply the witness to all of that, even though we think othewise. This is part of the illusion we have to transcend. Transcendental consciousness isn't “senior” to matter either, it's simply the nature of reality. Not the nature of matter, but reality itself, in which there is no matter. Matter only appears in illusory worlds. The nature of mater, or of any conditional thing, is unknowable, because it is illusory. If you really inspect matter, or anything else, what you find is not that it is “consciousness”, but that it is an illusion. Now you could say that the witness is senior to attention, because both are simply conditional parts and levels, but you are really talking about one illusion being senior to another, which is perfectly all right within the framework of conditionality, but it bears no relationship to reality itself. Even the witness is not reality. And unity is not senior to multiplicity. Within the conditional world, there is no unity, only multiplicity. So in the conditional worlds, multiplicity is senior to unity And if you look honestly at the conditional worlds, multiplicity certainly dose rule. It trumps unity at every step of the way. In reality, unity doesn't trump multiplicity, because there is none. There is only unity.

“But that shouldn't lead us to, what is in my view, the mistaken conclusion that the presence of one denies the other, as it seems to me you suggest and what I keep hearing as your fixed bias.”

I think experience proves me right. The presence of multiplicity does indeed deny unity. Unity does not deny multiplicity, except from the point of view of multiplicity. In reality, there simply isn't any multiplicity. What needs to occur within multiplicity is an awakening to these two truths: 1) that multiplicity is an illusion, and 2) that unity is the only reality. TO some extent this does require a denial. One has to just say no to the drug of conditionality. One has to go cold turkey at some point. Trying to have both doesn't work.

“Manifest reality and reality itself are not mutually exclusive as you seem, to me, to be convinced of. The physical world and reality can and do exist together, and they do so without problem as long as we don't confuse them by identifying one exclusively with the other. At least that's the way it seems to me.”

Exactly. That's the way it seems to all of us. And that's the illusion. “Manifest reality” is an oxymoron, if by manifestation one means the appearance of levels, objects, things, etc. Reality does not manifest as any of that. Only the mind creates such things. “Manifest reality” is what appears when exclusion becomes the principle of consciousness, so the question only arises once exclusion has already occurred. Reality does not exclude manifestation, because it doesn't see any manifestation to exclude. Seeing the rope doesn't exclude the snake, because there is no snake. But seeing the snake does exclude the rope. Pretending that one can have both rope and snake in some kind of unity is sheer craziness, a sign of holding onto the snake image even when one has begun to see that there's really a rope there. Maybe for a while that seems sensible, that there's a hybrid creature that's part snake, part rope, but eventually you have to realize that there is no snake there, only a rope. There's no need to balance the snake with the rope and not go to extremes. The extreme view in this case is the true view. And the same is true about non-dualism altogether. It's hard to accept, and believe me, it's hard for me too, but I'm beginning to see the sense to it.

29 comments:

friend said...

Thanks for your non-frustrated replies.

I can see why they chose to call it non-duality rather than unity, and 'not two' rather than 'one'. I say that because we keep turning whatever the other says into one half of a duality and so arguing against it's validity. Often when you were speaking I wanted to object that I didn't mean whatever you were arguing aginst in the positive sense but in the 'non' sense.

To me reality or truth or however we might refer to what we consider most beloved or essential, is unconditional, meaning that it is so, regardless of what conditions do or do not exist. Nothing has to be done. Nothing has to change. You seem to feel that conditions have to be gotten rid of or utterly changed before unity or truth can be so. I think that's the basic difference between us and, from what I can see, neither of us is going to argue the other out of his position. Each of us simply feels the other is not yet seeing things correctly and it is great to be able to non-agree in such great humour and generosity. I appreciate that.

Also, we do agree on many things. I think your tiger chasing its own tail reference to attention is actually a good way of accounting for the energy of eros, funnily enough. What else could it be since there is only one, or rather 'not two'?

Your idea of the snake analogy seems confused to me, however and since I see it as central to our non-agreement, I'll elaborate a bit. What I'm saying is not a matter of seeing a hybrid snake/rope but a matter of realizing that conditions are just a rope, are something safe, are you and of the self nature. They are not a sign of separation, otherness or danger signified by the snake idea.

The very point of the analogy, as I see it, is that conditions don't have to change, (although they can as well of course, but it is not necessary as you seem to be convinced). From my point of view, you see conditions as the snake and are convinced we all see the snake primarily, and you long for a long lost unity and can't see it in present conditions. In fact, you seem to be convinced the beloved is missing and that all we can be in touch with are echos of that now distant, separate reality. In my view, you see the snake.

I see the rope, even though conditions remain the same. That's the point of the analogy as far as I am concerned. Truth (or however we might want to refer to what we consider most beloved) is unconditional, completely non-dual, never denied, never anulled, never really hidden. The idea that it is, or can be lost or hidden is the illusion, not conditions themselves. The snake is the illusion, not the rope. The way I see it, that is the only difference between our views and I don't think that is something that can ever be settled through discussion. It's for each of us to resolve the matter for ourselves. Is it so or not?

Broken Yogi said...

Friend,
I'm not sure we can ever resolve this either – a sign we are both living in duality, regardless of our conceptual views! And you are right of course that we can only resolve these things ourselves. I think the only way to have a conversation like this is to simply presume that from the outset, which I think we have. That's what makes for an enjoyable exchange of differences.

Now maybe we are talking past one another's views, but it does seem that we have real differences.

“You seem to feel that conditions have to be gotten rid of or utterly changed before unity or truth can be so.”

When you say that I am seeing the snake, you are right. What I'm saying is that even though I intuit the rope, I still see snakes all over the goddamn place! I think it's important not to be satisfied with mere intuitions of rope. I want to no longer see snakes, and see only the rope. And I think that is an important change to make. It's not changing conditions themselves, it's not trying to turn the snake into the rope, it's simply eliminating the illusion altogether and really, truly, seeing rope rather than snakes. So what I'm saying is that you are seeing snakes also, you just like to call them ropes based on your intuition. It doesn't mean that you are running in fear from the snakes. Maybe you see them as gentle snakes, and you intuition of the rope helps you to get along better with these dualistic hallucinations. That's good. But it's not taking it far enough. There has to be greater frustration with these hallucinations of duality, and a greater desire for seeing things as they are, rather than merely intuiting and on that basis conceiving of life as non-dual. And part of that, I'm saying, is facing up to the fact that we really are still seeing snakes, and living a snaky life, despite our better intuitions and conceptions. And that means calling snakes snakes if that's what we see, and not calling the snake a rope when we really still see a snake. This means facing fears rather than denying them. This is why I would say that even our intuition of non-duality can be an obstacle, if we use it to console ourselves in the midst of snake-vision.

“What I'm saying is not a matter of seeing a hybrid snake/rope but a matter of realizing that conditions are just a rope, are something safe, are you and of the self nature. They are not a sign of separation, otherness or danger signified by the snake idea. “

This is where we disagree. Conditional views are not “safe”, because they are the snake. Conditions are not actually a rope at all. Conditions are an illusion based on conditional views. Only the rope is a rope, and it can only be seen as a rope when conditional views are fully relinquished and stop superimposing themselves on the snake. You are saying that while seeing snakes, one can tame them by remembering that they are really rope. But if one really knows they are rope, one no longer sees snakes at all. The traditional analogy begins with the seer in the dark, seeing a vague shape on the ground and presuming he sees a snake. When he turns on the light, however, the snake vanishes and only a rope is seen. The light is illumination, realization. Once the light is on, there are no snakes to worry about, but before that, our minds create snakes everywhere in the dark. You are talking about a hazy twilight period where one begins to suspect that the snake is not really a snake at all. That's good, but it's not clear illumination. One still sees a snake in one's mind until the room is fully illumined, and when it is, there is no snake left, no duality, no conditions.

In other words, only non-duality is non-dual. Duality is not non-dual. This is how we allow ourselves to be consoled by conditions, as if conditions exist apart from conditional views, and we can simply treat them as non-dual because reality is non-dual, and since we see conditions as real, we reason that they must be non-dual also. We don't look deeply enough to see that conditions are not real at all. Conditions are the snake, because as long as we see conditions, we are seeing via conditional views. The realizer does not see conditions. He literally sees rope, sees non-duality. When we see the realizer, we see him as “seeing rope in the midst of snakes”, but that's only because we still see snakes. The realizer doesn't see snakes anymore.

Snakes are a view, not an actual “condition” that is reified and that must somehow be seen as a snake. The analogy uses subject-object relations as a metaphor, as if non-duality, the snake, is an object we see. But there the analogy breaks down if used literally. Non-duality is not an object that we misidentify. It is a view that colors our experience. It creates experience. Whereas non-duality is not an object, nor is it the true nature of objects. When non-duality is seen, objects vanish. The world vanishes. What is seen instead is non-dual reality, without objects. It's not that the world is seen as being non-dual in nature, that's just a figure of speech, like calling it a rope. The world as we experience it vanishes in the same way that the snake vanishes when the light is turned on. Except that it isn't just a superimposition on an object, like a rope. It's the whole view that things exist at all that vanishes. Instead, there is only unity, only non-dualism, only God. Yes, in the midst of conditions, from our point of view. But in reality,there are no conditions to be realized in the midst of. The realizer no longer sees any snakes at all that the rope is in the midst of. There is just rope. When people in amazement ask how he can so clearly see the rope in the snake, and try to see it themselves, the realizer simply asks “what snake?” That's bodhidharma's answer to the 2nd patriarch who asks him about transcending the mind. “What mind?” he replies. That's not just a tricky koan, it's how the realizer literally sees. He doesn't see a mind. And without a mind, he sees no objects. And without objects, he sees no world. And without a world, he sees no conditions. He's not in the midst of conditions, holding onto realization. He's not even beyond conditions, because there are no conditions to be beyond.

That's a little different from us intuiting the non-dual in the midst of our dualistic views. So what I'm saying is that we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize that our intuitions of non-duality are still taking place within a view that is dualistic. Even the signs of non-dualism that we see, the synchronous connections throughout the universe that give us hope and seem to confirm our non-dual intuitions, are also being seen within a dualistic view. The point of those intuitions and signs is not to help us feel more comfortable with dualistic views. It's to persuade us to go beyond them completely, and enter the non-dual view completely, turn the light on all the way, so that all the snakes vanish altogether. One doesn't actually get rid of conditions, or eradicate snakes. One just turns the light all the way on, and the illusion of snakery simply vanishes.

“In fact, you seem to be convinced the beloved is missing and that all we can be in touch with are echos of that now distant, separate reality. In my view, you see the snake. “

I'm becoming convinced that the Beloved is missing from the conditional view, yes, that the conditional view only sees snakes, and will never see the Beloved. That the conditional view at best sees echoes and intuitions of the Beloved, it never actually beholds and embraces the Beloved. And yes, the Beloved does seem distant and separate from the conditional view, and always will. Convincing ourselves that our conditions are actually the Beloved is like dressing up a pig and telling ourselves she's the girl of our dreams. No matter how good the rap, we're never going to be satisfied with a pig. It's a substitute Beloved, not the real thing. So yes, I see the snake. I see the conditional view as a snake-creating mechanism that can't be reformed to create ropes instead. I see that I am at base a dualist, and that my basic orientation must change, not my superficial attitude.

“Truth (or however we might want to refer to what we consider most beloved) is unconditional, completely non-dual, never denied, never anulled, never really hidden. The idea that it is, or can be lost or hidden is the illusion, not conditions themselves.”

