The next few posts will be in response to two comments in particular. First, Michael Jeffreys‘ 9/27 comment, “May I suggest a column by you on the ‘illusory nature of objects’…I think sharing how you came to see objects as ‘not real’ would be of value to readers.” The other comment was 9/28 by Glen about how CIA differs from much of the teaching of Advaita and nonduality.
This first post will address only part of Michael’s comment, with more to follow. Be aware that these posts are touching only on the highlights. The illusory nature of objects is an enormous topic requiring much explanation when done properly–and there isn’t space here for that. The discussion is given in depth in CIA, mostly in chaps 13 thru 18, and also in 20.
There seem to be two steps to this. First is to see that the “material” world of objects really would be only “mental” or “made out of” thought only. This would be the “illusory nature of objects”—which gets reduced to mere thought. Second is to see the illusory nature of thought itself—there really is no such thing in pure Consciousness. From the standpoint of the Infinite (because It is the Infinite Itself that is being conscious here, now, to begin with), there is only the Infinite, and not even a thought-illusion—only total, absolute Infinite Reality.
When it seems one first comes to spirituality, it seems as if there is a physical world of matter, of solid objects, and time and space, which one has turned away from, to the spiritual. Part of this is due to mistaken identification with body, rather than as pure Consciousness. (Before proceeding, make a Reality check: Most emphatically, the Infinite Itself is having no such experience–but changelessly IS Infinity, pure Consciousness only–and there is no other. Infinity never has mistakenly identified Itself as a body. So this whole discussion really is a lot of double-talk, but we’ll do it because it appears helpful.)
At this seeming early point in one’s “spiritual progress” there still may be doubts as to whether Consciousness, Being, the Infinite, truly is ALL–since the material world seems so real. Much of what one has read or been taught is accepted only intellectually. So it seems helpful to break down, deconstruct, or “un-see” what appears as a material world. In doing so, it becomes clear that there really is no such thing. So, in a way, that leaves only Consciousness–sort of by default–since there’s nothing else. This dismantling of the material world is like coming into the house via the back door–but hey, what counts is getting into the house.
Again, let it be clear that, in Reality, Consciousness, the Infinite Self, need not dismantle or un-see anything in order to be ALL. To the Infinite, the Absolute, there is nothing besides Itself to un-see. Infinity leaves no other realm in which lesser selves are unclear about the Allness of Infinity. This is clear only when “starting” as pure Infinity–and after all, this is what the Consciousness aware here, now is “doing”–and who else could there be to argue otherwise? One would have to start as a state of un-Consciousness.
Is NOW having to think through, or un-see anything before It will be the NOW that is present now? To still argue otherwise would be to mistakenly identify with would-be sensations and thoughts, not the pure Now-Consciousness You truly are.
This discussion constantly will alternate back and forth between the would-be appearing world and the Infinite, in order that Truth, the only-ness of the Infinite, is not lost sight of (not that Infinity ever can actually lose sight of Its changeless total Being). And if there’s an objection to this constant reiteration of Infinity only, you’d do well to ask, “Who’s objecting? Is It the pure Awareness here now, or a state of thinking that’s been conditioned to the contrary?” If you don’t like these apples, don’t shake this tree!
In the process of dis-assembling what seem to be objects, one sees that, at first glance there seem to be 3 “realms.” One is the physical, (or what is sometimes called the gross) which would be the so-called material objects that seem to be in physical space “out there,” outside the body. Second would be the “mental,” consisting of thoughts, ideas, visualization, images, dreams, etc. (sometimes called the subtle). Then there is the spiritual, pure Conscious Being, which is completely infinite, undimensional, utterly formless—not even cluttered with a single mental form.
On closer examination, one sees that the “physical” or gross world of objects really isn’t that at all. What appear to the five senses and thinking mind as separate objects, actually have no existence separate from the mere sensing or thought of them. A very specific example of this is in CIA (in chap 13, free on this site), in which an “apple” is deconstructed as nothing more than so many mere sensations, supposedly experienced by the “mind,” or mentally. Never are there both the sensations of an apple and an apple. Always, there would be only sensations. There is not also an object that is giving off sensations to the mind; no separate stand-alone item. The “apple” would be entirely “mental” only. The “mind” doesn’t know about objects—it literally would be all there is to objects.
One then can see that this applies to every, repeat every, so-called finite item that appears in the entire “universe.” It all could be reduced to thought, or mere “mental stuff”—including the entire so-called “universe” itself. If one were to mention it at all, this would be a mental universe, never a material one. There simply is no such thing as an “objective, separate material universe”—although it certainly appears to the “sensing mind” as if there were. This is why daily human experience is referred to as dream, illusion, hypnosis, etc.
If this is new to you, slowly work through the apple example in CIA, or just try it yourself with any so-called “object” you can think of. Go slowly through each of the five senses. It is suggested that, at first, you NOT try this by actually examining or holding an “object” in your hand, such as an “apple.” At first, the would-be hypnotic effect of the senses may still appear to be very powerful, so that actually holding an “apple” may seem to obscure the clarity that there really is no such object. At first, deconstruct it simply in thought, without the seeming object being there.
Just keep noticing what really is there (or rather isn’t there), until it is clear that there is no object in addition to what seems to be the mere experiencing of sensations, or the mere thought of that “object.” Invariably, all you’ll come up with is sensations—not sensations and a separate object that the sensations are coming from. Doing this is what seems to “pierce the veil” of the illusion that there is a world “out there” of objects that is physically distant and separate.
It’s one thing to behold this–and then quite another to begin to behold what it means–to begin to see the endless “ramifications” of there never having been a separate physical world!
All of the foregoing about there being no “objects” undeniably applies to what is mistakenly assumed to be a body, too. It’s not really a solid object at all–and this means the very “body” that appears to now be sitting in front of this monitor! It also means there really is no monitor-object, no room in which to put a “body” or “monitor,” no home-object in which to put a room, no planet-object on which a home could be located, and so on. (See CIA chaps 14-18 for this in depth.)
If one continues with this dis-assembling of “body,” one then exposes the would-be illusory finite, appearing world at an even “deeper” level—which is the subject of our next post.
One question that may have come up: “If all of what appears is merely ‘mental’ or ‘thought only,’ then there really is no difference between what appears as that red chair across the room (gross object), and my mere thought of a red chair (subtle object). In fact, if all there is, is thought, or ‘mental-stuff,’ then why can’t I merely think of a red chair and have it appear in the room right next to the other one.” A good question, but one that involves too much explanation to be taken up in this post. Hint: part of the answer involves being clear as to exactly who or what really seems to be doing all that thinking. Do you assume it’s your thinking?
For those who are interested, another example of “deconstruction” can be found in the Advaitin book, Atma Darshan, at: http://www.stillnessspeaks.com/assets/books/SKMBT_C35209040617150.pdf
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