Awake from being awake
South London Philosophy at the Latchmere, Battersea
Sunday 5th October 2003
1 Introducing the other sort of philosophy
As there is such a mixture of people here and perhaps a few of you who are unread in philosophy some advice might be helpful. It does not matter if you have not heard of the philosophers and others I mention. Nor does it matter if you come to parts you cannot understand. The thing is laced with punch-lines every so often that you will understand. I am happy for the rest to be listened to just as rain falling or the clatter of a busy kitchen. Perhaps it will be understood that there is no misunderstanding in such listening, although there often is in reason.
I cannot convey the full warmth of my enthusiasm for my recent reading of Aldous Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy. I had heard of this book 30 years ago without suspecting the treasures it contained. It was published in 1945. Perennial Philosophy – that is: what really counts as the truth has always been known by direct experience of the ground-of-all-being. It is a breakthrough into the essential character of existence. Perennial Philosophy has never been limited to any continent or religion or tradition but it does require a particular sort of preparation without which it bears no fruit.This talk is not only about Huxley’s book but as I read it so recently it has provided some useful pegs to hang things on.
The only mention that Kant gets is to say:
‘If Kant was right and the Thing-in-itself is unknowable, all the masters of the spiritual life have been engaged in a wild goose chase. But Kant was right only as regards minds that have not yet come to enlightenment or deliverance.’(We can also include minds who share an understanding of the goal and are taking appropriate steps to attainment, for these minds will be developing their urge to the experience of the Thing-in-itself.)
Here is a definition of Thing-in-itself, which comes from the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.
A Thing-in-itself is an object, as it would appear to us if we did not have to approach it under the conditions of space and time.
Therefore enlightenment, which is to perceive fully, realizes the ideal relationship as a unity of the world and thus, that form itself both exists with or even ‘as’ time and in this originates without persistence or space – ab-origine in the eternal now.
To put this another way enlightenment is to evoke the fundamental experience of ‘emptiness’ as it is analysed in Nagarjuna’s philosophy and among others transmitted through Zen masters such as Tao Hsin (580 – 651 CE) who says:
‘Form itself is emptiness. It is not emptiness as annihilation of form, the very essence of form is empty. Full realization has emptiness as its goal. When beginners see emptiness this is seeing emptiness; it is not real emptiness. Those who cultivate the way and attain real emptiness do not see emptiness or nonemptiness; they have no views.’
In this, the last phrase ‘have no views’ can be clarified as it is not so much to say ‘have no opinions’ as to say ‘have no points from which to view’. This is emptiness as the achievement of self-lessness and in this removal of the observing ‘I’ there is a negation of the geography and geometry of viewpoint which in doing so, arguably, realizes universal perspective.
At the outset it needs to be asserted that this philosophy is more about high states of consciousness than it is about interpretation. In this it is about attainment in recognition of the fact that understanding is not attainment. It further asserts that such higher states of attainment are superior to and replace datums and interpretations. Thus a huge improvement in perspective as genuine physiological, psychic, and existential attainment must render obsolete the analysis of detailed interpretations to symbolize a mere supposing of a wider view. This is to suggest that the human race in general and its politics and philosophies in particular have vastly overdone the importance of interpretation at the expense of the realization of higher states. The planet suffers from politics and bills of rights and legal structures which are themselves interpretations of states which have become states of interpretation and this is to have lost out and failed even to perceive a direction towards higher states of consciousness which are intrinsically superior to any datum. Among other things such superiority of states may potentially rearrange the relation of being to time and directly bring solutions to life’s perennial problems unimaginable at the level of any datum or interpretation.
Human potential and harmony is the issue, and since that potential has perennially been achieved by a handful of men and women, Kant is both profoundly mistaken and an obstacle. For the most part the great luminaries of the accepted canons of philosophy such as make it into the pages of Bertrand Russell’s History of Western philosophy find no place in Huxley’s book. Far less, famous theologians or church reformers.