This is where we disagree. The truth cannot be destroyed, but it can be hidden, and is being hidden, by conditional views. You cannot see the non-dual truth through conditional dualistic eyes. One has to use a different mechanism of sight. Dualistic views create a dualistic world, and that world has no unity to it at all, no Beloved in it, no real happiness, only echoes, signs, symbols, intuitions of the real. It is at war with itself, because that's what dualism means, that what it does. There is no peace there. One has to leave it behind. This may seem like “leaving” the world, but it isn't. It's simply entering reality, which destroys the illusions of dualism. It doesn't preserve dualism and make it non-dual. One can't hold two views in a non-dual reality. One has to let go of two-view-ness. One has to permit oneself to be single. If thy eye be single, thy body will be filled with light.

Enjoying the conversation, even though we disagree.

friend said...

Hi BY,
I'm glad I didn't misrepresent you. I enjoy your thought and mind immensely but the fact is we do see things quite differently so I'm glad we got to the root of the difference. Otherwise we would be arguing blindly for ever. Now at least we know what our difference is.

You are very convinced of what I imagine you are calling your logic vision. My guess is you have so much invested in shaping that vision at the moment that you are really not interested in questioning it or having it fall apart. In fact you are probably into defending it at all costs. You are pretty convinced it is a reasonable description of the way things really are.

What I hear in your argument though is something quite different, namely a big misunderstanding that traps you in a mind maze which you claim to want to get out of but keep digging yourself into further by continually strengthening your argument and your assumptions.

I can easily stand outside that argument because, having stepped out of the atheist mindset myself, it holds no attraction for me. I refer to it as the athieist mindset because the idea that the 'beloved' is missing is basically an atheistic idea. To the secular scientific mindset, the world is a mystery that has to be solved because the secret, which must be out there somewhere, is being witheld from us or is hidden away. According to that vision we are in the dark and we are nobly advancing towards the light slowly but surely though the resolution seems forever in the future.

I too once saw things this way, but my not seeing things this way any longer has nothing to do with consolation. When I finally escaped the secular/materialist mindset it did seem like such a relief that I tended to describe it in a positive (as in cataphatic or affirmative) terms but that can get to be very misleading (as franklin demonstrates). Really, it is more like stopping hitting oneself on the head with a hammer. There is a real difference but that difference lies in the removal of assumptions, misunderstandings and illusions rather than the addition of anything that could be considered consoling.

In my case, I realized that the very notion of the beloved being missing, or there being something secret or hidden was simply an assumption, and a totally unnecessary assumption (except perhaps to avoid the problem of misleading affirmative ideas of the beloved such as religion tended to wallow in).

The fact is that the beloved is not missing and there is nothing secret. The problem was that the beloved had been appropriated by the self. As Krishnamurti says, "Where the self is, reality is not. Where reality is, the self is not." The beloved is not actually absent but has been mis-identified with this body-mind. We tend to think we are the only reality and we're terrified of losing ourselves, our being, because that which we have identified as ourselves is obviously temporary.

But that mis-identification, that apropriation of 'being' by self, is an illusion. Being is reality. It is not owned by this body and the belief that it is obscures the simple fact that the beloved is simply reality or being itself. The beloved is not absent at all, simply wrongly identified.

I realize that that insight may well not seem like much to you at the moment and you might be moved to simply dismiss or even argue it away immediately. Of course, I would suggest that you at least stay open-minded to it. I'm mentioning it because it was of such enourmous value to me. That and the understanding that liberation is totally unconditional are the two most important communications I could possibly imagine making to you at the moment. It has nothing to do with being right or wrong, but perhaps you might pause before pressing the override or delete buttons on them.

But then, everyone is driven by their own demons and must answer to them. For myself, I am still amazed at having resolved the dilemma that was driving my search. But even that is putting it in too affirmative a way. It's simply that the absence of the beloved, the cause of my search (in a nutshell), no longer exists and, in fact, never did. I say the same is true in your case but I realize that for you that is a stretch to accept as reality.

I too have enjoyed the conversation but I honestly don't know if there is really too much else to say on this topic. I hardly think there is much point to trying to argue each other into accepting the other's view of things. Argument mostly entrenches fixed positions further anyway, it seems to me. In any case, I definitely wish you all the best.

Broken Yogi said...

Friend,

I think you ae making way too much of our differences now. If your whole argument is that I am in some athiestic state of denial in which I see the Beleoved as missing, you couldn't be further from the truth. I never said the Beloved was missing, only that the Beloved is missing from the conditional view. I said that the conditional view hides the Beloved, but the Beloved is always present. The Beloved is simply not present to the conditional view, but always somewhere else, off in the future, some place we are moving towards but never quite reach, in our minds, in our concepts, in our beliefs, etc., but never actually and simply present. The Beloved is only present when the Beloved is the only One present. In other words, the Beloved is non-dual, not present in duality, but only in reality. Duality hides the Beloved.

That doesn't make me an atheist, except to those who believe in dualistic Gods. And those who believe in dualistic Gods, and worship them, are atheists as far as I am concerned, because they are hiding the Beloved behind their dualistic icons and living in a world in which God is not present, but always elsewhere, in which we always have to relate to God as an other, a dress-up doll we take out and say, see, I'm a Godly person! To such people I would prefer to be known as an atheist, actually, because I don't really want any part of their Gods.

Now, later when you talk about the Beloved being misappropriated by the ego and misidentified with, that's fine by me. You just seem to find it necessary to marginalize my arguments and put them into a safe, comfortable "athiest, missing Beloved" box so you don't have to deal with them directly. If that's what you need to do, fine, but it's not in any way an accurate depiction of my views. It's only my view about dualistic conditionality, which I do consider an atheistic viewpoint, even when it professes the greatest devotion to God. That, in my view, is a misappropriation of the holy by the ego.

Now I don't mind the idea that I'm obsessed with some false view and that I'm holding onto it for dear life. But honestly, you are going to have to do a better job of identifying my views if you want to change them. I certainly don't see the Beloved as missing from consciousness, or my life as it is. I'm not wandeirng around in some Godless state of atheistic depression. I find my views rather liberating and happy, to be perfectly honest. And honestly, I don't think you have ever been where I am, even though you say you have. What you describe sounds like what I went through when I was about 12 or 13, and I haven't been there since.

Still, I wonder what you mean by this:

"For myself, I am still amazed at having resolved the dilemma that was driving my search. But even that is putting it in too affirmative a way. It's simply that the absence of the beloved, the cause of my search (in a nutshell), no longer exists and, in fact, never did."

You do realize that what you are describing, if you really do understand yourself in this way, is full blown uniquivocal enlightenment? Has the cause of your search, the absence of the Beloved, truly vanished, like the snake vanishes from the rope when the light is turned on.? If so, I'll bow down to you sooner than anyone. But somehow I think this isn't quite an accurate description of how you really experience life and consciousness. Somehow I think you've still got a bit of search left in you, maybe a whole lot more than you imagine. And somehow I wonder if you haven't really found the Beloved, but are simply excited to have at least gotten a scent of Her, to be on her trail. Who knows? It's not really my business, but if you are to be convincing, not just to me, but to yourself, I think you have some explaining to do. So what exactly do you mean when you say the cause of your search is over? Is it really? Have you truly found the Beloved? And if so, tell me about it. Inquiring minds would love to know!

Broken Yogi said...

sdsd

friend said...

Oh, oh. Sounds like I managed to misrepresent you at last. I'm honestly sorry, but I hope you can understand why I came to that conclusion.

You say now that "I certainly don't see the Beloved as missing from consciousness, or my life as it is." Well great, but that seems quite different from what you've been saying all along. Up to now your message seems to have been the insistence and affirmation of present non-enlightenment and the defense of the search.

Even in this last reply you say, for example, "The Beloved is simply not present to the conditional view, but always somewhere else, off in the future, some place we are moving towards but never quite reach, in our minds, in our concepts, in our beliefs, etc., but never actually and simply present."

So which one is it? I hope you can understand my confusion. How can the beloved be present in your life but not in your experience? Are you saying that the beloved is present in theory but not in our experience? Or, if you are not talking about your life then who's life? Forgive me for being confused regarding your position.

And BTW, I have no desire to change your views. All I've been trying to point out is that they are your views, your bias, your interpretation, and not 'the way things are'.

You say I should do a better job of identifying your views but if you look back over our conversation I think you'll see I've been pretty persistent in pointing out what I have been referring to, admittedly perhaps too loosely, as your atheistic, materialist and non-enlightenment bias. Sorry about that.

Also, I want you to know that I really am very glad you are happy. I wasn't suggesting you were depressed and that I was trying to cheer you up. I was trying to share another view of things to which I think you are pretty resistant.

You see, to me, your view is not non-dual. The impression you give to me is that you seem to hope it's going to be non-dual one day but until then you claim we're all stuck with duality. Or at least that sounds like what your message is, and I'm sorry but that's not just contradictory but it's also just not so for me.

If non-duality is really the truth of things, then doesn't that indicate that it is the truth of things now, regardless of one's demands, expectations or experience? As far as I am concerned, to deny that is to deny truth, to deny what is, to deny the beloved as s/he is.

From what I can see (and please note that I emphasize that perspective) you'd rather hold out for some change of conditions than accept the possibility that this is the beloved already. You do not accept the beloved as s/he is. You want things to be different before you are willing to call reality non-dual, to accept it as it is, without alteration. And I’m in no way suggesting that reality or the beloved is limited to conditions or an attribute of conditions alone, so please put that to rest.

You sort of scoff at the suggestion that one can realize the beloved, as if that represented your idea of either a virtually impossible enlightenment or some delusion of such.

What I am saying though is very simple. It's like pointing out that the sky is blue. No one bows down to someone for pointing something like that out. I would like to be free to say what I want to say without such – can I call them threats, ha, ha? - even if it does differ from what you assume is so.

Of course there is another virtue in holding onto non-enlightenment and that is that, just as one denies the beloved in his/her present incarnation, one slights those who do as superficial or easily satisfied. At the same time one gets to retain the image of oneself as much deeper in holding out for something more magnificent or profound, even if it exists only in one's imagination. It's like the guy who complained that the butcher was charging twice as much as his competitor for hamburger. When the butcher asked him why he didn't buy it over there, the customer said that the other guy had sold out. "Well," said the butcher, "when I'm sold out, I only charge half price too." What's it worth if you haven't got it? If you do have it BY, and I have no reason to say you don't, other than what you’ve said, then maybe we can hear a little more about that and less about non-enlightenment and the obscuration of reality by conditions etc. Hopefully that wouldn’t feel too superficial.

I don't accept what seems to be the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. To me enlightenment is not some generalized, unspecified occurrence. I consider that it requires a referent to have any meaning. One has to be enlightened with regard to an identified something which one was previously in the dark about, so it is important to identify what one is in the dark about. It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that some people practice enquiry into the self, for example, in order to get enlightenment with all its hoped for perks. There is the chasing of the carrot rather than identifying the driver of the search. So the practice is a secondary thing and is not effective.

In my case, there was the practice of enquiry before I even knew what it was called, and it was for the specific purpose of finding out who I was because "I", the self, my (our) relationship to being, was the single biggest mystery of existence, as far as I was concerned. That was my referent, the driver of my search to resolve the obvious relativity of this life, and when that became resolved my search was over and no other search has replaced it, regardless of whether you believe that or not.

That specific issue of the self is what I have been referring to. That insight did make an enormous difference and carried many far ranging implications. I don't see it as unimportant but I am not claiming to be all knowing or any such thing. I certainly do not pretend to be a good communicator. I wish I were. Also, as I have said, it is all less misleading if seen in a negative sense than in a positive sense.

To put it as simply as I can, that which we ordinarily and mistakenly call self, and love so much, is actually the beloved, being, reality, whether you accept it as good enough or deep enough or not. It's simply that that is not individual as we tend to have previously assumed. The truth has nothing to do with conditions. It's not hidden in the slightest, just mis-identified, as if in disguise as us. If that incredibly simple fact is seen, then what is not resolved and what is hidden?

