Contentedness embodied (Part Two)

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Ethiopian Cleaning Ladies. By Steve Evans, London

Having previously seen that our everyday apprehending of the world and phenomena comes about via mental representations, we can now consider awareness as it runs more pervasively, seeing how any fundamental sense of contentedness may relate to this. Naturally, the mirror of consciousness continues to perceive reflectively, reflexively, and selectively throughout all psychological states, and our sensory systems persist in routine modes of functioning. The vast flood and flux of sensory data cannot all be reflected in the mind’s mirror, for it would instantly be overwhelmed and rendered unable to navigate the world. So it is that beneath the representations of mind we call consciousness, the brain’s algorithms select and time-shift events, order priorities, and focus attention, all of which occur beyond our ken. What we take to be the world is a composite, selective rendering of sense imagery, in isolation being distanced from any innate reposefulness.

It is worth reminding ourselves what this innate repose or contentedness is – a quality embodied via immanence, that is, from within. Put simply, it is our natural state prior to the mind’s overlay and manipulation of desire and aversion. Many may object to the idea that their lives are guided by these seemingly lower, or animal, impulsions, and that is due to them not being seen in their full subtlety. At a gross level are craving and hatred, yet myriad finer gradations subsist beneath, often running subliminally as if assumptions, though still impelling action in the mind and world. These we can term desire and aversion, and when they obtain, a level of discontent must logically persist. This too may run subtly, and in its ubiquity we may well deny its very existence. Many consider themselves to feel reasonably content; yet one cannot be so, any more than one can be partially pregnant. Contentedness is an absolute; it does not arrive in gradations of feeling.

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Mother and Child in Havana. By Jorge Royan, Argentina

We read above both of awareness as well as consciousness, and how the latter may isolate us from contentedness. Consciousness means being ‘with knowledge’, so refers to objects reflected in the mirror of mind; it is all of the phenomena known as thoughts, memories, imaginings, sights, feelings, scents, tastes, and sounds. Awareness, as connoted here, is the illumination of these phenomena – the lucid yet blank slate upon which the objects of consciousness are inscribed, as it were. The two are not mutually exclusive to themselves or to the body, and the three comprise an integrated unicity. In any isolative consciousness, desire and aversion have free rein, and the triumvirate’s innate contentedness is obscured. When a balance is struck in accentuating awareness, contentedness may arise via immanence. The stuff of consciousness is then seen as the psychical objects they are, no longer serving as agents for desire and aversion, and we are freed of all discontent.

That is quite enough of the dry technicalities; so let us now look at how awareness is accentuated. The flavour of this is analogous to a feeling of ventilating the mind, or of dropping the narrow grasping at objects of consciousness and letting the mind breathe more freely. We seldom realise how much we grasp at sense objects, and typically these will be visual or verbal in nature. Even when we close our eyes in a silent, darkened room, still the mind grasps at an internal monologue; or in sleep, the mind grasps at visual imagery in dreams. Abhorring a vacuum, the mind clings to some semblance of familiarity, or seeks patterns, however fantastical in nature. The trick is to turn awareness upon itself, rather than having consciousness run free. Now, awareness is objectless; it is just the mind resting in radiant lucency. This means it cannot grasp or be grasped at, so the first thing to do is to relinquish that stance, as if being asleep whilst remaining wide awake.

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Göttweig Abbey, Austria. By Jorge Royan, Argentina

Try this: Gently ask yourself now where awareness is, not where attention is placed, but where awareness itself is. Is it within your head, or maybe in thought alone; is it now residing in the blurred, opaque visual forms of your nose that you seldom notice, or perhaps on the screen where these shapes appear? Is it in the words you hear inside your head, whether these or your own commentary? Just become intimate with awareness itself now, having realised there is no answer. Remain curious, yet without grasping, without seeking out answers, without driving attention along. Let consciousness fall asleep, savouring instead the deliciousness of a ventilated mind, sensing how awareness has expanded as consciousness nods off. You will not quell the mind entirely, but you will balance your body and consciousness with awareness. It begins to feel pleasant as you turn from subtle desires and aversions to awareness, yet lose interest even in that pleasantness now too.

As we develop this technique alongside any mindfulness practices we may engage in, a disinclination inevitably develops towards the former grasping stance of the self-centric, unrestrained, conscious mind. We see that it was superfluous for the most part, as well as emotionally wearying, and that we function perfectly well with it attenuated and pacified. We steadily become more balanced as we go about our affairs, and desire and aversion continue to fade over time. When conditions are conducive, contentedness will arise, being sensed as a perfectly equanimous psychological freedom arising from within. Our presence-in-being feels both vitalised and delightful; so too consciousness itself becomes at once more vibrant yet tranquil. We cease to divide the world neurotically into a point of centrality, thought to be the subject of ‘me here’, and entitative objects, or ‘things out there’. Awareness appears seamless and non-local, as it is. Contentedness becomes embodied.

183 thoughts on “Contentedness embodied (Part Two)

  1. This phrase jumped out at me – “the deliciousness of a well-ventilated mind”. So elusive! I wonder if the state is only achievable by idle/inert bodies? Here’s what precipitated my observation:

    It’s Monday morning where I am and I must be at work by 7:30 a.m. I arrive to find that there’s been a power surge and the lesson plans (I’m a High School substitute) have not been sent in. My assignment for the day is Gr. 11 Art and Gr. 12 Multimedia (the class I’m in now; the students are all busy at their computers with the assignment, which they have received via email from the teacher). In first period Art class, however, it’s a runaround to make contact with the teacher, who is at home, sick, via phone, in a crowded and noisy office; various people are dealing with problems associated with the power surge. I must run around looking for keys, as there’s a student who works at a different location and she must be admitted. Oh, and the key I have doesn’t work to turn on the lights in the large, airy Art Room; more running to find someone to do that.

    Meanwhile, 30 students are arriving intermittently and getting to work at their task for the day. I deal with a student who has asked permission to go to the washroom and not returned after 10 minutes; it’s a large school so I must ‘hoof it’ around looking for him. I find myself envying the students who are diligently working on their projects, many of whom have earphones on. I doubt they are listening to Bach or Beethoven. 🙂

    I finally get a moment to check my emails and what do I read? Your blog entry, filled with positive and peaceful suggestions for well-being. I wonder to myself, “How does one achieve such serenity?” I think I’m doing something wrong. But, Hariod, thanks for the reminder that ‘Zen’ is, perhaps, achievable – if only in my imagination. Or my dreams.

    . . . grin . . .

    • What a challenge you set before me Carmen, and for yourself too! But let us take a step back and consider what we are talking about here, which is contentedness, and not the serenity with you mention, per se. Perhaps we can consider the two as interrelated, but there are distinctions. Contentedness (in the absolute sense in which I mean it here) can embrace serenity, yet serenity (which I think is a relativistic term) cannot embrace contentedness. For example, one can be relatively serene within a modest state of desire and/or aversion (but not in one of craving and/or hatred), though whilst they persist then necessarily there is a degree of discontent – i.e. there is some object or state which we desire or are averse to, however subtly that inner impulsion may obtain, and hence we are not currently content by any logical definition, and certainly not in the absolute sense in which I use the term.

      That said, then the ‘Zen’ you refer to alludes to, amongst other things, that same tranquillity which was absent in the episode you describe, and it also alludes to the possibility of it being there amidst such a hubbub – the suggestion you are making, of course, in your challenging question. I think the snippet from my offering which relates to that possibility is this: “. . . the former grasping stance of the self-centric, unrestrained, conscious mind. We see that it was superfluous for the most part, as well as emotionally wearying, and that we function perfectly well with it attenuated and pacified.” By my lights, though perhaps you would disagree, it is the ‘grasping’ which makes things unpleasant. It does not actually help though, does it? Each of the difficulties you faced could have been met without (forgive me please) any mental grasping – itself a manifestation of both desire and aversion.

      Now obviously, this is not at all easy to achieve, and as I mentioned in the piece, then mindfulness practices are almost certainly necessary for most of us in order that we may develop an awareness of our conditioned psychological tendencies – the pernicious habituations that we take as givens and which impel the ongoing interplay of desire and aversion, and give rise to discontent too. Such awareness practices need to be cultivated within our everyday actions though, and this is what brings us back to your suggestion that ‘idle/inert’ bodies may be a precondition for serenity. Personally, I think that is readily disproven once one begins to meditate formally – i.e. seated, eyes closed, bodily inert. Almost everyone finds that the mind races wildly under such conditions, and that it may take thousands of hours of practice before it abates. It certainly did for myself. Idleness and inertia tend to make the mind become more absorbed within its own busyness.

      So, when you say, dear Carmen, that “I think I’m doing something wrong”, then in one sense the answer is simple: learn to drop the grasping when the mind and body are busy; that is the essence of the matter. Almost every one of us does the same of course, and equanimity is a rare state when there is much to do, deadlines to meet, and a stream of new pressures constantly pressing in upon us. The first step is to recognise the grasping, and just to ask oneself what purpose it serves. The answer is always that it is entirely superfluous – try it. We simply are loading piles of mental energy onto an already complex situation, none of which does serve any purpose. It is no more than a habituated tendency that we indulge without questioning, and yet once we do question it, we soon realise the utter redundancy of its application. Nothing that we needed to achieve was helped by our grasping mind.

      Have I made too light of the matter Carmen, or been unrealistic in any of this do you feel?

      Very many thanks for your interest in the piece and your stimulating response to it; I appreciate both greatly.

      Hariod

  2. Great post Hariod! I enjoyed it very much. I especially liked the quote “it is just the mind resting in radiant lucency.” I have often wondered myself if awareness would exist if there was nothing to be aware of. I suppose it is an impossible question to answer but in some ways awareness needs the forms within consciousness to recognize it’s own beingness. It is a thing perceived only as a negative, the opposite of all there is. And it also may very well be eternal and just waiting to be recognized through the evolution of the beings within the universe. Regardless, it was nice to have this post greet me on Monday morning before diving into work.

    • Many thanks for your interest and lovely note of appreciation Graham. You raise a very interesting point, and of the minor liberties I take within my own writing is to declare a distinction between awareness and consciousness – not an ontological distinction, but one made for the purposes of clear comprehension only. Anyway, I was recently arguing – good naturedly – with a Husserlian phenomenologist as to whether there was such a thing as an objectless awareness. One could not rightly term that ‘consciousness’ because that word means ‘with knowledge’ – meaning there is an object being apprehended by/in the mind. I insisted that there is indeed an objectless lucidity of mind, and which I call ‘awareness’ so as to distinguish it from ‘consciousness’.

      As I suspect you can well appreciate, this is not a state of mind that can be stored in memory as a perceptual representation for later recall, nor is it itself perceived – meaning it is not a percept of course. Orthodox Buddhism has a psychological term meaning ‘neither perception nor non-perception’ – one of the eight jhāna (levels of meditation) and known as one of four so-called ‘arūpajhāna’, or formless states of mind, within those same eight levels. As an aside, I very much chime with your thoughts on the evolution of consciousness/awareness, Graham – absolutely. Many thanks once again, for such an encouraging and insightful comment.

      • “neither perception nor non-perception” – what an amazing sentence; that just shocked me into a momentary stillness. Such a place you cannot find but must fall into. I must thank you for that.

        • It is a good phrase, is it not, Graham? I can rather appreciate the way it skirts skilfully around the problem of existence and non-existence, of things and nothings, of the ‘either/or’ dichotomy of the rational mind. Thankyou once again for your interest, which I truly appreciate.

          • Hi Hariod! I received an email from Gautam Sachdeva this morning. If you recall I have posted a number of videos of his on my blog and on the following one in particular you both offered great insights:

            https://myinnermedium.com/2015/01/10/on-vigilance-and-being-present/

            Well, he is heading to London in mid-June and making his way up to Glastonbury, which I believe is your neck of the woods. He recalled from your comment that you were from there and wanted to ask if you had any recommendations on the best way to get there. If you want to connect with him over email you can reach me at graham_howse@hotmail.com and I will pass along your email address. Hope all is well!

            • Hi Graham! Is Gautam looking for accommodation in Glastonbury; is that what he is wondering if I can help with, do you know? When is he intending to arrive in Glastonbury, and how long is he staying, do you happen to know? All the best to you too my friend, Hariod.

              • As far as I can tell he is looking for some local knowledge on the best way to travel from London to Glastonbury, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he asked for recommendations on good places to stay. He is arriving in London on June 16th but hasn’t specified when he will make his way to Glastonbury.

  3. At the moment I am re-reading the parts on ‘Presence’ in your book, Hariod, and I feel as if I’m redesigning (overhauling?) my cerebral cortexes! Now I read this part here:

    “The trick is to turn awareness upon itself, rather than having consciousness run free.”

    And I ask “Self, or rather Presence, can I turn you on so that I might turn Awareness inside out? I cannot have Consciousness running amok! He’s already wrecked too many cortexes!” *baffled expression*

    Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this post. I’m not sure if I’m talking or writing correctly, much less thinking correctly. Help? *scratches head as tongue hangs out*

    • Ah, now there is always the danger, a great and wicked peril even, within language, of our minds becoming, as it were, in bondage, professor – enslaved, submissively being cowed to the tendency to create ontological entities out of what are mere symbols of abstractions. The so-called ‘ego’ is perhaps a fine case in point, wherein it comes to be taken as if some homunculus within – the imagined observer of the observed, experiencer of experience, thinker of thoughts, and doer of all deeds. In short, the egoical ‘subject’ that does not exist with any ontological status other than that which is suggested by the imagination – the imaginary ‘subject’ having access to cognition so as to mistakenly apprehend itself as an objective entity.

      What am I saying? – I hear you, quite reasonably so, asking. No more than to take terms such as ‘awareness’, ‘consciousness’, ‘presence’ and the like, as pointers only, not as distinct ontological categories in themselves. Ultimately, and as I strongly suspect you know for yourself already learned professor, even the terms ‘mind’ and ‘body’ are rendered indistinguishable as such distinct categories. Nonetheless, they remain very helpful as means of communication, and hence in navigating the world, even though none of us – neurophysicists and cognitive scientists included – are able to declare where the borders to the two (only apparent) phenomena are.

      Blessing on the day good sir, and a thousand thanks for stirring your cortexes with this minor trifle!

        • “Oh! Moses! Let no man hereafter presume to say Ex-Prof. Buchanan has not taught, and does not teach, practical Eclecticism. He informs you, Eclectics, that these conditions are of great physiological value, ‘as they are highly applicable to the treatment of disease.’ He tells you the aquatic, or cold blooded condition, is valuable as an antiphlogistic agent, and that it soothes and tranquilizes the lungs. ‘Great Scott!’ Mystery upon mystery, and marvel upon marvel! Will day ever dawn? What does our author mean? The writer is again unexpectedly surrounded by the eternal fogs of our author’s brilliant scientific discoveries, and by the brilliancy of his elocution!”

          The Eclectic Medical Journal, December 1856

        • *Hariod offers Esme a bunch of Gerberas, a box of Booja-Booja, and a flagon of Doombar, reminding her that what was said was that it was only possibly the best remark ever made here; not that it was the best, and that it simply felt fitting to ‘puff-up’ the professors entry.*

          – Hariod puffing up entries whilst fully acknowledging Esme is Empress of all such same.

          • Well, if The Professor is to be puffed up by anyone, I’m sure you’d be first on his list Hariod, so I imagine he’ll be most gracious in defeat.

            *grins, takes the chocolates, scoffs the truffles and caramels first, then offers the lightly dusted remainders to Hariod along with half a Doombar; they clink glasses and take time to smell the Gerberas.*

            – Esme the Empress stuffed upon the Cloud

            • The Professor appears to have swanned-off temporarily, Esme, so our little secret appears quite safe. And now, I too shall swan-off, taking the lightly-dusted chocolates with me out onto nearby Shapwick Heath, where a softened sun is gracefully westwarding in the lacuna of the cloudscape. Yes, a walk is all I mean, in case you had wandered.

              • “. . . taking the lightly-dusted chocolates with me out onto nearby Shapwick Heath, where a softened sun is gracefully westwarding in the lacuna of the cloudscape” May I say, Hariod, that your description is sheer poetry? Beautiful!

