What Do We Experience?
What is the experience of an object?
Take a tree for instance. When looking at a tree we experience a visual perception. The perception is never only of a tree. The apparent tree is always part of a larger perception that includes, the field, the sky, others trees, etc. And this experience itself is included a larger experience that may contain thoughts, images and sensations as well.
So the idea of a ‘tree,’ refers to ‘something’ that is never experienced, as such. We never experience the tree as it is conceived.
The concept ‘tree’ is an abstraction that is superimposed on the reality of the experience itself, whatever that reality is.
We have no doubt that ‘something,’ which is referred to as the ‘tree,’ is being experienced, but the concept ‘tree’ does not describe that ‘something.’
Divested of the interpretation that the mind superimposes on the experience itself, we are left with a visual perception.
What is not so immediately obvious is that this visual perception itself is also superimposed onto that ‘something’ by the perceiving faculties, the senses, although it is, in a sense, ‘closer’ to it.
Does the ‘tree’ see itself? Does the tree know that it is a tree? Does the tree claim that it is a tree? Who says it is a tree? It is the mind alone that makes this claim.
Does the tree itself have any inherent visual qualities that are independent of the senses? No.
Seeing belongs to the senses, not to the tree. Each of the senses imparts its own characteristics upon the object experienced.
We know this from our own experience because seeing persists when the tree is absent, for instance when we see a car, but the visual perception of the tree does not persist when seeing is absent.
The visual qualities of the tree in fact belong to the senses.
Seeing therefore exists in that which sees, whatever that is, not in that which is seen.
The seen exists in seeing.
However we have no doubt that there is ‘something’ to our experience of the tree. What is that ‘something?’
What is the Reality of the tree when it has been divested of both the conceptual superimposition of the mind and the perceptual superimposition of the senses?
Whatever it is, it is undoubtedly present and yet it has no objective qualities.
Whatever it is, it is also undoubtedly being experienced.
What is it in our own experience that is undoubtedly present and yet has no objective qualities?
It is Consciousness, our Self.
Therefore it is our direct and intimate experience that the Reality of the tree is identical with the Reality of our self, Consciousness.
There are not two things, a seer and a seen in our actual experience. The Reality of the seer and the reality of the seen are one single substance and that substance is our self, Consciousness.
In this way we take the object, as it were, back into our self. In fact the object never left our self.
We see that it is our self, Consciousness, which takes the shape of the seeing to become the visual world, that takes the shape of hearing to become a sound, that takes the shape of tasting to become a taste, that takes the shape of smelling to become a smell and that takes the shape of touching to become a texture.
And yet in doing so it never becomes anything other anything than itself.