Anonymous said...

Okay, we have a definite difference in views as to what constitutes non-duality.

“I don't accept what seems to be the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. To me enlightenment is not some generalized, unspecified occurrence. I consider that it requires a referent to have any meaning. One has to be enlightened with regard to an identified something which one was previously in the dark about, so it is important to identify what one is in the dark about.”

I'm not sure what the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. I hope I'm expressing a different dichotomy, but maybe I'm not expressing it very well, which naturally leads you to confuse my views. But what I do know is that if you define enlightenment by referents to “things”, anything, something, then you have defined it as a dualistic condition or state or viewpoint. This seems obvious, doesn't it? You're not grasping the really radical nature of the snake/rope analogy. It's not a literal analogy about the light in the room coming on, and seeing that this thing we once saw as a snake is actually a rope. The rope represents “non-duality” in the metaphor, and the snake represents “duality”. So what is revealed when the light comes on is that there is no “thing” there at all. What we once thought was a thing, is not a thing at all. No thing is there. No thing is happening. So this realization can't be described in reference to any “thing” - the mere idea of a thing is gone, as is the idea of there being a referent. The whole point of the analogy is that there is no “thing” that one was in the dark about. “Thingness” and “darkness” were the same illusion. In reality, there are no things to be enlightened in reference to. That's why they call it non-dualism.

Pardon my for being a little judgmental, but you seem to be making a classic mistake in continuing to see non-dualism in dualistic terms. This is natural, of course, because our minds are dualistic. You may say you have no search, and I'll be an agnostic on that count, but you still seem very much caught up in the dualistic mind, which seems unlikely if your search was truly at an end. It does sound like you have simply come to a comfort zone about all these things, and I don't want to upset your comfort zone, but there are some serious contradictions in what you say about non-dualism and enlightenment. If you don't like having your ideas challenged, if there's a self-image thing here that's uncomfortable for you, I'll back off, but I can't say your claims that your search is over and that you have found the truth seems true. Maybe that's just because I'm a backwoods neaderthal at these things, but I don't think that explains all of it.

“I hope you can understand my confusion. How can the beloved be present in your life but not in you

Broken Yogi said...

Okay, we have a definite difference in views as to what constitutes non-duality.

“I don't accept what seems to be the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. To me enlightenment is not some generalized, unspecified occurrence. I consider that it requires a referent to have any meaning. One has to be enlightened with regard to an identified something which one was previously in the dark about, so it is important to identify what one is in the dark about.”

I'm not sure what the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. I hope I'm expressing a different dichotomy, but maybe I'm not expressing it very well, which naturally leads you to confuse my views. But what I do know is that if you define enlightenment by referents to “things”, anything, something, then you have defined it as a dualistic condition or state or viewpoint. This seems obvious, doesn't it? You're not grasping the really radical nature of the snake/rope analogy. It's not a literal analogy about the light in the room coming on, and seeing that this thing we once saw as a snake is actually a rope. The rope represents “non-duality” in the metaphor, and the snake represents “duality”. So what is revealed when the light comes on is that there is no “thing” there at all. What we once thought was a thing, is not a thing at all. No thing is there. No thing is happening. So this realization can't be described in reference to any “thing” - the mere idea of a thing is gone, as is the idea of there being a referent. The whole point of the analogy is that there is no “thing” that one was in the dark about. “Thingness” and “darkness” were the same illusion. In reality, there are no things to be enlightened in reference to. That's why they call it non-dualism.

Pardon my for being a little judgmental, but you seem to be making a classic mistake in continuing to see non-dualism in dualistic terms. This is natural, of course, because our minds are dualistic. You may say you have no search, and I'll be an agnostic on that count, but you still seem very much caught up in the dualistic mind, which seems unlikely if your search was truly at an end. It does sound like you have simply come to a comfort zone about all these things, and I don't want to upset your comfort zone, but there are some serious contradictions in what you say about non-dualism and enlightenment. If you don't like having your ideas challenged, if there's a self-image thing here that's uncomfortable for you, I'll back off, but I can't say your claims that your search is over and that you have found the truth seems true. Maybe that's just because I'm a backwoods neaderthal at these things, but I don't think that explains all of it.

“I hope you can understand my confusion. How can the beloved be present in your life but not in your experience? Are you saying that the beloved is present in theory but not in our experience? Or, if you are not talking about your life then who's life? Forgive me for being confused regarding your position.”

Let me clarify. The intuition of the Beloved is present in my life. I feel God. But where exactly is God in my life? If I look for God as literally in this world, in my life, in the things I love, I don't find God there. He's not in things, He's not in me, He's not in the viewpoint that sees things and me. He's transcendent Being. The same viewpoint that sees things, that sees me, that sees a world, that has referents and qualities, cannot see God. Dualistic Gods, even Gods one sees “in” every thing, are not different from atheism. They are just a reaction, an attachment to conditionality. They create an absence in the midst of their claims of presence.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world, is what I am saying. I don't mean it's of some “other” world either. I mean that what we take to be “this world” isn't at all what's actually here. When you day that I am not accepting things as they are, I counter by saying that there are no things, and that you are accepting a mind-dream as reality. You are like the guy in The Matrix movie who is sitting down at a restaurant eating a steak, who says he knows the steak he's eating is unreal, but he still likes the taste of it. You like duality, you like it so much you see it as the ultimate. Who can blame you? The steak tastes great, at least some of the time. If by “ending your search” you mean taking the blue pill, just accepting this dream as reality itself, and seeing it as Divine, seeing it as the Beloved, who am I to argue? Oh, wait, if all of this is God, then aren't I God also? Or is this just my ego speaking? What is ego in a world where everything is God?

Well, I have to say I disagree that “this” is God, if by “this” you mean all these things and worlds and experiences. God is not an experience, and is not in any experience. Experience is not present. Experience is the search. If you say that your search has ended, but experience goes on, I don't see how that happens. Either your mind is alive and active making dualistic experience, or it is gone. You can call that a dichotomy if you like, I call it facing reality. That enlightenment is already the case is clear enough, but that the mind hides it is also clear.

So maybe your arguments are based on a self-image you've developed that you are enlightened, and hence you are defining enlightenment in order to see it as coincident with your experience? Are you guilty of the very thing you accuse me of, of being fixed in your views and defending a position that you are greatly attached to? I'm not sure I can see what you are talking about in any other light, because your views about non-dualism seem so, well, dualistic. I take it that you are simply expressing your experience, which is fine, but why do you need to call it non-dual, when it clearly isn't? If you want to champion dualism, that's fine with me. I got no problem with people arguing against non-dualism. But it's very hard when someone calls their dualism non-dualism, and then tries to tell me that real non-dualism isn't non-dualism. Or maybe you feel the same way about me?

So you see, basically I just don't see your point of view as expressed in this dialog as non-dual. You seem to pretty openly advocate a dualistic notion of enlightenment, as being a reference to a world of things. That's okay, there are many dualistic traditions of enlightenment, and many of them make arguments just like yours. I don't know why you have to claim that you are a non-dualist, however. It ought to be fairly clear by now that you are not. You can still say that I'm wrong, but what I would wish you wouldn't say is that I have a distorted view about non-dualism. I may, that's true enough, but your arguments don't come from the perspective of undistorted non-dualism, but from outright dualism.

I think part of the problem is my difficulty in clarifying my views, but a big part of the problem is that you have created a conceptual understanding of non-dualism that simply isn't non-dualism. It's a dualistic view that you think is non-dual. But when confronted with the arguments of genuine non-dualism, you reject them, and hold onto your dualistic views, but instead of rejecting non-dualism altogether, you simply reject any definition of non-dualism which contradicts your views. Why not just reject non-dualism altogether? Most everyone does. When you say that people do like non-dual messages, I disagree, I think most people who like non-dual messages simply find a way to see them in safe, dualistic ways, and re-interpret them in a fashion that makes them seem consistent with dualism. Really facing up to pure non-dual messages is frankly a little hair-raising. I've been trying to do just that over the last couple of years, and it's not easy, because the implications are most unsettling to my dualistic mind, which seems to be everything I'm about.

“From what I can see (and please note that I emphasize that perspective) you'd rather hold out for some change of conditions than accept the possibility that this is the beloved already. You do not accept the beloved as s/he is. You want things to be different before you are willing to call reality non-dual, to accept it as it is, without alteration.”

I'm not sure what “conditions” you think I see the need to change. I only see the need to drop all “perspectives”. To drop the perspective of the conditional mind, which really means dropping all perspectives. The non-dual isn't really a perspective, because it has no point of view, no center, no place from which to view anything. You want me to accept that “this” is the Beloved already. But this is contradictory. “This” isn't already here. It's the creation of mind. If I dream of a tree, is that tree already here? Is that tree already the Beloved? Of course not. It's a superimposition, just an image in the mind, created by mind. If I see a tree through my eyes, is that tree already the Beloved? Of course not. It too is merely a perception, this time a gross perception, also created by mind. Where is the Beloved in any of that? Trees are beautiful, sensuous, soothing images, but they are not the Beloved. What is already the case, the Beloved, is not found in any tree, in any thing at all. This is not the Beloved as he/she is. This is a dream play on the Beloved, where the Beloved is made to wear a mask made of mind. The mask is not the Beloved, however. Loving the mask is not loving the Beloved. Yo have to go beyond “this” to see the Beloved, who is not present in any thing or world, but who is present nonetheless at all times and all places because it is the reality behind the mask. Of course, it's not even true to say that the Beloved is “behind” anything, that's also not true, because it makes it sound like the Beloved is a “thing” behind another thing. That's the limitation of using the snake/rope analogy, as if there really is a “thing”, a rope, behind the illusion of the snake. There isn't. It's a higher-order metaphor for there being non-dual emptiness rather than a world of dualistic “things”. When I say that dualism “masks” non-dualism, I don't mean it literally. It's just a series of images that possesses the mind and makes it impossible to know what is not mind, what we really are.

“Of course there is another virtue in holding onto non-enlightenment and that is that, just as one denies the beloved in his/her present incarnation, one slights those who do as superficial or easily satisfied. At the same time one gets to retain the image of oneself as much deeper in holding out for something more magnificent or profound, even if it exists only in one's imagination.”

First, the Beloved does not incarnate. Or are you a Daist? :)). There are no incarnations. No one incarnates. Nothing incarnates. Incarnation is only in the mind. Without the mind, there is no incarnation. In The Matrix movie, people realize that they are living in a virtual reality, and they wake up to their real bodies. But enlightenment is only like that as metaphor. In reality, one doesn't wake up to any world, any body, anything at all. One doesn't “incarnate”. Where is there to incarnate? You think your body is real, that you are incarnate here, but that is just the mind telling itself that experience is real, that this is the Beloved. Without the mind, none of this exists, any more than the world of The Matrix exists outside the machinery of computers. The Beloved is not in the machine, not in the mind, not in any objects, any visions, any experience. The Beloved points beyond “this” to what truly is here. The mind can't see the Beloved, however. We can intuit the Beloved, but our minds cannot grasp him/her. Our bodies cannot feel him/her. What we think and feel is not the Beloved. Calling our thoughts and feelings and experience the Beloved doesn't make it so.

It's not a matter of “holding out” for something greater. It's a matter of no longer believing in one's experience, in one's own mind, of letting go of things, and not getting any “thing” that is greater in return. It means getting of the train of mind, of looking for something better or worse. You think that accepting things as they seem to be is the end of seeking, but it's just the epitome of seeking. Not accepting anything is what no-seeking is about.