Incidentally, Thomas Hobbes who is arguably England’s greatest philosopher, gets an isolated mention but only to cite him as an enemy of the perennial philosophy. Anyway it is, I hazard, the accepted canons of both philosophy and theology which let us down and this perennial ‘other’ though sorely pressed which has really known what it is talking about all along.
David Hume the Scotsman gets no mention but his influence upon Kant as a founding father of empiricism is surely seminal to philosophy at large. But, for the perennial philosophy it is a seminal rejection of the empiricists position that all knowledge appears through the senses: because the mind in utter stillness, when all its movements have been arrested in imageless contemplation, receives the greatest nourishment of all and this food though it may inform the senses does not come through them. Having said all this generally, I would make a team of science and the spiritual. I’m no scholar of Kant but I understand that he may be right logically. The Chinese must be a step ahead of all this as their term Wu Wei can be translated as wisdom and as nonsense simultaneously! A more precisely literal translation of Wu Wei comes out as – no purposive action and yet do act. In other words the achievement of a spontaneous fluidity means a mind, which has discovered it can rest in no-thing and in acting from this ground discovers perfect balance. The further implication is that this no-thing or Wu Wei is the very real source of the moral life, love, decency and so on.
Not only in China but the same has been understood at all times and across all continents and in its essentials has required no development. It may be discovered or restated but it cannot be part of a development of ideas. The perennial philosophy is life’s poorest subject in the sense in which Jesus used the word. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ (Matthew 5.3) ‘Poor’ here means a lack of ambition, importance and so on but in its even deeper sense these things rest upon a more fundamental absence of thinking itself as a narrative of wishes, commentaries, and ideas: to be replaced by ‘being’ or in Christian nomenclature ‘the Holy Spirit’. The apparent destitution in the sacrifice is misleading since the prize is full realization.
As the dervish poet Jalal-uddin Rumi says. ‘Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.’
I’ll blast the main point bluntly so as to encapsulate a sense of it ‘All’ in but a single sentence. Of course there are some qualifications to what I propose and this one sentence philosophy will benefit from some fleshing out in due course. It requires no prophetic powers to foretell the imminent horrors that this world faces. I, perhaps we: need to be able to get the point across in a single sentence and rather work on the power and sweetness that lies behind it than in extending its delivery.
Here, you have it - thinking is just an atrocious habit - by far the worst drug of all - to be given up in short order, if the world is ever to be a decent place and if humanity and individuals are to find their true place in it.
There, you have it - so give up thinking and switch the light on. Awake from being awake.
(To be realistic this does not mean give up thinking all the time. It means: to try and work at it all the time and perhaps first of all experience glimpses and then longer lasting experiences of profound awareness. A person who realizes they are asleep has already begun to awaken!)
This has of course been said by others, who are legion and more eloquently.
This is my favourite and comes from somewhere in the Vedic corpus. That is from India.‘That which can be thought is not true, which thought is itself untrue. Lie after lie thou hast suppressed and yet, O Unhappy One! Thou art ten-millionfold more in the grip of delusion than ever.’
2 Listening and metaphysics
Sometimes shouted, sometimes whispered: at the highest level of philosophy and metaphysics expresses by way of invitation or command that for there to be enlightenment, which is in fact a transformation into being, thought itself must first be arrested and then sacrificed. For the majority of people this means to first jettison the inessential, the so-called inner circus or chattering, inwardly commenting mind. There is often no need to work things out. Working things out is usually a pernicious trap. Just get rid of thoughts.
The effort itself need not sound as alien as one might suppose. Anyone who has suffered a sleepless night recognizes a quarrel with thought and anyone who has been honoured with the title of ‘good listener’ enjoys some success in its defeat. Listening is surely a key we could do well to dwell upon but it alone does not take us far unless it hints at the hidden path of contemplation. As an unknown Sufi said ‘when all roads are blocked I will show you a hidden path.’ I am suggesting an end to the vanity and pretence that all roads are not blocked.
