All Things Seem But Cannot BeAre you saying that phenomenal appearance has reality?
From the absolutist view, Consciousness of Self, which might be called the formless witness or presence, is deemed the only thing that is real, and the world/body/mind phenomenon is deemed illusory for want of a better word or at least not what I am.
As I understand what you have shared, this is not the final step but there is also an appreciation of phenomena as being Consciousness also, not separate objects. Are you saying that there is also identity with this phenomenal appearance, that it has reality, or are you saying the witnessing presence (the screen) is the real identity?
Gary: From the absolutist view, Consciousness of Self, which might be called the formless witness or presence, is deemed the only thing that is real, and the world/body/mind phenomenon is deemed illusory or at least not what I am.
Rupert: Yes, Consciousness or Presence is all that is real or we could say it is the reality of experience.
When it is said that the world is ‘illusory,’ it is meant that the separate existence of the world as an apparent object in its own right, is an illusion. That is, the apparent world/body/mind has no separate reality of its own, independent of the Consciousness that ‘knows’ it.
If we explore this deeply, we find in fact that knowing an object is the same as being that object. In other words, the existence of an apparent object, other or world is made only of the knowing of it.
This does not mean that experience of an apparent world/body/mind is an illusion. It is an illusion as a world/body/mind, that is, as an object. But experience itself is real, only its reality is not made out of matter or mind. It is made out of Consciousness.
In other words, Consciousness is the reality of all experience. But there is no ‘all’ experience. There is just one experience, the experience of Consciousness knowing/being/loving itself, eternally. And because there is only one, it is not even right to say there is one, because of the subtle suggestion of the possibility, in saying so, of there being two.
The ancients were very wise. They didn’t say one. They said ‘not two.’
So, if we conceive the world/body/mind as an object, then it is, by definition considered to be ‘what I am not.’ However, in such a case, the world/body/mind would have to be something other than what I am, that is, other than Consciousness. This is a posititon of duality.
However, if we see that the only reality to the apparent world/body/mind is Consciousness, that is, my Self, then the world/body/mind is very much what I am. It is made out of what I am, Consciousness.
In other words, if we see apparent objects we are by definition not ‘seeing’ Consciousness, that is, Consciousness seems to be knowing something other than itself. And as soon as we see that there is only Consciousness knowingbeing itself, then we simultaneously realise that there is and never has been a world/body/mind as such.
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Gary: As I understand what you have shared, this is not the final step but there is also an appreciation of phenomena as being Consciousness also, not separate objects. Are you saying that there is also identity with this phenomenal appearance, that it has reality, or are you saying the witnessing presence (the screen) is the real identity?
Rupert: To recognise that what we are is unlimited, unlocated Consciousness is what is known as ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’ but, as you rightly say, it is not the final step.
To recognise our Self as the formless witness or Presence is true but we can go further and ask what then is this world/body/mind that is witnessed?
If we make a deep exploration of the experience of the world/body/mind we find that there is no other substance to it other than the Consciousness in which it appears and by which it is known. In other words, Consciousness is not only its witness but also simultaneously its substance. It is its reality.
So it is not that objects are Consciousness but rather that Consciousness, by ‘taking the shape of’ sensing and perceiving, seems to appear as an object of the world/body/mind.
To say that objects are really Consciousness would be to start with objects. However, there are no objects in experience. There only seem to be. In fact an object could be said to be the name we give to the forgetting of Consciousness.
How does Consciousness seem to forget itself? By ‘taking the shape of’ dualising thought which imagines that Consciousness is not infinite, eternal, all-pervading Presence, but rather that it is finite, time-bound and pervading only this little sensation here called ‘the body.’ However, believing this doesn’t make this a fact. It only seems to make it so.
In fact, Consciousness is always only knowing its own Ever-presence.
So there is no ‘identity with phenomenal appearance.’ Rather all phenomena are understood to be in appearance only. That is, they seem to be but are not. As Shakespeare said, “All things seem but cannot be.” The ‘isness’ in what appears to be an object belongs to Consciousness, not to the non-existent object.
Consciousness is the real and only identity of all seeming things. However, as there is nothing that is not that, we do not need to say that it is ‘real’ or ‘only,’ because there is nothing present in our experience that could be ‘not real’ or ‘other than’ Consciousness. Therefore we only need say, ‘Consciousness is.’
However, even this is too much. Where is the need for the naming of ‘Consciousness’ if there is nothing else present with which it could be compared or contrasted? And where the need affirming the ‘isness’ or presence of this ‘Consciousness’ if ‘not being’ is an impossibility?
In other words how can we truly express that the substance of all seeming things is utterly inconceivable and unperceivable, beyond being and not being, and yet fully present, utterly pervading and saturating experience?
We simply cannot! So here we fall completely silent, knowing that any word, even the most absolute, is one word too much.
But then we look up and see that the blue of the sky, the hum of the heating, the current train of thought, the tingling of the body, the taste of tea, is shining only with That and we smile and start to speak again!