Direct experience—Cornerstone of nondual inquiry, or a house of cards?

This is primarily in response to Anonymous’ latest comments from the previous post, “Is Infinity the same as possibility?”

Hello again Anonymous. It’s very clear how you meant your “present.”

Yes, agreed that there is a hesitation or unwillingness to say anything about Awareness. I always try to end such posts (I forgot on the previous post) by emphasizing that, after all the talk about Awareness—Awareness Itself isn’t saying any of this. It simply “awares.” Awareness never is saying there is only Awareness. Nor is Awareness ever saying there is no time, or that Awareness IS, etc.

On the same basis of “no saying,” then can it be said that Awareness is experiencing or co-existing with time, thus appearances and possibility? Hmm.

You made another comment about words being dualistic and always having an opposite. So it seems your point is that, on the level of saying (words, thought), there have got to be both, or neither. Meaning, if we’re going to talk, it has to be said there are both Timelessness and time, both Infinity and finity, etc. Or else nothing at all can be said, as in the statement, “Not even Being IS!”

On the level of saying, or words, totally agreed. But “experientially,” Awareness simply “awares” without any saying one way or the other. And this “aware-ing” is not dual when taken experientially instead of conceptually (and, yes, I know, It already has been “polluted” by saying that much!)

So we’ll try to go at this more via “direct experience” instead (but only up to a point, because even that falls short). That’s the seeming difficulty here—having to use words (realm of opposites) to convey that which has no opposite, or is not-two.

It was not clear what was meant by your statements:

“The Dreamer may seem all-important, but there is no reason, and may even be counter-productive, to dismiss the dreams…The so-called awakening is often understood as awakening FROM the dream. But by “the collapse of the witnessing awareness” it is also awakening TO the dream, in which (fortunately!) there seems to be no lack of time and space.”

If, by capitalizing Dreamer, you mean it as synonymous with Awareness, and also mean that Awareness is the one dreaming, or is the “cause” of dream–then we are coming from VERY different places!

By “collapse or dissolving of the witnessing awareness” we really do not mean either awakening from a dream, nor awakening to the dream as dream (if that’s how you meant it). Rather it is the clarity that awakening is impossible because no dream ever occurred to awaken from or to!

Typing these exchanges is extremely difficult (and time-consuming!) because it’s being done without my even being certain as to what you mean by what you’re saying (and vice-versa, I’m sure!) With all the discussion, isn’t it great that silent Aliveness can’t disagree with Itself!

We’ll make one more attempt here to convey “where this is coming from” as far as how and why Infinity, Timelessness, is meant as “precluding.” If this isn’t satisfactory, many of these same points were discussed in depth last March on the Open Awareness Study Group on yahoo, but the posts are far too extensive to put here. If anyone cares to read more: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OAStudyGroup/

The site is not currently active, but you can read the archives by “joining” the group with a user ID and password. Thanks to our wonderful friend Ramesam, who also participated in the OASG, he very generously compiled the posts into a manuscript and when I have time to complete the editing, it will be available on this site. Some excerpts appear below in this post.

Now back to this post, which involves looking closely at “direct experience” itself, a widely used technique in nondual inquiry.

(While some of Anonymous’ comments mentioned direct experience, this post of course is not directed only to Anonymous, but for all who are reading. Also, one might ask why some of these posts are as long as they are; or it may seem they contain unnecessary explanation, as in, “I already get that—why bring it up or keep talking about it?” It seems there are “new” visitors here constantly, and to some, the points discussed may not be as clear as to others—hence the explanations, but which we still try to keep to a minimum.)

Surprisingly, while direct experience is so popular for inquiry, and is the cornerstone on which many so-called nondual “truisms” are based—it seems direct experience is rarely used to examine itself, the very nature of direct experience itself. What happens when it is examined?

One use of direct experience in inquiring about the nature of Awareness, the “world,” and other forms of phenomena shows indisputably that there really is no objective, physical world separate from Awareness. (Due to space considerations, only the highlights are given here. This is discussed in more detail in chap 13, free on this site).

If one were to refer to “the world” at all, a thorough inquiry shows that, at most the “world” would be only “mental” or “made out of” thought. There is nothing material or separate from thought or the “thinking, sensing mind.” This is why what appears as daily human experience is called dream.