To return briefly to the subject of listening as for many people it is the nearside edge of what can become an entrance to the field of practical-metaphysics. Listening simply facilitates hearing. It isn’t an action far less a thought. Listening is not doing whatever one may be doing. Someone who is busy thinking about what people are saying while they speak is a thousand miles away from pure-listening. As one master said ‘They have ears but hear not’.
Without this listening, hearing becomes a distorting mixture of one’s own thought and that of others. Generally speaking this sort of non-listening is good enough and it can even be defended that it is needed for the critical faculty to function. But the critical faculty is itself part of a distortion of listening.
It was by meditating upon the Greek word sophrosyne that I observed that the sense of the word poise began to be uncovered. Famously, the word sophrosyne was analysed by Plato through his mouthpiece Socrates in the Charmides. Socrates, Critias, and Charmides explore some likely contenders such as wisdom and charm. I will stick to poise and try to peal away what I do not mean.
It is essential to clarify whom or what could have poise and since poise is some sort of presence, how does poise relate to presence? I propose the hyphenated term ‘present-time’ to give a definite sense of quantity to awareness at a moment in time. It is obvious that the single word ‘present’ is not helpful as it only suggests a meeting point without quantity.
Yes! Quantity - of awareness. A quantity which is potentially as vast as the universe at one moment. But still what is it that should have this poise? Can, for example, thought be included, in what has poise? Could something such as the word ‘person’ suggests, perhaps have poise? Could it be the body or the mind, which has poise? Or may it be none of these for there to be this presence? It seems to me that the best answer to these questions lies east in the foundations of Indian philosophy, which are the Upanishads.
4 Listening to listening
Before going east I would like you to understand I am painting a picture, which isn’t complete until the end, and the devil in language is that it’s a procession. Let’s just recover the main ideas to make a further play upon it – That thinking including the critical and rational faculties consists of movements out of present-time, which deny us the poise in the world, which is our being here. That is to say we absently, half-inhabit in our own distortion of the world a leakage from present-time. The truth about listening is to invoke an exploration of listening itself. As it were to listen to listening, as this without any action at all informs being.
The step beyond focused listening results from a subtraction of the effort to focus so that all available sound can be heard equally. All available sound can then be heard in practice as resting upon, an inwardly sensed, great field of silence and space, which is equally well described as stillness. Nothing can be lost. For example the critical faculty is not lost in ‘being’ but becomes united with its context.
5 Poise and Atman
And now to travel east. “In the whole world there can be no study so beneficial and elevated as that of the Upanishads. They have been the solace of my life. They will be the solace of my death.” So said Arthur Schopenhauer who died in 1860.
Schopenhauer’s Latin translation, via a Persian one, had 50 Upanishads. More complete collections have 108.
In early times, say 1000 BCE, there must have been more than 108. These works are supremely abstract in their content. They spoke from direct experience of the ground of all being. It was as though there was no need for philosophy because they were the very understanding that the subject seeks.
This was the equivalent of the Greek alethia. In Heidegger’s treatment of it: the unconcealed.
The word Upanishad has several meanings. It has the meaning: secret teaching, perhaps secret only because the meaning is not fully accessible without strict preparation and practise of meditation. Another meaning is: to be seated near the sage and to listen.
The core of this teaching rests in a very small number of words and I will try to put this across. The Upanishads include lots of data about how experience of fundamental existence has profound physiological and sociological effects. All this is quite fascinating but the main idea is contained in the words neti neti, which means not this, not this – sometimes rendered neither this nor that. Here we have the same poverty of spirit that Jesus mentions in the Beatitudes.
