Subjective? Objective? Neither?

This post is in reply to some questions from Darryl, most of which are repeated below.

“I think most of the people who have read your book are a lot older than i am they understand it easier so im sorry for all these questions. i come from a christian science background so it did help me to understand your book a lot easier. Anyway my question is basically about subjective and objective consciousness. In the first post i ever did to you, i explained how i understand how subjective idealism and George Berkeley. Ok so there is no objective reality? Do you agree with this? Objects do not exist outside of the mind? But in one of your pages in your book you said consciousness is neither in or outside the mind i was confused by this. So God is present consciousness, so is this subjective? or objective? I read a review of your book and it said you conclude their is no objective reality and the material world is an illusion. Ok i can understand all of this, but is God subjective or objective? If there is no objective reality, then God is subjective? or transcends us? So neither objective or subjective…”

The short answer is: the debate and concern over objective/subjective (which we all seem to experience at one time or another) doesn’t really matter to pure Consciousness. It may matter to thinking, but not to Present Awareness.

The big difference between what is said here and what is found in many other books/teachings, etc. is that this is not starting from a finite, human experience and its conditions, experiences and the terminology used to understand that experience. It is not starting there and then “working up to” a clear realization of what God or Reality is. This is starting from or AS un-thinking Infinite Aliveness, Pure NOW, Emptiness, (or whatever term one cares to use) but which has no history, and wherein none of this other is going on, or has gone on.

So there is no attempt to “clearly understand” other than the clarity that NOW is not something that is supposed to be understandable.

Yes, by persistently “conceding” that Awareness is all that is present, aware, and that It has no history—what seem to be the deeper questions in finite experience will inevitably clarify themselves. But the clarity is thanks to not “starting” on their level. In other words, rather than going along on the level of the “thinking mind” and what it deems to be important issues–it’s a matter of simply being the ease with which Pure Awareness is present and not taking aboard all the thoughts that the “thinking mind” seems to experience and get mired down in.

On its level they may appear to be important—but only on its level. It’s like being inside a maze and trying to figure out the maze from down on the level of a maze, which isn’t easy. Abiding as pure Awareness, it seems as if one no longer is on the level of the maze and can look down upon its seeming dead ends and detours and sort them out more easily.

If it seems there are those who are “more clear” on this…it’s not because “they” are older or doing better thinking–it’s because “they” are abiding simply as Present Awareness, which is the absence of thinking. And at this point it’s not really a “they,” but the absence of the superimposed “personal me” which leaves only pure Present Awareness being Itself.

Now to specifically address some of the questions:

“Ok so there is no objective reality? Do you agree with this?”

Yes. The “world” that the human mind seems to experience has a seeming presence as consisting of separate objects, but it can be shown that there really are no objects as stand-alone items separate from the mind. (For those who are new, this is discussed in Chap 13, free on this website, starting on mid-page 129 with the example of the “apple.”)

Objects do not exist outside of the mind?


But in one of your pages in your book you said consciousness is neither in or outside the mind i was confused by this.

Not surprising that there’s confusion. In the book, on page 132, it says that the apple experience is neither inside nor outside the mind. It doesn’t say that Consciousness is neither inside nor outside the mind. There’s a vast difference between the two statements. (But it’s actually true that Consciousness is neither inside or outside the mind, too!).

When the term Consciousness is used in the book, It is not referring to anything sensed, anything thought, not any physical or mental form. It is not referring to anything finite. It means Infinity only, the Formless. Admittedly, this is not the normal human definition for “consciousness” and that’s why the difference is discussed in detail in chaps 4 and 5. The Infinity that pure Consciousness is, is not the same as what is typically called “human consciousness” or “the mind.” (It’s essential to be clear as to the meaning of certain words, otherwise they only lead to confusion because the definitions often vary from one spiritual book to the next.)

In contrast, the apple experience is a totally a finite or mind/mental experience—consisting of visual sensations, smells, touches, taste, etc.—which is not the same as Pure Consciousness. Close examination shows that these sensations are not coming to the mind from a separate world outside the mind—sensations literally are the mind itself in operation (see p. 133). This is a bit of an oversimplification, but there is no evidence of sensations or thoughts apart from what is called the mind—and there is no evidence of a mind apart from thoughts and sensations. They are not two different things—but one “stuff” to which we have mistakenly given two different names.

Chap. 14 goes on to show that “body” is not really an object either—so there’s no object there to begin with, and no mind which Consciousness could be either inside of or outside of.