What this means is that never has there been a physical or material world in which there was a “past”—because there is no material world in which to have had a past. There simply is no such thing as a pre-existing physical world that has been around prior to the “mind’s” sensing or thought of it in the current moment. The very sensing or thought of it seems to create “the world” on the instant–and always, it would be only “mental.”

What this also means is that any notion that there has been a past, any prior time whatsoever–isn’t really past at all, but would be merely a thought or “dream-like appearance” trying to arise in what seems to be the current moment. This obviously was mentioned in the previous post, but we’ll try saying it in a different way because it is essential to the point being made here.

From CIA, p. 231:

The would-be ignorant “sense-mind” doesn’t realize that its “world” never is a separate physical world, but just its own dream-like thought. So, all that the entire so-called past ever could have been “made out of” is thought. And when you examine it closely, you see the shocking truth—that dream-thought never is something that occurred “way back then”—for the entirety of it is being mentally projected just now!

Go ahead, try as hard as you can to come up with a little bit of a “past,” or a whole lot of it, in some place other than the current thought of it. It’s impossible.

No matter how far one tries to mentally shove a “past” back there—it actually has had no prior existence. The only place all of it would appear to be found is in the very thinking-dreaming of it starting now. That’s all there would be to all of the so-called “past”—just that one big mental “panorama” or “thought-collage”—all of which begins now.

Sometimes we will be clear on this, but will unwittingly continue to assume that, “Well, yes, thoughts (the world) seems to arise just now—but Awareness Itself—well, It has been here forever.” Not true.

Even the notion that Awareness Itself has been around forever, or present and aware before—this, too, at most would be just a thought trying to arise now. Absolutely no evidence can be found for Awareness Itself being before. This means that, as Present Awareness, You have no history whatsoever! There is no history, period! All there is, is “freshly present” never-been-before Life-As-All! How new, how pure, how unlimited is This?!

What does all this have to do with direct experience?

Direct experience seems to be a very useful tool. Do you realize even the notion that you’ve had prior experience in using direct experience, and have arrived at conclusions based on it—even all that, too, would be a mere thought arising now! As pure Awareness, you’ve done no such thing because there’s really no need for it.

That doesn’t mean one won’t continue to use it, but the “ultimate” use of direct experience is to see there has been absolutely no prior use of direct experience! It basically makes itself obsolete.

The notion that there have been all these prior times in which direct experience has been used to come up with “truisms” about Awareness (even this one!) actually never happened—because this Present Awareness hasn’t been around long enough for even that to have occurred! Yet here Awareness “is.” THIS is how truly unspeakable, un-thinkable, inconceivable Awareness is.

It seems this is very much like saying, “Not even Being IS!” as Anonymous put it.

Life, All That Is, “always” is at this standpoint of having zero history—not so much as a nanosecond! HERE, there is no history of not only things or thoughts or appearances, but no history of Awareness Itself.

And this does not change!

This is where One “stays” for there’s no choice…This is the only “place” Life is. THIS is “where” these posts are coming from.

From “Here,” or AS This, there cannot be said to be so much as a moment’s awareness of, or experiencing of thought, appearances, dream, or even any possibilities—all of which would require time—which THIS does not experience. HERE, as history-less-ness, there is absolutely no evidence of such a thing.

And if a thought comes, “But that’s negating or denying everything!” please keep reading.

“Always,” at most all there seems to be is a single thought arising in the current moment. BUT one then has to turn around and admit, pure Awareness Itself, for which there is no evidence of even the slightest history, can’t have been before in order to even have had or experienced that thought. Awareness equally cannot be said to extend into a future, for that, too, would at most be just a thought, not Awareness.

Again, to even say or cognize that Awareness Itself is history-less would be a thought arising in time—one which history-less Awareness simply cannot have just had! So in pure Awareness, not even these very points can have just been made! That’s the “wildest” part—as history-less Awareness, You always are at the standpoint of never having had the experience or thought it is assumed has just been had! Yet, somehow, all of this is perfectly consistent with history-less Awareness.