What the words neti, neti deny is all the details and the total manifestation of the visible and invisible universe. This is quite some denial. In Sanskrit, which is the language of the Upanishads, neti neti points at and denies nama and rupa, which means name and form. Neti neti denies the reality of the universe of this
and that and crucially it denies that self exists anywhere in this field. In doing so however it does not simplistically deny relative awareness and becomingness among things. Any relatively existing person, who thinks for a moment that there is a lack of sophistication in the details of the arguments, must explore these texts for themselves.
Arguably the greatest Indian Philosopher and saint was Adi Sankara who lived a short life from 788-820 CE. Most will agree that understanding the Upanishads is supremely enhanced by his commentaries. Sankara’s words: Tat tvam asi, must surely be a contender for the most profound words in all philosophy. These words, which mean: ‘That thou art’ point supremely at ‘That’ which is what there is once neti neti has achieved a full dissolution of opinion and fact. Now ‘That’ as Sankara magnificently reveals is Brahmin or supreme reality. But hear the shout – supreme reality is Self. That thou art. It is - That - which is self. And of course I am bound to say that it is this self who has poise.
A little nearer in the Sinai desert this same idea landed with the full force of being as the Hebrew letters Yod He Vau He – I am that I am. Yahweh and in Greek Jehovah.
A meeting with the reality of this surely carries one out of rationalization to the next step, which lies in the realm of meditation and the serious work of annihilating thought within oneself. The result will not be the deadly effort of Sisyphus pushing his rock without any grounds for doing so, but sat, chit, ananda. That is: being, consciousness and bliss. Furthermore what logic says will have nothing whatever to do with it. Logic and ratiocination are too many
steps removed from the real and as Heidegger recognized we need to unconceal some way behind reason.
Sankara’s philosophy is non-dualist or Advaita, and he would contend that the Upanishads themselves are Advaita. This means that: the barrier between observed and observer and between I and me needs to be broken down. There is an absurd sense that we seem to be a twosome in which there is a me looking at some other me the first me is reflecting upon: This twosome needs to end to become a onesome.
6 Subtle breath and subtle silence
As I said The Upanishads have a great deal to say about physiological and sociological change. In particular they have much to say about the fundamental gestalt of breathing. It can be considered that everything is an influence upon or an interruption to breathing. More widely still so is evolution. The body itself and more superficially its behaviour and character are layers of somatics laid down by interruptions to breath. The Upanishads refer to an energy called prana. This is not exactly breath. It has been called subtle breath. The meditator may discover a gentle or sometimes not so gentle motion in the body, which suggests itself as the truer nature of physical existence. Subtle breath and actual breath require harmonizing, and I hazard that it is here that the real nature of the problems on Earth between people and societies can be found. Technology looks after our insecurity, as beings not yet ready to try and harmonize with the subtle breath. The problem is that humanity has not yet arrived on earth but hovers insecurely in its vicinity.
Relatedly, the Sanskrit language symbolizes subtle silences, and the reality of meaning seems to be here. A scholar of these things told me that the line across the top of Sanskrit letters denotes material silence, such as in a remote wilderness. Then the form of the letter, which hangs from it*, symbolizes structures of silence, or octaves of ever-profounder silences, experienced by mind silenced of thought. Behind material silence and these structures, are meaning itself. Behind breathing is physical existence.
* In fact there are five letters (all vowels) with marks that occur above the line but I was not told how these might fit into the scheme. There are 15 vowels and 33 consonants in the Sanskrit alphabet.
In meditation subtle silence hits you with the obviousness of an elephant on the doorstep, and one cannot mistake the relationship to self of this experience.
7 Existential experience and knowing about genes
The Upanishads as philosophy are backed up by a means of practical work and this is the spiritual and physiological technology known as yoga. Suffice it to say that yoga is an all-encompassing methodology and not just the Hatha Yoga the average westerner comes across. The basic seeds of experience called samskaras lie at the roots of Karma and are uncovered by techniques such as
vipassana meditation. There are similarities as well as differences: between samskaras at the roots of karma as a discovery in yoga – and genes in genetic science. The difference is that practical, philosophical mysticism, realises existential knowledge of self whereas no amount of scientific know-how about genetic construction, gives an individual such personal experience. Existential
knowledge is more important for the potential in humanity at this juncture than genetic know-how.