I don't feel any sense of looking for a “greater” thing. I just want what's real. Reality is not greater than unreality, it doesn't exist in relationship to what is unreal. It just is what it is, which is not a thing at all, either greater or lesser. Accepting that nothing is satisfying, that nothing is the Beloved, that nothing is greater or lesser, that is real surrender, real no-seeking. It's true, I'm still a seeker, because I still hold onto thoughts, images, the mind, experience, and things of all kinds. But I'm beginning to get the point. At least it seems that way to me. But that doesn't mean that I “have” something. It means that I have less and less of anything, that even what I think I have, I don't really have. So I'm not able to tell you about what I “have”. And what I don't have isn't worth talking about either. If you have something, that's great, but it isn't enlightenment. Nothing you have can be enlightenment, I understand that much at least. Having nothing is enlightenment. Being nothing is enlightenment. When you have nothing, the Beloved sweeps you off your feet. She can't resist the penniless paupers of the world. But having something, having a mind, being satisfied with “this” turns her off. You have to make room for her, which means making room for nothing, which means having nothing and holding onto nothing, which means total surrender of everything you think is real, everything you have or could have, all the dualistic possibilities of consciousness. If I spiritually aspire to anything, it is that kind of nothingness. Yes, I want to be swept off my feet. Is that so wrong?

“To put it as simply as I can, that which we ordinarily and mistakenly call self, and love so much, is actually the beloved, being, reality, whether you accept it as good enough or deep enough or not. It's simply that that is not individual as we tend to have previously assumed. The truth has nothing to do with conditions. It's not hidden in the slightest, just mis-identified, as if in disguise as us. If that incredibly simple fact is seen, then what is not resolved and what is hidden?”

Yes, I understand you here. But this is dualism. You think there really is a self behind the mask, a “thing” there which we have misidentified. You think it is a real “thing”, a Beloved, and if we take the mask away we will see the real thing as it is, as the Beloved. But this is simply dualism, the notion that there is an ultimate “thingness” to things. Non-dualism says there is no “thing” behind the things, there is a non-dual reality, with no “things” at all. So your view is simply an advanced notion of dualism, better than thinking there's a God in the sky above, but not non-dual at all. This “Beloved” you have seen behind the mask is not the true Beloved, just a subtler way of making the non-dual Beloved into a subtler “thing” behind the mask. It's still a “thing” however, still an experience, still an egoic image. The self one finds in this manner is just a subtler version of the ego, not the emptiness of no-self. It is not the Self that Ramana speaks of.

Broken Yogi said...

Okay, we have a definite difference in views as to what constitutes non-duality.

“I don't accept what seems to be the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. To me enlightenment is not some generalized, unspecified occurrence. I consider that it requires a referent to have any meaning. One has to be enlightened with regard to an identified something which one was previously in the dark about, so it is important to identify what one is in the dark about.”

I'm not sure what the usual enlightenment/non-enlightenment dichotomy. I hope I'm expressing a different dichotomy, but maybe I'm not expressing it very well, which naturally leads you to confuse my views. But what I do know is that if you define enlightenment by referents to “things”, anything, something, then you have defined it as a dualistic condition or state or viewpoint. This seems obvious, doesn't it? You're not grasping the really radical nature of the snake/rope analogy. It's not a literal analogy about the light in the room coming on, and seeing that this thing we once saw as a snake is actually a rope. The rope represents “non-duality” in the metaphor, and the snake represents “duality”. So what is revealed when the light comes on is that there is no “thing” there at all. What we once thought was a thing, is not a thing at all. No thing is there. No thing is happening. So this realization can't be described in reference to any “thing” - the mere idea of a thing is gone, as is the idea of there being a referent. The whole point of the analogy is that there is no “thing” that one was in the dark about. “Thingness” and “darkness” were the same illusion. In reality, there are no things to be enlightened in reference to. That's why they call it non-dualism.

Pardon my for being a little judgmental, but you seem to be making a classic mistake in continuing to see non-dualism in dualistic terms. This is natural, of course, because our minds are dualistic. You may say you have no search, and I'll be an agnostic on that count, but you still seem very much caught up in the dualistic mind, which seems unlikely if your search was truly at an end. It does sound like you have simply come to a comfort zone about all these things, and I don't want to upset your comfort zone, but there are some serious contradictions in what you say about non-dualism and enlightenment. If you don't like having your ideas challenged, if there's a self-image thing here that's uncomfortable for you, I'll back off, but I can't say your claims that your search is over and that you have found the truth seems true. Maybe that's just because I'm a backwoods neaderthal at these things, but I don't think that explains all of it.

“I hope you can understand my confusion. How can the beloved be present in your life but not in your experience? Are you saying that the beloved is present in theory but not in our experience? Or, if you are not talking about your life then who's life? Forgive me for being confused regarding your position.”

Let me clarify. The intuition of the Beloved is present in my life. I feel God. But where exactly is God in my life? If I look for God as literally in this world, in my life, in the things I love, I don't find God there. He's not in things, He's not in me, He's not in the viewpoint that sees things and me. He's transcendent Being. The same viewpoint that sees things, that sees me, that sees a world, that has referents and qualities, cannot see God. Dualistic Gods, even Gods one sees “in” every thing, are not different from atheism. They are just a reaction, an attachment to conditionality. They create an absence in the midst of their claims of presence.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world, is what I am saying. I don't mean it's of some “other” world either. I mean that what we take to be “this world” isn't at all what's actually here. When you day that I am not accepting things as they are, I counter by saying that there are no things, and that you are accepting a mind-dream as reality. You are like the guy in The Matrix movie who is sitting down at a restaurant eating a steak, who says he knows the steak he's eating is unreal, but he still likes the taste of it. You like duality, you like it so much you see it as the ultimate. Who can blame you? The steak tastes great, at least some of the time. If by “ending your search” you mean taking the blue pill, just accepting this dream as reality itself, and seeing it as Divine, seeing it as the Beloved, who am I to argue? Oh, wait, if all of this is God, then aren't I God also? Or is this just my ego speaking? What is ego in a world where everything is God?

Well, I have to say I disagree that “this” is God, if by “this” you mean all these things and worlds and experiences. God is not an experience, and is not in any experience. Experience is not present. Experience is the search. If you say that your search has ended, but experience goes on, I don't see how that happens. Either your mind is alive and active making dualistic experience, or it is gone. You can call that a dichotomy if you like, I call it facing reality. That enlightenment is already the case is clear enough, but that the mind hides it is also clear.

So maybe your arguments are based on a self-image you've developed that you are enlightened, and hence you are defining enlightenment in order to see it as coincident with your experience? Are you guilty of the very thing you accuse me of, of being fixed in your views and defending a position that you are greatly attached to? I'm not sure I can see what you are talking about in any other light, because your views about non-dualism seem so, well, dualistic. I take it that you are simply expressing your experience, which is fine, but why do you need to call it non-dual, when it clearly isn't? If you want to champion dualism, that's fine with me. I got no problem with people arguing against non-dualism. But it's very hard when someone calls their dualism non-dualism, and then tries to tell me that real non-dualism isn't non-dualism. Or maybe you feel the same way about me?

So you see, basically I just don't see your point of view as expressed in this dialog as non-dual. You seem to pretty openly advocate a dualistic notion of enlightenment, as being a reference to a world of things. That's okay, there are many dualistic traditions of enlightenment, and many of them make arguments just like yours. I don't know why you have to claim that you are a non-dualist, however. It ought to be fairly clear by now that you are not. You can still say that I'm wrong, but what I would wish you wouldn't say is that I have a distorted view about non-dualism. I may, that's true enough, but your arguments don't come from the perspective of undistorted non-dualism, but from outright dualism.

I think part of the problem is my difficulty in clarifying my views, but a big part of the problem is that you have created a conceptual understanding of non-dualism that simply isn't non-dualism. It's a dualistic view that you think is non-dual. But when confronted with the arguments of genuine non-dualism, you reject them, and hold onto your dualistic views, but instead of rejecting non-dualism altogether, you simply reject any definition of non-dualism which contradicts your views. Why not just reject non-dualism altogether? Most everyone does. When you say that people do like non-dual messages, I disagree, I think most people who like non-dual messages simply find a way to see them in safe, dualistic ways, and re-interpret them in a fashion that makes them seem consistent with dualism. Really facing up to pure non-dual messages is frankly a little hair-raising. I've been trying to do just that over the last couple of years, and it's not easy, because the implications are most unsettling to my dualistic mind, which seems to be everything I'm about.

“From what I can see (and please note that I emphasize that perspective) you'd rather hold out for some change of conditions than accept the possibility that this is the beloved already. You do not accept the beloved as s/he is. You want things to be different before you are willing to call reality non-dual, to accept it as it is, without alteration.”

I'm not sure what “conditions” you think I see the need to change. I only see the need to drop all “perspectives”. To drop the perspective of the conditional mind, which really means dropping all perspectives. The non-dual isn't really a perspective, because it has no point of view, no center, no place from which to view anything. You want me to accept that “this” is the Beloved already. But this is contradictory. “This” isn't already here. It's the creation of mind. If I dream of a tree, is that tree already here? Is that tree already the Beloved? Of course not. It's a superimposition, just an image in the mind, created by mind. If I see a tree through my eyes, is that tree already the Beloved? Of course not. It too is merely a perception, this time a gross perception, also created by mind. Where is the Beloved in any of that? Trees are beautiful, sensuous, soothing images, but they are not the Beloved. What is already the case, the Beloved, is not found in any tree, in any thing at all. This is not the Beloved as he/she is. This is a dream play on the Beloved, where the Beloved is made to wear a mask made of mind. The mask is not the Beloved, however. Loving the mask is not loving the Beloved. Yo have to go beyond “this” to see the Beloved, who is not present in any thing or world, but who is present nonetheless at all times and all places because it is the reality behind the mask. Of course, it's not even true to say that the Beloved is “behind” anything, that's also not true, because it makes it sound like the Beloved is a “thing” behind another thing. That's the limitation of using the snake/rope analogy, as if there really is a “thing”, a rope, behind the illusion of the snake. There isn't. It's a higher-order metaphor for there being non-dual emptiness rather than a world of dualistic “things”. When I say that dualism “masks” non-dualism, I don't mean it literally. It's just a series of images that possesses the mind and makes it impossible to know what is not mind, what we really are.

“Of course there is another virtue in holding onto non-enlightenment and that is that, just as one denies the beloved in his/her present incarnation, one slights those who do as superficial or easily satisfied. At the same time one gets to retain the image of oneself as much deeper in holding out for something more magnificent or profound, even if it exists only in one's imagination.”

First, the Beloved does not incarnate. Or are you a Daist? :)). There are no incarnations. No one incarnates. Nothing incarnates. Incarnation is only in the mind. Without the mind, there is no incarnation. In The Matrix movie, people realize that they are living in a virtual reality, and they wake up to their real bodies. But enlightenment is only like that as metaphor. In reality, one doesn't wake up to any world, any body, anything at all. One doesn't “incarnate”. Where is there to incarnate? You think your body is real, that you are incarnate here, but that is just the mind telling itself that experience is real, that this is the Beloved. Without the mind, none of this exists, any more than the world of The Matrix exists outside the machinery of computers. The Beloved is not in the machine, not in the mind, not in any objects, any visions, any experience. The Beloved points beyond “this” to what truly is here. The mind can't see the Beloved, however. We can intuit the Beloved, but our minds cannot grasp him/her. Our bodies cannot feel him/her. What we think and feel is not the Beloved. Calling our thoughts and feelings and experience the Beloved doesn't make it so.

It's not a matter of “holding out” for something greater. It's a matter of no longer believing in one's experience, in one's own mind, of letting go of things, and not getting any “thing” that is greater in return. It means getting of the train of mind, of looking for something better or worse. You think that accepting things as they seem to be is the end of seeking, but it's just the epitome of seeking. Not accepting anything is what no-seeking is about.