                • Ooh, I’d completely forgotten about that line from six months ago, Marie. That was a minor evocation of an experience I had out on a nearby nature reserve; I’m sure you know the sort of thing, when nature presents us with moments of transcendent beauty and, perhaps it could be said, a sense of perfection, or maybe love? Thankyou for your keenly observant eye, and your interest. With very best wishes, Hariod.

  4. I love the description of the brain time-shifting and selecting algorithms. We are beings of sensation, fed to the mind, which does the best it can given its limitations.

    I love the question above, too. Now that my life has reached a lucky time when we aren’t worried about going hungry, or shelter, children are mostly independent, it is much, much easier to sit every day and practice, as you say, letting consciousness fall asleep. In the early years though, my mind fought tooth and nail with every excuse conceivable to avoid spending time quietly watching the comings and goings in the old noggin.

    Lovely post. Cheers.

    • Many thanks for taking a look at this one Julia, and for your kind words of encouragement too. Your remark about the brain – “which does the best it can” – had me both amused and still further aware of the appalling limitations of my own “old noggin”. Now, strictly entre-nous, my suspicion is that you may very well prove to be alone here in appreciating that idea of letting consciousness fall asleep whilst remaining aware and awake – we shall see. Many thanks, and cheers to you too.

  5. Dear Hariod, always do I love how you write. It is almost like seeing an orchestra tune up. You take each part/instrument and show us exactly what it’s purpose is. We are, I feel, all instruments. We know what we are meant to do, and practice often our skills to perfect the desired effect, yet get distracted by all the other instruments also tuning up at the same time and which to the ear can sound a horrible noise. 😉 Yet when we get in sync, we then become part of a wonderful symphony.

    I loved this phrase of yours: “letting the mind breathe more freely”, and that is it. Taking that deep breath and just being within the moment of it. Nothing more and nothing less. Forgetting about tomorrow, and yesterday, and allowing what you said about being mindful, whilst knowing that we are, for the most part, our own worst enemy in causing turbulence and disturbing the balance of that peace of mind we each seek to obtain.

    Many thanks to you Hariod, as I now delve back into the womb of my own creative contentedness 🙂 and endeavour to stay within the joy of it for a while longer.

    Love and blessings, and I so enjoyed Part Two. 🙂

    Sue ❤

    • Thankyou very much dear Sue, for taking the time to cast your eyes over this month’s offering, and for adding such a lovely and considered reflection. Your analogy with the orchestra and musical harmony is a perfectly fitting one I think, and the plagiarist within thinks it may steal the idea for some future piece. It seems to me that very often the day has a certain melody – a signature tune, as it were – and we whistle or hum it in the form of our mental states as the hours pass. Naturally enough, there are key changes, and transitions from major to minor, from andante to allegro, yet what symphony could sustain our interest without such variations? You see, you already have me started on that future piece dear Sue, and I think we shall have to take joint writing credits for it my friend.

      Hariod ❤

    • I would just like to say that I totally agree with Sue Dreamwalker when she writes: “Dear Hariod … always do like the way you write. It is almost like seeing an orchestra tune up.” I could not have said it better myself. Hariod writes like a dream. You just don’t want to wake up! 🙂

      • Thankyou so much for your kindly generous words of encouragement, Marie. It feels as though yourself and Sue have somewhat overstated the case as to whatever little capacity I have in the writing department, but it is deeply gratifying to have such support and interest lent to my efforts. Whilst I do my best to ensure that whatever gets posted here has had my complete attention in the crafting process, I know full well that there is a very long way to go and that the learning process can never come to completion, least of all in one such as myself who began the writing endeavor late in life and with no training or background in literature and language. All the moreso, then, are your kind words most welcome and appreciated. Thankyou so very much, Marie. 🙂

  6. Delicious Hariod ❤️

    Ventilate the mind,
    Let it breath more freely.
    When balance is struck,
    contentedness arises within.
    Let it rest in radiant lucency,
    Presence in being.

    I love the warmth and presence of these Ethiopian women. ❤️

    • Thankyou very much, Val, both for your interest and for your generous words of encouragement. I must also thank you for your appreciation of Steve Evans lovely photograph, which does indeed have a delightful warmth to it, I too think. H ❤

  7. I resonate very much with this technique of turning awareness unto itself. That was an eye-opener for me. It is so simple, and so effective. Thanks a lot for your suggestions and for describing how to practise this, and what the result feels like for you. Karin

    • I very much appreciate you having a go at the little practice I describe in the piece Karin, and am pleased that you found it effective. It is interesting that in asking an unanswerable question – where is awareness? – that it can so radically shift the perspective of the rational mind. Perhaps it is like my own little koan? As far as I am aware, no one else has advocated such a technique, and it is something I put together once I realised awareness is non-local – neither inside nor outside of the cranial cavity, nor a phenomenon which somehow channelled between myself as an imagined subject, and all other (seemingly) external objects. It has something of the flavour of Honderich’s Radical Externalism thesis perhaps, yet really points at the total negation of the subject/object dichotomy.

      With very best wishes and much gratitude, Hariod.

      • Wow, you figured that technique out by yourself. That is quite an achievement.

        I have come upon this ‘awareness looking at itself’ in the book ‘The most direct means to eternal bliss’ by Michael Langford. Yeah, I admit the catchy title made me buy it. At first, I did the exercise and thought, “Yes, feels nice. But I have been warned that it is not about searching bliss. Therefore, I will not do this practice because I don’t want to just hunt some bliss states.” Then, later I read another text which said, “No, no, this is not just bliss , this is the sign of being Home – with a capital H.” Okay, I thought, I have to practice this more often, if awareness is what we actually are.

        Then, later in an internet forum of seekers – mostly with a background in non-duality teachings – many people found this method very effective. There was a (very small) survey among the seekers, and many said that this method helps more than any visualization, or counting breaths, or stilling thoughts, technique. Someone else told me later that it is a method which is well known in the Dzogchen tradition.

        I read a book by Colin Drake. And he said that he meditated for a long time (decades?) before he came upon this ‘open secret’. Whoa, I thought, something must be severely off if the most dedicated meditators take such a long time to find out about this. There must be an easier way to find this. Or there should be more accessible teachings.

        With best wishes and gratitude,

        Karin.

        • Thankyou very much for your further and most interesting observations Karin; your engagement is very welcome and refreshingly insightful. I like the ‘Home with a capital H’ description, as it suggests that what the seeker is aiming for is in fact a ‘place’ s/he is intimately familiar with, not some great and exotic metaphysical abstraction. I think there is something of a paradox in this, insofar as any effective path leads us back to where we began, or one might say to the realisation that we always were ‘Home’, but that our virtual self had been on its travels (in seeking too), so to speak. Perhaps your own experience accords with this? Please feel free to elaborate if you feel inclined to.

          As regards the ‘bliss’ business, then personally, I find that can be a bit misleading for some. From what I can gather, then it seems to be dependent upon ones psychological disposition as to whether and if any uncommonly powerful feelings come to be – which some call ‘bliss’, and others ‘love’. In any case, I am not sure if such terms are really as helpful to the seeker as saying something clearer and more comprehensible like the “perfectly equanimous psychological freedom” that I reference in the article, or more simply “contentedness”. Then again, I am rather dry and prosaic in style and temperament, and have a penchant for keeping things grounded when using language, whereas others are altogether different, and so respond to text and dialogue in other ways.

          My own training was in Buddhist phenomenological reduction – dry insight meditation of an analytical nature, or Vipassana by another name. Over the decades it rather morphed into something more akin to Zen, though really, the heart of it all along was in getting to grips with awareness as the background to phenomena, almost as if feeling its texture as one would handling a fine piece of silk, whilst not being overly concerned with the patterning or colours appearing upon the surface – the phenomenological objects of so-called ‘consciousness’.

          Reading was useful in the early years, but with my thick head it had to be all about practice, practice, practice for things to fall into place bit by bit. I also strongly believe that the cultivation of compassion and generosity, as well as living ethically well, are central to garnering the necessary framing of mind. The Neo-Advaitism you perhaps allude to rejects the necessity of this altogether, although Classical Advaita does not. I must say, I was not terribly impressed with the Neo-Advaita scene Karin, knowing a few people who were on it following their more rigorous Buddhistic exploits. May I ask, do you relate to any particular tradition or style of teaching yourself, or are you more eclectic in what you take on-board?

          With much gratitude and respect,

          Hariod.

          • Thank you for your detailed response and for sharing more about your journey. And about the journey with no distance aspect, I can relate – I think this is universal. Seeking for happiness occurs in the outside world first. Then, if that fails, the spiritual journey starts, and there, seeking can fall into all sorts of traps. I was warned early on that blissful meditation highs are not the goal, and that practising any paranormal powers is not the goal either.

            Regarding a particular tradition, no, I am rather eclectic and take from every tradition only those ingredients that make sense for me. Big influences have been ACIM, for dealing with anger. Then, this awareness-watching-awareness meditation was a game changer. And also Greg Goode’s book The Direct Path, with many exercises of looking at things and seeing that awareness is always there, and that nothing can exist outside of awareness. One of the exercises was pivotal for me. But apart from formal teachings or traditions, the guidance by the universe was my path, via inner and outer signs.

            With best wishes and gratitude,

            Karin.

  8. Hi Hariod,

    This post is indeed a descriptive embodiment of contentment, which emanates from our own mind – an enigma in itself! I like the way you have analyzed how mind grasps ‘imagery, objects and monologues’. I often wonder how all the patterns are designed by nature, how awareness is ignited. My question is, if consciousness falls asleep, how will thoughts communicate with the mind? Who will listen and send signals?

    I enjoy your thoughts as they delve deep into the intricacies of the words you choose, often turning philosophical, yet completely at peace with ‘yourself’ – breathing contentment. Thank you for such a fantastic post. 🙂

    • Thankyou so much dear Balroop, for taking time to read this piece and for offering a reflection. More than that, you raise a quite apposite question: “My question is, if consciousness falls asleep, how will thoughts communicate with the mind? Who will listen and send signals?”

      One simple way of looking at this is to consider what actually happens every night when we are physically asleep. Now, consciousness too is asleep in a manner, yet remains attentive throughout. How so? In studying any time-lapsed footage of a sleeping person we note a great deal of movement. This is because consciousness, though (loosely) asleep, is still registering the body’s state, and its contact with the external world – discomfiture, temperature, position, and so on. Consciousness is also dreaming at times, though is then more akin to its more dynamic daytime state. Also, when the alarm clock rings in the morning, if consciousness were not registering the world, it would not cause us to respond to the sound of the bell ringing. What consciousness is not doing when ‘asleep’ is interacting with memory in the way that it does when it is ‘awake’. That is the critical distinction to take on-board, I think.

      So, when I mention in the article the idea of consciousness falling asleep, it really points to us foregoing the usual manner in which we cling to its contents – the way we inhabit, and become subsumed within, its representations of phenomena as if nothing else might be relevant to our lives beyond those same representations, and are consequently led by the nose along their conditioned patterns of desire and aversion.

      When you ask “how will thoughts communicate with the mind? Who will listen and send signals?”, then I would say there is no ‘mind’ other than those same thoughts. What is this thing called ‘mind’, and how might it exist outside of thought? The so-called ‘mind’ has no ontological status – no objective existence – beyond the objects of mentation, including verbal thought. It does not exist as an entity outside of mentation.

      The idea of ‘mind’ is what also creates the ‘who’ in your question, dear Balroop. There is no ‘who’ other than as a social construct, or (very loosely) as our morphing physical presence. So here, we come to the central point of Indian metaphysical philosophy, and the seemingly strange notion that no enduring self-entity exists within or about the individual person – which itself does of course exist. This is not something that can be accepted by the rational mind – by conceptual reasoning – because the brain evolved to think only in terms of a dichotomy of subject and object, of self and other. Nonetheless, it can be actualised as ‘truth’ (an unfortunate term), as many have discovered in following those great teachings – i.e. Classical Advaita and Buddhism.

      I hope I have gone some way towards providing a satisfactory response to your question, Balroop, though please do feel entirely free to come back at me if there is anything you disagree with or would like me to elaborate upon. Thankyou so much, once again, for your presence and engagement; I greatly appreciate your interest.

      Hariod.

      • Many thanks, dear friend, for providing such a clear picture of what was hazy in my mind. I am completely awestruck at your understanding of physical, metaphysical and spiritual aspects of so-called ‘mind’, and appreciate your efforts at answering all the issues so well! 🙂

  9. Hariod, I so enjoy reading your posts. Reading them is a feast for mind and heart while the content calls us to a deeper reflection of ourselves. This one is no exception.

    • Thankyou so much for your gracious and generous words of encouragement Carrie; they mean much to me, truly they do. And thankyou also for taking the time consider this month’s offering – an honour for me, indeed.

  10. What I love about this, Hariod, (besides the content) is how wonderfully laid out your thoughts are in describing something that is perhaps the ground of thought? This is really an accomplishment – creating a format, and its own vocabulary providing an ‘elasticity’ to then personally consider the various elements. I certainly enjoyed reading this – part of my transition from 9 hours with the kids into the rest of my evening – and then further meandering consideration this morning, on my day off, when my consciousness was resting in my awareness. Thoroughly enjoyable!

    • Brilliant Jana; yes, “the ground of thought” – the ubiquitous yet almost never noticed Tabula Rasa of awareness; the field beyond-yet-embracing both subject and object, so too here and there, and so too self and other; the very crucible of consciousness.

      As to vocabulary and narrative style, then whilst your words are hugely encouraging for me, I remain entirely uncertain about their efficacy, in my own case. I think we all, unless plagiarising (very common in this field), have a very specific and intimately-woven relationship with the words we choose, and which may rarely, if at all, connect with others to its fully intended extent. Jiddu Krishnamurti once said something like (paraphrasing): “I cannot be sure that anyone has ever understood a single thing I have said”. So we write and talk, exchanging cogitations, and although this can perhaps energise and stimulate others, it can never walk the path for us, never go beyond conceptualisation for we the reader or listener. You know all this, I know, so do forgive the unnecessary my friend.

      Thankyou so much for reading and for lending a much-valued consideration to the monthly offering here dear Jana.

  11. Another excellent offering. Well, we expect nothing less. 😉

      Some points:

    I don’t know about all or nothing, as pertains to contentedness. For I am truly, 99% of the time, resting in this very state. Yet very occasionally – and whether I am tired beyond caring, which, admittedly, still can happen even in a mindful life – or something else – a tiny part arises that just does not care if it cares. All of which flies in the face of contentedness, really. And perhaps these are my own personal expectations of myself; in fact, no doubt they are. So I retreat, allow, and recognize the friend I have in impermanence.

      Another:

    “Awareness, as connoted here, is the illumination of these phenomena – the lucid yet blank slate upon which the objects of consciousness are inscribed” – excellently put.

    And now I will plunge back into my day, grateful for this island of connection with my WP community.

    Mahalo, and love to you, Hariod.

    • Thankyou dear Bela, your words of support and encouragement are deeply appreciated and most respectfully acknowledged, as I think you already know. As regards the all-or-nothingness of contentedness, then I do not mean to suggest that it is a permanent state at all – far from it. What I mean is that if it is present, it is not then a relative state – so again, it is like being pregnant in that if one is, for a while one fully is (as an absolute state), and then afterwards one is neither pregnant nor dwelling in contentedness. I think we have discussed quite recently, and mutually agreed immediately, that these ideas of permanence as regards such states of being are somewhat mythical in nature. The self-entity as an occupation of narrative belief, whilst no longer being assumed to be what we are, still can haunt, so to speak, up to a point. I think that haunting commonly fades in frequency, intensity and duration, and tends to be more a felt disposition; though as you so rightly say, the mind itself no longer cares whether it cares – brilliantly put, by the way – and as the seeker has dissolved (yes?) then all is happily normal throughout such transitions; SNAFU at times too, even so when contentedness is there.

      Mahalo, and love to you, Bela. ❤

                • I’m glad you moderate your comments. I wouldn’t at all be offended if you omit some or all of my fragmented comments to this well intentioned greeting. 😉 In local parlance, I have never heard the line you proffered. “A hui ho” is common – leaving someone’s house; watching someone fly off in a plane, etc. Common. The rest … hmmm … “kumu” is most often used as a hula teacher, a keeper of sacred knowledge. I’ll humbly accept that one. But I’ve never, ever heard ‘hoaloha’ used. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean (!) ‘friend’; I’ve just never heard it used in speech.