8 Ladders and Launching Points
Whether we use the word meditation or contemplation the important sense is that there is no object or subject considered. It is essentially about emptiness, or glimpsing emptiness, and the sweet and mighty things, which arise from such experience in evermore, enlightened consciousness. It informs whatever else exists, the remainder: with a fundamental accuracy.
Sometimes the word meditation is used as a junior cousin of contemplation to provide a ladder towards it of concentration upon things of more refined quality such as ‘beauty’ (‘which requires no explanation’) or hierophanies and theophanies of logical or devotional constructions but these things which are ever more elevated abstractions reach up till the supramental launching-point suggests itself. Such were for example the philosophies of Ammonius Saccas the Alexandrian called Theodidaktos (taught by God) who had learned Philosophy from Brahmins and inspired Plotinus called Theiotatos (Most Divine) to learn and practise Indian philosophy in depth which he in turn passed on to his disciple Porpyhry (230 – 304 CE) and thus: ‘in the last hour of Greece, in her magestic sunset, wedded Plato and India’ - so said Romain Rolland. Other methods of launching may involve the bewilderment of the ordinary mentality perhaps through absurdities, Zen koans, extreme physical efforts, or even the heat of battle, so as to propose the supramental leap by which this emptiness can make an appearance.
It does not seem to me that either ladders or paths are necessary. The idea that everyone is working their way up different paths towards the summit can be disposed of along with the mountain. As Krishanamurti said in his famous speech of 1929 at Ommen in Holland. ‘Truth is a pathless land.’ This is an absolutism that elevates no-way, crucially, without enobling equal ways or a relativism of ways.
9 Emptiness and metanoia
This word emptiness is a difficult word but experience informs that it is not at all bland because it is a context, which encompasses riches and warmth without compare. It is Nagarjuna’s ‘sunyata’. The logically perfect idea that no-thing is nothing has to be defeated at all costs because it is not the experience of the enlightened. On the contrary no-thing very much exists and it is logic, which must dance a merrier tune. Even a moment in the vicinity of this emptiness improves whatever remains in the world of thought.
It was perhaps through Plotinus or his shadowy teacher Ammonius Saccas, but arguably much earlier and perhaps without a journey that the great Indian philosophies of emptiness made their appearance in Europe to form the European mystical tradition. Thus holding together the European version of the perennial philosophy until its destruction under the weights of theological disagreement to its final demise by the early 18th century. Practical philosophical mysticism has always got into serious trouble letting itself into the hands of philosophers or theologians who without experience begin to give the false impression that its all about interpretation. The real thing surely has died of interpretation. Therefore it makes sense to return to an approach that stays as free as possible from the devices of interpretation and simply set about the internal annihilation of thought. The methods applied will be in reasonable consideration of one’s circumstances and those of others but my advice is to keep returning to the launching point of straightforward contemplation while sitting still with a straight back and the chin in.
Apart from Advaita Vedanta and perhaps better known, Buddhism is another example of this kind of philosophy. If you were to attend a lecture about Buddhism you might hear lots of things about the Four Signs, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Marks of Existence, and so on and so forth but it would all really be missing the point about what Buddhism essentially is. Eventually somewhere in amongst it, the scholar would mention ‘meditation,’ probably towards the end. So meditation is perhaps what it is all leading to. But even this is skirting the point because the core of the matter is not meditation but success with meditation. Such success is not a distant goal but the essential prerequisite of existence. The point is to live on from as well as upon the basis of a perennial success. It is easy to suppose that an indefinite passivity and spending years in sitting meditation perhaps in a monastery is the goal, but fundamental success transcends passivity.