I don't feel any sense of looking for a “greater” thing. I just want what's real. Reality is not greater than unreality, it doesn't exist in relationship to what is unreal. It just is what it is, which is not a thing at all, either greater or lesser. Accepting that nothing is satisfying, that nothing is the Beloved, that nothing is greater or lesser, that is real surrender, real no-seeking. It's true, I'm still a seeker, because I still hold onto thoughts, images, the mind, experience, and things of all kinds. But I'm beginning to get the point. At least it seems that way to me. But that doesn't mean that I “have” something. It means that I have less and less of anything, that even what I think I have, I don't really have. So I'm not able to tell you about what I “have”. And what I don't have isn't worth talking about either. If you have something, that's great, but it isn't enlightenment. Nothing you have can be enlightenment, I understand that much at least. Having nothing is enlightenment. Being nothing is enlightenment. When you have nothing, the Beloved sweeps you off your feet. She can't resist the penniless paupers of the world. But having something, having a mind, being satisfied with “this” turns her off. You have to make room for her, which means making room for nothing, which means having nothing and holding onto nothing, which means total surrender of everything you think is real, everything you have or could have, all the dualistic possibilities of consciousness. If I spiritually aspire to anything, it is that kind of nothingness. Yes, I want to be swept off my feet. Is that so wrong?

“To put it as simply as I can, that which we ordinarily and mistakenly call self, and love so much, is actually the beloved, being, reality, whether you accept it as good enough or deep enough or not. It's simply that that is not individual as we tend to have previously assumed. The truth has nothing to do with conditions. It's not hidden in the slightest, just mis-identified, as if in disguise as us. If that incredibly simple fact is seen, then what is not resolved and what is hidden?”

Yes, I understand you here. But this is dualism. You think there really is a self behind the mask, a “thing” there which we have misidentified. You think it is a real “thing”, a Beloved, and if we take the mask away we will see the real thing as it is, as the Beloved. But this is simply dualism, the notion that there is an ultimate “thingness” to things. Non-dualism says there is no “thing” behind the things, there is a non-dual reality, with no “things” at all. So your view is simply an advanced notion of dualism, better than thinking there's a God in the sky above, but not non-dual at all. This “Beloved” you have seen behind the mask is not the true Beloved, just a subtler way of making the non-dual Beloved into a subtler “thing” behind the mask. It's still a “thing” however, still an experience, still an egoic image. The self one finds in this manner is just a subtler version of the ego, not the emptiness of no-self. It is not the Self that Ramana speaks of.

friend said...

Hi BY,
This is beginning to feel a little futile I'm afraid. Most of any serious reply I could give would have to be a very lengthy series of denials of your interpretations of what I mean and, not only would that be an immense amount of work, I really don't have much hope that anything else I could say would be received with any greater understanding. You seem intent on simply laying some lesser straw man idea on what I have said and then arguing that away. Most of what you imagine I am saying feels silly, as if you are speaking to some simpleton. I'm not imagining the self to be a 'thing' for goodness sakes. I don't believe reality lies in the world of 'things', or in the objects of a dream. And I thought I'd been quite careful to point out that I am not claiming 'enlightenment'. I feel virtually no affinity with just about anything you imagine I am saying, so I don't even feel a need to defend anything, except to say that you sure are not understanding what I am saying. I might not be a great communicator but I don't think I'm that bad. If I am, I might as well quit in any case. So if you think I have misrepresented you, you sure have gone me one better in that department here.

One thing is clear, however, and that is that at base, we do have a very real difference of understanding, even if it's not most of what you wrote about in this last post. And it seems more than clear to me that we are not going to resolve that real difference through this process with our skills in the next little while, or even the next very long while. So I hope you won't feel insulted or anything if I propose that we just respectfully acknowledge that we don't agree on this point and simply go on to other things in all good humour. I appreciate your making your position clear. I'm sorry I couldn't apparently make mine more clear. So, if you agree, thanks for your patience, and I do look forward to continuing occassional commentary on other matters on your great blog.

kang said...

Dudes! I don't think you have "a very real difference of understanding." Maybe that's just intended to be polite talk, but how can there be a difference of understanding? Understanding agrees with itself, surely. If there is understanding, then any departure from that is NOT understanding, not a difference in understanding. But I can't wade through such voluminous treatises on nonduality to discover where that lies.

Doesn't it seem to you that this topic cannot be so complex? Nonduality is perfectly simple. Simple means one. If you have "two," it's already trending toward the myriad complications of duality.

What is the essential question here? Is it, "What is the nature of nonduality?" But nonduality cannot have a second thing to be known as "its nature." There is no thought in it. It is not analyzable.

Is the essential question "Who am I?" That doesn't seem interesting to me. I suggest that enquiry can take many forms, or even any form. All enquiry leads to the same conclusion, even scientific enquiry. That conclusion is, it comes to the end of itself. It cannot answer any question referring to the unknowable. The unknowable is manifest when the faculty of enquiry understands its incapacity and quits.

In maya, no answer. In Brahman, no question.

friend said...

Hi Kang,
Thanks for those thoughts. Reminds me that all difference is really secondary and superficial and is inevitably built on an underlying unity or non-difference anyway. Little point in dwelling on it as if something ultimately significant was at stake. It's remarkable the attraction difference has, like quicksand if we're not careful. Standing back, it loses its importance. Better to drop it and let it blow away and see what else catches our attention.

kang said...

Hi friend,

That's a remarkable thought: "It's remarkable the attraction difference has . . ."

Boy, that's really true, isn't it. We get all charged up about difference. Like a drug, I suppose -- or sex.

Broken Yogi said...

Friend,

I'm not meaning to distort your words, but quite honestly in your last few posts you have been doing a poor job of communicating a consistent message. I'm not putting words in your mouth when you say that you see enlightenment in reference to things, or that you see ego as a covering over of an underlying reality to things. Maybe when I put it so directly you deny it as an obvious fallacy, because I'm sure that you are well aware of the long-standing understanding in non-dual circles that there are no “things”. And yet your descriptions of what you do understand, that enlightenment is in reference to, well, what would you say it is a referent to? What other word can I use than “thing” to describe what you see these referents as referring to?



“To me enlightenment is not some generalized, unspecified occurrence. I consider that it requires a referent to have any meaning. One has to be enlightened with regard to an identified something which one was previously in the dark about, so it is important to identify what one is in the dark about.”

What else am I to make of this other than that you see enlightenment in relation to an identified “something”.

What I'm saying is that the structure you are setting up is, if you examine it, no different than dualism. It's a sort of neo-Platonism, that there's an essential something that we are in the dark about, and enlightenment sheds light on it and shows us the true nature of it. So if we see a tree, enlightenment allows us to see an enlightened tree, a tree that is illumined by the light of our enlightenment? Is this not how you see it? If not, clarify, because you are simply not being clear, except in your determination to see me as committed to unenlightenment simply because I find your views self-contradictory.

Now, as for your enlightenment, no I don't think you think you are enlightened. But then what am I to make of things like this:




“In my case, there was the practice of enquiry before I even knew what it was called, and it was for the specific purpose of finding out who I was because "I", the self, my (our) relationship to being, was the single biggest mystery of existence, as far as I was concerned. That was my referent, the driver of my search to resolve the obvious relativity of this life, and when that became resolved my search was over and no other search has replaced it, regardless of whether you believe that or not.”

There's not really any other way to describe this except as being enlightened. When one finds and knows the true Self, and the search ends, that's full blown enlightenment. So if you don't see yourself as enlightened, how is it that you have resolved the search and no search has replaced it? This simply doesn't make sense in any way that I can comprehend. I see only two explanations: either you are enlightened and your search is over, or you are not yet enlightened, and your search continues. I think it is that latter, and you are just unaware of the manner in which your search continues. Is there some other possibility I'm not aware of?

I'm not trying to create any animosity here, but I would like to get down to something real, even if it's difficult and creates some heat. I could easily be an idiot here, and just not be understanding you properly, and you may feel that there's no hope for me. But perhaps it would help you to describe what you mean more precisely, and be willing to face up to any internal contradictions in your worldview. I will try to do the same.

Broken Yogi said...

Friend,

You wrote:

"Thanks for those thoughts. Reminds me that all difference is really secondary and superficial and is inevitably built on an underlying unity or non-difference anyway. Little point in dwelling on it as if something ultimately significant was at stake. It's remarkable the attraction difference has, like quicksand if we're not careful. Standing back, it loses its importance. Better to drop it and let it blow away and see what else catches our attention."

This is a good point, but whatever catches our attention is going to be a difference. Even if beauty and truth and goodness and unity catches our attention, that's a difference that has caught our attention, and that's a dualisitc state of mind. Even unity as an underlying state is "different" from the overlying mask of differences. The only way to resolve this contradiction is to no longer see differences at all, not even seeing unity, but transcending attention itself.

Part of my point is that it's important to make note of the fact that we are ALWAYS looking for differences, even if we look for unity. That's what attention is. So if differences are merely secondary or superificial, we are seeing them in relation to something that is deep and primary. That's still seeing a difference. That's the state of the practitioner perhaps, but it's a practitioner who is still practicing in dualism. Non-dual practice doesn't involve making note of differences, it bypasses mind and attention altogether. The non-dual realizer doesn't see the underlying reality of "things". He sees no things at all, no underlying reality, just reality as it is, which is not anything at all.

The "underlying reality" meme is an old Advaitic one, but one that the Buddhists rather successfully trashed long ago. It's still used at times, but it's more a metaphor than anything else. It doesn't mean that there's literally a reality underneath appearances, that makes appearances "true". That's clearly a form of dualism. Non-dualism gets rid of the concept of there being an underlying reality, even an underlying unity. Unity is not in reference to multiplicity. There simply is no multiplicity in reality, so it can't underly it.

Broken Yogi said...

Kang,

Your little rant about non-duality meaning "One" without any kind of internal "nature" was perfect. Makes me want to shut my trap forever.

The implication is that self-enquiry isn't about trying to see the underlying reality of the self. There is none. The whole notion of "self-nature" is kind of absurd. It's a sophist concoction. Like "the nature of the world" - go down far enough, and one ends up with nothing. There is no "nature" to the world, no "unity" that makes the world alright. Unity transcends the world. How could it not? How can there be a world in non-dual unity?

kang said...

Ah, BY, thanks. But the world will be poorer if you shut your trap forever. I just want you to be happy. :-)

I'm very glad to see agreement on these points, though. As a former editor and, perhaps, incipient alzheimers patient I just have trouble digesting very long takes on anything.

friend said...

Hi BY,
Of course, I'll accept your invitation to continue as long as you don't simply jump to conclusions, re-translate what I'm saying and then trash your own interpretation. I might as well not have said anything. Also, as much as I really have enjoyed this conversation, I really am beginning to think we've probably had the best of it. I'd say we have irreconcilable differences, in this particular area of course, not over all. As I say, I enjoy your thought and presence a lot. But I really am wondering if there is much point in flogging this particular dead horse any longer. It's amusing to look back at the beginning of our posts in this thread. They all more or less start with a statement of the fact that we recognize that we have a major difference and I don't think we have really moved very much from there. It might be more interesting to get back on this topic in a few years or so and see how things ('things' is just a manner of speech :)) have changed. I think we might need to step back and give things a little distance. But I will address your latest comments and who knows where we'll go from there.

You mentioned that you couldn't understand what I meant by a referent for enlightenment other than a 'thing'. Perhaps it wasn't clear enough but, right there in the second passage you quote from me, I did specifically say what my referent was: "..."I", the self, my (our) relationship to being, was the single biggest mystery of existence, as far as I was concerned. That was my referent, the driver of my search ..." Does that make more sense now that it's pointed out?

