The Fan and the HandI still have trouble seeing that Consciousness or Awareness and those objects which appear to it (to me) are one and the same! What am I missing?
In your interview with Chris Hebard, you use the hand and the fan as an analogy, where the feeling of the hand and the sound of the fan appear or are experienced in the very same place, in Consciousness. I see that but the mind kicks in and says that once I leave the area, I will no longer experience the fan and yet I will still experience the hand, as the hand is always with “me” following me around wherever I go. This seems to imply that the fan (though not the hand) is somehow separate. In your book you say that Consciousness is not only the background in which objects appear but is the very substance of those objects. I still have trouble seeing that Consciousness or Awareness and those objects which appear to it (to me) are one and the same! What am I missing?
It is only a thought that says, ‘the hand is always with “me” following me around wherever I go.’ This thought bears no relation to experience. Our only knowledge of the hand is either as a visual perception or a sensation. All perceptions and sensations are intermittent. However you, Consciousness, are not intermittent. You are ever-present.
Check to see that this is true of your experience. Are there not many moments during the day when neither the hand or the fan are present as an experience and yet you, Consciousness, are present?
Experience is the proof of existence, so if something is not experienced it cannot legitimately be said to exist.
When the fan, the hand or anything else for that matter, are present, their existence is not separate from Consciousness.
Whenever anything is present its existence is one with Consciousness. When that thing disappears, Consciousness remains as it always is.
When the object is present it is in fact made only out of Consciousness. There are no objects as such, that is, there are no objects that exist in their own right, independent of Consciousness, as they are normally conceived to be.
This does not mean that objects are not real. It means they are not real in themselves. Our experience has a reality to it. That is undeniable. However, the reality of experience has no independent existence of its own. The reality of all experience is the reality of Consciousness.
What are normally conceived of as objects are in fact only the changing names and forms that are superimposed by the mind and the senses onto the ever-present, underlying reality of Consciousness.
So the substance of all experience is one and the same, this ever-present Consciousness.
It is just like the images that appear on a TV screen. Their substance is always the screen. When the images change their substance remains as it always is.
The images appear, evolve, move, change, disappear but does the screen appear, evolve, move, change or disappear?
When there is fire on the screen does the screen become hot? When there is water on the screen does the screen get wet? When there is drama on the screen does the screen become agitated? When there is nothing on the screen does the screen become peaceful? When there is movement on the screen does the screen move?
If we identify ourselves with one of the characters or objects on the screen then we will feel that we get hot, wet, agitated, peaceful or that we move.
If we identify our self as the screen we just remain as we are, allowing our self to take all these names and forms but without ever truly loosing our identity to any of them.
Exactly the same is true of Consciousness although, unlike the screen, Consciousness is not viewed by something outside of itself. Like the screen it is the substance of everything that appears on it but it is also simultaneously their witness.
At every moment we have the choice either to identify ourselves as Consciousness or to lose our identity in an object.
If we identify our self as Consciousness we know and feel ourselves to be intimately one with whatever appears, essentially independent of whatever appears and free at every moment to take the shape of all possible appearances.
To know ourselves as ourselves as one with whatever appears is love. To know our self as independent of whatever appears is peace and to be available at every moment to take the shape of all possible appearances is freedom.
If we identify our self with one of the appearances, say a particular body, then we will seem to be born, move, change, evolve, grow old and die. The happiness, peace and freedom that are inherent in our true nature will, as a result, seem to become intermittent experiences. We will enjoy and suffer as a separate entity apparently moving around in a world of time and space.
As soon as we identify as Consciousness we step out of the world and we come to know ourselves again as its witness and substance.
If it is not clear to you that Consciousness is the substance as well as the witness of every experience, go deeply into any experience. Take the feeling of your hand on the table. Refuse the abstract labels, ‘hand’ and ‘table,’ and just go directly to the raw experience itself.
Is the experience itself not an amorphous tingling vibration appearing in you? Does it have a shape? Does it have any density? Does it have a colour? Does it come with a label ‘hand’ or table’ attached to it? All these would be labels attached by thinking as an afterthought to the raw experience itself. Don’t accept this as theory. Do the experiment and come to your own conclusions.
Now go again deeply into the experience. Is it not permeated and saturated with Consciousness? Is there any part of the experience that is not one with Consciousness? Is there any other substance present, other than Consciousness, in the experience itself?
Take any experience, a thought, an image, a sensation or a perception and explore it in this way. Take something that is hard, soft, loud, quiet, near, far, pleasant, unpleasant, something that seems to be ‘me,’ something that seems to be ‘not me,’ something internal, something external, something beautiful, something ugly…..and explore it in this way.
As we explore our experience in this way it becomes more and more obvious in an experiential way that we, Consciousness, are the very substance of all experience, that there is in fact no other substance present other than Consciousness.
Exploring our experience in this way doesn’t make it thus. It reveals it to have always been thus.
This is not an intellectual understanding although it may be formulated in intellectual terms, as is the case here, in response to a question or situation. Rather it is an experiential knowingness that is intimately our own and cannot be shaken or taken away.
As we explore experience in this way, our experiential conviction grows and we become establish in this experiential understanding. To begin with this understanding may seem intermittent, eclipsed from time to time by the old habits of thinking and feeling on behalf of a separate entity. However, as our investigation and exploration deepen and expand to cover all realms of experience - thinking, imagining, sensing and perceiving - so our conviction and with it our stability grows.
There comes a time when this is no longer an extraordinary realisation or understanding that is at odds with our previous conventional view of experience, but rather it becomes natural, effortless and ordinary.
In fact it would require an effort not to be this openness, this experiential knowingness, this Presence.
As we abide knowingly as this Presence which is both the witness and the substance of experience it reveals itself to be not simply a neutral background and substance of experience but one that is made of peace, love and happiness.