                  Okay, enough lecturing! I know your intention was sweet, and I thank you for that! I also know why my Chinese, Danish and Norwegian friends’ eyes go foggy when I try and translate something from the computer for them. These programs are not ideal. But we do try, Hariod – and that’s the most important thing! (Now, delete!) xoxoxo Love to you.

                  • No moderations, no deletions here, dear Bela, although the strangest thing happened with each of your last three comments – none of them would appear here until I ‘liked’ them within the notifications area. I previously had approved them each but they refused to appear on the page. So, I went back three times, making minor edits as if hoping to magically shake them into life, and still they would not appear. Another WordPress glitch, or is it some voodoo you are working great kumu? o_O

  12. Like a cow in a lush field
    Chewing and swallowing,
    Swallowing and swallowing,
    Feeling rather content
    and not needing a blade more
    after this fine discourse, Hariod. 🙂

    • Thankyou, dear David, for your rumination upon my ruminations – so glad you had the stomach(s) for it my friend; I trust well that the word-tufts made their way through to your abomasum. 😉

  13. Just a comment: Positively, I can see contentedness as serenity, which implies wisdom and desirelessness (both tied together). Could it though possibly hide a psychological trap, depending on the subject’s state of being and understanding? Secondly, is the distinction between awareness and consciousness in any way influenced by Nisargadatta’s vocabulary? If so, no problem, once one understands the meaning of these concepts as intended by the writer. I can also appreciate the imprint of Buddhism in what you write – no problem either; on the contrary.

    • Thankyou so very much, Dr. Garcia, for considering this offering of mine and for contributing such an insightful response. ‘Contentedness’ is a term I choose to use due to its ubiquity – its usage in common currency – although the way I use it here connotes a psychological freedom too, and one which is absolute – a point I make in the article, as you may have noted. So, dependant upon the level of understanding of the reader, there is always something that can be understood in my use of the term, I hope, and this can range from it being a narrow signifier of feelings of satiation and desirelessness, to its wider, Advaitic sense of a condition beyond any subject/object dichotomy, where I think it also a reasonably apposite term.

      As regards psychological traps, then certainly generalised states of equanimity can indeed be just that, as you appear to appreciate well, and many a meditator will get stuck in that level of understanding – sometimes interminably, due to its pleasantness. It is a highly alluring place, and one I passed through myself once. During its occurrence, I would sit meditating for hours upon end – maybe four or five hours without break – because the experience was tranquil and the mind unruffled by perturbations of any kind. Outside of formal meditations I would drift through daily life just as if an aloof witness to phenomena, and in quite a real sense be shielded from responding dynamically in either positive or negative emotions due to this deep equanimity. So yes, it is indeed a psychological trap to the unwary, and all but impossible to see that one is ensnared once within it, that often requiring the intervention of someone more experienced to point out.

      I have read Nisargadatta, and his magisterial work I Am That impacted deeply upon me back in the past century. My training, though, was primarily in Dry Insight Buddhism, along with related concentration meditations in the form of one or other of the Brahmavihāra, as well as ethical disciplines too, of course. Still, as regards the somewhat artificial distinction (ontologically speaking) that I make between awareness and consciousness, then this is something I do of my own choosing, accepting that there is an objectless state of mind that cannot correctly be termed ‘consciousness’ as it is not ‘with knowledge’ of any kind. In its stricter, more formal sense, then in the language of Pali this would be one of the Arūpajhāna, as you may well know – i.e. neither perception nor non-perception. I often find myself in dispute with phenomenologists over whether an objectless awareness is possible. Although the (8th) Arūpajhāna itself is of course a very rarified state, the very fact that it is a state gives me – I hope – the liberty to introduce the idea of a Tabula Rasa of mind, and which, again due to the ubiquity of the term, I call ‘awareness’ for the purposes of creating a template for learning only. I do not consider it to be its own ontological category.

      Thankyou once again, Dr. Garcia, your presence and engagement is appreciated and an honour for me too. If you would wish to add anything, or take issue with me, then please do feel free to do so.

      • Very good comments and reflections; thank you Hariod. ‘Objectless awareness’ is an expression with which I resonate (and, funnily – or not so funny – I am fond of ‘equanimity’, very close to ‘serenity’ and, of course, ‘contentedness’ as you use this term). For now I want to say that you, or the dharma reflected on or by you, has won me over. But I will share with you – today or tomorrow, I hope – part of an exchange with an orthodox Advaitist concerning understanding vs. experience in the tradition of Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta. I would like to have your opinion on that. Regards.

          • In Advaita, how is it that the witness is the same for everyone?

            X. (Myself)’Witness’ is just an epithet, and it can be used interchangeably with other epithets, such as ‘pure consciousness’, ‘supreme intelligence’, ‘Atman’, ‘Paramatman’, ‘Anubhava’, etc. It is not other than the Knower behind the (‘individual’) knower, the Light behind the (reflected) light, the Mind behind the mind – when the second of each pair is taken as an individual – each one being a projection of, or vehicle for, the first.

            Ultimately, there is only one Observer, one Light, one Knower, etc., with the clarification that It is changeless, immutable, not affected by the ‘changing scene’, as it were. The image of a clean mirror is often used here.

            One of the main tenets of Advaita Vedanta is that multiplicity is an illusion (Plotinus, Ibn al’Arabi, Rumi, and many other sages, had the same intuition). The light reflected in many ponds is only one light – that of the sun. The space contained in a multiplicity of pots is only one space.

            Y. (Interlocutor) That state is known as ‘Turiya’ or ‘Nirvikalpa Samadhi’. Though it is not another state like waking, dreaming, deep-sleep, it is mentioned as a state to demarcate its separation of other changing states. Waking, dreaming and deep-sleep are related to mind. Turiya or Samadhi is a mind-less state. That means when mind annihilates, consciousness remains as it is. At that point there is nothing to witness. So scholars believe – the witness state is a lower one. Because this is valid as long as there is something outside to witness. When Triputi or three changing states get annihilated, there is nothing to witness. Still absolute consciousness remains as it is in its pristine state.

            So, we have in one of the earliest of the Upanishads a straightforward statement of a synthetic a priori proposition. You read the life history of Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana. They have done deep meditation, month after month. They are not book learners. And there is another section of Hindu Gurus that say – Samadhi is not required. This means they are not capable of Samadhi. The person who has not [achieved] Samadhi – how can he say that Samadhi is wrong, and not required, or temporary?

            It is like somebody has heard about milk, somebody has seen the milk from a distance, and somebody has drunk it and benefited by it. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the latter one.

            X. (Myself) I cannot see how realization of one’s true nature depends on a transitory experience. Can that realization – which is the realization of ‘no-mind’, or beyond-mind – not ensue by understanding (direct intuition, Anubhava) that we are primarily, or exclusively, consciousness? Pure consciousness, being our true nature, cannot depend on anything else; the only thing is the removal of misidentification, that is, of native ignorance, by right teaching and final understanding. The mind needs to be transcended by the realization that it (mind) is Mithya. Also that there is ‘no other’, the only reality being Brahman.

            For that realization Nididhyasana, sustained contemplation (otherwise called Dhyana Yoga), can be (or should be) the final aid, rather than Nirvikalpa Samadhi. ‘When the realization of Atman is achieved [through Nididhyasana] the mind is transformed into no-mind or Atman’ (GK* 3-31, 32) (*Gaudapada Karika).

            (Conversation unfinished)

            • Hello Dr. Garcia, and thankyou for sending me this fascinating exchange. For the benefit of other readers, of which there will be several I feel sure, I have made some very minor typo and grammatical corrections which I hope meet with your approval. It is now almost 11.00 p.m. and so I will respond to this tomorrow if I may.

              • The first thing to say is that I do not understand the question as regards ‘the witness’, and so immediately agree with your opening statement, save to add that the invoking of a witness seems to connote a subject – a witnessing entity – which itself is nothing but a mental creation, a concept, and we remain within the problem of imagining an ‘experiencer’ of experience, a ‘thinker’ of thoughts, etc., albeit no longer the homunculus within, the internalised self-entity. The ‘witness’ idea seems merely to externalise the very same problem.

                That said, and if it is acceptable to you, I would like to avoid references to specific Classical Advaita terms in this response Dr. Garcia. The reasons are twofold: Firstly, I am not a scholar of Vedanta, and as I said, my training was in Orthodox Buddhism. Secondly, in my opinion there is always the risk of leaning too much on concepts that are not within our own sphere of experience and hence are alien as regards to any intimate knowing. I used to attend the Buddhist Society at Oxford University, and recognised for myself over time how easily students became over-weaned on technical terms and descriptions at the expense of direct experience. I shall therefore respond guided mainly by my own lights, for what it is worth.

                So, going back now to the matter of externalising the problem we seek to resolve, then in your opening statement you rather imply the existence of a subject apprehending an object (of knowledge) when you refer to the ‘Knower behind the (“individual”) knower.’ This is not your intent, which is quite clear, though the phraseology does perhaps connote some kind of overseeing Knower as an apprehending subject or quasi-subject. In plain terms, I might think of what you point to as a whole, being a combination of the ‘known’, wherein that is always a mental creation, or psychical endogram, together with the blank slate of awareness upon which this knowledge is inscribed, so to speak. This conception, albeit that it is just that, avoids the connotation of any higher-level apprehending subject, or supranatural entity-state of otherness. If there is any supranatural entity-state then it cannot be apprehended and actualised in nature, and so clearly no (wo)man can speak meaningfully about it.

                We are on the same wavelength, in fact, though as you go on to say, there is only one Observer (again, an awkward term for me, for the same prior reason), and one Light (which I prefer). Theodor Stcherbatsky (Professor Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a great Buddhologist) put this rather well thusly: “And at last, ascending to the ultimate plane of every philosophy, we discover that the difference between Sensibility and Understanding is again dialectical. They are essentially the negation of each the other; they mutually sublate one another and become merged in a Final Monism.”

                Your interlocutor seems predisposed to regard Stcherbatsky’s ‘Final Monism’ and your ‘One Light’ as a ‘state’, if I understand them correctly. That I would consider erroneous insofar as a ‘state’ connotes a temporary condition. Any unicity, or Final Monism (you are an Advaitan scholar so let us instead say ‘Not Two-ism’), cannot admit of any ontologically discrete ‘state’ outside of it either temporally or spatially, obviously. Your interlocutor declares that this state “is mentioned as a state to demarcate its separation of other changing states.” They therefore seem to be proposing a non-dualism in which apparent separations of mind-states are their own distinct ontological categories. I think we would both agree that this is incorrect.

                They seem also disposed to regarding any actualised non-duality as necessarily a state of mindlessness: “Turiya or Samadhi is a mind-less state. That means when mind annihilates, consciousness remains as it is.” Notwithstanding that Turiya has a clear parallel to what I call ‘objectless awareness’, I cannot buy that at all, not least of all because ‘consciousness’, by Western definition, means ‘with knowledge’, and knowledge requires an active mind apprehending phenomena, even if the sole phenomenon apprehended is a one-pointed mental concentration i.e. a state of mind, not a ‘mind-less state’. [This is one of the problems of juggling with translations from vastly different cultures and times – we end up in a confusion of terms.] In fairness, your interlocutor actually means something other than they are saying, I know, and in that sense I agree with their hidden meaning. Still, I certainly do not agree with their central idea that actualised non-duality requires either an objectless awareness or your interlocutors ‘annihilated mind’. The play of subjectivity and objectivity continues, yet both are seen as mind-constructs within an awareness that knows itself as itself, rather than as an image of itself, which would merely be another object of consciousness. That is how I would choose to put it, Dr. Garcia, for what it is worth.

                Continuing: Your interlocutor again appears insistent that any actualised non-duality necessarily requires an extant objectless awareness, or perhaps yet more erroneously, what they call ‘Samadhi’ – a psychical state of absorption in one-pointedness of mind – yes? My own firm view is that this is not at all correct, and that whilst such past apprehending radically alters the insight level of the (only apparent) subject’s mind, and so inclines it to a helpful abandonment of identifying with any and all mentation, it does not condition any actualised non-duality in some later temporal event. You are of the same opinion it appears, as was the historical Buddha, who clearly stated that his realisation was not conditioned, and moreover that the Final Monism/Not Two-ism is not subject to conditions. It already is and always was; it is not a ‘state’ arising or emergent due to the confluence of events, phenomena, insights, states of mind or mind-less states, nor conditions of any kind.

                • First, I agree with you concerning technical vocabulary (including Sanskrit!); it really is not required, normal English being sufficient for understanding, I should say, any subject matter, though there are terms from another language which don’t have a direct correspondence with the former, particularly Sanskrit terms and also some from Buddhism, etc.

                  That said, one has to realize that absolutely all concepts used in Advaita are only symbols or indicators pertaining to what is considered ‘lower knowledge’, and that includes all that is written in the venerable Vedas. At the same time, they, and the expressions containing them, have, directly or indirectly, the Supreme Reality as their referent. There is a pithy statement in one of the Upanishads: ‘That from which all words fall back failing to reach it, along with the mind’. ‘Higher knowledge’, on the other hand, is beyond the mind (one could even say ‘by consensus’), while necessarily using the latter for verbal transmission. This knowledge or understanding can only be conveyed by what can be called ‘universal intuition’ (or ‘truth of the Heart’?), an expression redolent of [the biblical quote] ‘the Peace that passes all understanding’. And this is the only ‘thing’ – ‘knowledge-experience’- that is un-stultifiable; a knowledge that transcends the individual as individual. More on this (i.e. Knower, Witness) following right now.

                  I understand your scruples concerning ‘Witness’, ‘Knower’, etc.; even expressions such as ‘Witness behind the witness’, ‘Knower behind the knower’, when one is referring to nothing less than the Absolute or Ultimate Reality – which is indescribable and thus undefinable – cannot but cause puzzlement in the reader’s mind, even though these expressions are common currency in Hindu (Vedantic) metaphysics. The peculiarity of this tradition is that it is considered by many authorities as being both rational and mystical, opinions varying concerning this assessment – something difficult to accept by Western trained minds.

                  Fundamental for the comprehension of all this is having in mind two things:

                  1) Central to the tradition of Shankara is the notion of mutual superimposition of reality and unreality, which is un-assumed, undiscovered by the generality of thinkers/experiencers/philosophers, except for the mystics, or the contemplative philosophers and artists. Plato, Dionysius the Areopagite, Clement of Alexandria, Plotinus, Nicolas of Cusa, ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Thoreau, and many others.

                  2) The employment of this insight (for it is that) as a tool or device for teaching non-duality (Advaita). Firstly, postulating something (a doctrine or statement) as a provisional step on the way towards final truth, and then rescinding it (which, for many, may take years to make the jump, if at all). The formula ‘neti, neti’ (‘not this, not that’) is a famous illustration of that. Much of Indian philosophy is based on, and inspired by, stories, legends, mythology – folk-lore in general (Mahabharata, etc.).

                  Examples of the foregoing are such as saying that, though devoid of eyes and ears, Atman (the supreme Self – Consciousness or Absolute Reality) cognizes everything, while no one can ever cognize him; or attributing fearlessness to Him/It! Or saying that that same Self (originator of everything as Brahman, which is not different from Atman or the Self) is the supreme magician, creator of all the worlds (how many? – innumerable, plus three or more heavenly realms). Not to talk about karma, the posthumous states, and the various possibilities of reincarnation.

                  Now, about the Witness: Here I prefer to copy a selection from ‘A-U-M, Awakening to Reality’, by Dennis Waite, owner of the blog ‘Advaita Vision’, to which I contribute:

                  ‘When speaking about the [sage’s] perception of the world, the scriptures and teachers often use the word ‘witness’. This carries connotations of being ‘detached’, just observing everything and everyone but not becoming involved. But this is still a dualistic concept – ‘I’ and ‘other’. What has to be realized is that we are trying to convey a [higher order] concept of ‘I’ and a [lower order, empirical] concept of ‘other’.

                  This is a mistake on two fronts. Firstly, you cannot have ‘concepts’ from the standpoint of absolute reality – that would be duality! Secondly, you cannot mix levels of reality. To speak of an absolute-reality witness perceiving the world is the same as claiming that a waker can see and involve him or herself in a dream. Accordingly, what is meant by ‘witnessing’ is perceiving the world just as before, but with the major difference that I now know that my real nature is on a higher level of reality; that who-I-really-am is non-dual Consciousness, while the world is Mithya appearance only, albeit with that the same non-dual Consciousness as its substratum. There is still a relationship between me, the observer, and the perceived object at the empirical level. But, in reality, there is no relationship between ‘I’ the absolute reality and any apparent thing at the empirical level. There is no relationship because there is not separation and no second thing to which to relate.’