Enlightenment is an ordinary word that can be used in everyday English as long as it has a referent. You have enlightened fathers or people with an enlightened view of sexuality, or "I was enlightened about the relationship between poverty and crime," or "that was a very enlightening talk", meaning that one learned something one didn't know or understand before. Used in this way, the word is not really a problem. Without a referent, however, the word enlightenment becomes a pandora's box full of demons. People use it to store all there wishes, dreams hopes, expectations, release from fear, and especially and altogether a notion of perfection in every area. One imagines one will know everything, be able to handle any situation spontaneously and well and be universally adored, except perhaps by those who are simply to stupid to recognize one's perfection.

Without a specific referent the word enlightenment becomes such a generalized, non-specific grab of an idea that it is useless, even as a myth. It also becomes a weapon to be used against others and over all In fact, I think it becomes a hindrance since no one can ever match up to such unrealistic, all-encompassing notions, not even the Buddha or Ramana or franklin. Franklin had the amazing gall to actually try and pull that notion of all-knowing perfection off, or at least he got caught in the trap of trying to live up to that ridiculous idea, just in the process of trying to get certain other ideas across. But we saw where that lead, to the twisting of logic to such an extent that, as you have pointed out before, a blowjob becomes a sacred act.

It's like the idea that the earth is the static centre of the universe which is possible to imagine, but the maths would be so outrageous that occam's razor, the principle of simplicity rules out the utility of that vision. Precisely the same is true with regard to frank. Everything else has to be so twisted in terms of truth, ethics and so on, to see franklin or anyone as what he says that Occom's razor makes it simply untenable. As a grab bag, the word 'enlightenment' is a ridiculous myth. that far too many of us fall prey to, in my opinion. Only with a referent does it have any real meaning and, in my case, the referent was the apparent mystery of my own (our own) identity, which I resolved. And I use the word resolve because it refers to an issue that requires resolution. It also does not mean 'answer'.

Also, with regard to words in general, all our speech refers to distinctions in the relative world, things or events, so whenever we want to speak about the absolute we only have these relative words at our disposal. As has been pointed out in just about every religion, there are absolutely no words or even concepts that can be used to adequately refer to the absolute. This, it seems obvious to me, one of the reasons for so much confusion in this area. We have to use relative words and concepts to speak about that which no words or concepts apply. So another of the many traps in this area is the continual falling for some relative idea of the absolute. The Buddhists didn't trash the idea of an underlying reality. Certain people simply trased all talk or thought of it. Krishanamurti likewise refused to describe it, although he clearly referred to it, just as the Buddha did. Frank was a real exception in that he wallowed in beautiful ideas and concepts but he has only proven the others right. Let's not pretend it isn't a difficulty and that all talk of this is loaded with traps, including becoming attached to ideas that divide us if we are not careful, and this is as much a reminder to myself as anyone. I hope it doesn't seem as if I'm preaching to you. I'm just trying to account for the use of words which you seem to be jumping on as reifications of the absolute. All words and concepts are reifications because they are relative distinctions having to do with things or events. The trick is not to be fooled by them, and it is a bit of a trick, quite a trick.

But all this does not mean there is no absolute. That is just another trap and one the Buddha also denied. And it is very important that we talk about the absolute and make ourselves aware of the absolute. Otherwise we limit our understanding of existence to the relative. The absolute is not missing and not to be found later any more than "it" is found now. I could speak about it at length, as you obviously can too, but I won't at the moment (thank goodness, eh?). I just want to eradicate any thought in your mind that I am some kind of simpleton who does not understand this principle and who is simply falling for the reification of "things" like God, self, the absolute and so on. I hope that is put to rest once and for all.

On another point, I do not say you were speaking for non-enlightenment because you challenge my ideas at all, but simply because that is what you focused on. In fact you focused on it to such an extent that I assumed you were preaching the materialist view of existence. Only in your last few posts, in response to my comments, have you begun to speak about your view of God etc. Before that your talk was pretty well literally all about present non-enlightenment proven, you seemed to insist, by the existence of conditions.

And finally, for now, there is definitely another, more real, way to understand my statements about the ending of the search and the realization of the beloved than the alternatives you have proposed and I'm sorry but I will get back to you about that since I have to get off the computer and get to work. I'm not being coy. Hopefully my comments above on enlightenment and the relative vs the absolute will go some distance to clearing that question up a bit. Speak to you later.

Bob D. said...

Holy crap! I can't believe I just spent all that time reading through all this. It was a great dialogue, and I suppose I kept going hoping that there would be some resolution, all the while knowing at some deeper level that there would be no such resolution, could be no such resolution.

Broken Yogi,

You are obviously intelligent in the extreme. But I must say I have my doubts that you or Wilber or Friend will ever express the non-dual view to your's or anyone else's satisfaction. It just ain't gonna happen. Without combing through the mountain of comments above, I can say that most of the disagreements reflect, more than anything, the limits of language and concepts. As has been acknowledged by many, words simply fail at a certain point. BY and Friend--you took it Way beyond that point, I think.

Which is why I ask again: is there a basic practice, an injunction that can be followed, that will better reveal your point of view (better than conceptual dialogue and cognitive understanding). In other words, BY and Friend, give me some directions up the mountain, so I can actually "see" your viewpoint for myself. Maybe such a thing is not possible. Maybe that is precisely what you've been trying to do with all this discussion. If so, it didn't work! : ) You can argue all day over who has the best recipe for chocolate pudding, but there's only one way to settle it!

Kang's reminder rang most true to me: In maya, no answer. In Brahman, no question.

In any event, thanks for this discussion. It made me dizzy, yes, but maybe that's necessary to get me to fall down, crash to the floor, and be jolted awake.

Peace and thanks,

--Bob

kang said...

Hi Bob, et al.,

You know where I heard that saying -- "In maya, no answer; in Brahman, no question."

I lived for a while at a monastery of the Ramakrishna Mission (in Michigan, near Chicago). The monks there told me that one.

Bob D. said...

Friend,

We were posting our last comments at the same time, it seems, so I made my point about the limits of concepts without having read your last post, which acknowledges the same thing. I don't mean to diminish the value of this sort of dialogue, however. On the contrary, I learned more about non-dualism from eavesdropping on this conversation than I have from any other source. Thanks for that.

--Bob

Broken Yogi said...

Friend,

Thanks for coming back for a little more. I'm understanding you a little better, but of course still not quite agreeing with you. I did understand that you were using the referent of “self” to describe enlightenment, but that's simply what I take for granted. I consider Self-realization and enlightenment to be synonymous. The examples you give of enlightenment are conditional uses of the term, as an adjective modifying noun. I simply don't see enlightenment in such terms. To me, enlightenment is like your use of the term “absolute”, in other words, its not conditional. It's not even existent the way “things” are existent. I simply call it reality, to keep it brief. So to me enlightenment is reality is Self-Realization. But there is no “enlightened self” as I understand it, so I don't understand the use of self as a referent. I certainly understand using the referent of self in practice, as a way of transcending conditions, and self. It just makes no sense in “relation” to enlightenment, which is beyond any relations.

But I want to get back to the source of our differences, which has to do not so much with how we view enlightenment (I think many of our differences there are merely semantical), but how we view conditions, and conditional views. Here's something from one of your earlier posts:

“What I'm saying is not a matter of seeing a hybrid snake/rope but a matter of realizing that conditions are just a rope, are something safe, are you and of the self nature. They are not a sign of separation, otherness or danger signified by the snake idea.”

This is where we seriously disagree. To whom are conditions safe? To the conditional self? No, they are no safe to that poor boy. Conditions change, and the conditional self that is subject to conditions is threatened by such changes? Are they safe to the true Self? No, they are not even cognized by the true Self, which is unconditional and thus does not see conditions at all. So there isn't any sense in which conditions are actually safe. Remember, the snake represents the conditional view. Until the conditional view is surrendered, the snakes seem real, and are experienced as real. True, as one relinquishes conditional views, the snakes seem less real, and thus one feels less threatened by them. But in that process, they don't become safe, they become unreal. So we don't start seeing the snakes as good snakes who don't bite. They still bite, they still have poison, one just doesn't see them as real snakes, so their bite isn't real either, nor is their poison.

So this I think is the distinction I feel is important to make. The snake is seen as progressively unreal and therefore unthreatening because it is unreal. It isn't that one sees that the snake as a nice safe rope. The snake simply isn't real at all, and there is no underlying “rope” at all. The rope is never actually “seen”, except as a conceptual analogy. Nothing is seen beneath the snake, no rope as object or safe thing, but simply reality itself. Not the reality of the snake, or of the rope, because neither snakes nor ropes are actually real. Objects and conditions have no intrinsic nature, no self. Reality is seen, which is non-dual, absolute, beyond concepts of safe or threatening. So yes, the snake is a sign of separation, of unreality. If one sees conditions, one is seeing something unreal, and not only is the condition unreal, but the sense of separation that created the perception of “condition” is unreal also. So my point is, if one sees oneself as in the midst of conditions, one is seeing unreality, one is deluded. It's good to know this, because it makes it easy to know when we are deluded. The solution is not to tell oneself that the condition is actually safe, because the condition is actually safe. There is no safety in conditions. One has to see that one is not in any condition at all, that the conditions we see are illusions. They are not Self, because Self is not an illusion. If we tell ourselves that conditions are Self, then we have created a false sense of security and a false sense of Self even.

What I'm suggesting is that we follow Ramana's advice and not mix the dual and the non-dual, and not try to live the non-dual. My sense of how I see your “error” (from my point of view, of course) is that you are mixing the two, with the best of intentions of course, and trying to work out a smooth way of doing so, but not realizing that it's not only counterproductive, but impossible. Conditions are simply not compatible with the unconditional, not because of some aversion the unconditional has for conditions, but simply because in reality there are no conditions. In life, we live with conditions, and we shouldn't try to tell ourselves that these conditions are actually unconditional underneath it all sp that we can feel safe in the midst of conditions. Ramana was against that also, for the simple reason that it isn't true. It also takes away our impulse to realize. We may begin to think our search is over even! We may think we are already free, and why not, since conditions are really, underneath it all, unconditional. But this never leads to real freedom, only freedom in the conceptual sense of things, and that isn't satisfying. Temporarily it may be, like any other philosophical attitude towards conditions but it doesn't equate to true freedom, unconditional enlightenment, and non-dual, absolute understanding.

And please don't take undo offense at any inferences I might be making about you. I could be dead wrong, of course, and I usually am. I just call 'em as I see 'em, and hope you will allow me to be outspoken.

Broken Yogi said...

Bob D,

I haven't forgotten your request for a description of non-dual practice. I think about it every day, and remain utterly intimidated by it. But I will try to put something together for you soon.

You and Kang are of course right that we've probably gone way past the point where we can make any sense or resolve any disagreements. But I'm of the view that nothing meaningful every gets done without going way past what seems meaningful. Do you know what I mean?

Most people would consider this dialog just insane, and it may be that Friend and I really are plain nuts. It's even likely. But I can't say that in some strange way it isn't fruitful. I'm often surprised how something useful comes out of the most useless efforts.

And you're right that none of these descriptions, my own included, are likely to ever satisfy me. But who said satisfaction is what I'm after?

ANd Kang's comment about questions and answers is great too. I'm definitely on the maya side of things, so there's no answer, only questions. I just think if one really cares one has to take the questions to the point of exhaustion or they still feel unresolved.

I was reading a comment of Papaji's today, where he said that the problem people have with desire is that they try to fufill their desires one at a time, whereas what they need to do is fulfill all their desires at once. That probably applies to questions also. Rather than answer all these questions one after another, maybe I need to tackle all of them at once. That would be one helluva dialog.

friend said...

Hi BY,
No offence this time. Thanks for the change of approach.

I think the enlightenment issue is a bit more important than you suggest here and, as I see it, is tied in to the snake/rope issue in any case.

