What Can We Be Certain Of?I can tell you that I have no certainty about anything...
I am a stubborn guy I know, but I can tell you that I have no certainty about anything…I am not interested in advaita correctness or words; I try only to see things from my experience; I don’t say that I have an experience of deep sleep, I say rather I don’t know the hell what deep sleep is…so I can’t even say it’s a nothingnesss neither…the freedom in deep sleep lies in a sense in this not knowing; when I wake up in the morning, I know I AM…but before I AM can I really know something even the fact that I AM? I can know myself only in the waking up in the morning…does the mirror know itself, see itself? The mirror has always the capacity to reflect even in the absence of an object, but does it see itself? Can you see your own eyes?
So Rupert if we continue to see things from direct experience, things must be obvious…“facts are stubborn things” as someone said; so I would enjoy other comments from you and I am still open to the possibility of what you suggest…thank you…
Jerome: “I have no certainty about anything…”
R: That is not true. If you look closely at your experience you will find that there are two things you know with absolute certainty, that is, with a certainty that is not dependent upon any other knowledge.
1) You know that you are. That is, you know ‘I am.’ This knowledge is not derived through any medium such as a mind or a body, which could be unreliable, but rather it is known directly. It is the undeniable and ever-present knowledge that Consciousness has of its own being.
2) You know that there is ‘something’ that is being experienced. For instance there are these words, your current bodily sensations etc. Even if these turn out to be a dream, an illusion or an hallucination, nevertheless, they are ‘something not nothing.’ In other words, there is Being.
These two certainties are self-evident and undeniable. Even to deny them would require their presence.
There is also, in fact, a third truth of which we can be absolutely certain but it is not at normally apparent at first. It requires some investigation and that is precisely what we are engaged in here.
This third certainty is that the reality of this ‘I am’ or Consciousness is identical to the reality of this ‘something,’ Being. In other words, the reality of Consciousness is identical to the reality of Being. Or, more simply, Consciousness and Being are one.
The name we give to this unity of Consciousness and Being is Happiness.
So we can say with absolute certainty that there is Consciousness, Being and Happiness and these three are in fact one. That is what you are.
You say, “I don’t say that I have an experience of deep sleep….” and then “the freedom in deep sleep lies….” And in a previous email you said, “Obviously in deep sleep Consciousness is.”
R: If you have no experience of deep sleep, how do you know that both freedom and Consciousness are present there? Please answer this question.
Likewise please answer the two previous questions I asked you, which I repeat here (with their context):
Q1) You say, “Obviously in deep sleep Consciousness is.” R: Please describe the experience through which you have arrived at this certainty. If, as you say there is nothing (objective) to be known in deep sleep, what other experience, other than the experience of Consciousness knowing itself directly, could be responsible for your certainty?
Q2) You speak of deep sleep from experience. You acknowledge that deep sleep is your experience. Please describe your experience of deep sleep. If it is not the experience of Consciousness knowing an object and not the experience of Consciousness knowing itself, what exactly does your experience of deep sleep consist of?
I do not ask these questions in order to prove a point or to be combative, but rather to push you through the mirage of ideas with which you have shrouded your experience, and direct you back to your raw experience itself. In this way you will discover your own answers and they will be ‘your own’ not borrowed from this or any other teaching.
You see, I like your stubbornness but I am stubborn too!
Jerome: “...does the mirror know itself, see itself?? the mirror has always the capacity to reflect even in the absence of an object, but does it see itself? can you see your own eyes??”
R: No the mirror does not see itself, and for that reason it is not a good metaphor in this respect…like all metaphors it is used to help visualise a particular aspect of the teaching, but its limits have to be understood.
The mirror is a good metaphor because it shows that the reflection in the mirror is only made of mirror. However, its limitations as a metaphor lie in the fact that the mirror is seen or known by something outside of itself. Like the eyes, as you quite rightly say, it cannot see or know itself.
However, the nature of Consciousness is to be and to know. Its nature is to know itself. It is knowingness itself. Simply by being itself it knows itself. It cannot not know itself.
This is our most intimate, immediate and direct experience. It is known as ‘I am.’
Going back to deep sleep, the essence of the problem is this. You conceive of deep sleep from the point of view of and in the terms of, the waking state. That is, because you superimpose objectivity onto the waking state, you superimpose ‘nothingness’ (which is a subtle kind of objectivity) onto deep sleep. In this way, just as Consciousness is mistaken for an object in the waking state, so it is mistaken for ‘nothingness’ (a blank object) in deep sleep.
In other words, you imagine deep sleep to have duration in time and objective content. And as such, you are searching for it.
However, the mind by definition is not present in deep sleep, and therefore neither are time nor objectivity.
The next best thing the mind can conceive is that deep sleep lasts for an infinitesimally short period of time (just as it conceives the intervals between two perceptions). However, this is also not so. Deep sleep is not in time. It is timeless.
In other words, deep sleep is not a state that lasts for a period of time between two states of waking (or dreaming) but rather the waking and dreaming states appear ‘from time to time’ within the ever-present and timeless reality of deep sleep.
Another way of saying this is that the content of deep sleep cannot and will never, by definition, appear within the mind. Do not look for it there.
So, once again, I would say that in order to explore the experience of deep sleep we have to go to that place in ourselves that is prior to the mind. That place from which we derive the certainty of our knowledge ‘I am,’ is prior to the mind. It knows itself prior to the arising of mind. It is ever-present.
Of course we cannot ‘go there’ because the one that would go there, that is, our Self, is already That.
Therefore to know deep sleep, simply take your stand knowingly as the Presence of Awareness that you are.