Now if all that doesn’t sound like double-talk, what does?! But we are doing the best we can here with words to express this.

What these posts and this blog are pointing to is this “never-before instant” that is “pre” what seems to be the arising or witnessing of thought, appearances, or other phenomena. (And the moment Awareness is said to have been “pre,” it is seen that Awareness can’t even be “pre”!)

There is no evidence that Awareness Itself is a thought or appearance. Awareness is “ever-too-new” to be a thought or appearance. At best, the thought always would be “old news”—even the thought, “Ah, there is only history-less Awareness.”!

Yes, anything said about Awareness is not Awareness Itself, and anything said would need thought, or is thought in order to be the very “saying” it is. But Awareness Itself doesn’t need thought or saying in order to be Awareness.

To say there are, have been, or could be, thoughts and appearances is to be in thought, not Awareness. Here, the concern is only with Awareness, not thought.

Admittedly, the very claim that Awareness is not an appearance or is not experiencing appearances, also would be a thought, or something “said.” But Awareness “awares” even without anything being said. The saying doesn’t alter or influence the present-only-ness of Awareness.

There’s no denial that thought or phenomena and time still may seem or appear to arise—there’s no sense of trying to stop them or negate them (Awareness isn’t “around long enough” to do that). Again, the “sole interest” is Awareness’ this-instant-only-ness, because this is what Awareness Itself, the only One aware is “doing” or “being.” (And even words like “this instant” are horribly inadequate).

While Awareness Itself is impossible to pin down time-wise, it seems most accurate (as best as can be done with words) to refer to Its present-only-ness as actuality rather than possibility. Possibility seems to imply a prior time in which something wasn’t the case, and a later time in which it might be the case. Because Awareness (All That Is) doesn’t change from Its present-only-ness, and there’s no evidence of anything else “present”–this is why it is said that Awareness “precludes” there being possibility in Itself, Its Present-ness (which is all that is present).

Again, yes, it certainly seems or appears as if there is such a thing as “possibility” but not IN or AS Present Awareness Itself. Any reference to possibility occurs on the seeming level of thought, not history-less, future-less Awareness.

The thought may come (and notice, it’s a thought, not Awareness!)… “Not so fast. Don’t tell me there’s no time. I’m having this thought that is arising now, and the next thought a moment later, and now this one.” First of all, who’s talking? Not Awareness—just more thought. What that thought doesn’t realize (because it’s not aware) is that all the prior thoughts (what thinking assumes is a time-sequence) seem to be arising in, or AS, the one current thought.

What’s more, that current thought is simultaneously leaving just as it seems to be arriving. Never is it present. Never does it stop coming or going, or not-being, to stop and genuinely be.

Notice also when a thought is “gone” it’s not as if it’s hanging around somewhere with its own presence, waiting until it is thought of again. It literally doesn’t exist. No thought has its own independent permanent presence.

The “stance” of this finite thinking (not Infinite Awareness) implies thoughts are arising “in” Awareness. On this basis, Awareness would have to have “already been there” for arisings to arise in It. Awareness would have to be prior to the arising in order to witness the arising—but there is absolutely no evidence of Awareness being prior.

There may be a feeling that, “This is separating Awareness and thought, when there really is no separation…thoughts are just Awareness.” (By the way, this is not implying that Anonymous or anyone in particular is thinking this, but is speaking generally.)

To say “thoughts are just awareness” seems problematic because:

–If thoughts are Awareness, why even use a separate word called “thought”?

–If thoughts are Awareness, why aren’t thoughts aware?

–A thought is an arising. Awareness doesn’t arise. Thoughts are arisings, and arisings change, come and go. Awareness doesn’t change, or come and go.

–Thought, that which appears to be witnessed, seems to be super-imposed on Awareness, thus in this sense, would be a “second.” Awareness is not anything super-imposed.

–Awareness is not noticing Itself as an arising—and when there is a noticing, that very noticing then seems to be a second “something” that is superimposed.

It also is sometimes claimed that Awareness is the source of arisings. That implies Awareness, as the source or cause, has to be present first, for the arisings to come from It. But how could Awareness be a source of arisings that “have occurred,” when there is no evidence of Awareness Itself, as the so-called cause, having existed before? Awareness would have to have had some prior existence in order to have been a cause—but It hasn’t!