We all need to begin somewhere but there is danger in amateurish efforts which go no further than to taste: at worst a sleepy relaxation or at best the bottom of tranquillity. Further ahead lie the dangers of the justified sinner, en route but without the compass of discrimination and the perils of antinomianism. But a little effort will not bring about the ‘metanoia’ the total change of the hesychastic saints whose last resort remains on Mount Athos. Just a metanoia watered down to the meaning of the words ‘change of heart’ in wishy, washy, theologised, intellectualised, Christianity. No - metanoia is total change. That is, an atomic change; a sundering of the iron mask of mortality; a replacement of all thought such as is understood, for example, in the physiological revolution that is Kundalini Yoga. In this approach may lie the power of the meek and the poor in spirit?
In a deep and difficult sense its also clear that a being with some stability in such experience enters a new arrangement in time whose structures obey laws of coincidence rather than those of duration and sequence making for themselves the vehicle which is known as a ‘time-body’.
10 Emptiness and idolatry in art
In recent years we have been calling this perennial mystical experience the ‘numinous’. Rudolf Otto coined the word numinous in his book the ‘Idea of the Holy’. Poets and others have often described this numinous experience but I would suggest that there is some shortfall in that they have rarely done anything further about it. This is to beg comparison with the stabilised achievements of Buddha, Nagarjuna, Zen, Sufi, and other Masters.
Aldous Huxley writes: ….if the poet remains content with his gift without going on to make himself capable, through selflessness, of apprehending Beauty as it is in the Divine Ground, then he is only an idolater. True, his idolatry reaches a great heighti but it is idolatry, none the less. The Zen nun and poet Ryo-Nen had this to say:
Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scenes of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask me no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars, when no wind stirs.
11 Judging others
We have all heard that its bad to judge others and especially not by appearances but I suspect we need to get rid of judging behaviour. Thus rejecting the concept of ‘by their fruits ye shall know them.’ Not judging involved me in an experiment. I decided the issue lay in the transfer of awareness at the moment of noticing to the next act of noticing. To dwell in the act of noticing is an introversion, which inevitably turns into judgement. The antidote is to increase velocity from act of noticing to act of noticing, without bringing about introversion into either the external object or any mental process. Moving the eyes themselves and the minds focus ever more rapidly. In other words noticing was just ‘touching’ things with perception. This actually worked as a means of bypassing discrimination with obvious repercussions for aesthetics. But this sense of touch, as it were, also fed present-time. Dazzling, and by this route arises the whole subject of escaping introversion into any of the threesome of: mind, environment or universe, and body. A real state lies not in these but in a poise touching everywhere in them and so enters a zone of choiceless decision, in other words being itself.
12 The story of the universe
It can be convincingly stated that the basis of the universe is consciousness. Not only Eastern thinkers but also a strong line running through the European tradition has taken this view. This is to say that the only material, and this word (material) has to have the sense of pointing both all the way towards and all the way away from substance – the only material in the Universe across all time and throughout all its possible dimensions is consciousness.
This single nature, which at its most real does not include time or persistence in space, has undergone billions of alterations to place before us the table and chairs and indeed our persons. Even a solid thing such as a table consists
fundamentally of no other material but consciousness. Every single point in the air and throughout all objects is consciousness.
Our individual consciousness is also the same, and we have therefore made the universe a million times over. Later discoveries reflect processes of our own creation. Science and other future developments are bound to work as consciousness requires and unfolds. Consciousness is a superior form of matter or unconcealed matter and may ultimately give matter any shape all the way to pure consciousness itself. This I hazard gives a direction and flow to ever-greater reality. There is fully realized, time-free, consciousness itself, at the acme and unified with it a maximum number of dimensions.
This maximum dimensionality devolves to the lesser reality and illusion of our perceived 4-5 dimensional world. For a moment please contemplate in the vicinity of this straightforward fact: - No object has the slightest existence unless it does so for some time. Any entity has to have some duration or persistence for it to have any existence at all so it is not upon the solidity of 3 dimensions that objects exist but upon the spectral, unsolidity of time.
