Clarifying "Absolute"

Since Consciousness Is All was published, the interaction with readers has brought out how different meanings are often attached to words we use (also the subject of previous posts here). It’s understandable because in spiritual literature, definitions of important terms are not always clearly specified—yet the way in which they are meant can vary widely.

One of these terms is Absolute.

This post is an attempt to clarify how Absolute is meant (and not meant) here on Reality Check and in CIA. During the writing of the book, had it been clear how many varying interpretations there are of “Absolute,” the book likely would have been written a bit differently. Please be aware that this post is only touching on the “highlights” of a sometimes sticky subject.

For what it’s worth, here’s a partial definition from the dictionary for Absolute: 1) perfect; complete; whole. 2) not mixed; pure. 3) not dependent on, or without reference to, anything else.

Sometimes in spirituality, Absolute also is taken to mean a state that is sort of “always existing” or “permanently existing.” It is said to be forever changeless, eternal or timeless, and certainly nondual. It is said to be One, Single, or “without a second.” Sometimes Absolute is taken to be the nature of Being, I AM Self, Love, or God and other terms. It also is said to be synonymous with IS—which is not co-present with, nor dependent on, another state. Nor does It have an opposite state, one of not-IS. (This use of IS is not meant in the same way as the dualistic, binary, or conceptual sense of both “is” and “is-not” experienced by the “finite thinking mind.”)

When seen as described above, the notion of there being “the Absolute” as independent, or as “forever present as an ultimate Truth” or “final position” is sometimes met with disagreement. It is argued that the very claim of there being an Absolute requires another state, a referent, against which the Absolute can be compared, in order to be considered Absolute. Thus the Absolute is not really absolute.

It also has been said that an Absolute never can be proven—and that the very attempt to claim or say there is an Absolute requires the relative—in the form of finite, relative words and concepts. Thus the very claim undermines itself.

It sometimes is said that the notion of there being an Absolute Truth, timeless Being, IS, or “God” is only ontological. This basically means that an “Absolute” is merely speculative, or an unproven attempt to imply that there is something outside of, or beyond the human mind and its experiences. Supposedly, an Absolute cannot really be “known” yet It is often accepted without question as a “given.” As this “Absolute” cannot be proven according to the standards of the mind, It is at best merely theoretical—at least according to the mind.

In contrast, much has been written which challenges the very notion that the so-called mind is even real or exists to have such standards and set itself up as an “authority.”

This type of debating points to a difference between philosophy, with its process of rational logical argument, and what might be called pure spirituality.

Even though the line between the two is often blurred, philosophy relies on word definitions and logical reasoning by way of thought and the human mind. In philosophy—the “finite mind” and its experience is king.

In spirituality—Spirit, Infinity, and “pure spiritual experience” is king—which is not any kind of physical, nor even mental experience. The finite mind is not considered to be the final authority—even though words and thoughts are used in an attempt to explain Spirit, Infinity.

Rather than getting locked into a position on one side or the other (similar to religion vs. science) it seems best “at the current time” to acknowledge the apparent usefulness of both. While spirituality is emphasized here and in CIA, it is only thanks to words, thoughts and other tools of philosophy that it apparently can be emphasized!

The terms Absolute, Being, IS, and even “God” have certainly been used on Reality Check and in Consciousness Is All. However, the meaning of Absolute as It is intended here, is in many ways different from the descriptions above.

Absolute, as used here, most emphatically does not mean some kind of divine state that “always has been and always will be present.” The terms Absolute, Being, IS, etc. while pointing to the Timeless, do not mean some kind of pre-existing, continuous state that “has been here forever, outside of time.” These terms also really do not refer to a state that is “ultimate” or “beyond the mind”—even though it may seem so.

It’s far less problematic to avoid words whenever possible, even one such as Absolute—and instead to discern what, if anything, actually is “present and functioning” (and even to say “present and functioning” is poorly put as will be shown). Better to silently discern the nature of Reality—or perhaps that there is no “discernible nature.” In fact, there really isn’t an “It” in the sense of an entity or state that has some kind of continuous, ongoing presence.

In this light, there may be two somewhat better pointers for what we are trying to say here regarding “Absolute” and which have been used here before. They are history-less and Never-before-ness.

The writing here and in CIA “speaks” from the Now, or as if NOW were the one “speaking.” This does not mean “a” NOW off somewhere else, but THIS Now that is here NOW. Of course, NOW does not really speak, so why put it this way? Because a close examination of experience (even the so-called mind’s experience) shows that none of its would-be experience or activity ever is present. Here and in CIA, the “perspective” is not from a basis of what is not present.