                  I think I left uncommented something more of what you were saying. If so, I may retake the thread as soon as possible.

                  • Thankyou, Dr. Garcia, for your expansive and most erudite response. It once again is quite late in the evening here, so shall respond either tomorrow or on Monday – by which time you may have added some further thoughts for readers here, it appears.

                    • I will, but right now I am trying to re-arrange what we both have written so far so as to publish it in my blog. You of course can do the same but: 1) your posts are longer than mine and: 2) with shorter intervals between them. What we are covering is, I think, quite relevant (philosophically and existentialist-like), and I have some more ideas with which to respond to your long reply so far (pending your further comments, if any). Any ideas on all of this?

  14. Loved every word of this article, Hariod. Will read it again to absorb as much as my level of understanding will allow me to. 🙂 I like the concepts of a well ventilated mind and a ‘sleeping’ consciousness, and would like to arrive to that state in my practice. As to the picture, which I like a lot too, I am now connecting to some memories and wish I had been more into photography when I lived in Ethiopia. I have very few pictures from that beautiful country and its people.

    • Thankyou so much, Tiny, for reading so attentively what is, I know, a quite lengthy and, at times, abstruse offering here. That said, it is clear you are with me on the particularly difficult notion of a ‘sleeping’ consciousness running whilst we remain very much aware and awake – of the commenters so far, only two or three others seem to acknowledge the same. [I went into a little more detail on this for Balroop above, by the way.]

      Thankyou also for acknowledging Steve Evans’ lovely picture of the two Ethiopian cleaning ladies, which seems to radiate a certain contented charm and positivity, I feel. I am about to take my first steps with digital photography myself, realising that my old Nikkormat has had no usage for many a year and that I really ought to be recording one or two things in life – I possess no smartphone. I shall just get a little compact, and currently the Sony DSC RX-100 Mk.1 is on sale at half the price of the latest model, so shall opt for that I think. It seems to be well reviewed in terms of image quality – my sole concern really, as I see no need for geo-tagging, Wi-Fi and those sorts of bells and whistles.

      Thankyou very much once again Tiny, your presence and contribution is greatly welcomed.

      • Many of your offerings, dear Hariod, give me lots to ponder and practice as well as deserving several readings. 🙂 I wish you the best with your new camera; it is so good to be able to record some of the natural beauty.

        • Too kind, and I am flattered indeed that anyone would read my posts twice; truly I am. _/\_ Ah, yes, the new camera; it would appear to be quite a learning curve even though it is not a DSLR such as I imagine you use for your work. There are some simple modes for simpletons like me, though there are also tutorials on YouTube showing the full functionality of the DSC RX-100, and in time I hope to be able to use that in some degree.

          Blessings on the day Tiny, Hariod.

  15. Oh, this shall take me several reads. I wondered if your hands were listening to your mind, just writing what they felt as your thoughts come through so smoothly within the words. Awareness of being present in that moment is seen in the smiles of the two beautiful women – the mother and daughter have a softer awareness as if they are discovering a great secret passed without words between them. And the Priest, so content is he in his awareness of his solitude. Patterns of such a kind seem to be worth repeating, for they appear to be patterns of an internal peace that was shared through those same photographs. I have to smile at these images, for they seem to extend that peace through time and space to reach me, include me(?), even if it is not intentional.

    I was writing and re-reading your words when my mom called to tell me my baby hawk was back. I am learning my newish camera, and I wanted to catch him in flight, but of course he dove behind a building. 🙂 Watching him is of a quiet contentment that doesn’t need to rush and capture a photograph, but I still wanted to.

    Thank you for your thoughts of wisdom, to share and for us to ponder, returning to see more than we do upon the first reading.

    Take care, Hariod, you matter.

    Maryrose

  16. Hariod, again I am reminded that I had a moment of wisdom, realizing at a young age I could not write such scholarly offerings. I include the majority of your responders. I am, as always, favorably impressed.

    As for ‘sleeping consciousness’, I had, in my own way, arrived at the conclusion that our path to harmony and contentedness runs the other way around – ‘conscious sleep’, if you will. Perhaps I do not understand something fundamental (not only in regards to your post, but overall), or perhaps, there is no actual diference in these terms?

    Now that I have asked this, though I fear I did not express my question fully, I shall bemuse myself in reading a few chapters of the Tao of Pooh. 😀

    • Thankyou for your generous words of encouragement, Robert; they are much appreciated. As to ‘conscious sleep’ then I made some remarks to Balroop (see above) on that very point, although we may be conceiving of it in altogether different ways. Just for the purposes of getting to grips with the nature of one’s own mind, I generally in my writing make a distinction between ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’. Although these are not ontologically distinct categories – not discretely objective states in their own way – it can help greatly to see, at first conceptually and then through the direct experience gained in practise, that consciousness can indeed nod off whilst we remain fully aware. The fifth paragraph in the article details a simple means by which this may be brought about over time, much as it may seem unlikely that it would be possible. Your follow-on reading is eminently sensible my friend, and you shall find far more wisdom in there than I can possibly hope to muster in my own words here. Still, I once again must thank you for your interest, and for your engagement too, Robert. Blessings on the day my friend!

  17. Thank you, Hariod. I think we are discussing the same thing in differing terms. You might have noticed that I am of a simple, Taoist persuasion, which influences my responses and questions, my poetry, my thoughts. For I am inclined towards the belief that being in harmony with the Tao is, for lack of a better word, sufficient.

  18. “Let consciousness fall asleep, savouring instead the deliciousness of a ventilated mind, sensing how awareness has expanded as consciousness nods off.” What an amazing sentence, Hariod! I so enjoyed reading your post.

    • Thankyou so much for your gracious and generous comment; it is a great encouragement to me to receive such kindness from a reader. I actually wondered whether or not to include that idea of consciousness falling asleep, as it appears to be a contradiction in terms of course. I have clarified the matter a little in my further comments to Balroop (above), although you appear to accept the same, and I thank you once again for this – for your clear insight into this rather abstruse idea. You are a most welcome visitor!

  19. Dear Hariod,

    Another splendid and helpful piece. I have learned a great deal from your insistence on particular terminology and definitions, and have also always enjoyed your description of ‘ventilating the mind’ ever since coming across it in your book. I like the way you keep this discussion of contentedness grounded in what is always close at hand, awareness itself. Too much time is spent in my opinion hunting for ‘special’ states of mind, and I struggled very much with this for a while. We walk the paths we walk, of course, and they all lead to ‘places’ we’ve always been.

    Now at the risk of being indecorous, I did find one typographical error, when you said: “Now, awareness is objectless; it is just the mind resting in radiant lucency.” I think we both know you meant radiant lunacy. 🙂

    From the lunatic fringe,

    Michael.

    • Dear Michael,

      The various exchanges we have within comments sections of blogs, as well as my reading articles on your site and, of course, your marvellous book of poems too, has, I feel certain, taught me at least as much as anything I myself may have uttered has taught you, my friend. Yes, I at times take a mild and perhaps unfair exception to some of the terminology you apply, yet see that in the end this comes down to naught in terms of intended meaning. At this rate, we may even be able to talk about God and find common ground! I did with Spinoza, after all.

      As to my keeping things “grounded in what is always close at hand, awareness itself”, then it seems a reasonable approach as we can never apprehend anything outside of it, quite obviously. All insights and realisations play themselves out not merely ‘in awareness’, but ‘as awareness’. I do make an ontologically incorrect distinction between ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’, as you know, though find this helps clarify the true depth of what most more generically term ‘consciousness’. Throughout the day, there are countless times when (what I call) awareness obtains, though consciousness (objects of knowledge in the mind) does not. We cannot recognise – i.e. re-cognise – these moments, as they are not susceptible to representation as mental objects, as memories and percepts, but they are existent nonetheless. This is what I am pointing to in the little meditation in the fifth paragraph of the article here, with the idea there of remaining aware whilst consciousness nods off.

      I agree with you entirely on the matter of chasing ‘special’ states of mind, which same often comes down to bringing about states of concentration, I think. I regard concentration of the mind as concentration of thought; seeing it as no more than attention directing consciousness (not awareness itself) to a very narrow field of thought, or very subtle phenomenal object. Within this, the mind can take on unusual powers, and generate insight too, but we are still here remaining within the sphere of thought – meaning mind-creations. As I think you know, all of this is highly alluring, but also a trap, just as Dr. Garcia (above) has pointed to, and as I know from my own experience (see my response to Dr. Garcia). It is all too easy to get waylaid in what we think are these ‘special’ or privileged states.

      Thankyou for pointing out the typo my friend; you are of course right to do so – certainly in regard to myself anyway, given how blown around my mind is by the phases of the moon. I am, in a very literal manner, subject to lunacy on a regular and quite grand basis.

      – Hariod howling at the moon and ventilating like crazy.

  20. Oh dear, I need to read a lot of this. I like the photographs – no, love them. They tell a story in themselves. As for the tranquillity and mindfulness – why does it take me forever to understand it? Will I never be content?

    • Hello Looney Bitch, and I would say, given the closing remark of the comment above from Michael, the timing of your arrival here is nothing short of perfect. Oh, being content is nowhere near as much fun as being a looney bitch, as I know from my own life, for I too am an ‘ordinary, everyday looney’. I must say, you like frighteningly competent in your avatar; is it all a grand deception, or are you able to mix lunacy and proficiency within your business? Either way, thankyou very much for casting your eyes over this offering; I greatly appreciate the interest.

      Yours unhinged,

      Hariod.

  21. “[Awareness is] the lucid yet blank slate upon which the objects of consciousness are inscribed, so to speak”– Beautifully put Hariod, it all is actually. This piece lies hand-in-hand with Part One perfectly, and shall be a re-blog on The Cloud next, to sit with its other half. *nods*.

    You have quite an amazing mind up there, – *raps Hariod’s skull with her knuckles* – a labyrinth methinks, but one I can pleasantly get lost in, which doesn’t take too long as mine own brain matter is nowhere near as advanced as yours. This is no bad thing, we all have our fortes, and Esme’s skills lie elsewhere, on other levels of consciousness – *Esme holds up her silver-plated award for ‘Best at Playing “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” on the spoons, in The Dog With Two Ducks second year in a row ‘n all*.

    I find your words soothing, even when I’m not sure what the hell is going on – though I’m pleased to say that for the most part, I do. Or at least I think I do, and that’s good enough for me. Hahahahaha.

    – Esme wearing a lunatic fringe with Michael upon the Cloud

    • You always bring such sweetness and light to my turgid offerings here, Esme, and I thankyou from my heart for that. As to fortes, and so forth, then in truth I cannot say I have a single one, being more of a minor factotum, whilst being incapable of doing anything considered truly practical – no false modesty here, that is simply how it is. Your achievements with the spoons are a boon to humankind and the frozen North alike, but do keep watching out for where the huskies go, Esme.

      – Hariod the lunatic Eskimo feeling completely factotum.

      P.S. Thankyou so much for the forthcoming re-blog. ❤

        • Well, I certainly would like to see that, as according to ‘bjron’ at The Urban Dictionary, ‘berg’ also means ‘bear’. 😮

          ❤ – Nanook of Glastonbury

          • I would take The Urban Dictionary with a barrel of salt Hariod, for it also has a definition of ‘berg’ as – “to crap so much that the top of the turd peeks out above the waterline.”

            – Esme bearing up well above the waterline thankfully, upon the Cloud

            • Anyway, in keeping with tradition here in the net of contentedness, then as this last comment of yours was the one hundredth appearing, you are entitled to a little prize, Esme upon the Cloud. Please choose one of the following:

              a) A box of vegan chocolates.
              b) A Mediterranean cruise with a free muffin for breakfast each morning – warning: there may be rough seas.
              c) A mystery gift of no pecuniary value.

              • The 100th comment!! And I didn’t plan it either. If I had done I’d need to get out a great deal more mind you.

                A prize! Well…

                a) – My taste is more savoury than sweet, so no.
                b) – Sounds way too dangerous.
                c) – Yes, that’s ideal.

                ‘Pecuniary’ – *pockets it* Nice.

                – Esme the winner not taking it all upon the Cloud

  22. New thread for conversation with Dr. Garcia [see above]

    Thankyou Dr. Garcia, for once again sharing your erudition in the matter; and yes, the usage of concepts and language within the Great Teachings at once cause a falling into error. More accurately, one might say they have no more than the potential to shift beneficially the level of error which the mind already inhabits. The wise student uses the mind to help overcome the mind, though such processes can only ever help, and never entirely achieve, their objective. Neo-Advaitans often seem to reject this, declaring that the uncaused cannot be approached by any activity of the body-mind. Whilst it is logically correct to say that the uncaused cannot be actualised as a result of such activities, in one loose sense it can indeed be approached by them insofar as Right Thought holds the mind, so to say, within a crucible of great potentiality. Potential for what? – for the mind to realise it is its own creation within a greater non-dual, non-local, non-self awareness. I believe the Classical Advaitans to be correct, and that disciplines in mental training, conceptual appreciation of philosophical tenets, and personal morality too, assist very greatly in approaching the uncaused, that being the awareness (my term) just referred to.

    As to the concept of ‘Reality/reality’, then I avoid using it as far as is possible. What exists that is unreal? – nothing. Still, to indulge the term just here: If I think of a unicorn within my imagination, then that thought is real, in that I know beyond doubt of the thought’s existence. Even if I believe in the objective, physical existence of that unicorn, then that belief too is real for the same reason. No object in the mind is, or can ever be, unreal, by virtue of that object’s very existence, and no object can exist outside of the mind. [Forgive me, this is all elementary.] Therefore, the concept of ‘reality’ in contradistinction is redundant – is it not? By ‘unreality’, what we appear to mean is no more than, say, ‘incorrectly inferred’, yet the object of inference remains extant. Shankara’s mutual superimposition of reality and unreality is somewhat echoed in the quote I gave, in my comment above, of Theodor Stcherbatsky, I think it is fair to say, in that both mutually sublate each other and become merged in a Final Monism.

    Yes, the various schools of phenomenological reduction all are effective in approaching the Advaitan goal, with its own prescription of ‘Neti, neti’. Phenomenologists, most notably Edmund Husserl, have in the past century proposed rigorous mind-analyses for that same purpose, utilising contemplatively reductionist techniques, echoing the ‘via negativa’ of Vipassanā Buddhism and later Indian Advaita/ Natha doctrines, Greek Pyrrhonism, Epistemological Fallibilism, Maimonides’ negative Judaism, with correlates to the apophatic mysticism of Islam and Christianity. I can only speak for Vipassanā Buddhism as being an effective way, and from my own limited discoveries issuing in part, therefrom.

    • [I still have to re-read your last comments above to see if I left something of significance out; if so, you can direct my attention to it. The following is copied from my own site.]

      In my previous comments as a preliminary reply to H – taking into consideration H’s scruples on the use of language and of certain anthropomorphic-sounding expressions in particular – I accepted that much of the language in Eastern texts, whether mythological or philosophical, is wrapped within a florid, imaginative language which contains an exuberant use of hyperbole and other devices, such as metaphors, stories and unlikely dialogues in the forest by a master and his disciple or disciples.

      Should this, however, detract from whatever truth is contained in them? Often, if not as a rule, spiritual or metaphysical doctrine is the main focus in such writings. [I mentioned the Mahabharata, but there are many other writings, called Puranas, that are equally imaginative and entertaining as well as being didactic.] Who can complain about such works of the creative imagination if the ship or vessel takes you finally to the safe harbor of truth – a truth that never can be fully conveyed by any kind of language? The only problem, really, is that there is not enough time to immerse oneself and get lost in such marvels!

      Examples of the language I am referring to were given, such as the presence or absence of ears, eyes and feet in the supreme deity itself; the quality of fearlessness (etc.) which cannot but be a decoy for the absolute, or reality in itself. Indulging a little more in such delights, we hear about “brilliant bodies like the sun, the moon and the stars – all the celestial luminary bodies that are the all-pervading Lord Vishnu”. There is a wonderful story in one of the Upanishads (the sacred texts) about a boy, Svetaketu, who, having undergone a 12-year long education in a hermit’s ashram, returned home with a swagger, very proud of himself. His father, on noticing this, asked him: “Oh son, you are so egoistic and proud! Have you learned about that Entity or Reality which is to be taught, hearing about which all that which is not heard about becomes heard, all that which is not deliberated upon (hitherto) becomes deliberated upon, all that which is not cognized becomes cognized?” The father then goes on to teach him.