You say you are referring to unconditional enlightenment, in the sense that the absolute and reality are unconditional. But that can be troublesome and a bit misleading if that leads one to think that enlightenment is some generalized, unspecified state, because if it were, one would really have no right to say that one wasn't enlightened. As the Islamic proverb says, if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. And how would you know if you weren't there already? Something is telling you that you are not enlightened. What is it?

Imagine for a moment that "God", in his/her exoteric aspect of the wish-fulfilling genie, came down from the heavenly abode and asked you what it was you wanted and you said "unconditional enlightenment please." And the wish-fulfilling genie God says, "But I have granted every wish you ever asked for. Of course, each of those wishes comes with its consequences but I don't actually see any that I have missed. Please tell me what is it that you think is missing?" What would you say? You would have to specify something. In fact, by insisting that you are not presently enlightened you are necessarily, at least secretely, specifying some condition and perhaps many conditions which are not so. So your quest for enlightenment is not really unconditional at all.

You have placed at least one condition or perhaps many conditions on enlightenment. So its not so much the outward conditions that are signifiers of enlightenment but the inner conditions, the conditions we ourselves place on 'enlightenment', completion, happiness, surrender and so on.

One conditon you have, I believe, is that the world that appears to our senses must dissappear and Reality or Self or existence (excuse me for using words to refer to the absolute) must remain. You want to see for yourself, have the absolute proof that 'existence' is not dependent on what we have been calling the 'conditional' world. Isn't that the nub of this issue I wonder? You would like to repeat Ramana's experience of objectless consciousness. Forgive me for taking so long to get to this point. I'm just working through this. I hope I'm not laying something on you but I think that is it. That's why the sensory world represents snakes to you in the analogy.

It's interesting. I often wondered what other people's conditions or most important points were. If you will settle for nothing else then that is what you will hold out for, and why not?

Just so you know, I come at this from an entirely different direction. For some reason, perhaps because I spent a lot of time alone as a child, and a fair bit of that time contemplating the nature of reality, I started with the untutored and unproblematic understanding that I was conscious being itself, life and existence. It was only with a few experiences of the death of others and then my enounter with the secular, scientific, materialist viewpoint (my family assumed religion to be an antiquated form of thinking) that I began to struggle with the understanding that was natural to me. Death made me question my identification with my body and the scientific viewpoint suggested that I was in some way separate from life and that I was something that could end with the body, which contradicted what I felt to be true. Its logic was so strong that I began to wonder whether the difference between my view and theirs was simply the difference between being a child and being an adult. As an adult, it seemed, one had to accept the harsh seemingly loveless reality that I and life were somehow separate and that I, conscious being, was an illusion and that it was apparently unconscious matter which was real. So to me that whole notion is the illusion that is represented by the 'snake' in the analogy. It seemed like an alien world in which it was I, conscious being, who was somehow the illusion and even a mistake. But that idea never really made any sense, meaning it never accorded with reality I experienced, no matter which way I looked at it. It always troubled me greatly and was the driver of my obsessive search, and I can tell you that there was no doubt about it when that search finally came to an end. It was like night and day. I can promise you nothing has replaced it, a fact which was pretty disorienting at first, and if this state is temporary then it's been a long temporary, over twenty years.

What resolved the question of who I am for me was not an experience of objectless reality but the simple realization that reality, conscious being, was not defined by the limited identity of either this body or any other form of matter, but that it/"I" (conscious being) was just reality, God or the beloved itself. What I had assumed was the essence of a separate 'me' was actually simply reality, the rope.

I completely realize that may not be enough for you and, if I am correct, I think I understand better where you are coming from, and I'll also understand if you suddenly find yourself losing interest in this conversation. But don't imagine this is a lesser understanding. I think you just need a bit more convincing than I did. If I'm right here, I think it goes a heck of a long way to explaining our difference. Who would have guessed? Anyway, I'm off for the weekend. Got to go. I'll speak to you later, if you are still interested that is, when I get back on Monday.

Kang said...

So then, friend, you take that "I" to be immortal, I suppose. If it is not immortal, it's not worth mentioning. My next meal is more important.

But on the contrary, some of us say the "I" is not immortal. "Conscious being," as you put it, is nothing special -- not separate and apart or distinguishable from perishable phenomena altogether. "The content of consciousness IS consciousness." ~JK

The "I" sense is present in every experience, yes, Godlike or even God itself, yes. But even though all experiences are temporary and passing, we assume (because we have not directly examined it) that the "I" sense is imperishable. This is called the fundamental ignorance.

The "I" sense even makes this case for itself, as you have done here (according to my reading of it). So the proper response is to confront that argument directly, confront the "I" sense directly. Find out if it dies.

The "I" sense is not the "Self" of Ramana's reference, imo. BY wrote a masterful phrase some time back, I think, about "releasing identification with the feeling of 'I'."

This is one difference I perceive between your position and BY's. You are asserting the "I" sense, or you embody that assertion, while BY's thrust would undermine it. Naturally there is no peace between these positions. It is correct when you suggest that some are not satisfied with "I" and its experiences. That dissatisfaction is a necessary prelude to liberation from karma and samsara.

If I am correct in my interpretations here, I side with BY. The "I sense" is mortal. It dies. And when it does, phenomenal experience goes with it. And that has no implications whatsoever.

friend said...

Hi Kang,
Just to be clear, I am not saying that "I", as an individual unit of conscious being, is immortal at all. Nor am I saying that conscious being is separate or apart from perishable phenomena. I completely agree that the usual understanding of "I" is unsatisfactory to many, as I have said it was for me and which drove my search.

What I am saying is that when all else has been removed from consideration as the essence of the nature of self, such as name, personality, body, thoughts, senses and all the rest, what is inevitably left and what we most essentially identify as I, if we have examined it, is conscious being. But conscious being is not an attribute of the individual as is most everyone's casual conclusion and, which mistaken identification is the source of so much confusion. Conscious being is just reality itself. It is not an object or anything that can be conceived of and yet it is always present. In fact, it is always completely obvious though it is generally obscured by the mis-identification of 'being' as an attribute or even the primary signifier of the individual's separate being.

Conscious being is not something separate at all. It is a higher order of reality than perishable phenomena. It is what phenomenal reality depends on and is evident to. It is more than simply immortal. It's what is, outside of time. It is what Krishnamurti refers to as the ground of being, what Ramana calls Self, what Niz calls universal consciousness, and what the Buddha refers to as the unborn, undying, uncreated. But, again, this is not an object or anything that can be imagined. Any thought of it, of course, is away from it. As had been said endlessly, words and ideas are only to point to the reality we are partaking of at the moment, the reality in which perishable phenomena are apparent, though generally mis-appropriating that self-awareness as an attribute of the individual body and its sensory point of view or, forgetting consciousness altogether, even as an attribute of the objecive material world alone. Reality doesn't lie in perishable phenomena but perishable phenomena do lie in reality.

I hope that makes what I'm saying a little clearer. It may sound too simple and, listened to casually, it may not sound like seeing through such a simple mistake can make much difference but, when it happens, one realizes it is the essential turning about referred to by the Buddha and the only revolution referred to by Krishnamurti. And that's no grand claim by the way. I'm certainly not claiming to be equal to anyone's grand ideas of those figures. It only seems big because it's such a confusing issue and we have so much invested in its resolution. From that angle it can seem like an ego thing but actually, and thankfully, it's the beginning of the end for the ego, such a troublesome conclusion. Buddha's notion of fundamental ignorance was clinging to feeling of the individual self as somehow unique and separate as well as any idea of self, not that to which everything was evident. He specifically said that, although no individual reincarnates, it is the same one who is reborn, illustrating that the self is not a unique phenomenon. Releasing identification with the sense of a unique "I" is precisely what I am talking about.

BTW, when Krishnamurti said that consciousness is its content, he did not mean that it was defined by, or limited to its content. He was saying that consciousness was not separate from its content. Along the very same lines, he has said famously that the observer is the observed and that you are the world, that you are your anger, that you are not separate from life, for example. He was obviously not saying that you are limited to or identical to the observed. He did not mean, for example, that you disappear when you are not angry. He was simply countering the tendency to separate ourselves. He often chuckled when people asked, for example, if they became the tree they were observing. He did not imagine that he, as an individual, somehow became limited to the workmen and their tools and the road they were working on, which he reported in an early experience. Similarly, the Buddha chuckled (in the Lankavatara Sutra I think it was) when a listener reported all that he saw around him when his eyes were open but replied that, when he closed his eyes, he saw nothing. The buddha pointed out that the faculty of sight had not disappeared, illustrating that consciousness is not dependent on its contents. And of course, even the sense of sight, like all senses is dependent on consciousness, or whatever one wants to call it.

In fact forgetting the words and ideas altogether, to what is it that perishable phenomena are evident? Although you have said the question of "who I am" I is not of interest to you, isn't it relavent to ask how it is that being is evident at all? To what are the senses apparent? All I am saying is that that is not an individual attribute. It is just the remarkable quality of reality itself which we tend to mis-appropriate because of mistaken identification. While there are separate units of sensory focus which obviously end with the body, there are no separate units of what all that is evident to. That's all I'm trying to say.

kang said...

Well, I don't know where you and BY disagree at all, then. But just for fun, I think I'll pick at your interpretation of JK's saying.

. . .when Krishnamurti said that consciousness is its content, he did not mean that it was defined by, or limited to its content. He was saying that consciousness was not separate from its content.

I think by parsing it this way, you leave room to suggest that consciousness is a distinguishable entity from its content, that without content, there still remains something called consciousness. IMO, that is not the case. "The content of consciousness IS consciousness." This is a profound thing, not a mundane observation.

There is no "tree" apart from consciousness. When you are imagining that you are gone but a tree still remains, this is all an act of consciousness. This cannot be addressed in a speculative way, such as asking about the workmen on the road. Everything that is actually happening, or imagined to be happening is an act of consciousness.

Krishnamurti also talked about being "outside the field of consciousness." That is the great implication. It seems to me that you do not admit such a thing, because everything that is not temporal phenomena is put into the basket of "conscious being." If you're not implying that "conscious being" is separate and immune from temporal phenomena, then why even mention it?

It's a concept that seems to be a secure and steady place to anchor the ego. But that concept and all its implications are just another act of consciousness. They are not outside the field of consciousness at all.

So I think JK's saying is exactly meaning that consciousness is defined and limited not by its content, but as its content. I think your interpretation of JK, on the contrary, is reducing it and trying to make it mundane and safe. IMO, of course.

In other words, there is a limit to consciousness and there is no freedom in it. That's why he always called the improvements people like to make as "decorating your cell."

But the first and last freedom lies "outside the field of consciousness," which cannot be described as being or nonbeing or in any other way, because such descriptions will only be projections of consciousness itself, mere modifications of the prison cell amounting to no essential difference at all.

To me, that's what is radical in JK, and in Truth. This "conscious being" does not attain that freedom.

Eh?

Broken Yogi said...

Friend,

I've read your responses to both me and Kang, and I get a better sense for what you are trying to describe. Your description of “conscious being” is fairly clear. Conscious awareness, the consciousness of being, the “intelligent observer”, these are all good descriptions of a basic intelligence that is a good step above ordinary assumptions about ourselves, such as scientific materialism or just basic unquestioning bodily identification. However, contrary to what you have assumed, this is not what Ramana calls the Self, or what Niz and others describe as realization. In fact, it's really not even close. It's just a very basic understanding of ourselves as conscious beings. It certainly solves a basic level of dilemma and search based on doubt of self and irreligious attitudes of atheistic emptiness. But what you describe as the end of your search, is not the end of all seeking, just the end of a particular mode of seeking and disturbance. Obviously you have benefited from not being disturbed and not feeling the need to seek for some greater spiritual understanding of self and world. And I for one don't want to try to persuade you to seek something greater or deeper. I'm not a Guru, after all. I'm not even qualified to offer and opinion in any authoritative sense of things. I'm just responding as a friend and fellow traveler. I could certainly be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. But I also feel fairly certain that I'm at least in the right ballpark.

