Is Consciousness Limited?Consciousness here is not experiencing what Consciousness where you are is experiencing.
Questions and Answers
125) Is Consciousness Limited?
Regarding the boundlessness of Consciousness: Although I cannot find any direct evidence in experience that Consciousness is bounded I arrive at the conclusion that it might be. Consciousness here is not experiencing what Consciousness where you are is experiencing. From this I infer that Consciousness here (where “I” am) is bounded (otherwise whatwould prevent it from knowing your experience right now).
By definition, whatever it is that acts as a boundary separating the Consciousness here from the Consciousness where you are cannot be known because it is outside of Consciousness. The fact that such a boundary cannot be known directly does not prove that it doesn’t exist but only that it cannot be known. It’s existence is inferred (although not proven) as the existence of a black hole is inferred by the effect of the black hole on space around it even though a black hole cannot be seen.
The other conclusion that I can draw from the fact that Consciousness here is not experiencing you right now is that you don’t exist right now but only when the Consciousness here is experiencing you. Is either of these possibilities True? I have been mulling over this question for more than ten years and feel that the answer cannot be known, but I’m very interested in what you might have to say about it.
In This Love,
Murray: Regarding the boundlessness of Consciousness: Although I cannot find any direct evidence in experience that Consciousness is bounded I arrive at the conclusion that it might be.
Rupert: Most of us have spent the last X number of decades convinced that Consciousness is personal, located and limited. So, having explored our experience and seen that we have no evidence for such a belief wouldn’t it make sense to arrive at the conclusion that it might not be personal, located and limited, rather than that it might be?
However, you are right in that the mind does not know and, more importantly, cannot know whether Consciousness is personal or not.
Murray: Consciousness here is not experiencing what Consciousness where you are is experiencing.
Rupert: How do you know? You cannot remember what you were thinking or perceiving exactly three hours ago but that fact does not in any way imply that whatever thought or perception was present then appeared in a different Consciousness from the one in which these words are appearing.
In other words, a lapse of memory in time does not imply the discontinuity of Consciousness. It just tells us something about the construction of the mind. Maybe, due to the same construction of the mind which limits memory in time, there is a similar selection of memory in space, which would mean that objects appearing in different places appear in the same Consciousness just as it is our experience that objects that appear at different times appear in the same Consciousness.
In other words, just as the intermittence of objects in time does not imply the discontinuity of Consciousness, the same conclusion applies to the limitations of objects in space.
This is not a proof that all objects in space appear in the same Consciousness but it shows that what we normally consider to be evidence of more than one Consciousness is in fact no evidence at all. It is simply a belief.
It is a limitation of mind that more than one perception cannot appear in it at a time, but we superimpose this limitation onto Consciousness. Having forgotten that this presumption is just a superimposition, we believe it to be real and consider ourselves, as a result, to be located in and limited to a single perception, a body, with all the beliefs in birth, death, evolution, decay, change etc. that attend this primal belief. In short it is called suffering.
Ask yourself, how would it be possible for a mind to hold more than one perception at a time. Two perceptions would need two minds. In fact mind is simply the current perception, so for each perception there must be a mind. But this does not infer the existence of more than one Consciousness.
Or we could think of it like this: imagine that we are Consciousness and that we want to create a world of multiplicity and diversity. The first thing we need to create is the sense of time because this will allow for a succession of objects to appear and this will, in turn, give rise to the illusion of multiplicity and diversity.
However, having enjoyed this one-dimension of time it might occur to us that to create another three dimensions of space would allow for an infinitely greater multiplicity and diversity, because rather than having one mind in which objects appeared in succession, we could have innumerable minds present simultaneously.
This would increase our creative possibilities exponentially. This may seem a rather simplistic model but think about it….isn’t this exactly our experience, that out of deep sleep the one dimensional capacity of mind, that is, thinking and imagining, arise and with them the dream world. ‘After a while’ the three dimensional capacities of mind, that is, sensing and perceiving arise, and with them the waking state.
Likewise there is nothing to suggest that there may not be other dimensions which a different kind of mind is capable of manifesting. Why not? But even if there are an infinite number of dimensions, this multiplicity of dimensions does not imply in any way that they appear to a multiplicity of Consciousnesses.
Murray: From this I infer that Consciousness here (where “I” am) is bounded (otherwise what would prevent it from knowing your experience right now).
Rupert: The difficulty is that we create the idea of space with the mind and then wonder how Consciousness fits into this creation, how it can be present at two different points in space, or an infinity of points for that matter.
But space itself is a concept that appears in Consciousness. It is due to the construction of the mind that it appears as if Consciousness resides within it, but in fact it is our simple and direct experience that the mind, including all of time and space, appear within it.
Murray: By definition, whatever it is that acts as a boundary separating the Consciousness here from the Consciousness where you are cannot be known because it is outside of Consciousness. The fact that such a boundary cannot be known directly does not prove that it doesn’t exist but only that it cannot be known.
Rupert: And conversely it doesn’t prove that it does exist. However, what else apart from experience could be the proof of reality?
Why is it that as a culture we don’t believe in dragons? Simply because nobody has ever experienced one. Therefore the burden of proof is not on the one who claims that dragons do not exist because this is already suggested by experience. Rather the burden of proof lies with the one who claims that he HAS seen a dragon.
Likewise here. Nobody has ever experienced a limited Consciousness. If one claims that Consciousness is limited, the burden of proof lies with him. In the absence of the belief that Consciousness is limited we do not have to have any ideas of beliefs about it. In other words, I only say that Consciousness is unlimited in response to the statement that it is limited.
In the absence of such a statement I have no need to define Consciousness because it is obvious that Consciousness cannot be defined within the mind’s terms.
So the statement that Consciousness is unlimited is only made in reference to the statement that it is limited. The purpose of such a statement is to relieve Consciousness of the limiting beliefs superimposed upon it by the belief that it is limited.
Once that has been accomplished, the idea that Consciousness is unlimited can also be abandoned and we just leave Consciousness to be whatever it is from moment to moment.
Murray: The other conclusion that I can draw from the fact that Consciousness here is not experiencing you right now is that you don’t exist right now but only when the Consciousness here is experiencing you. Is either of these possibilities true?
Rupert: If we are open to the possibility that black holes exist even though we don’t experience them, could we not equally be open to the possibility that more than one mind may exist?
A mind cannot perceive more than one perception at a time. To infer from this than the Consciousness in which that mind appears and out of which it is made, is limited to that single mind or, more accurately to that single perception, is a far greater leap of faith than the belief that black holes may exist although they are not experienced, a belief which you readily admit.
However, these kinds of arguments will never prove or disprove whether or not Consciousness is limited. At best they will loosen up the deep conviction we have that it is limited and therefore open us up to another possibility, the possibility that Consciousness is not personal, limited and located, that is, that it was not born and will not die.
Once this conclusion has been reached, the mind and all its arguments has done its job. We stand open and unknowing on the threshold of another possibiltity.
For centuries man has lived believing that Consciousness is limited. Could it be that the unhappiness that most people feel either acutely or simply as a nagging feeling of lack or incompleteness, let alone the precarious political and ecological position humanity finds itself in now, may be the result, ultimately, of this view of the fundamental reality of things? After all it is this view that underpins all the ways we think and feel about ourselves and the world.
How to find out which is true? Just try to live the other possibility for a few days? Live as if the Consciousness in you were identical to the Consciousness in every other being you come across and take note of the change in your experience. It is from that direction that the confirmation of this possibility comes.