      The language of these sacred texts – some of them are one rung below that, and are called ‘received’, while the former come under the epithet of ‘heard’ – is not descriptive with regard to the ultimate reality; rather they are evocative, and this is true of most of the ‘sacred’ or religious texts in the world. As a friend, Dennis Waite, wrote recently in ‘Advaita Vision’, you cannot have ‘concepts’ from the standpoint of absolute reality – that would be duality! Secondly, you cannot mix levels of reality.

      The following is an illuminating commentary to one of the Upanishads by the great Indian philosopher Shankara:

      ‘Even revelation makes Atman [i.e. the Supreme Spirit) known to us only by negating the function of a knower or of any means of knowledge. “Seen by whom, and by what means? Known by whom, and by what means?” it asks. “Where everything is the Spirit alone?” It does not assume the usual descriptive function of speech which rests on the presumption of the relation of words and things denoted by them.’

      I already mentioned the value and function of ‘Neti, neti’ in this context, that is, that of removing misconceptions. I also referred to superimposition and subsequent rescission as existing, though un-acknowledged (or un-intended) in normal language and also as a teaching device, which was an insight or discovery of the above mentioned Shankara. One of the texts puts it this way: this is pulling up all ignorance by the roots.

      “The ultimate means of knowledge [i.e. scriptures] removes the knowing nature itself superimposed on Atman (the Spirit) and, simultaneously with that removal, it ceases to be a means of knowledge just as the means of dream knowledge ceases to be such on waking up.” – Bhavagad Gita

      In my previous post I included an excerpt related to the meaning and significance of the witness (who or what is a ‘witness’ according to the non-duality of Advaita Vedanta), and also mentioned briefly two types of knowledge but, rather than abounding on this, I will end with another quotation, here of the god-avatar Krishna teaching the warrior Arjuna:

      “I am born as everything by virtue of my illusory power – everything is merely an appearance of Me, who am the absolute reality beyond time, space, and any talk of causation.”

  23. I have been wanting to write a comment to this, dear Hariod, since it was such an expert treatise on the topic of contentment, but I am dealing with several life events right now – husband retiring for health reasons, both of us ill, selling our little barn, etc. – and could think of nothing intelligent to say. Your pieces are all so high-level and expert, I just sit in awe reading them and am most of the time struck speechless. Obviously you are a teacher and a very successful one, but I am most grateful to you for guiding me to Mooji. I know I have said this before but it applies so very much right now. I have been following his open Satsangs in Rishikesh. You are imprinted on my mind as the one who has led me to him. Actually I have had glimmers of contentment through his pointing, but you say that one cannot be partially contented like one cannnot be partially pregnant. Good points. But can one see glimpses of the possibility of contentment. My mind, being Bipolar and on medication, perhaps more than others, is so noisy and full of fears. This is good because it propels me towards the spiritual path, but remains tough to ignore. In any case, I write in love and gratitude for you, dear Hariod, but I am way down below in some abyss, gazing up at your writings.

    • Oh, my goodness Ellen, I am so sorry to hear that you and your husband are unwell currently; truly I am my friend. It rather sounds as if you have more than enough on your plate without writing a detailed comment such as this which you have, or indeed even reading the article itself; all of which speaks volumes for the sincerity of your words, and for your generosity of spirit too. Thankyou so very much; your presence here is an honour for me, truly.

      I ought just clarify that I most definitely am not a teacher of any sort, and remain very much a student of life, with much to learn, and not enough years remaining to do the same. Yet still, can we say such a process ever ends? – perhaps not. When I listen to your beloved Mooji, as I did just a few days ago at your site, I see what a magnificent and perfectly authentic teacher he is. In a field full of charlatans, he is one of the very few true ones, in my opinion.

      Again, a minor clarification, if you will: As regards contentedness being an absolute, in the sense that being pregnant also is, then I do not mean to imply that it lasts indefinitely. [Another commenter had the same impression as you, by the way.] I mean that when it obtains, it is not a relative state, and one cannot be partially contented (in the sense I use the term here). If one were to be partially contented, then some subtle desire or aversion would necessarily remain, something slight would be deemed amiss, and we would – however liminally – be wanting the world to be subtly different to how it currently is. So, this contentedness is something that comes into, and out of, its apprehended existence due to the operation of these desires and aversions, but as they themselves do not always exist in the mind, then contentedness by default does when they are absent. It sounds implausibly simple, but is the very essence of the matter, and of Buddhistic teachings too, as Mooji would attest, I feel sure. [I know he is not from that tradition.]

      Of course you cannot ignore those perturbations and fears you speak of, Ellen, and it would be crass to suggest that it were possible to do so. Whilst they obviously are obstructions in terms of your own tranquillity, then tranquillity of itself is not what you are seeking ultimately, much as it may seem so at times – to most all seekers, perhaps it true to say? If what you sought were tranquillity alone, then you would be seeking only a state of mind, a particular neural arrangement that invoked pleasant feelings. That idea will seem absurd to you, I know very well, though on occasion it is helpful to remind ourselves that our goal is not the rearrangement of our thought processes and nervous system. Their effects seem all-encompassing when we are overwhelmed with problems, of course they do, though they remain solely thoughts and feelings in essence. Doubtless you are progressively dis-identifying with them, and I cannot imagine what better guidance you could be under than that of the venerable Mooji.

      With deep gratitude and equally deep respect, but love too. H ❤

  24. Hariod: Most interesting, and an excellent post.

    Tubularsock has found that borrowing the mind of another to do mindful meditation works best, primarily due to the fact that Tubularsock has found that being contented in the wonderfully gross level of craving and hatred seems to take up all of Tubularsock’s mindfulness.

    By relaxing into craving and hatred, it helps Tubularsock practice his anger, wrath, outrage, indignation and fury for humanity. Excluding Tubularsock himself as part of humanity. Otherwise it would be self-hatred, which Tubularsock would never indulge due to the easy targets elsewhere!

    As for awareness and where it is located, Tubularsock has properly put awareness into a large box with handles and placed it on a high shelf right between the ‘Fairy Dust’ box with handles and the ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ box with handles, but it is taped shut to prevent escape.

    Thanks Hariod, for a great post.

    • Thankyou Tubularsock, you appear to have taken on-board the essence of the matter and I certainly wish you well in your syncretic adventures. Have you thought of writing a book? Perhaps a suitable title might be ‘Buddhist Misanthropy – The Sock Puts the Boot in the Holy Life’, or some such? Your considered reflections remind me of a rather earnest woman who once attended a Buddhist monastery here in England and who, in the middle of a silent retreat and whilst under the personal guidance of the abbess, declared to her in all sincerity : “I need to take a break from all this mindfulness business”. It was said that the abbess descended into uncontrollable laughter and in so doing immediately realised Nibbana – some kind of yellowish fruit, I gather.

      Cheers my dear old thing – see you on the slab!

  25. “Now, awareness is objectless; it is just the mind resting in radiant lucency. This means it cannot grasp or be grasped at, so the first thing to do is to relinquish that stance, as if being asleep whilst remaining wide awake.”

    Yessss! I love this. Awareness is made so clear that even if it is objectless it is touchable, tangible, realizable. Thank you Hariod.

    • Oh, thankyou so much Arati, for taking this point on-board in the rather oblique way I have described it, and which understanding clearly must come from your own prior, direct experience. The most difficult thing to appreciate in this offering of mine is the idea of letting consciousness – i.e. knowing things – nod off, whilst awareness remains perfectly lucid and awake, so to speak. I am sure you would phrase the whole quite differently yourself, but again, you know exactly what I am talking about. Thankyou very much for your interest and kind words of encouragement; both are hugely appreciated.

  26. Hi Hariod: I have just posted in my blog the bulk of your comments to my first post, which may be it was backwards, given that it was rather my first, provisional, reply to part of your first contribution (confusing!). I hope things will now straighten up, counting that within 7 – 10 days I will hopefully attempt a reply to your said comments. Definitely there are a few important issues raised by you which I did not address so far. What I published today (your comments) are very much to the point and very well expressed. Will be back to you.

  27. On looking back on what was covered by both of us in our conversation so far, I found that indeed there are a few issues, be it clarification of concepts, that were left hanging loose; issues and concepts that may be said to constitute the central core of non-duality including, of course, the ego or subject (one, or more than one?). The themes are, in summary:

    1) Differences in cultural and linguistic background as context in any discussion (not necessarily ‘home-grown’).
    2) Thinker/witness/observer/experiencer – who is the subject, or from which perspective?
    3) ‘Higher’ (metaphysical/esoteric or spiritual) and ‘lower’ (empirical/conventional) knowledge.
    4) States of mind.
    5) a) Consciousness or awareness as ultimate reality – any other candidate (voidness, suchness, etc.)? b) The issue of objectless consciousness.

    1. Early in our dialogue you adverted re ‘leaning too much on concepts that are not within our own sphere of experience’. Initially I agreed with you (plain English should be enough), whilst noting that words are symbols or indicators of meaning, although a language such as Sanskrit, together with a philosophy (if that is our interest) by which it is invested offers special difficulties. These, however, can be overcome to a great extent by the Westerner who is attracted or deeply interested in that tradition or school of thought, as you well know from personal experience. Certain terms cannot be satisfactorily translated or interpreted, and it is best to immerse oneself in the tradition itself, which carries with it adornments and peculiarities which may be either superfluous or distracting. You may have had this in mind when you made your comments in that regard. On the other hand, if one is attracted to the aesthetics and cultural milieu within which the specific content one is interested in is contained, the situation is different.

    2. With respect to the terms and concepts ‘thinker’, ‘knower’, ‘Knower behind the knower’, I made some provisional answers in the face of your scruples, if you remember, noting that many of these expressions are either provisional or elliptical, and that one has to grok their actual meaning wherever they occur. I think I said that the absolute (Consciousness or Brahman) cannot be a K/knower, or even a W/witness; it cannot be other than a/the background or substrate, Itself doing nothing. These considerations are very subtle in the tradition of (non-dual) Advaita and can be quite misleading, as you have well observed. I quoted Dennis Waite to the effect that: “you cannot have ‘concepts’ from the standpoint of absolute reality – that would be duality! Secondly, you cannot mix levels of reality. To speak of an absolute-reality witnessing or perceiving the world is the same as claiming that a waker can see and involve him or herself in a dream. Accordingly, what is meant by ‘witnessing’ is perceiving the world just as before, but with the major difference that I now know that my real nature is on a higher level of reality.”

    3. Staying for a moment with this (you: “an overseeing Knower as an apprehending subject or quasi-subject (Knower behind the (‘individual’) knower), you remark: “If there is any supranatural entity-state then it cannot be apprehended and actualised in nature, and so clearly no (wo)man can speak meaningfully about it.” I am sure you will realise that one thing is understanding with the mind, and another – and quite different – grasping, not with the mind or ordinary reason, but with a higher faculty or possibility of understanding for which there is no better term than ‘intuition’. This intuition goes beyond duality and seeming paradoxes. Reality is one but, as I already mentioned when considering the existence of a ‘higher’ and a ‘lower’ knowledge, the difficulty is circumvented. One could be put off by that distinction within what knowledge is taken to be, but I think I said enough about it (empiricists, physicalists, and/or ‘realists’, will be – and usually are – reluctant to admit such entity or possibility: higher reason or intuition).

    4. You are correct, in my opinion, when stating that, saying that: “Stcherbatsky’s ‘Final Monism’ and your ‘One Light’ is a ‘state’ is erroneous”. Correct also in implying, against my interlocutor, that Turiya is not the same as (Nirvikalpa) Samadhi i.e. Turiya or Samadhi is a mind-less state. You object against him when he writes that “when the mind is annihilated, consciousness remains as it is”, holding that “‘consciousness’, by Western definition, means ‘with knowledge’, and knowledge requires an active mind apprehending phenomena, even if the sole phenomenon apprehended is a one-pointed mental concentration i.e. a state of mind, not a ‘mind-less state’”.

    5 (a). I would agree that yours is a common or conventional understanding in our Western culture, that is, using the words ‘consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ as in ‘conscious, or aware of X ‘, which involves a subject-object differentiation – this is exactly Nisargadatta’s usage (or rather his translator’s rendering) of the term ‘consciousness’, while, for him, the highest ontological principle is awareness (or ‘static consciousness’), again, as per translation of these terms by Maurice Frydman. As we can see, this often creates confusion. But if we accept that consciousness, or awareness, are possible names of (just a label for) the ultímate reality, then I cannot see how there can be a problem.

    (b). ‘Objectless consciousness’. What is this? I would answer: ‘just consciousness’ – higher or lower case, regardless (traditionally, at times, called ‘pure Consciousness’). This may not be easily understandable for, whilst that expression is unobjectionable in the case of deep sleep and Samadhi, can it be called such when we refer to a self-realised ‘person’ in the wake state – that is, from his angle of vision? This can be, and is, controversial. I recently referred to this elsewhere by asking, ‘does a realised ‘individual’ see the/a world? – does s/he see multiplicity? Some recognized sages have answered, ‘yes’, because s/he has to react to their surroundings in an appropriate way, e.g. turn the head on hearing their name being called, or going to buy groceries. This reply is consistent with the quotation above of D. Waite: “‘witnessing’ is perceiving the world just as before, but with the major difference that I now know that my real nature is on a higher level of reality.” A reality, that is, where the polarity subject-object no longer holds: objectless; consciousness remaining ever unchanged, unmoved.

    But there is a second possible reply, isn’t there? That is, when ‘my’ mind doesn’t function anymore as individual mind once it has been annihilated, as my interlocutor suggested or, more properly, having regained its true nature, which is consciousness itself (no duality). Is that not a possibility – that of ‘no-mind’, consciousness only ‘aware-ing’ and responding to consciousness in a self-reflecting way; phenomena also being not other than consciousness manifesting as ‘waves’ or ‘names and forms’? Isn’t that the only reality there is (‘one without a second’)? If not, what then is non-duality?

    • Dr. Garcia, if only for my own and others possible benefit, I shall add a few further reflections on this, your latest comment, within the next day or two. Thankyou once again for contributing so fulsomely and with such impressive erudition.

      • Alright. But I am neither erudite nor a scholar, only a student of Advaita who struggles with its intricacies and complexities – though in its essence it is simple! Besides, the word is not the thing!

        • Dr. Garcia, if you are at all interested, I have now finally made my further reflections on your own as described above in your comment of April 16th. at 10.14 p.m. You will see what I have had to say in a separate thread below and dated today. Thankyou so much for such a stimulating engagement, and I hope we shall have more in the future.

  28. If consciousness, awareness and contentment were to assume personifications, they would join me in saluting the marvellous erudition informing your treatise on the subject, dear Hariod. The picture of Ethiopian cleaning women lends itself appositely in highlighting the essentiality of spiritual refinement to grok the meaning underlying at the depth of it all, as clearly borne out by the detailed exchange of views here. True enlightenment is attained in the direct experience of the ultimate or absolute nature of life itself. In that revelation, s/he has seen far beyond boundaries of the personal self and discovered the universal nature of all his/her human experience, whereby the self is liberated from the perpetual tyranny of being trapped in a relationship to life that is merely personal. As far as visibility allows through our exchanges and your writings, you appear to be at a blissful level of contentment. May it enable your ascent to higher levels of consciousness catalysing the process of enlightenment attainable at the end of a fundamentally self-centred relationship to life. As long as we are self-centred, lost in merely personal pursuits and self-aggrandisement, we shall remain unavailable to manifest the profound and extraordinary evolutionary potential that in most of us lies dormant. The suffering world is in dire need of truly conscious beings; human beings who know who they are and why they are here. Whether guided by ‘tat tvam asi’, or the non-duality of Advaita, or the desirelessness of Buddhism, or any other spiritual beliefs, the enlightened condition in no way denies any aspect of our humanity. It is only a deepening and widening of perspectives that we all need for further evolutionary progression.

    Aloha, Namaste.