“Looking out from” or as NOW, all there is, is NOW. In terms of pure Now, it cannot be said there is any prior history of anything. There really has been no prior existence, not even of NOW Itself. (If this seems new, please see the free excerpt on the Writings page titled, Present Consciousness, otherwise this post will not be clear.)

There is only the Now that is NOW. Yes, there may seem to be thoughts or phenomena, but they always would be arising, coming and going, only in what is called “the current moment.” Even the notion of there having been a past isn’t really referring to a past event that occurred back there in time, because the entirety of any “event” and all its so-called background is found only in, or as, this current thought. At most, all there ever seems to be is a current thought.

There’s one more step. It’s the clarity that not even NOW has existed before. Even that notion, too, would be at most only a thought arising in the current moment. In short, nothing has any history of existing. Not even what is called “Existence” can be said to have existed before. All there is, is a fresh, clean, empty “Never-before-ness” (if one is even going to say that much).

Whatever THIS is—this is how the term “Absolute” is meant here. It is a never-before, alive indescribableness.

The term Inexperienced-ness also has been used here and in CIA, in an attempt to convey this utter history-less-ness. Where there is only history-less-ness, there cannot be said to be two of anything—for there isn’t any of anything! Strictly speaking, it can’t really be said there is even one of anything, because the moment there is that saying, that’s a thought, that’s time—and is not history-less-ness. So it is in this history-less, thought-less sense that “Absolute” is meant. Simply nothing, not even what is called Awareness, is “around long enough” to be any kind of experience, form, or to have anything known about It!

It even becomes a stretch to use words like Awareness, It, the Present, IS, Being, and of course, Absolute, because the moment there is any word or thought, there is time. There also is a tendency to associate that thought with some prior or permanently continuous state—but there isn’t one.

A word that is sometimes used at this point is emptiness. Most emptiness teachings, however, also speak of form. What appears as form is acknowledged as being “unreal” or not having its own inherent reality—thus is said to be “empty” of existence. Yet form is a product of time. Here we are primarily concerned not with time, but Never-before-ness, alive history-less-ness.

This is not an attempt to be “anti” form or time in any way, nor is this denying that form appears to come and go in time.

However, when using words here and in CIA, again, the “perspective” is that of pure Never-before-ness…In-experienced-ness…NOW’s pure “Newness” which is not the arising of any form. This is not intended to be dualistic or to create separation between what is called NOW and form—but is emphasized because it seems we still unwittingly give a lopsided amount of attention to form and are “driven” by it.

Now is not any form.

Now is not something that arises.

Is it ever not Now?

Meanwhile, time and its arising forms always seem to be moving on, passing away, not being present, not really being.

So at first glance, it seems that NOW is “where it’s really at” when it comes to Reality—because NOW is all that seems to be “permanently present.”

After all, when was the last time you noticed it was not Now?

That never happens.

So NOW is all that seems to genuinely be.

Yet NOW, Never-before-ness, is not “absolute” in the sense of being “permanently present”—because permanence means staying the same over time and NOW has no time.

On the same basis, NOW cannot really be said to be any kind of absolute place, position, or “perspective”—for to claim such a thing would require some amount of time and thought, and someone besides NOW to label NOW as such.

NOW equally cannot be said to be any kind of thought or anything said—not even something said about NOW. In another sense, NOW really cannot even be said to be Absolute for that very saying would take time, and would be an arising thought-form, which is not NOW.

So can anything be said?

Not really. But whatever this Un-said-ness, this Never-before-ness, is (or isn’t!) there aren’t two of It.

This is another way in which the word “Absolute” is meant here.

Again, can it ever be said that it is not Now? No.

Now look at time and form once more.

Time pretends to be a period when it is not-Now.

Yet to NOW, not-Now never happens.

Thus, to NOW, time never happens. So form never happens.

To NOW, not even NOW can be said to “happen.”

It is utterly devoid of describability! In fact, It doesn’t want to be described.

This, too, is an example of how “Absolute” is meant—and clearly not as some kind of permanent state that is continuous over time.

The foregoing is undeniable—yet when put into words and thoughts which take time, it sounds inherently contradictory. All kinds of words, forms and time have been involved in the very saying of it—and yet the words are saying that forms and words never happen! A better way to put it is that to say anything about NOW is apparently contradictory—meaning it seems contradictory within the apparent (mind realm), but that would be the only place it seems contradictory. NOW’S Nowness does not seem contradictory to Itself, to whatever NOW “is.” It only seems there is a contradiction when there is an arising thought about NOW.

So, philosophically it could logically be argued, “It takes time to make these very claims about NOW, or to even have a ‘cognition’ about NOW, Never-before-ness.”