As I said billions of alterations give rise to matter. Alteration is structurally similar to a lie. There can be no persistence in time or life in form, without such lies. The more solid and inert the more lies to disentangle but the greater the persistence the greater the materiality.
This activity of consciousness in its sub-form of understanding works away to rebuild mental structures themselves the same as alterations or tangles or lies, but it is when this achieves a full reflection of the very time and space in the original, that there is the best enlightenment which is to say a disappearance of mass. Lesser understandings would be perceived as varieties of change in mass.
It is a revelation that human beings can see nothing as it is through their eyes because they only see forwards. This distortion is held in common with most animals. The totally stilled mind without the slightest movement of brain can dispense with distortions by the senses and receive nourishment from another source. There can be recognition that self is everywhere. There is no such real thing as space. There is no difference between observer and observed.
13 Existential versus intellectual metaphysics
Karl Jaspers makes the distinction between existential and intellectual metaphysics. Intellectual metaphysics is like philosophy without mysticism, which makes of it something just intellectual without the passion of realization and personal transformation. But it was only late in life that he was able to see. Although he had not lacked a passion for philosophy in its lower intelectual sense, he realized that he had arrived at the launching point but had not launched. He realized this fully when he met the Zen Master Deshimaru at his dojo outside Paris. As a result of this meeting he said: ‘If I were to start my life over again, I would not write books – I would sit in silence.’
Heidegger reached much the same conclusion after reading the Zen Master Dogen’s chapter on the question of time in the book Shobogenzo. Heidegger was described as a Quietist in later life and there is no doubt that he studied the European Quietists of the 17th and early 18th Century. They, in Europe had fully grasped the import of the non-dualist self. The essential teaching of the Shobogenzo is that only ‘now’ exists, and without compromise there is no such thing as pasts or futures. We only have existence in present-time and of course so-called thoughts about the past and future and memories themselves have in fact never had existence outside the present! Cause only exists in the present and it is now that all existence is made. Neither thoughts nor memories have ever had any existence whatsoever outside the present and there can be no compromise on this. This is the great existential truth that heals humans as existential beings. Science has no part in existential truth and is irrellevant to it.
For the scientist to have proof it is necessary to personally become that proof as neither observation nor even understanding are its attainment.
Meditation is not an opinion it’s a habit. It may not always work but it’s the only practical method. Of course people experience difficulties, but this is all the more reason to persevere. Many Japanese businessmen go on a six-week course once or twice a lifetime. They do about 15 hours meditation a day, alternating a walking meditation with a sitting meditation, moreorless without breaks except for two meals, and the effects inform for a lifetime. Monks work even more intensely over many years. D T Suzuki did a disservice taking Zen to America, because he created the impression that Zen was about studying texts. Zen is about meditation, or as it is called zazen shikantaza. The Texts are of much less importance,
14 Poise and scope or being and science
If fulfilment is about poise then security is about scope. By the word scope I mean a huge extensive thing that comes within the remit of science. The main role of science is to secure the playing field of life. Science cannot explore self. And for those scientists who deny the existence of self, what thing would they seek to find that does not exist? Are they to deny the existence of position for an observer, but I have not even asserted that such a position is self. The self exists both as anatman, which is no-self, and as atman, which is self. It can only be found when reason is left far behind - so far behind that we can pass beyond the absurdity of denying existence without needing to assert it. Neti neti, tat tvam asi. As Heiddeger pointed out, in lectures of the late 1930’s, it is the chief trait of metaphysical philosophy that it became unable to confront that being is non-being.
15 Judging and existing
‘It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.’ It was after reading these words by Wittgenstein that the following occurred to me.
