Objects only come in and out of existence from the point of view of a subject, whilst I, Awareness, who am neither a subject nor an object and yet the reality of both, am eternally present.

The Substance of Experience

If I take a deeper look and ask if there are really two things there or just one substance, I find that there is only 'Knowingness' there and no other thing. The 'Knowingness' knows itself. Is my understanding correct?

Dear Rupert, 

Thanks very much for your response. Is it correct that I interpret your response as follows:

- There is no world; there is nothing outside our experience. This is said in the sense that, for example, when I say there is a computer in front of my body it means there is an experience of the computer, therefore there is no computer outside my experience. This interpretation applies to all other objects including the body/ mind. Is my understanding of this correct?

- Next I take a look at experience itself, for example, seeing the computer, ask myself the question: what are the ingredients of the experience of seeing the computer? There is ‘Knowingness’ there and there seems to be the ‘experience’ also there; the ‘Knowingness’ knows the ‘experience.’ But if I take a deeper look and ask if there are really two things there or just one substance, I find that there is only ‘Knowingness’ there and no other thing. The ‘Knowingness’ knows itself.

- There are a lot of different experiences but the same substance, that is, the Knowingness. The Knowingness knows itself in different forms and so then we say there are different experiences.

- So we move from objects to experience to the substance of all experiences. That is,  the Knowingness. We conclude everything (computers, tables, blue sky, body,...) are made out of the Knowingness. In this sense we use the term non-duality, not two. Is that correct?

Sincerely,

Nguyen Quang Ninh.

 

Dear Nguyen, 

Nguyen: There is no world; there is nothing outside our experience. This is said in the sense that, for example, when I say there is a computer in front of my body it means there is an experience of the computer, therefore there is no computer outside my experience. This interpretation applies to all other objects including the body/ mind. Is my understanding of this correct?

Rupert: Yes, it is correct. Take any experience….however wonderful or awful, however apparently close or distant, however large or small….and ask your self, is it not experienced? Would it be possible to know or experience something that was not experienced? Obviously not, by definition.

In other words, do we have any knowledge of the existence of anything outside of experience?

We can then ask why it is that, as a culture, we have a deep conviction that there is something, for instance a world, that exists without its being known (experienced), when there is absolutely no evidence for such a world. 

This same question can be presented more philosophically by asking, ‘Are Knowing and Existence separate?’ Normally we conceive of Knowing (Experiencing) taking place ‘here,’ inside the body and Existence taking place, ‘over there,’ outside the body, that is, in the world, separate from Knowing. This apparent distinction between Knowing and Being (Existence) is the fundamental presumption at the heart of duality. 

Non-duality suggests that these apparent two, are one. Love is the common name for this experiential understanding. 

Nguyen: Next I take a look at experience itself, for example, seeing the computer, ask myself the question: what are the ingredients of the experience of seeing the computer? There is ‘Knowingness’ there and there seems to be the ‘experience’ also there; the ‘Knowingness’ knows the ‘experience.’ But if I take a deeper look and ask if there are really two things there or just one substance, I find that there is only ‘Knowingness’ there and no other thing. The ‘Knowingness’ knows itself.’

Rupert: Yes. I use the word ‘knowing’ and ‘experiencing’ synonymously here.

For instance in this moment, we know or experience these words. Normally we think that there are two things: 1) an ‘experiencer,’ here, inside the body, knowing or experiencing the computer, and 2) the ‘experienced’ (the computer in this case) outside, separate and independent of its being known. 

However, if we look carefully we find that the ‘experienced’ (that is, the computer and all other apparent things, people objects etc.) is made only of ‘experiencing.’ There is no other substance present in the ‘experienced’ other than ‘experiencing.’ They are utterly intimately one. 

Likewise if we look at the ‘here,’ the ‘me,’ the ‘body’ that is normally considered to be the subject, the knower or the experiencer, we find that it just comprises a sensation which is equally made out of ‘experiencing’ or ‘knowing.’

In other words, both the apparent ‘experienced’ (the computer, object, other or world) and the apparent ‘experiencer’ (the separate person) collapse and are seen to be made out of the same substance, that is, to be made of ‘experiencing’ alone.

Now if we look again and ask, how close is ‘experiencing’ myself, that is, to Awareness, we find again that it is utterly intimately one. 

In other words, we find that ‘I,’ Awareness, which we intimately know our self to be, is the sole reality of all things. 

Nguyen: There are a lot of different experiences but the same substance, that is, the Knowingness. The Knowingness knows itself in different forms and so then we say there are different experiences.

Rupert: Yes, exactly. It is this ‘Knowingness,’ (also known as Awareness or ‘I’) which takes the shape of all apparent things but always remains and knows only itself. 

Nguyen: So we move from objects to experience to the substance of all experiences. That is,  the Knowingness. We conclude everything (computers, tables, blue sky, body,...) are made out of the Knowingness. In this sense we use the term non-duality, not two. Is that correct?

Rupert: Yes, that is correct. Or we could say that we first reduce matter to mind and then reduce mind into Awareness. That is, for example, we understand that the ‘seen’ object (apparently made out of matter) is made only of ‘seeing’ (that is, apparently a function of mind). And then we realise that ‘seeing’ is itself made out of Knowingness or Awareness or ‘I.’

Or, the apparent ‘seer’ and the apparent ‘seen’ are one in ‘seeing’ and ‘seeing’ is made only of Awareness. 

In short, all apparent things are made out of ‘knowing’ or ‘experiencing’ and ‘knowing’ or ‘experiencing’ is made only out of my Self.

With love,

Rupert