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