    • Thankyou so very much, dear Raj, for your erudite contribution and most generous words of encouragement. I am delighted that you would take such an interest in my offerings, and if you would permit it, would like to ask a question of you. Do you think that spiritual enlightenment, if we accept such a concept as being actualisable within or as the human animal, is any more than a matter of ascending through what you refer to as ‘higher levels of consciousness’? Perhaps another way of putting it is this: is spiritual enlightenment a conscious state, or (also) something beyond consciousness? _/\_

      • I was travelling for a couple of days and hence the delayed response, for which my apologies to you, Hariod. To satisfactorily answer your query, I wish I had attained a higher level of consciousness myself instead of my current situation of being a beginner on the spiritual path. From my limited perspective thus far, all I can say is that ultimate enlightenment is a total nullification of self and attaining oneness with Universal Consciousness or Universal Mind that holds the cosmos together. When all beings in the universe are intuited to be mere expressions of Universal Consciousness, the pathway to enlightenment is logically through a negation of self, through consistent pursuit of egolessness and humility; in so doing, there is willing acknowledgement of our place on earth and restoration of goodness, as the ego in egoistic state stands for (e)dging (g)oodness (o)ut.

        In the words of Carl Sagan: “When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.” One can be an atheist disbelieving of an overarching Being as creator and overseer of everything. Yet there is spirituality because we human beings, and the flora and fauna with the ocean, sun, moon and the stars, we all live with something that is cherished and we feel the treasure of it. All of these reflections reinforce the experiential, which precedes any doctrinal or philosophical beliefs. Freud talked of spirituality as a fire that burns at the center of our lives. Jung speaks of deep archetypal energies. Doris Lessing talks of a voltage within. Whatever the metaphor, the language is of a universal desire, restlessness, longing, hunger, or aching nostalgia, a pull towards love, beauty, creativity, hope. It has nothing to do with philosophical deductions or religious assertions. As human beings, we have these experiences and it is wonderful to always be reminded of this very special common ground we all share. Even though there is reverence of science as a profound source of spirituality, it is clearly the deep archetypal energies of the human spirit that are ultimately the source of science. It is not science that wonders and probes and asks questions, it is the human spirit. Probably this is not a full answer to your question, but it depicts the present stage of my seeking.

        With regards and best wishes.

        • This is such a very beautiful response, Raj, and might provide the framework for an excellent article of yours on the nature of spirituality, in my opinion. The question I asked was one the reasoning mind struggles to find an answer for, as it cannot see beyond its own mechanics, they being the psychical objects of what we think of as consciousness. Consciousness is not separate from intuited spiritual knowledge, and yet spiritual knowledge (for want of a better phrase – personally I avoid using the word ‘spiritual’ in the main) is not consciousness as a psychical object – a mere percept within a stream of mentation. This is my understanding, thus far, and which presents the reasoning mind with a paradox: If spiritual knowledge is not apprehended as an object(s) of consciousness, then what apprehends it, or how is it apprehendable?

          Here, we come to an even deeper paradox: The seeker’s conscious mind can only conceive in terms of itself as a subject, and spiritual knowledge as an object – i.e. something (objective) to be attained or acquired by the mind as subject, or something (objective) which the seeker’s mind as subject absorbs into. Necessarily, the seeker’s mind cannot conceive of spiritual knowledge being extant beyond this dualistic dichotomy, that is, beyond or above (so to speak), subject and object, beyond or transcendent to, self and otherness. Ultimately, the seeker must dissolve in abandoning its own self-creation as an imagined subject. And yet if this is done volitionally by itself as that seeking subject, then the mind simply morphs its self-entity into what is now a non-seeker, which is still thought of as an unenlightened subject – i.e. nothing has changed.

          It is all quite fascinating, don’t you think, Raj? Then again, for very many – and I feel certain that you would agree – the spiritual path of the seeker is a very beautiful one, and bounteous in terms of reward regardless of any imagined (or otherwise) attainments. My own path was primarily that of Orthodox Buddhism, which I followed very intensively for 25 years before something looser appeared – somewhere between Advaita, Zen, Husserlian Phenomenology, and Buddhist psychology. I certainly felt it to be a beautiful path, even though the whole was wrongly conceived throughout in terms of it being a movement towards some final objective or attainment. Perhaps the funniest or most ironic aspect was that of reducing the world to the ten thousand things (so to speak), only in order to perceive a unicity. Still, that kind of reductionism, or via negativa, was tremendously helpful in revealing my wrong conceptions and assumptions. I think that may be the trickiest part, uprooting the assumptions – they are so very elusive in their operation.

          I could talk with you about this sort of thing endlessly, Raj, but fear I may be boring you. That said, if you wish to come back and add anything, or correct me on any point, then do please feel very free to do so my friend.

          With much gratitude and respect,

          Hariod.

  29. I really needed to breathe some fresh air and vent my pent-up tension and frustration, which have to do only with my poor activity on the delightful WP world. I was thinking of you and your brilliant posts which postulate that all is in Mind, but we have a tendency to perplex things and spoil our happiness for no reason at all. I think I need more mental exersise in order to be able to apply what I easily support in theory. All power is from within and should be under our control; but why do we fail to reach any desirable result? One can easily find the answer in the wisdom of your book and in your posts, dear Hariod. Shapeless is the consciousness and our being, and how lucky we are that everything is alterable. If we realise how little we understand about our life, we have made the first positive step.

    I do hope you are keeping well, my friend. Sending love & peace your way.

    All the best,

    Doda

    • How lovely it is to hear from you once again, dear Doda. I had been wondering how things were in your world – your perfectly beautiful corner of it – and if your apparent silence thereabouts suggested anything more than some gentle respite. I think it is perhaps healthy for us to occasionally withdraw from the blogosphere; for although undoubtedly it offers a wonderful sense of community and stimulation, it nonetheless can prove demanding of one’s energies in the imagined obligations to others, which it surely carries. I am posting here now perhaps ten times annually at most, and think that is the right balance for me given the nature of the subject matter. I tend to spend far more of my blogging time on others’ sites, and interacting there, which seems to suit me well as I enjoy engaging rather more than elaborating upon my own thoughts which in any case are more than evident to me! Anyway, once again, it is a delight to hear from you, dear Doda, and I send you love and my best wishes for your health and contentedness.

      Hariod ❤

      • Thank you so very much for your rich and thoughtful reply, and above all for your understanding. All is just fine in my world, in my multidimensional life, and I enjoyed to the fullest all my recent travelling and also my long Easter holidays.

        I also tend to spend more of my available blogging time on others’ sites, but then I usually write longer comments than others do. Most blogging friends leave just a one sentence comment and a ‘like’, and that’s how they survive. I am seriously thinking of adopting their strategy – lol. I started blogging for fun, not to make my life difficult and my contentedness temperate.

        All the very best to you, Hariod dear. xxX ♥

        Doda

  30. New thread to above discussion with Dr. Garcia:

    Thankyou Dr. Garcia, and if I may, I shall just add a few follow-on remarks in connection with your particular, numbered points:

    1. I originally said: “in my opinion there is always the risk of leaning too much on concepts that are not within our own sphere of experience and hence are alien as regards to any intimate knowing.” In my experience, then the seeker is best advised, at some point in their development, to reinterpret their experience [i.e. in wise reflection/Pali: ‘Yoniso manasikara’] using their own terms, which are perfectly understood by themselves, and to desist in couching everything within others’ linguistic paradigms. Inevitably, when one is introduced to terms from the Great Teachings, then shadings of interpretation form and develop as to what those terms may mean in direct experience. Accordingly, we may find ourselves reaching for, or most notably expecting, particular kinds of experience, ones which fit our (mis)conceptions, our (mis)interpretations. So we get stuck, thinking that we must pass through certain states, or insights, as conceived by ourselves but as quite wrongly imagined in so doing. With Buddhist concepts like ‘dissolution’ (of phenomena), ‘transience’, ‘non-self’, ‘emptiness’, ‘consciousness’, ‘un-satisfactoriness’ and even ‘mindfulness’ and ‘concentration’, we can and do attempt to match experience to self-created images of what these things mean. I might venture to suggest that far too many colourful and exotic expressions are clung to in bids to convey to ourselves our imagined goal, this perhaps being a byproduct of the point you make about non-translatable terms. ‘Dukkha’ (Pali), or ‘un-satisfactoriness’ as it is translated from the Pali term, being a great case in point, and the reason why so many think of Buddhism as a doctrine of pessimism. ‘Nibbana/Nirvana’ is another – and ‘extinction’ is sometimes thought of as the disappearance of, say, the physical and phenomenal world. It is absurd.

    2. You quote Dennis Waite who states one cannot mix levels of ‘reality’ (again, a word I assiduously avoid using). Nonetheless, the process of spiritual seeking is largely conducted within, and organised by, the mind, that is, within consciousness, which itself has sole referents of psychical objects/ mentation. Those mentatative objects are largely percepts, which in turn tend to conform to a consensus ‘reality’ – the world as is commonly apprehended. So, I would, for what it is worth to readers, just both confirm yet also qualify Dennis’ quote in that the seeker must guard against abandoning the working within consensus ‘reality’ – doing so is necessary in order to unravel their misunderstandings i.e. using the mind to overcome the mind. It is no use thinking that everything is an illusion. It is no use thinking that the physical person does not exist. There is a physical world populated by discrete objects! ‘All is consciousness’ – reductio ad absurdum? Patently so. ‘All experience is consciousness’, then yes again, patently so – but now perfectly true.

    A very important point: To state that there are physically discrete objects is not to reject that they are identical with any apprehending of them. It is not one or the other; it is both, yet ultimately as awareness, or unicity. The world exists; apprehending exists; yet both are identical. This is my way of describing non-duality outside of handed-down jargon. In jargonistic terms, I would perhaps suggest ND is a form of Radical Externalism – although ‘internal’ and ‘external’ are only ever conceptual constructs within the actualised experience of it. No subject stands outside the tree being apprehended, and which itself is not an object standing outside of any subject. ‘Subject’ and ‘object’ are mind creations alone, but the tree is not a mind creation. The paradox of non-duality is that given apparently (to the mind) only the possibility of it being either subject as a oneness, object as a oneness, or both together as a oneness, it is none of those three.

    3. I previously said: “If there is any supranatural entity-state then it cannot be apprehended and actualised in nature, and so clearly no (wo)man can speak meaningfully about it.” Here, it is perhaps simpler and more helpful to ground things, to escape the false notion that somehow the mind is able to acquire something beyond nature, or absorb into something beyond nature, or to hold the notion that non-duality is actualised as if it had previously existed outside of nature and is now (magically) within nature. It is actualised, yet only in the sense that what previously was not apparent (in nature) now becomes apparent (in nature). No (wo)man can speak meaningfully about anything beyond nature [i.e. supranatural] coming into nature, because that is not a possibility – there is nothing beyond nature [Spinoza] – only things that are obscured from our knowledge of nature. Non-duality obviously does not stand outside of nature waiting to be brought into it. It is merely occluded by mind-created phenomena, beliefs, conditioning, and so forth.

    On your point about ‘higher faculties’ and ‘intuition’, then these are fair enough terms, but just for my own writing purposes I call those things, or rather what you are suggesting they access, ‘awareness knowing itself as itself’. I have no firm idea if anyone takes anything from that expression, but it at least has the merit of circumventing the idea that some exalted state of mind is what actualises non-duality, or that consciousness accesses it as a phenomenal object. Also, it has an intimacy to it that reflects well the actualisation (whilst it persists), as the sense is very much of awareness having complete intimacy with itself in and as a totality.

    4. Okay, Dr. Garcia, we agree. Non-duality is not a state that comes in and out of existence as a mind-state, nor as a mindless-state. The mind will do as it will; non-duality remains unmoved by its movements and non-movements.

    5. To be clear as to my own use of the following two terms:

    Consciousness: I use this term to denote the stream of mentation, all of which is known, meaning apprehended. ‘Con science’ means ‘with knowledge’, and so there is always a ‘knowing of’ some psychical object within the mentative stream – either that, or a knowing of the stream itself as a flux-continuum of perceptual objects. It is the mind’s representations, meaning it is brain and nervous system dependent.

    Awareness: I use this term to denote the illumination of consciousness, though there is no ontological distinction between it and consciousness itself. Awareness ‘knows’ nothing other than itself, as itself, and hence can be objectless. It does not know itself as an object within itself. It does not require the use of memory or perceptual activity and is not instantiated as psychical representations. The question is, is it brain dependent? Actualised non-duality reveals that awareness is non-local, not spatially referenced of itself, and not dependent upon the brain’s capacity to represent.

    As to your reference to ‘self-realised persons’, then I respectfully suggest that is irrelevant to the discussion. The notion of realised and unrealised persons is a construct of unknowing mind. Such terms are used within spiritual teachings because seekers necessarily think within the subject/object dichotomy, and can only be led doctrinally out of such thinking by using their own terms of reference. The seeker is stuck in the thinking and false belief that tells them that they are an unrealised person and that their teacher, or the Buddha, or whoever, is a realised person. To the seeker, the realised person (as they see them) is still a subject having absorbed into an object, or a subject having acquired an object (of knowledge).

    As to your ‘second possibility’ that mind doesn’t function anymore as individual mind in so-called ‘realisation’, then I would reject this on the basis that the individual mind is merely the brain and nervous system doing as it must and only ever as it can. As a product of evolution the individual mind cannot be usurped as such, though its inhabitation by illusory self-constructs is abandoned. The brain and sensory system function as they always did and evolved to do. Now, the idea of ‘mind’ itself ought not to be taken to connote any autonomous and integrated substantiation of consciousness, as it commonly is. It is a collective term for Hume’s bundle of perceptions, along with dispositions, memories and so forth – all physically-bound stuff, but with no autonomy, and integrated only insofar as each phenomenon arises dependently upon other phenomena which themselves exist largely outside the putative mind. None of that can ever form part of any fanciful ‘Universal Consciousness’. Consciousness, by its nature (according to my own definitions as above), is always particularised to the individual. When you write of “consciousness only ‘aware-ing’ and responding to consciousness in a self-reflecting way”, then that makes complete sense to me, although only in my stepping outside of my own definitions and into yours, which I am happy to do.

  31. Dear Hariod,

    It might seem strange that, given the apparent agreement in our viewpoints concerning non-duality, there is so much disagreement in the consequences or derivations each one of us is prepared to defend as stemming from the former. Part of the explanation, no doubt, lies in one’s culture and up-bringing (rather than genetics or even constitutional make-up or temperament, though these may also play some role), besides the respective exposures we have been subjected to in terms of reading, reflecting, and schools of thought (the traditions, etc.) that we have pursued. These last influences, in my opinion, are paramount.

    But I think there must be a more significant, deeper reason, for our, in the end, differing viewpoints, and that is the understanding each one of us has of what Non-duality really is, meaning how we see it. This amounts to finding out what one’s position is regarding ultimate reality, or ultimate truth/knowledge or, if you prefer, a final, comprehensive understanding of ‘how things are’. I am trying to not use the word ‘metaphysics’, which tends to put many people off, or send them to sleep.

    Concomitances of the particular position held in this regard are such things as knowledge (extent of), intuition (is there such?), status of the ‘external’ or empirical world, subject-object dichotomy, role of language, authority – or otherwise – of traditions and teachers, etc. But, since we have already dealt, at least partly, with most of these issues, I will reduce them to three sub-headings:

    1) Consciousness and awareness – are they different?
    2) The world of plurality – in your words, ‘physically discrete objects’.
    3) Awareness – the king-pin of non-duality?

    Before going on, I understand you don’t hold any external authority (traditions, doctrines, teachers) as the final say, which is suggested by your referring to ‘direct experience’ as the would be court of last appeal. This is fine with me, except – as I am sure you will agree – for the respect, appreciation and gratitude that are owed them for the benefits that have accrued to us from their teachings.

    1). You: “the process of spiritual seeking is largely conducted within, and organised by, the mind, that is, within consciousness, which itself has sole referents of psychical objects/mentation” [Is there a typo here, Hariod?]

    While you make a clear distinction between consciousness and awareness, I am not sure in which way you distinguish the mind from consciousness; both deal with objects and imply a subject-object distinction. Is the mind the locus of representations of the multiple objects and thus a tool of consciousness? I see that you understand consciousness as entailing knowledge “of some psychical object within the mentative stream . . . or the mentative stream itself”, but not so in the case of mind, which I find cogent. This is consistent with you saying “the individual mind being merely the brain and nervous system doing as it must”, and the brain being subject to evolution, but not so mind (?). This is also consistent with consciousness being “the mind’s representation, meaning it is brain and nervous system dependent”. I wonder if you hold that consciousness also evolves, along with the mind?