I like your whole story of your own spiritual search and its conclusion. I don't want to put it down at all. And by saying that it isn't non-dual realization, I hope you know that's not a put-down at all. Lots of people would be very happy to have achieved your understanding. But it isn't a permanent understanding in the sense of being unconditional and transcendental. It's only permanent in the same way that puberty is permanent. Once one's hormones make those changes in our body, they don't go backwards. But the body dies, and when it does, not only will our hormones be gone, but our understanding of ourselves as self-aware conscious being will also go. We will be reborn and go through a similar struggle just to get back to this kind of understanding.

I want to point out that what you are describing is essential for everyone on the spiritual path. Becoming convinced that we are consciousness first, and not the body or material objects, is very important. But it's only the beginning. It's not non-dual awareness. In fact, it is exactly the dualistic awareness that I have been trying to describe to you. Dualism isn't just scientific materialism. In fact, it's hard to see oneself as dualistic while being a scientific materialist, because one doesn't even see experience from the perspective of the conscious observer. One simply assumes that consciousness is a feature of matter, and so in some sense life is “single” and uncomplicated. Adding the conscious observer to the mix makes things more complex, and the materialist doesn't like that. That complexity is essentially the awareness of duality, and all the mirrored features of dualistic mind.

When we become aware of ourselves in this manner, we begin to realize that conscious being is the basic element of life, but this is not the singleness you are trying to describe. Yes, self becomes single, but it is self in the midst of a world of objects. This self that is “conscious being” is the ego. It is the very awareness that must be transcended. But it is also the field of conscious spiritual practice. The most basic form of self-enquiry as taught by Ramana is simple feeling-awareness of the sense of self, of “I”, of awareness feeling awareness. Letting go of identification with this sense of self becomes a natural response over time, but this is not possible until one lets go of all attachments to objects and falls into the source of this sense of “I”. Some people misunderstand Ramana and other teachers, and think that this “I” is the Self, that the “I” and the Self are really the same, because they have heard equations such as “Atman and Brahman are the same”, or that unenlightenment is merely a concept. What Ramana and Papaji both point out is that while this is true, that the truth of the “I” is the Self, that we are already enlightened, this is also just a concept. So both unenlightenment and prior enlightenment are both concepts, until realization itself.

What Ramana makes clear time and again is that the “I”, the conscious sense of being, of awareness, is the false self, the illusion of egoity. His recommendation for practice is not to try to eliminate this, but to settle fully into it, inspect it, and find its source. Where does this feeling of being come from? Ramana points out that this feeling of consicous being is just a thought. He calls it the “I”-thought. He recommends meditation on this “I”-thought, which is the source of all other thoughts. But if one simply accepts this feeling of self as oneself, and lets that assumption simply “be the case” there is no real transcendence of it. We all feel this sense of self. The reason you describe your realization as “no big deal” isn't because true enlightenment is no big deal, it's because knowing oneself as conscicous being really is no big deal.

I know that you don't have some inflated notion of yourself as being a realizer like Ramana and Niz, etc. But you do seem to have made some false assumptions about non-dual practice and realization by simply assuming that what you have come to understand is the same thing. I know it's fashionable to say that enlightenment isn't a big deal, that its simply “ordinary”, and one could certainly in some sense say this is true, but only in a sense. Enlightenment is of course the biggest deal, it is infinitely big, infinite love, infinite being, not just the simple sense of being that comes from recognizing the primacy of consciousness. There's a reason Ramana and Niz are thought of so highly. Such realization is extremely rare, and in a basic sense that makes it a big deal. The understanding you have come to is not very rare at all, and consequently is not such a big deal. It's good, it's highly recommended, but the reason it doesn't feel like such a big deal to you is that it simply isn't.

Now there's a basic sense of understanding in what you describe that is good to keep with you regardless of what exceptional experiences might arise. It's good to keep a basic sense of context here, and not be all that impressed with higher spiritual experiences. But it's not as if higher spiritual experiences have no value either. Still, what you describe could be the basis for non-dual practice if you understood it better. The problem is that some people tend to not know what to do with it. They might even feel that their search is over, that this is the end of the line. That's not true. That's another illusion. I know you probably don't like me saying that, but I do think you ought to look into the matter a little more deeply.

Now I can't go through your post point by point, but when you talk about certain paradoxes, like the genie giving a gift of enlightenment, of course this is all based on misunderstandings about non-dualism. Enlightenment is not given, because enlightenment is already the case. All that occurs in enlightenment is that the contradictions are removed. The primary contradiction that is removed is the “I”-thought, the sense of feeling of conscious being. So rather than asking the genie for a state of enlightenment, or anything at all, one would simply ask that the ego illusion be removed. The genie might then ask, like Bodhidharma, “what ego?”, and if one was ready, that might be sufficient for realization. If not, one would have to investigate, and find out what ego indeed. That would be the course of practice Ramana calls self-enquiry. So the genie's gift is not enlightenment, but the practice of self-enquiry. As Ramana used to say, simple interest in self-enquiry is all the sign one needs that one has been given the Guru's grace, because that is the form it takes.

I don't know if any of that interests you. One of the biggest problems with thinking that one is already there is that one doesn't investigate the nature of the self any further. As you say, your search is over, why look further? I can't answer that. What you have understood might be enough for you, and in that sense it is ultimate as far as you are concerned. But there's a reason why you seem not to understood these non-dual teachings and descriptions of enlightenment very well. You are trying to adapt them to what you know and experience as your own conscious being, and they are not trying to describe that at all. They are describing something that is at best intuited within our sense of conscious being, but the ego always tries to turn that intuition towards its own ends. One of the things it will do is tell us that this is enlightenment. When it does that, the ego feels safe and satisfied. We feel safe and satisfied. That feeling should itself be a warning sign. Spiritual practice should never feel wholly safe and satisfied. Our search should never feel at an end, until infinite love and bliss make it impossible to seek at all. And I do mean infinite. Not just basic and simple and ordinary, but infinite consciousness.

However, almost everyone in the universe is satisfied with far less. It seems that literally only a handful of people are unsatisfied with everything, and won't settle for anything less than infinite love. But we are discussing unconditional realization, meaning infinite in every respect. It can't be equated to the ordinary limited consciousness of simple being that we can all turn to and grow with. The source of our ordinary consciousness is infinite, but without that direct and infinite consciousness of the source of the ego, we are simply being ordinary egos.

friend said...

Hi Kang,
I spent a good deal of time with JK's work a long while back, including his talks and some small personal contact. He influenced and shaped my life considerably. I didn't find anything unsafe in his teachings at all. Of course that doesn't mean I didn't miss something, but I don't find your notion of what JK was saying (regarding consciousnes being its content) supportable, not that that says anything about the rightness or wrongness of your own view. I just don't find support for that view in JK.

I think if you look back on his work, his emphasis is on non-separation, breaking through difference, breaking down divisions, all of which create conflict inwardly and outwardly. His work is chock full of such references. On the other hand, there is nothing I can really remember that supports your notion that he meant consciousnes IS its content in the sense you suggest. If he actually meant such a thing, I'm sure there would have been considerably more such reference and development in evidence throughout his work since, as you say, it would have been a significant point. When he said the observer is the observed, for example, it seems obvious to me that he was simply combatting the human tendency, due to thought, to separate ourselves out from everything we observe. He meant there were not two entities but simply observation.

Also, he was not one to encourage affirmative thinking. He famously used what he called the negative approach. So non-separation was far more his style than any idea of unity, for instance, an idea which he found silly and even repulsive. The reason for that, as I'm sure you know, is that the mind forms an idea of an affirmative statement while it doesn't so much of a negative statement. Ideas become a problem because we tend to relate to them as symbols for 'what is' rather than to the reality to which the symbols were actually referring.

This brings me to another point. It's easy to listen to another and imagine that what they have just said is simply an idea rather than the reality it was intended to refer the listener to, and an idea is necessarily objective. I'm not saying I am immune to this syndrome but my point for now is that your understanding of my meaning in the use of the word consciousness may be such an idea. Consciousness, the actual fact of it, is obviously not an entity and I definitely don't see it as an entity or as an object at all. I see consciousness as the context of existence, the context of its content. Of course it is distinguishable but not in any objective way as are things in the relative world. As I think I have said here recently, it is a higher, more senior order of reality. But unless we are on the same wavelength, these are all just words.

I completely agree that everything that is happening or imagined to be happening is a function of consciousness, via mind and thought. But consciousness itself is not a concept. To imagine so is a grave mistake in my opinion. Surely such objectivization of consciousness is the very origin of ego. In that sense, consciousness itself is outside the field of consciousness since any attempt to conceptualize it will be unsuccessful. And yet, in the sense I am using the word, as self-aware existence, it is completely obvious to anyone.

Yes, as JK frequently pointed out, the self, or ego as we're calling it, is a tricky thing. We always have to be vigilant. Self, in his terms referred to anything that even hinted at self-interest. So when you suggest that my use of the term consciousness is a great place to hide ego, I take it you are sensing or fearing some self-interest in my communication as opposed to the interest of others. I'm certainly sorry if that comes across. My intent is simply to share an insight which I found incredibly valuable. It's always difficult when that gets taken as an egoic act, which seems to be fairly often, but I walk on through that as much as I can because I know absolutely that it is not for myself that I am attempting to make this communication. The ego certainly does not exist in the communication itself because that's exactly what I am trying to point out doesn't exist, but only reality does, which happens to be conscious. Still, I am certainly open to seeing how the vestiges of ego, as separate self-interest, may display itself. To learn about that is an important reason I participate in these forums.

Regarding JK's reference to that which is outside the field of consciousness, I think its important again that we don't fall prey to ideas. After such periods of contemplation or meditation, he reports on what he has undergone, attempting to describe what he experienced beyond words. Obviously, it did not consist of 'nothing'.

He also explains what he means by 'outside the field of consciousness' in what may seem like a fairly mundane example of undergoing a fearful experience. He points out that at the time of such an experience one actually feels no fear. One is simply meeting the situation with intensity. It is only afterwards, as the experience gets turned into memory and thought that the content of the sense of fear becomes developed. He also talks about losing one's awareness of oneself when intently listening to music or observing a mountain at sunset, for example. All of this is outside of the field of consciousness in his sense, and he encourages making opportunities to allow oneself to experience life in such a non-definable way. So his use of the term outside of the field of consciousness does not mean that 'Being' has come to an end or any such thing. It does not mean that one is unconscious or that consciousness has disappeared. In fact it is more real and intense than what one might consider ordinary experience. What is missing primarily is the awareness of self as something separated out from the rest of reality, and that is what he is talking about with his reference to being outside the field of consciousness. We are back to his point about the observer being the observed. In such a non-dual state, when the self recedes, reality is obvious. None of this is different from what I have been attempting to say.

Consciousness as a word is just a word. I find it most appropriate for referring to the reality I am trying to point to. I understand that you may see the word as referring to 'something' (not objective or an entity of any kind of course) slightly different and so you object to my use of it to refer to the primary quality of the absolute. If you see consciousness as something limited, it is certainly not as I see it, nor as I mean it. The word is somehow referring to different aspects of reality for each of us. I suspect you may be thinking of the word consciousness as merely referring to awareness of sensory and thought processes while I am referring to what all that is apparent to. But it doesn't matter. I'm not certainly interested in starting an argument on that point. It's a totally a minor issue. The important point here is simply that I am not referring to a reality that is limited or lacking in freedom. Choose any word you wish to translate this meaning for yourself or as JK often said, perhaps it is better to read between the lines.