Absolutism and Advaita CorrectnessFrom an absolutist viewpoint, the truth of what we are can never be other than what we are.
From an absolutist viewpoint, the truth of what we are can never be other than what we are, although this truth has to be recognised and no longer ignored.
However, the means of this realization is the end. By this I mean that the way to Truth or Self is via Truth or Self. It is a journey to what already is the case.
The awakening to this Truth then is never by any body/mind but by Truth itself, by identity with Truth itself rather than with a body mind, which can only ever be a false self.
I wonder if you share this approach which when ‘grasped’ is very clear, as I get the impression that you are teaching in more the so-called ‘direct path?’ By this I mean a semi-absolute approach, ie. asking the so-called self to enquire into it’s own present nature and gradually come to a deeper understanding.
This may just be a semantic difference but, absolutely speaking, it is the Self that realizes its own ever presence, a position that the little self can never reach despite any amount of enquiry or practise in time. As this becomes clear questions about becoming more established in this Self seem erroneous as this Self can never not be.
Well what do you think? For me it seems clearly so, though perhaps its also about being ready to be led to this point, or cliff edge?
Gary: From an absolutist viewpoint, the truth of what we are can never be other than what we are, although this truth has to be recognised and no longer ignored.
Rupert: Let us acknowledge to begin with that even the most ‘perfect’ formulations of the nature of experience are couched within the inherent limitations of language. In other words, there are no statements that are absolutely true or that do not make reference, implicitly or explicitly, to some subtle notion of duality.
For instance, in the apparently ‘absolutist viewpoint’ you cite above, expressed as ‘the truth of what we are can never be other than what we are,’ there is a reference to the truth of what we are, subtly suggesting the possibility of there being something other than the truth of what we are, such as ‘untruth.’
Likewise, the word ‘recognise,’ which means to ‘know again,’ suggests that whatever is known again was at some point, not known. And finally, the word ‘ignored’ suggests that it is possible for ‘the truth of what we are’ to be overlooked. So, these words make reference to the possibility of something other than the knowing of what we are and another name for this apparent knowing is ‘duality.’
In other words, the absolutist statement above is not very absolutist! If we look closely at all statements of the so-called ‘absolute truth’ we always find the same inherent limitation of language.
That is perfect, because in acknowledging this inherent limitation of language, we are simultaneously and more importantly acknowledging that what is being pointed to is beyond and prior to the mind.
In fact, even the idea of an ‘absolute viewpoint’ is a contradiction of terms. In order to stand at a point we first have to separate the totality into at least two apparent things, one, a viewer, situated ‘here’ at this point from where it is viewing and two, the viewed, situated over there at some distance from and other than, the viewer. That is pure dualism - a viewing subject here, at this point, and a viewed object there, at that point.
So, if we only admit expressions of the absolute truth, we had better keep quiet! This is why Ramana Maharshi said that silence was the highest teaching.
However, if we are willing to admit the limitations of language we can use a very wide variety of words and formulations to point towards or express the reality of our experience. In fact, it is precisely because we are free of all view points that we are able to take up any provisional view point in relation to a particular question or situation, thereby tailoring our experiential understanding the specific needs of the moment.
And such a formulation may or may not be couched in ‘perfectly’ non-dual terms. However, if the words or formulations that are used truly come from experiential understanding, then this understanding will be communicated somehow, even in apparently imperfect words. That is, the imperfect words (or whatever other form in which the communication takes place) will be perfect.
In other words, acknowledging the inherent limitation of words and yet at the same time being willing to accommodate their limitations, liberates us from perfectionism, absolutism and fundamentalism and allows great creativity and freedom of expression.
* * *
Gary: However, the means of this realization is the end. By this I mean that the way to Truth or Self is via Truth or Self. It is a journey to what already is the case.
Rupert: Again, whilst I understand the logic that is being used here and acknowledge that it is ‘advaitically correct,’ it feels a little intellectual. Using the same impeccable logic, for instance, we could ask where is the need for a ‘journey’ if we already understand that the ‘truth’ or ‘self’ is ‘already the case?’ However, that would be rather pedantic!
I like to be simple and straight forward: if it seems that we are a separate entity moving around in time and space in search of happiness, we have by definition forgotten the truth of our identity.
It would, of course, be more accurate (but still not completely accurate) to say that in such a case, dualising thought has arisen within Consciousness (and of course made only out of Consciousness) and, as a result, seemingly divided the seamlessness of Presence into two apparent things, that is, a separate entity and a separate world.
However, once this separation has seemingly happened, Consciousness seems, as a result, to be veiled from itself and inherent in this position is the search for itself, that is the search for love, peace and happiness.