That’s exactly right because they are all merely thoughts and words about NOW—and are not NOW Itself. And because we are at the moment in the realm of words, thoughts, and thus time, that logical argument will be correct. With words, one is playing on an appearing, finite, relative field, and the apparent is going to appear to win every time because it all would be within the realm of the apparent.

The “thinking mind” may even try to say that there really is no such thing as “NOW.” Why? Because it is impossible that such a thing as NOW could be known (at least according to the mind’s apparent standards of “knowing”!).

Interestingly, even from the standpoint of NOW, that’s exactly the case! Not even NOW could “know” or experience Itself, or say “only NOW is” because the very “knowing” or saying would take time—of which there is none in NOW.

Yet apart from all the intellectual wrangling, somehow there is a “higher discernment” of something (which is no-thing), or an Aliveness that is not apparent, not limited to a relative, finite, never-present mental realm of thought and time. This again points to the difference mentioned earlier between philosophy and pure spirituality.

There also are “purely spiritual experiences” of pure Consciousness, Awareness, in which there literally is no thought, no objects, no experiencing of any form—and this, too, is how “Absolute” is meant. But to later attempt to describe or speak of such always involves form and thoughts about, thus falls short and is merely conceptual, not the actual.

It becomes obvious how inadequate even the notion of “pointing” becomes, because the very notion of point implies something that is being pointed to, and that there is another to do the pointing. Where there has been absolutely no “before” could there be any such thing to point at? How—when not even Never-before-ness can be said to have existed before!?

Words and thoughts are now apparently being used here, so what is said about NOW and Never-before-ness seems to be ontological, as if it is pointing to something beyond the mind, yet which never will be able to be proven. However, what is being pointed out also shows the history-less-ness of even what is called the mind itself—thus leaving no such thing to be beyond; no such mind to consider anything as ontological, no such mind to really be the authority it claims to be—only apparently so.

While on one hand it could be said that nothing about the Absolute or NOW can be proven—it equally could be said that, in terms of NOW, that’s perfectly consistent. Pure NOW leaves nothing besides Itself (no time-thought) to be a doubting element, nothing to demand proof, and no other to prove anything to. So, yes, NOW can’t be proven—and NOW never would want to prove Itself anyway!

And so back and forth it seems to go. This kind of “debating” is reminiscent of a previous post, “In This Debate, Don’t Take De-bait!” from June 26.

Suppose one of the views regarding “Absolute” above, or any other, is somehow deemed “correct.” So what? Would it change anything about the never-before-ness of NOW? In fact, as nothing has existed prior to NOW—what has previously happened that could possibly be a view, and who/what wants such a thing!?

Go all the way. Suppose everything was deemed non-existent. There really is no Absolute, no emptiness, no spirituality, no philosophy, not even a “mind.” This whole thing has been one huge scam perpetuated over the centuries. Again, so what? Would even this change anything? Would even this take away Never-before-ness? Could this “knowledge” somehow change the fact that Never-before-ness simply leaves no history—not even of any debates?

The point is, it is wonderful (and to some extent, essential) to be clear about definitions and distinctions—so as to not suffer due to mistaken assumptions. But is it worth getting bogged down exclusively in fine points so much that Life’s Aliveness is completely overlooked or bypassed? Life Itself is not doing that. It is alive. Life is not going around comparing perspectives and worrying which is “right.”

The freshly alive, and utterly un-aged never-before-ness of “each moment” is far simpler, more exciting, and enjoyable.

4 thoughts on “Clarifying "Absolute"

  1. Thanks Peter for all the effort in trying to point to “Something” that is basically inexpressible, ineffable and beyond time-space-mind realms — that Nameless Something, the ancient Sages just called “tat” (That). Reminds one the unforgettable oft-repeated famous quotes:

    1. Mandukya Upanishad, 7th mantra:

    “Turiya (another name for that Nameless) is not that which is conscious of the internal (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the external (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of all sentience, nor that which is simple consciousness, nor that which is insentient. It is unseen, not related to anything, incomprehensible, eassentially in the nature of Consciousness constituting the Self alone, negation of all phenomena, the Peaceful, all Bliss and the Non-dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya).”

    2. Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter II, Verse 20:

    “It is never born, nor does it die. it is not that, not having been, It again comes into being. This is unborn, eternal, changeless, ever-Itself. It is not killed when the body is killed.”

    3. Taittiriya Upanishad, Ãnandvalli: 4:

    “From where all words along with mind turn back back having failed to attain (reach).”

    One may note the basic structure of the language used in the above expressions – it is only in terms of negation (neti, neti) rather than in positive definitive statements.

    Once again thanks and regards

  2. Thanks very much kaioatey and Julian…and thank you also, ramesam, for the very pertinent quotes and your as usual insightful comments!

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