    Now we come to the nub of the question: “‘All is consciousness’ – reductio ad absurdum? Patently so. ‘All experience is consciousness’, then yes again, patently so – but now perfectly true.” This is related to what you refer to as a “consensus reality – the world as is commonly apprehended”. Again: “there is a physical world populated by discrete objects”.

    Later on I will expand on awareness [under #3] which for Nisargadatta Maharaj is (and for you ought to be) a step beyond consciousness, though you claim that there is no ontological difference between the two.

    For the moment, however, my question is whether there is there any difference between the two formulations you stated above – since experience is not other than awareness or consciousness and, thus, the final, all-comprehending reality?

    Let it be clear that ‘consciousness’, in my usage of this term – as in most non-dualists I know of – is synonymous with ‘awareness’; that should clear the matter up but there is more to it, regardless of my understanding or usage of what the term ‘consciousness’ connotes, and more significant, to boot, in relation to our divergent views, as we’ll see later. [under #3]

    2). Having said that “there is a physical world populated by discrete objects”, you then add that “the world exists; apprehending exists; yet both are identical; it is not one or the other; it is both, yet ultimately as awareness, or unicity”. Further that “this is my way of describing non-duality outside of handed-down jargon”. Together with these quotations, I find it difficult to understand why you call ND “a form of Radical Externalism – although ‘internal’ and ‘external’ are only ever conceptual constructs within the actualised experience of it. . . . ‘Subject’ and ‘object’ are mind creations.” I agree with this on both counts.

    But is that so? Is the existence of the world of plurality identical with the apprehending of it – i.e. ultimately resting in awareness, or unicity?

    Once you make the statement that “there is a world of multiple objects outside the mind”, or the observer, I am lost as to what you may mean by Non-duality, since it seems to be rather ‘Radical Duality’ or ‘Radical Dualism’. It does not sound as the mitigated Non-duality of Ramanuja; neither does it seem to be Cartesian Dualism, Kantian Transcendental Idealism, or the Dualism of Sankhya philosophy.

    I can understand that the world of ‘objects’ is apprehended by mind in a sort of one-on-one correspondence [e.g. correspondence theory of truth? – not exactly.] and that they are ‘identical’ in that sense; also that both objects and mind are awareness or unicity, or reducible to it. But then this is Idealism or, if you will, Non-duality, though with the proviso that those objects are mentations, not physical in nature but of the same nature as consciousness or awareness itself.* In the next section I will consider what ‘resting in awareness’ may mean.

    * For the radical Non-dualism of the ‘Direct path’, as well as for Advaita Vedanta and Dzogchen there are no objects per se, no observer/s, and no multiplicity; please correct me if I am wrong.

    3). Awareness. You write: “I use this term [awareness] to denote the illumination of consciousness, though there is no ontological distinction between it and consciousness itself.” This is correct from my side in that mind is a prolongation, or vehicle, of consciousness, but consciousness as being synonymous with awareness, as I stated previously at the end of section 1.

    Quoting from your last post:

    – “awareness knowing itself as itself”
    – “awareness having complete intimacy with itself in and as a totality” [Totality meaning contents of the mind or consciousness?]
    – “awareness ‘knows’ nothing other than itself, as itself, and hence can be objectless.”
    – “awareness is not local”

    All of the above are quite acceptable, and correct, in my opinion or view. For me, ‘resting in awareness’ is nothing less than absolutely everything being in essence consciousness or awareness. Said with different words, consciousness-awareness is the substrate of everything, from mountains to sensations, thoughts, emotions, theories, people, etc. “No object, no world, no ego can exist apart from Pure Consciousness” – ‘Vedanta or The Science of Reality’, K.A. Krishnaswamy Iyer.

    Quoting further from this author: “It may be questioned what is this Pure Consciousness after all? If it is conceived as pure being, it is tantamount to making it non-being . . . as an abstraction, as a pure mental concept, pure being cannot be distinguished from non-being. But we have to deal with Pure Consciousness as a concrete fact of experience, as life itself. Hence no speculative objections can stand against it. It is, for one thing, Reality, the basis of all life and movement. It is, for another, self-determined, free from the limitations of time and space. It has no attributes in that aspect of it in which it cannot become the object of the intellect, but when it manifests itself as the world it clothes itself with infinite attributes for our understanding. The greatest thinkers of Europe have instinctively assumed it.”

    • Thankyou very much, Dr. Garcia, this is fabulous, and there is much to clarify from my perspective, if I am able to do so. In the meantime, please note that I have edited and re-formatted your entire comment so as to make it a little easier for readers to absorb. If you have a moment, please kindly read through it and confirm you have no objections to how I have now (re)presented your words. Once I have that confirmation, I shall work through the various sticking points and see if that brings us closer on any apparent points of variation in thinking, or instead perhaps reveal that our respective understandings differ in fundamental ways.

  32. Thank you very much, Hariod, for a much clearer presentation of what I wrote. Syntax and punctuation (and also spacing) are, of course, important, and any deficiencies in that area may perhaps be pardoned in the case of a non-native speaker, which I am. Spelling is no longer a problem, though I am working without the use of an automatic corrector (don’t ask me why). I am looking forward for any further comments from you, but no hurry! Regards.

      • “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

        – Max Planck

        You: “Non-dualism is not something that can be understood in any formulation of words, and at best one can approach it conceptually only perhaps by means of negation, meaning by specifying what it is not.”

        A1. All doctrines and teachings are necessarily couched in language, which is a system of symbols. All concepts are just pointers [e.g. pointing at the moon] including those of Non-duality (ND). So it is not only negation, I think you will agree. I also referred myself to superimposition followed by rescission as a method of gradual understanding taught in Advaita Vedanta. The final end is doing away with language once final understanding has been reached, that is, once there are no further doubts or questions.

        You: “Apprehending the world always arrives as consciousness, and consciousness, as I have said, and given my tight definition of it, is brain-dependent. Still, this apprehending is facilitated and illuminated by (my) ‘awareness’, and which again, is non-local.”

        A2. To consciousness and awareness you add mind in your descriptions – three elements or categories, apparently distinct though related to each other. I would tend to accept that if they are taken as being ‘three-in-one’, that is, reducible to awareness, which is in essence as against (or somehow different from) manifestation.

        You: “Awareness is not ‘here but not there’; it pervades all, and in that sense is identical to that which it pervades.” (¡)

        A3. This is consequent with what I wrote in the paragraph above, that and, thus, with ND – isn’t that what you meant by ‘direct experience’? But then you have a fourth category which is physical (brains, etc.). Here, then, we are very far from (an understanding of) Non-duality, if we go by the meaning of this expression.

        Since you posit multiplicity (of ‘physical objects’) as something real, existent, your position, clearly, is dualist, not ND.

        Clearly, phenomena [i.e. all ‘objects’, whether gross or subtle] are not physical entities in any way, shape or form. And there is no need of finding recourse in quantum mechanics or neuro-science to confirm or support the above considerations.

        To ask a purported individual or person [i.e. a separate body-mind from the empirical perspective] whether s/he is enlightened or self-realised is an impossible question. Or, rather, it is self-defeating if the person gives, or indicates, an affirmative reply. And this is so on two counts: from the empirical side because the person shows lack of understanding of what realisation – identical with Non-duality – is or consists of. And from the higher, spiritual or metaphysical perspective of ND because the category of individuality – or plurality – simply does not exist; there are only insubstantial, fleeting – though some may appear as solid – phenomena or appearances, that is, apart from consciousness.

        In other words: there is no such thing as a self-realised person or individual. The Neo-Advaitans are right after all!

        By the way, all this, by itself, obviates the question asked above.

        “No object, no world, no ego can exist apart from Pure Consciousness. . . . it is . . . free from the limitations of time and space.”

        • Wonderful, Dr. Garcia, and I shall yet again post a response tomorrow as there clearly is some misunderstanding in respect to my position – this is perfectly understandable, and no more than a signifier of our grappling with language here, on a subject that does not lend itself to conventional conceptual frameworks. In short, no, I am not a mind-body Dualist, but shall elaborate tomorrow. Thankyou!

          P.S. Again I have edited your comment for clearer presentation, and numbered your answers so as to make my response (tomorrow) easier to follow.

        • Thank you very much, Dr. Garcia. I think you have responded here essentially as you will on your own site, and would like readers to understand as much to avoid confusion. Also, readers should kindly note that a new thread with Dr. Garcia exists below and which should be read in relation to the comment of his just above, and all previous comments.

          Thank you for the quote from Max Planck. Yes, we clearly “cannot get behind consciousness”, and I often address the fact with others that we cannot get beyond the ‘gearbox’ of our own comprehension – that is, solely in respect to understanding phenomena, not to (what I call) awareness itself, which by my definitions is in a loose sense ‘behind’ consciousness in that it illuminates it but is not solely what it illuminates.

          I see no great difference in opinion between us in your first answer as given in A1. One might expand a little to include silent transmissions, which I think we must also say are teachings. I have had some experience of this myself; it is unmistakably a real phenomenon.

          As to your second answer as given in A2, then I must stress again that I was reluctant to use the term ‘mind’ given how it evokes the idea of an integrated or unified entity beyond Hume’s bundle of perceptions, predispositions, memories, etc. To me, it seems less confusing to others if we confine ourselves to the three primary distinctions of awareness, consciousness, and materiality. Conceptually, these are three categories; ontologically, then in actualised ND, they are not.

          As to your third answer as given in A3, then I clearly have failed to convey that in actualised ND there is no ontologically distinct category of physicality. Again: apprehending exists, the world exists, yet both are identical. This is the paradox of ND, though expressed in terms particular, and as far as I know, uniquely so, to myself. You appear to have taken from all of my words the idea that according to me there is an ontologically distinct category of physicality i.e. ‘the world’. This is understandable, as I have indeed said that the world exists.

          In your quote, Planck says matter is derivative from consciousness; he does not deny (there) that it exists. Take this further quote of his: “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”

          — Max Planck, Das Wesen der Materie, 1944

          To repeat him: “matter originates and exists.

          How do you see that differs from my saying that apprehending exists, the world exists, yet both are identical?

          With great respect, Dr. Garcia, my position is not “clearly dualist” as I have expressly stated consistently and throughout this discussion that matter and awareness are not ontologically distinct categories. The concept of ND does not mean to invoke purely and exclusively a Monism – do you accept that interpretation? – but rather expressly rejects mind/matter Dualism. Of course, there are many takes on ND, some Monistic, others – more accurately in my opinion – simply positing a ‘Not Two-ism’, which itself does not reject multiplicity. But again, the multiplicity should not be understood as being a world of objective (ontological) separation – that is ultimately a mind-construct obtaining when ND is not actualised in the individualised mind.

          There being a world of physically discrete objects [Planck: matter exists] does not preclude the unicity of ND which itself is not subject to the mind’s overlay of a subject/object dichotomy as regards to apprehending the world. Actualised ND does not apprehend the world as if a subject apprehending objects; it knows itself as awareness (or your ‘substrate’) which pervades the world (Planck’s ‘matrix’) and in that sense is ‘identical’ to it. What that means is that it is known that awareness (the illuminative aspect of consciousness) of the tree can never be abstracted from the tree itself, and vice versa.

          And finally, yes, to talk of ‘realised persons’, or ‘enlightened beings’ is misleading, which is why I never do it.

          • Dear Hariod,

            I realise that much of our disagreement has to do with the use of language – the meaning each one of us attaches to certain terms – and also to perspective. I base myself almost exclusively on Advaita Vedanta’s terminology and teaching. I may not post anything else in my blog following this last exchange.

            You: ‘. . . it seems less confusing to others if we confine ourselves to the three primary distinctions of awareness, consciousness, and materiality. Conceptually, these are three categories; ontologically, then in actualised ND, they are not.”

            A1. Excerpt from Quora/Paul Bush: “Yes, I like the AV perspective. The distinction between awareness and consciousness is from Nisargadatta [who comes from a different school, not from AV] and is useful here I think . . . it distinguishes the phenomenal objects and events, the contents of consciousness, from the underlying reality which is awareness.”

            Comment: Alright, accepted – this agrees with your position – but then, what is the difference between consciousness and mind? I realise you are hesitant to use mind as a category on its own. In Advaita Vedanta mind is subsumed under consciousness or awareness and is considered severally as either being a single entity or having four aspects or components: discursive mind, memory, ego, and Intellect. But this is an intermediate teaching, to be superseded later on.

            You: “To repeat him [Max Plank]: ‘matter originates and exists’ . . . How do you see that differs from my saying that apprehending exists, the world exists, yet both are identical?”

            A2. The first sentence or proposition in that paragraph brings a point of contention between us: matter (or the world). What is it? For me there would have been no problem if you had used apostrophes around the word ‘matter’, making it akin to ‘phenomenon’. I feel much more comfortable with this latter usage, as per Advaita, and equally so with ‘individual’, ‘person’, etc. We could go now into the notion of ‘physicality’, what it is, or means, but I will just append here a short excerpt:

            From a source: “There is a postulate: ‘non-duality implies the universality of consciousness. Concomitantly, it implies that consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of’, then adding: ‘this is the fundamental equation of Eastern philosophy: Atman=Brahman, Consciousness=Reality’. The notion of reality has been the subject of a complete inversion. It is not the forms which are real, but rather the void in between the forms. In the scale of Franklin Merrell-Wolff, the formless void has an infinite reality while the forms inside are really the contours of the reality.”

            We can see that empirical science cannot fully explain what that mystery, ‘matter’, is, and, given the enormous amount, comparatively, of space that lies between the orbiting atomic and subatomic particles, starting with the positron and neutron, it may never will.

            As to the second sentence – “How do you see that differs from my saying that apprehending exists, the world exists, yet both are identical?” – I find it acceptable provided that, again, you place ‘the world’ between apostrophes, meaning that one does not consider it in principle as something solid and existing separately from consciousness or awareness; that is, objectively real.

            It is exactly the same problem, as I see it, with what follows: “There being a world of physically discrete objects [Planck: matter exists] does not preclude the unicity of ND which itself is not subject to the mind’s overlay of a subject/object dichotomy as regards to apprehending the world.” That sentence is heavy with solidity and separateness; this is what one primarily gets on reading it.

            How can you say: “Not Two-ism, which itself does not reject multiplicity”? You must have said that inadvertently! For it is a contradiction in terms.

            • Thank you, Dr. Garcia, for your continued and most welcome engagement. I don’t feel as though either of us ought have any right to the last word on the matter, and you are always most welcome to come back with more at any time, but for now, let me attempt to wrap this particular discussion up, if you will.

              The disagreement is ultimately unimportant, as I think you’ll readily acknowledge. I do feel it rather more a question of perspective, as against language alone, though, and suspect you may well feel the same. As a matter of fact, I would find it a little odd if we were not to differ in our respective translating of ND into words, and am a little doubtful of others when all I hear from them is almost verbatim regurgitations of the usual suspects, so to speak, with no willingness to widen the matter out. You clearly have the strength of your convictions, and are prepared to have them openly examined, and which marks you apart from the aforesaid.

              A1. Thank you for the quote from Quora/Paul Bush, which obviously chimes with my own use of terminology. You go on to ask what is the difference between consciousness and mind, but I confess I don’t see why this distinction is important to you. As you may recall, I see consciousness (by my definition of it i.e. ‘being with knowledge’) as being brain dependent, and individualised – to the human, the parrot, the dog, and to much simpler organisms too. [See: Daniel Dennett: ‘Kinds of Minds’] I see mind in the same way, so for me, there is no distinction. Perhaps we could say the word ‘consciousness’ calls to mind the idea of knowingness moreso than does the term ‘mind’, which may itself suggest something non-reflexive – like the zombie in the numerous philosophers’ thought experiments. But really, I don’t see there being any useful distinction here, and frankly it simply muddies the waters, not least of all as it suggests a fixed or closed entity-system, rather in the way the ‘ego’ is sometimes regarded as a self-like entity, or homunculus within.