So God is present consciousness, so is this subjective? or objective? I read a review of your book and it said you conclude their is no objective reality and the material world is an illusion. Ok i can understand all of this, but is God subjective or objective? If there is no objective reality, then God is subjective? or transcends us? So neither objective or subjective.

Notice what is going on here. All of the thoughts about what God is, or whether God is objective or subjective are just that—thoughts. While it may seem these topics are debated by academics, we are not really too concerned with such issues because an answer (one way or the other) will not change the fact that Now is NOW, that Life is alive, that Awareness is present (and nothing else ever is genuinely present). There is no thought required for this, nor can any amount of thought or “realizing” change it.

There are many theories about objective and subjective. Some say Present Consciousness is neither (agreed, see below). Sometimes it is said that Consciousness does not “see” objects as separate, thus does not consider Itself a subject. The notion of a “subject” is wholly a designation derived by human thought. Its so-called origins are from the mistaken identification with, or as, body, which is assumed to be an object. One mistakenly identifying as this object sees his/her self as separate from what are assumed to be other objects—and thus considers itself the subject when beholding other objects. But none of these “bodies” are actual objects in the first place.

This same thinking then attempts to apply its reasoning and these finite standards to the Infinite, and wonders whether the Infinite, too, is a subject. But this is all on the level of thought, not Pure Awareness.

A discussion in Chap 14 on p. 143 may serve as an “eye opener” because it shows why Consciousness, Being, is neither objective nor subjective. These terms (and they’re only terms) could be substituted for “God” and will provide the same answer.

What’s more, Consciousness, Awareness, NOW, does not wonder whether It is transcending anything, or whether anything is transcending It. Awareness, NOW, does not consider Itself one among many, thus does not consider itself to be one of an “us.”

Present Awareness is all that is present. Anything else would just be arising thoughts or sensations, and they are not you (Awareness), nor do they have any background or history behind them. It simply is impossible to make Present Awareness not be present. And It is effortless–no thought or “figuring out” is required. The Present leaves no history–thus no history of prior teachings, no history of some being “more advanced than others,” no history of wondering about a “God” or about objectivity or subjectivity.

All that this Present Awareness can be is new, new, new, new, new, and there is no other…and again, It is effortless. This is what makes such questions and issues (which at one time may have seemed very problematic) inconsequential.

4 thoughts on “Subjective? Objective? Neither?

  1. Hello, Peter:

    I want to say that the explanation you´ve just posted on the sense in which you use the word “Consciousness” is sooooo important and valuable.

    You say you were not into the Advaita circle before you figured your “philosophy” out, so maybe you are not aware of the huge problems that the use of the words “Consciousness” and “Awareness” has caused between the people who read all those old Advaita books by Nisargadatta, Ramana Maharshi,Krishna Menon, etc. Why? Because all those real sages, even though they point out at the same thing you do (Infinity),they seem to talk about different things when they refer to our true nature, just because of a semantic confussion.

    For example, Nisargadatta used the word “Consciousness” in the same way you use “mind”, that is, “waking state consciousness” or “dreaming consciousness”, with all their posible perceptions, feelings, thoughts, etc. And what you call “Consciousness” (that is, Infinite without objective limits or perceptions whatsoever) is his “Awareness”.

    On the other hand, Ramana Maharshi or Krishna Menon use “Consciousness” in the same way you do. When they talk about “Consciousness”, they don´t mean being conscious of an “objective something”, no matter how subtle. They mean “Infinity” Itself, just as you do.

    So Nisargadatta´s kind of students almost freak out when they read Krishna Menon, Ramana and others, and see they speak about “Consciousness” as our true nature, because they think these sages use that word in the same sense Nisargadatta did. If that were the case, that would imply they teach that the “waking state consciousness” is our true nature, something that obviously dissapoints them. And many Krishna Menon/Ramana´s kind of students feel Nisargadatta was crazy when he said “Consciousness is the root of all dissapointment”, because they suppose he was saying that “Infinity” Itself is the problem, haha.

    Seriously, this has been misleading and torturing thousands of people for decades, so your explanation is more pertinent than what you could have thought!

  2. Hi Roger,

    Thanks for the comment–and for emphasizing a wonderful point about the importance of definitions. So true!

    I recall first reading Nisargadatta’s “Consciousness and the Absolute” and thought,”Oh boy, this is going to be great.” And then was very confused at first until it became clear that when he used “consciousness” he was referring to what we call “finite mind.”

    Your comment is a good “heads up” on definitions.

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