In other words, if the sense of a journey is present, we are, whether we know it or not, taking ourselves to be an entity travelling in space and time, looking for something that seems to be lost. And conversely, if we consider ourselves to be a person or an entity, we are, by definition, on a journey.
I recommend being honest about that, because ‘intellectual perfectionism’ or ‘advaita correctness’ is one of the safer refuges for the sense of separation in the modern spiritual era just as devotion to a person or an object was in previous eras.
(That is not directed to you specifically, Gary, nor am I suggesting that this is the case for you…I am just responding to your comments in general.)
* * *
Gary: The awakening to this Truth then is never by any body/mind but by Truth itself, by identity with Truth itself rather than with a body mind, which can only ever be a false self.
Rupert: Yes, the body and mind know nothing, let alone the reality of experience. They are known. They do not know.
All apparent objects, others, things and the world are known by Consciousness, in Consciousness and as Consciousness. However, it doesn’t make any sense to speak of ‘identity with Truth.’ Identity means ‘the same as.’ If it is understood that Consciousness is all, then what is there to be identical with Consciousness?
* * *
Gary: I wonder if you share this approach which when “grasped” is very clear, as I get the impression that you are teaching in more the so-called ‘direct path’? By this I mean a semi-absolute approach, ie. asking the so-called self to enquire into it’s own present nature and gradually come to a deeper understanding.
Rupert: I am not teaching in the so-called ‘direct path’ or indeed in any ‘path’ that makes reference to the past or that can be given a name. Nor do I have a particular pre-set approach. I am simply responding to questions and situations, acknowledging of course, that the form in which the responses come is conditioned, at least outwardly, by the body/mind ‘through which’ they come.
Being free from any particular approach I am able to take any approach as the moment demands: it may be couched in absolute terms or in terms of what has been called the ‘direct path,’ or what is sometimes called the ‘path of energy’ or the tantric path, or even, on occasions, in terms that are referred to as the ‘progressive path,’ in which an apparent individual, who seems to be able to do something towards so called enlightenment, is condoned.
It is precisely this freedom from all prescribed approaches and, above all, from ‘advaita correctness’ that gives this teaching the possibility to be tailored uniquely to every question or situation and to meet it, as it were, where it is, rather than with perfect expressions of absolute non-dualism, which often fail to touch the heart of the listener.
However, even that is not quite true: When I say “I am simply responding…..” what is meant is that the question arises and then the answer arises and just as there is no individual entity asking the question, so likewise is there no individual entity answering them.
There is simply this openness and sensitivity here, plus a heart that melts again and again whenever it hears a question that comes from a deep desire to know the nature of reality, and a mind which, having been turned towards and immersed in this reality for so long now, bubbles up with expressions and formulations at the slightest provocation and sometimes even with no provocation at all!
* * *
Gary: This may just be a semantic difference but, absolutely speaking, it is the Self that realizes its own ever presence, a position that the little self can never reach despite any amount of enquiry or practise in time.
Rupert: Yes, it is the Self that realises itself or, rather, ‘sees’ that it is always only knowing, being and loving its own Self.
And yes, it is ‘a position that the little self can never reach despite any amount of enquiry or practise in time’ simply because the little self is utterly non-existent. A non-existent entity obviously cannot know or be anything.
If that is obvious, it is obvious and there is absolutely no question of this non-existent self either doing or not doing anything.
However, if it is not obvious, then this non-existent self will seem to be present and, whether it is known or not, will be seemingly doing or not doing a lot of things with a view to acquiring peace, love and happiness.
If, as this apparent entity we consider ourselves to be, we think that we have a choice either ‘to do’ or ‘not to do,’ we are fooling ourselves. In other words, as that apparent entity, we are very much engaged in doing whether we realise it or not and, as such, our apparent ‘not doing’ is just another doing.
(Again, Gary, I am not suggesting that this is your position).
* * *
Gary: As this becomes clear, questions about becoming more established in this Self seem erroneous as this Self can never not be.
Rupert: It is only the apparent self that seems not to be established and that seeks to be established. However, if this apparent self seems to be present then seeking is inevitable. Questions that come from this apparent self are not therefore erroneous. They are inevitable and as such, should be honoured.
When the apparent entity that we seem to be is seen to be entirely non-existent, there are, obviously, no more questions about its presumed existence.
So, if there are questions, these questions seek resolution in understanding. If there are no questions, there are no questions. I do not see either position as erroneous.
Gary: For me it seems clearly so, though perhaps its also about being ready to be led to this point, or cliff edge?
Rupert: It is beautiful that this is clear for you. I am happy for you and with you! However, your very questioning in this email suggests that you, like me, relatively speaking, value dialogue, conversation and exploration.