Now notice if thought tries to say, “But to say there is only Infinity is duality, too…it is a negating of thought or arisings…and if there’s something to be negated, that’s dual.” This, too, is yet another assumption made by thought. Thought keeps trying to come up with these objections because it is desperate to explain itself to itself. Yet the entire time, Infinite Awareness (Stillness, Emptiness) knows nothing of it.

To history-less Infinite Awareness, wherein there is only THIS, Infinity, and nothing finite, no thought, no arising, no form or change—it’s not like these things have occurred and now they’re being done away with, or negated. No! They’ve not previously occurred, because not even Infinite Awareness has “previously occurred”! If, to Infinity, nothing besides Itself has occurred, then Infinity can’t possibly negate anything. How is it possible to negate or deny something that hasn’t happened yet? It isn’t.

Admittedly, when it comes to putting this into words (which involve thought) this seems like a negating—but only to thought—not to Infinity, Awareness. This again is why such explanations always have to be followed up by saying that Awareness Itself, Infinity, actually never is having any such discussion as this. In other words, to Awareness, none of this “saying” or this post has really occurred! And that is perfectly consistent with Awareness only.

Awareness, Infinity, is silent all-out Life, un-withhold-able Ease, Peace, and AS THIS, nowhere is there a negation or denial going on.

As I’m sure Anonymous would agree, this wordless, history-less, baggage-less Freedom is “where It’s at.” As this Freedom, to then engage in fine-point verbal discussions about no possibility or possibility—even on as seemingly “high” a level as this—feels burdened and limiting.

Rather, “taste” and live this ever-fresh Freedom that Life is.

6 thoughts on “Direct experience—Cornerstone of nondual inquiry, or a house of cards?

  1. Hi Peter,

    You are right, these discussions are “burdened and limiting” (what a dream/no dream!), and “time-consuming”, too (what a time/no time!) And I agree completely when you say, “Rather, “taste” and live this ever-fresh Freedom that Life is”, if by ever-fresh Freedom you mean the inexpressible, unexplainable Mystery that Life is. Ontology and metaphysics do not “taste” very good although both have their place (in space/no space!).

    For me, good poetry has a far better “taste”. This one is by Li Po:

    You ask me
    Why I stay on Green Mountain
    I smile but do not answer
    My heart is at ease

    Peach blossoms on gently flowing water
    Slip away into the distance
    This is a world which is not of men

    Best wishes, and thanks for your post

  2. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for a truly lovely poem–one that “says” so much more than its words do.

  3. Hello, Peter:

    First of all, sorry for my english and congratulations for your work while in the OA Study Group.

    This is a question I should made while you were there. I´d greatly appreciate any word on this matter.

    Obviously all the spiritual paths imply the need of a finite “I” who should get somewhere else. That´s something that your teaching avoids when you state we´re the Infinite, with no personal story or space/time limit whatsoever. From that standpoint, any perceived “something”(a sense of presence, a thought,etc.) that could claim to be the real “I” is nothing else than a finite perception, that is, not our true nature.Correct?

    My questions are:

    1/ Is the “finite”(objects, sensations, the sense of presence, the waking state consciousness, etc.) perceived by the “finite” or is it perceived by the Infinite?

    2/What´s the relationship between the Infinite and the finite? I mean, when I wake up in the morning, before I translate that certainty of being awake into words, there´s the feeling of existence, that was not there during deep sleep. Is that waking state consciousness (prior to words or thoughts) perceived by the Infinite?

    3/If it´s perceived by the Infinite, is the finite a means for the Infinite to be conscious of Itself? This last question is very important, since there are as many answers as teachers. Some say the Absolute needs the finite (that is, a body, a brain, thoughts, images, etc.) in order to know Itself. Meanwhile, others state that we,the Infinite, know ourselves without relying on a “physical support” (body, brain).

    What´s your take on this?

    Thank you very much in advance. If this topic has already been discussed,please, just tell me where could I find your thoughts on it.

  4. Hi Roger,
    Thanks for some excellent questions…I’ll post a reply in a day or two.
    Thanks, Peter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete this to submit.

*