              A2. Planck did not put apostrophes around the word ‘matter’, so why would I? I do accept that in contemporary ND-speak, many feel the need to qualify every concept by wrapping apostrophes ‘round them, but there’s no end to it – all language is symbolic; why not just accept it and not tie ourselves in knots over-qualifying everything? We know what we each mean by ‘matter’, and the provisional nature of concepts more generally, though not being a physicist, I personally can’t define what matter is, any more than you can define what consciousness is. In fact, as you suggest, physicists themselves don’t seem able to define what matter is, but certainly know that it is something rather than nothing, albeit that knowing is mediated by inference and consciousness. [You may well reject such an argument.] But really, perhaps we ought both accept that Planck was right: matter exists. Or are you saying that matter does not exist; is that really your position, Dr. Garcia? Are you saying that not only is consciousness the substrate of matter and of the world, but that ultimately, matter and the world do not exist, and all that does exist (whatever that might mean within such a definition) is consciousness? Without wishing to appear facile, could such a conclusion be arrived at without a brain – not the idea of a brain, but grey matter itself?

              Okay, we can call matter ‘phenomena’, but there we fall into the trap of suggesting it is one not the other – mind not matter, or a pure phenomenology. I am saying it is both, yet neither exclusively, in that ‘apprehending and the world both exist and are identical’. It is a multiplicity within, or one which ubiquitously pervades within, a unicity. [You can turn that pervading around – it makes no difference.] Some poetically call this the play of subjectivity, playing as objectivity, but I don’t warm to that as again it remains inside the dualistic dichotomy. There is a grain of truth within though, in that subjectivity and objectivity are both mind-created subsets within the unicity of ND, which itself pervades (and is pervaded by) everything, be it deemed mind or matter. Purely logically, ND (as a unicity) cannot stand outside of anything, nor anything, outside of it. Therefore, if matter exists, as Planck claims, then matter does not stand outside of ND – it is apprehended, as the world, and it is not different or separate to its apprehending (my maxim rephrased).

              On the quote you make “from a source”: Are you seeing a distinction between my position and this, Dr. Garcia? The quote says that “non-duality implies the universality of consciousness. Concomitantly, it implies that consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of.” So, it is saying there is an ‘everything’, meaning there is something(s), and meaning also that there is an apparent world. It does not say that “consciousness is the stuff nothing is made of”. The ‘forms’ are not unreal in actualised ND (no things are, as they are all apprehended as and in ND awareness itself), but it is incorrect to think they exist outside of ND, or as ‘real’ on their own and (seemingly) outside of ND. I take this to be the meaning of the quote, though, as you know, I largely avoid using the words ‘real’ and ‘unreal’.

              On your closing two paragraphs: The quote which you say is “heavy with solidity and separateness” is only so due to being read if one discounts the unicity of ND awareness, which, as I said, pervades all things and does not stand localised outside of the localised tree, which is indeed spatially separated and existent as matter; nor does ND awareness stand localised to brain-dependent consciousness, which knows the tree as a concept. And finally, there was nothing inadvertent in my saying that ‘Not-two-ism’ does not reject multiplicity. The meaning is that ontologically distinct categories of mind and matter – mind/body Dualism or ‘Two-ism’ – is seen as a false mind-construct within ND awareness, yet multiplicity is accepted in that matter exists, spatially separated things exist, yet all are pervaded by the non-local nature of ND awareness itself. ND is not about space and time, and ought not be assumed to conform to that paradigm.

              I am enjoying our exchanges here, Dr. Garcia, and welcome your engagement most warmly. Do please forgive me if I at times appear a little sharp in my responses; it is simply in a bid to remain as concise as possible, and which I fear I may be failing at terribly! I respect greatly your position and also your willingness to interrogate whatever understandings I have.

  33. Reply to Dr. Garcia’s comment of May 6th. 9.41 p.m.:

    Thank you very much, Dr. Garcia; it is such a pleasure to have your further interest and engagement here. I want to preface what follows by re-asserting two things which I have stated many times on this site and elsewhere. These are, firstly, that I am not a teacher of any kind – not of Advaita, nor Buddhism, not of any syncretic system, nor of any theory of consciousness. Secondly, what we are calling here (amongst other names) Non-dualism is not something that can be understood in any formulation of words, and at best one can approach it conceptually only perhaps by means of negation, meaning by specifying what it is not. You understand this second point well, and I include it here for readers generally.

    In your second paragraph, you say that the differences you perceive in our respective understandings come down to how we see ND. It therefore would seem relevant to ask of you whether you have in fact ‘seen it’? Perhaps it would be better to say, ‘has it seen you?’ You have cited others, and with impressive erudition of your own, but has ND actualised within your own direct experience, or are you taking your cited references and using them as your sole yardstick? To be clear, I am not asking for you to affirm or deny any putative self-realisation, which as I said before seems altogether unnecessary and a most unhelpful distinction when it comes to territory beyond distinctions. I respectfully ask this of you because your own wording invites the question, but also because I am conscious of you avoiding couching any actualised experience in your own terms. This may simply be your preference for referencing things as if academically, always citing sources, and so forth, and which is perfectly fair enough.

    1) There is no typo. I think you meant with the word ‘psychical’ [i.e. of the psyche] and that is what I meant, not ‘physical’. Either way, there is no typo.

    As I suggested before, the term ‘mind’ can tend to muddle things, but if we must use it then we can say it subsists in both consciousness (knowing) and awareness (illumination) for its functioning, in my book. Given that awareness is non-local, then to talk of mind as having a ‘locus’, as you do, is perhaps misleading. Obviously consciousness (knowing) is dependent upon the brain, so to some extent there is a locus to mind. But outside of representations, then the illuminating element (awareness) still obtains, and it is non-local.

    As to whether consciousness ‘evolves’ (your question), then it doesn’t matter whether it does or does not, because we’re not ultimately interested in consciousness – by my definition of it. We’re interested in what ND is, and ND is not merely being ‘with knowledge’ – that being my definition of consciousness. Whether humankind is evolving so as to more readily apprehend ND, then I like to think that is so, but have no idea.

    Your next question under point 1) is whether there is any difference between the two positions I take that a) asserting that “all is consciousness” is to reduce the matter to an absurdity, and b) “all experience is consciousness”. Yes, there is a difference, because my computer here exists as a physical reality and yet you do not experience it there in Spain; neither do I when I leave the room here in England. It does not disappear! When you draw the curtains at night does the moon disappear? No, only Transcendental Idealists believe it would – and a lot of Neo-Advaitans too, it seems, from what I observe of them. Now, the moon and my computer need consciousness in order that they be apprehended, and consciousness needs illuminating (with my ‘awareness’), but because (my) awareness is non-local [i.e. not delineated in space] it is not ever ‘outside’ of the moon or computer. The moon and computer exist as physically discrete objects but are never ‘outside’ or ‘separate from’ awareness, because awareness isn’t distinguished by locality and delineation, by any locus of self, of ‘here’, or of ‘there’. That is precisely what is seen in any actualised experience of ND – the former point of centrality of ‘me here’ apprehending ‘the moon out there’ is known with a very stark obviousness to be purely a mental construct. To be clear, I exist in space and time, as does the moon, but the point of centrality is a mind creation from the ‘perspective’ of awareness knowing itself as itself i.e. ND.

    2) I think I have just addressed some of the points you make, Dr. Garcia, but there is still some clarification of my thinking to be done.

    You ask “is the existence of the world of plurality identical with the apprehending of it.” It may be fair to say that inherent in the questioning (not the question) is a presumption of the subject/object dichotomy. ND, as you well appreciate, is not purely monistic; we cannot reduce it to platitudinous expressions such as ‘all is one’. Apprehending the world always arrives as consciousness, and consciousness, as I have said, and given my tight definition of it, is brain-dependent. Still, this apprehending is facilitated and illuminated by (my) ‘awareness’, and which again, is non-local. Awareness is not ‘here but not there’; it pervades all, and in that sense is identical to that which it pervades. In its seeing itself as itself this is known – not as an inference, but as a stark, irrefutable obviousness.

    This analogy may not work for you: Think of gravity. It is invisible, and always removed from any direct apprehending of the senses. It can only be inferred in fact. If I jump off a tall building, I don’t experience gravity, only its effects, which themselves manifest in consciousness as a rushing sound, pressure on my skin, the sight of my falling, etc. Gravity acts upon me, and also pervades me totally as a body with mass, yet consciousness never experiences it directly. It is not a case of ‘me here’ experiencing the effects of a gravity which exists ‘out there’, acting upon me as if there were a border between the two. Gravity is everywhere (for the purpose of this analogy). The analogy fails only in the respect that awareness by its nature has the capacity to illuminate itself – again, not as an object of consciousness, but purely as itself.

    In my comparing ND to a kind of Radical Externalism, I am pointing to it being non-local, not delineated by space, which I hope the foregoing made clear. A little meditation that I often suggest to people, if they ask me about ND, is to go about their daily business periodically asking the question ‘where is awareness?’ We tend to assume that awareness somehow channels to a point of centrality ‘here’, or that this point of centrality reaches out to objects ‘over there’. As you look at these words now on your screen, there is something in the experience of it of the screen itself, which does indeed exist ‘out there’ as an external object, and yet the awareness is neither exclusively in your head nor in the screen. We know all about the photons travelling, and that is granted, but where is the awareness located? The consciousness is the experience itself, but you can still sense something beyond the consciousness, beyond the ‘being with knowledge’, can’t you? If you try to locate this ‘something’, you only ever end up with an object of consciousness, and also the sense that this object is false, or veiled. You know this because you do indeed sense something beyond the consciousness, but which is not accessible to consciousness. It is only accessible to itself, as itself. This is most definitely not Idealism. It is not an idea, not a product of mentation.

    On your footnote to 2) you quote others as if suggesting there are no objects, no observers, and no multiplicity. Perhaps couched as such that sounds more like Transcendental Idealism, but Classical Advaita and Buddhism is not that. Some very well-known Neo-Advaitans promulgate the idea that all objects are thought-forms, and that the objective world is merely a ‘story’. It appears a watertight case (to the sequacious and credulous) because everything that is known is known as consciousness, and therefore the argument cannot be demonstrably rejected. Except, that is, for the actualisation of ND, in which awareness knows itself as itself (as I put it). In knowing itself as itself, it does not reject the existence of apparent objects, apparent observers, and apparent multiplicity – it partakes and totally permeates these ‘externalities’. ND is not strictly monistic, and neither is it dualistic, of course. There is a multiplicity which itself is permeated with a non-local awareness. It is not awareness ‘attaching to’ multiple objects, in the way that consciousness collapses and coalesces around objects in a purely mentative and localised stream.

    3) “No object, no world, no ego can exist apart from Pure Consciousness. . . . it is . . . free from the limitations of time and space.” – ‘Vedanta or The Science of Reality’, K.A. Krishnaswamy Iyer.

    That is what I have said in other words of my own, Dr. Garcia.

  34. Ah! Contentedness becomes embodied! Yes, I like the sentiment that it will happen. It can not be forced – no! I know the universe works in mysterious ways, but I needed to read this post in this exact moment. Thank you, Hariod. ❤

    • All thanks to you, dear Lorrie, for your continued interest amidst what I know are such busy times for you. And yes, contentedness is at our core; it is our essence, the body’s knowledge of itself and of its fundamental condition prior to all the many overlays of the mind. It isn’t that the mind is wrong in any way to assume justifications for, and defences against, our very real hurts, but that when all the occluding, mental overlay is stripped away, if only for a few seconds, then all that remains is pure acceptance, pure contentedness. It never deserts us, because it is what we are at the most fundamental level, and so needs no forcing, as you so rightly say. Thankyou, Lorrie. ❤

    • Glad to see your technical issues are fixed, dear Sue. By the way, I noted that some of your readers were suggesting it was browser or Windows related – I didn’t want to say so, but I think they’re wrong. I use Windows 10 and MS Edge browser without any problems whatsoever. Chrome and Firefox no longer have the edge over (what was) MS Internet Explorer, and in fact have had their functionality stripped back. As to Apple being better than Windows, then again I disagree; it used to be so, but these days there’s nothing significant between them functionally or reliability-wise, from what I read and experience. H ❤

      • Thank you for that, dear Hariod. I am using Firefox at the moment as Internet Explorer is slow at loading, that is, compared with FireFox and Chrome. I have no ideas on what is better these days, as I have heard many complaining of the new Windows 10. So, I am pleased you are happy with it; it gives me confidence as I know I will have to take the plunge and buy a new computer. 🙂 But while ever this keeps working I will keep on going, lol. Many thanks for that advice, Hariod. 🙂 I appreciate it. ❤

        • Yes, IE and WordPress were never the very best of partners, even though I ran them together for 18 months without great difficulty – just the odd little hiccup occasionally, and which was soon fixed by one or other party. MS Edge seems perfect with WP, and I suspect the latter have realised that they had to make it so due to the ubiquity of Windows 10 which includes the Edge browser. And yes again, I too have heard people moaning about Windows 10, but then I heard the same when Windows 7 came out, and all previous iterations. And I used to be a Mac user for many years, where again there always used to be complaining voices about OS updates. Essentially, I’ve concluded it comes with the territory, and the territory is largely about being encouraged, or even forced, to upgrade into more powerful hardware, what with software having become so incredibly bloated in terms of memory and processor demands. H ❤

  35. Readers: Please read what follows in the context of Dr. Garcia’s above comments and observations, along with my own in response to the same – thankyou, Hariod.

    Dear Hariod,

    There are a couple of things I would like to broach with you related to my last post. The first is that I should have minimized the impact the last sentence could have had by simply saying that you might have put the word ‘multiplicity’ beween quotation marks, following on the same tenor of what preceded it (‘individual’, ‘person’, etc.). In fact, I remember, but cannot find the place, that at one point you wrote: ‘apparent objects’, etc.

    Found it!: “In knowing itself as itself, it does not reject the existence of apparent objects, apparent observers, and apparent multiplicity – it partakes and totally permeates these ‘externalities’” My apologies for this. Is all this rather pedantic? I don’t think it is, for reasons that you understand. Again, I should have underlined those words!

    While searching the internet, I found two references to you as a person, one of them addressing you as a male, and the other as a female. I gave more credibiliy to the second one, which was the first I encountered. I prefer not to comment any further until I am appraised of the facts, except that it took me by surprise, with the result that I immediately made some quick mental shiftings (if that is the correct word) in the associations your name – ‘Hariod’ – had for me up to that moment. One of them was having the uncomfortable feeling that I had likely been somewhat brash and impolite at some time – an uncouth bull-fight loving Spaniard! – in the course of our correspondence.

    Of course, we know ‘we’ are primarily awareness where no distinctions whatsoever are valid, such as male or female of the species. But something occurs to me just now, and which is prior even to the apparent multiplicity I mentioned above, and is perhaps even more significant, if not more real, is the presentation or exhibition in nature – amounting to a cosmological law – of the dichotomy or binary positive-negative, active-passive, static-dynamic, yang-yin, potentiality-actuality (this one an Aristotelian distinction). And, of course, male-female.

    And, by extension, or implication, we have: angularity-roundness, left brain-right brain, etc. Someone I knew (a traditionalist or perennialist) wrote in one of his books that poetry is masculine and musicality and dance feminine. Man is protector, and woman nurturer; doctrine male, method female (in Buddhism it is the reverse, as prajna). Further, Sophia (wisdom) is female, represented by the goddesses Athena and Saraswati, also Minerva. And so on.

    A final point: Is your metaphysical position, rather than pure non-duality, closer to the mitigated Non-duality of Ramanuja – a great sage in the Indian philosophical tradition? If so, who can find fault in that? This query, however, may be superfluous, gatuitous in view of the above clarifications.

    • This is lovely, dear Dr. Garcia, and as usual, if you will permit me, I shall respond early in the week when I can give it its due time and consideration. In the meantime, I just came across a lovely quote which I thought it would be nice to share with you:

      “Internal and external are all the same function. That means when we are practicing, we take up all the phenomena of the physical universe, internal, external, mental or physical as well as motion and activity, and regard them all as the sublime activ­ity of the True Mind (Awareness). As soon as any thought or mental state arises, it is then the appear­ance of this sublime function. Since all things are this sublime functioning, where can the deluded mind stand? This is the method of extinguish­ing delusion by seeing that all things external and internal are the same function of the True Mind (Awareness).”

      ~ Zen Master Chinul

  36. Pingback: Prized | Esme's Cloud ~

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