If we agree there are bad people, then it makes no sense for bad people to turn into good ones. Just assuming this to be possible or that there are any sensible methods for achieving this, there are now two layers: a good layer superimposed upon a bad layer of delusion between the person and the real. On this analysis bad people should just be bad people without trying to make changes at that level and what’s important is that we need to learn to accept badness and understand that there is a very strict limit to fiddling around with behaviour. Turning things the other way round to contemplate a dropping away of both good and bad mentation, towards the dynamic of being I have called emptiness or poise, then it is invariably appreciated that the darkest part of night comes just before dawn. The worst people are near being the best.
Good people and justice happen in puddles here and there. Some puddles attract masses of admiration and it must be nice to be either a good puddle or the admiration or both. I won’t go as far as saying absolutely there’s no such thing as change but I would say it in a very general sense. For there to be change in the sense of a genuine act of will there first has to be a complete acceptance that everything happens mechanistically by the strings of attraction and desire.
Wars and things happen mechanistically and anything that a person would do about it would contribute to it. In general wars end when the energy in them dissipates or balances. Peace at the centre of an empire is guaranteed by war at the periphery. In the greater context peace is the cause of war and war the cause of peace. The flow that carries the energy has a higher dimensionality than political or individual action and cannot be influenced at these levels. Human beings in the general sense cannot do anything and never have done anything but the real hope lies in understanding just this. There can be Will and therefore doing but only when the individual as thought has undergone a full internal demolition of all that can be perceived as thought.
These then become the men and women who have become Will. This is possible because in the complete cessation of the desire to change or improve comes about a mental stillness. This stillness also has the characteristic of observation and Will lies neither in action nor change but in the brightness of this light. Will and poise are the same. New things can happen under structures of coincidence, and not those of time, or desire, or intention - nor thought.
These new things may affect the remainder, a leakage out of present-time and the perfume of memory, which from this perspective are the filmy patina we call civilization.
The reason for the appearance of change and the characteristics of things lies in the relationship of persistence to present-time and a peculiar motion on the ground of being, not human intention or responsibility. Present-time and that peculiar flow is the subtle root of love and love the subtle root of ethics. Let’s see as the advocates of the perennial philosophy see – not reason. Indeed, farewell reason. If the existence of the world is mystical, life is an act of faith and true faith has no content.
16 About reincarnation
In this I seek to make it part of present-time as it must be. You may not have heard of Rodney Collin 1909-1956 but he wrote a short masterpiece with the unlikely title: - The Theory Of Eternal Life (published 1956). He writes about time working at different speeds in cellular, and post meat-body molecular, electronic and mineral domains and that the drop and duration of the post-body swoon constructs the judgement that projects the next life of which cellular characteristics transmitted through procreation is the horizontal cause. Death and conception are opposite sides of the same coin and so the moment of death is that of conception. There is a great deal more to this ‘moment’ than human or cellular time can encompass.
If we cannot awaken the bottom line: is that we are reborn to the same parents, at the same time, in the same place, and lead the same life, meeting the same people, up until precisely the present situation, among precisely these people, exactly as we are here now. Only the numinous does not repeat, as only being has no persistence. These moments of understanding in emptiness perfectly recognize events including their very time and space. It is the essential structure of this to cause some disappearance and therefore a little that is new.
Each new lifetime all but overlaps itself in itself. I doubt if we could ever meet each other without being each other. ‘Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’ - as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount - but what is the physics that there must be for this to pertain? There is no such thing as death or life as absolutes. They are qualified. E.g. body death, after body death: and not as one but as a range of vehicles and dimensions, some have and others do not, still others who cannot and some others who can; only and ever have as potentialities - or intensities of living and dying.
To the question ‘Where does the soul go, when the body dies?’ Jacob Boehme answered: ‘There is no necessity for it to go anywhere.’
In conclusion. Well over half the population of planet earth live in the eternal present. That is most of the animal kingdom. Human beings of course must arrive in their eternal present in a human or spiritual way. My simple, long term goal - is a world free of thought.
By: Chris Millar