Philosophy versus Realization
What do I mean when I say you’re not real and that you don't exist, and the world does not exist?
Basically, I am not talking about philosophy.
I am not arguing Advaita philosophy versus Buddhist philosophy of emptiness, and I am not talking about the philosophies of the past, such as about Bishop Barkley and his idealism, versus Kant’s idealism, versus the naive realism of Locke and DesCartes.
I’m talking about my experience.
My experience is that, at one point in my life when taking a shower, I looked inside, as I had hundreds of times before, thousands of times before, doing self-inquiry to find the I.
I asked, who is it that feels the warm water against the skin of my back?
This is the pure self-inquiry that Ramana talks about, and Nisargadatta talks about, and Robert talks about, and that I talk about.
And that day when I looked inside, I saw nothing. There was just a vast emptiness with no center, no I. The word ‘I’ had no thing that it pointed to. There was only emptiness. I did this meditation thousands of times before. Only emptiness was there. There was no ghost in a machine making the body go. There was no I sense. There was no I-thought even at that moment.
And suddenly and irreversibly I recognized my true nature as emptiness. And I also recognized that the ‘I’ had never existed. It was just a thought form. My identity shifted from being a body entity to identifying with the totality of my experience, no longer confined to a body, but including anything I could see or hear as well. I was no longer centered in the body, but in and on the space between all former objectgs, which now were like shadows and now appeared unreal.
If you take a look at thoughts (pause) and you can actually look at thoughts; you can actually see thoughts; they have a cloud-like existence, like what some nearsighted people call floaters—little tiny semi-opaque clouds, that once you get close to them, take over and activate the mind and create an object. It is all very interesting to watch, but it is a subject for another talk.
None of these thoughts are yours. No thought, including the I-thought is yours. They are borrowed. They were here when you were born, they are added on to you. They are, as a network of thoughts, the background knowledge of the human race, as well as the specific background knowledge that you’ve gotten since you were very small.
All of this accumulated knowledge forms your world. And when you see that the ‘I’ does not exist, and that you see that the ‘I’ was merely a thought form, then you see that all other thoughts connected to the ‘I’ thought, the network of thinking, has that same insubstantial existence as the ‘I’. It’s seen as a cloud that’s moving through your perception, through your emptiness.
I don’t exist, and all the words that make up the external world don’t exist. There only becomes oneness. There’s no longer any separation between inwards and outwards, it’s all one vast emptiness everywhere. Since I don’t exist, neither do you. The world does not exist. What I thought was an external real world is just a network of cloud-thoughts that are not mine.
In this vast emptiness, thoughts come through, and the thoughts form the external world. They also form your internal world, your fantasy process. Your dreams, your thinking. And all of this disappears in one momentary, enlightening experience. And you see there’s only emptiness, and there’s only thinking, and the space between thoughts and apparent objects in the world. Just one big emptiness containing inner and outer, and I am that.
Thinking has given existence, or apparent existence, to world objects and to yourself.
None of it is real. The only thing that is real is your emptiness. And you can feel it around you, it’s the Consciousness. The totality of Consciousness.
And the objects come and go, and thoughts come and go. The only reality is the emptiness which stays, which contains all, which is inner and outer, which has itself a different kind of existence from the objects.
But as your inner vision matures, at some point you see this too is not true, that the totality of Consciousness is something that comes to you unsought. The waking mind comes to you, unsought. (pause) With its objects. With its emptiness. With its oneness. With its totality. It comes to YOU, and you are not touched by it.
So too does dream. So too does deep sleep. They come to you and they leave you. And you are untouched, because you are beyond, totally beyond the world. Totally beyond the waking mind. Totally beyond the sleep mind. Totally beyond the dream mind.
You are a mere witness.
Now, not a witness in the sense of being an object mind you, but a witness in the sense that it is happening to you. And all else can be seen or interpreted as objects; but, in fact, that dichotomy is not helpful in understanding the experience.
The I Am has two aspects. The amness, which is that sense of presence, and the I, which points to a non-existent subject.
Spiritual teachers aren’t using words to convince you of a philosophy, but to try to share with you their own inner experience of the universe and of themselves.
The act of attempted verbal clarification of terms like “real” or “unreal,” of “independent origination” or “dependent origination,” or “emptiness,” is just philosophy.
You can clarify terms endlessly and get nowhere, as they have been doing in philosophy for hundreds, and thousands, of years.
Philosophy does not make you wiser. Philosophy makes you more facile at the use of words and concepts, so they fit together and become more and more subtle, and more and more lost in thinking and distinctions and drama.
What I am trying to do is to show you a way OF SEEING that is entirely beyond the drama of words and concepts, of philosophies and distinctions of real and unreal. To show you a direct perception of a different way of a different “reality,” one where there is no inner and no outer.
One where you do not exist, and the world does not exist, and only Consciousness exists.
And after a while, you see even Consciousness doesn’t exist. It has a different quality from YOU, who is unchanging, who is the subject.
But, once again, these are just words I’m saying, and talking about the difference between subjects and objects creates a false duality.
In fact, all of these distinctions have to go. And you have to experience the world totally without any knowledge whatsoever. Any understanding whatsoever. Totally helpless. Totally open.
And this is something that can’t be taught in words, and has to be done by self investigation: taking a look at who you are, looking inside of yourself and feeling that sense of I, and following that sense of I until it either appears or disappears... and then what happens?
Then what happens to all the other thoughts? What happens to all the other ideas?
All of this has to be followed, and attended to, and attained, until you understand COMPLETELY your inner experience, from alpha to beta to omega--the whole thing, until you get rid of the whole thing and you shed the whole thing and you see that EVERYTHING you’ve known, until you’ve done self-inquiry correctly, is wrong.
Everything is concepts that you’ve gotten from somebody else.
I’m speaking to those few of you out there who have always felt that there was something wrong with the world, and you’ve listened to philosophy, you’ve listened to teachers, and it doesn’t make sense.
The world doesn’t make sense. The way people live doesn’t make sense. The materialism doesn’t make sense. The killing doesn’t make sense. You see and know something’s desperately wrong, and you don’t know what it is. And you keep looking to try to find the real substance, the reality that would make it have sense.
But you can’t find it in words; you can’t find it in politicians’ words and philosophers’ words, in Buddha’s words or Shankhara’s words. You have to look within and find it within yourself.
And that’s what I am trying to teach, and that’s what Robert tried to teach, and that’s what Ramana always taught... self-inquiry: looking into your sense of ‘I’, following it all the way.
Watch the world disappear. Watch you disappear. Watch the ‘I’ disappear.
And what is the final arising, what is the final understanding, when you go beyond any understanding whatsoever?
This is when you are beginning to approach absolute Truth, which is no truth whatsoever; and anything I say would only be some added-on experience for you, rather than showing the way to your own experience of nothingness. This is your way to complete freedom for yourself.
So this is my answer to Peter, and to other people who are trying to gain spiritual knowledge by reading books and understanding of Advaita philosophy and Buddhist philosophy, rather than practice self-inquiry and finding out for yourself: what is truth.