26 August 2016

In the West, the distinction between matter and consciousness was clearly made only a few hundred years ago. But, because of science and technology, the realm of matter has always been given more attention. There is no science of consciousness or spirit.  In the West we are still trying to reduce spirit to matter, to the brain and nervous system, with the external world being real, and our bodies and brains create a picture in consciousness of that real external world.

For Ramana, only consciousness is real, with the material world considere unreal because the objects and experiences within it are temporary, changeable, impermanent, without a self-sustaining existence outside of consciousness.  For him, consciousness has two aspects: the field of experience and the witnessing of that field which also was an aspect of consciousness.  For him, the material world and all experiences were illusory, a dream, because they did not last, and didn’t exist outside of our awareness of them.  Thus for the Advaita tradition, consciousness was primary existence and we needed to recognize that all experiences, including that of an apparent external world, only occur in our own consciousness.  So everything is consciousness, you, me, waking state, dream and deep sleep states. 

Robert Adams held this to be true also, but emphasized that one needs not to identify with any situation within that play of consciousness, but only with the totality of consciousness, one’s entire manifest experience as an apparent human, and also the world of apparent objects.  They are one totality.

For Robert though, that which was absent any experience at all, nothingness, was the real source of consciousness, the no-place from which the whole field of consciousness sprung as its projection.

In the West, about 400 years ago, Immanuel Kant gave the name “Noumena” to that nothingness, which was only nothingness, because it could not be experienced, thus had no quality or characteristics such as time, space, extention or existential qualities of any sort.

Doug Harding called this place, “I,” and created what he called the science of the subject, wherein each of us became the source of our experiential world, and taught exercises to make this an existential reality.

For all, there was no death when the body dies, because only the existential aspect of our lives disappears, but the subject aspect never does because the subject is not within the field of existence. Our essence, as subject, as witness, as noumena, remained untouched because it did not exist within the realm of matter of experience.

For all the Advaitin traditions the path was the same: 1. Disidentify with the body; 2. Identify instead with our entire field of consciousness, our Manifest Self, which was universal and pervaded everywhere and was the same in everyone; 3. And then go beyond to discover and identify with the eternal subject, the Self, nothingness, which lies prior to or beyond any and all of existence, where there is no need, no want, only divine peace.

Other paths, such as Chakra yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Tantra, tended to emphasize one or more aspects of consciousness, such as Kundalini, the life force, Ma Kali, or Shiva, the observer, or the creator, Brahman.  Advaitins considered this playing on the surface of the field of consciousness.

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