On Reality: Interesting Personal Musings on Existence


There are a number of interesting questions that I have asked myself on various occasions, in my contemplation of spirituality and all that it seems to entail.

The following are some of those questions along with my considered answers. Those that are presented, I have included because I believe they are particularly pertinent to anyone serious about self-realisation.

Is it ever really possible for us to get beyond God, or emptiness, or to understand what consciousness is? Does the question even have meaning?

That there is a non-empirical aspect of reality is obvious. After all, the very ground of knowing anything is subjective experience.

Ultimately we cannot get beyond subjective experience because it is the very ground of all that we know. Anything that were to be beyond, would by definition be inaccessible to us. If it was somehow accessible to us, it would be indistinguishable from any other appearance within subjective experience. It would look no different from the rest of that which we call reality.

So there cannot be any 'getting beyond' all that is, That, emptiness, God, or whatever label you apply.

Neither science nor mysticism can go there, because all are ultimately unfolding appearance within subjective experience.

The question is therefore rather pointless. Instead, I would rather examine the patterns that appear within subjective experience. If there is anything at all to be gleaned about the nature of existence, it can only be here.

Though the phenomena that are examined are occurring within that which is the subject of enquiry, they can still provide useful pragmatic insights. The general dynamics of manifestation as well as the recurring patterns that appear to us, may provide interpretative clues. For instance, the intimate embrace of emptiness and form can only be the most potent definition of unconditional love.

It seems to me these observations are very relevant to anything that could be described as spiritual seeking. They provide important context for the activity that is seen to be unfolding. They also may help challenge any misconceptions about potentially what is to be found.

If there is no real self, who is enlightened? What implications does this present, if any, for students of self-realisation?

There can be nobody enlightened!

So what then is awakening, liberation and enlightenment? Put in very simple terms, awakening seems to correspond to a transient recognition in the illusory ego self that self is an illusion. Liberation seems to correspond to an abiding absence of the pretense of self, within that which remains of the illusory ego self.

Enlightenment (as total liberation), however, must necessarily entail the complete dissolution of any localisation of awareness, of any ego. In that sense, complete enlightenment is indistinct from all that is. There is no person or separate being, neither illusory or otherwise!

Of course, there is no real person or separate being in any case.

Perhaps the most useful thing you could say about this with regard to a student, is that it speaks to the paradoxical truth of liberation. The only difference between one who is 'awake' and one who is 'asleep' is in illusory appearance only.

In order for there to be any pragmatic difference, the illusion that appears 'awake' appears to live as if it were not real, where as the illusion that appears 'asleep' appears to live as if it had independent existence.

On a relative level, this means that one who is 'awake' is a movement that reflects the perfection of love that is reality itself. One who is 'asleep' is a movement that spasms and moves without grace relative to the perfection of love. On a relative level, it is the antithesis of love. Paradoxically, however, it is no less the perfection of love from the perspective of reality itself!

On a pragmatic level, one who is not yet stable merely has the appearance of ossillating between a reflection of perfect love and a reflection of the antithesis of love.

What implications does nonduality present for the study of nonduality and spiritual seeking?

Cultivate and practice kindness. Get intimate with your failure as well as your success.

What is life like for you, since you began to explore nonduality in a deep way?

It is a lot more of an adventure.

There are good days and there are bad days. The bad days tend to be when something activates identification. Though they seem to be becoming indistinguishable in any meaningful way.

Identification has turned into a kind of game wherein everything is 'flipped'. There is a moving toward that which historically would have been avoided. If you've witnessed it a few times, it happens more easily and each time the mind and body seem far more at ease.

Sometimes there really doesn't seem to be anyone around.

Kindness flows much more easily. Inhibitions are lower.

Things sometimes have a facination that would seem peculiar to an onlooker, or the historical Josh. Feelings and associations appear that just wouldn't have appeared previously. Perspective doesn't strictly seem to stay in one place. For example, I was stood washing the dishes recently and I had the sensation my hands were having a bubble bath. It wasn't just an idea though, they were enjoying having a bubble bath!

Intuition has begun to manifest where previously it was obscured. The 'future' tends to show itself periodically, before it seems to happen.

Things happen out of order. For example, a writing will occur. Then a week later it will be read, and there will dawn understanding of what it was that was written.

Simetimes the edge of my head 'fuzzes out'.

There is a lot more surprise, gratitude and joy at little things.

The thinking mind is quieter.

The body is far more relaxed, in general.

What might the ramifications be for society, if consciousness is evolving and more people wake up? - Does it really matter?

People will stop being reactive. Kindness and genuine wisdom will be more prevalent. There will be less selfishness.

It matters in the relative sense, absolutely. It certainly matters to those who suffer, and it can't help but matter to those who are no longer tightly bound by the delusion of separation.

In the absolute sense, it is just what it is.

Why is there anything at all? What is your overall take on existence?

All that is, is by definition, infinite. It is unsurprising that there is the appearance of something within that which is infinite. If there was not an appearance, that would be more surprising.

In an emotive sense, it gives pause to stop in wonder and awe.

Fundamentally, however, existence is a mystery.

What role, if any, do you see for science?

Science seems to be incredibly powerful as a tool for understanding consensus reality. It provides a necessary platform for building technology.

The ontological assumptions that have historically been parcelled with science, however, need to be discarded. These assumptions conflict with contemporary scientific research and with subjective experience.

Technology by itself cannot tell us who we are. It is an appearance within consciousness. It is fundamentally conceptual and dualistic. Without reference to an intuitive truth beyond the duality of conceptual mind, the positions taken will vary wildly. Fractious, unresolvable polarisation of opinion is inevitable if we constrain thinking to mere objectivity.

The practice of science will need to be updated to align with what we know about reality.

Why do we discuss something that is essentially so simple? In fact, why do anything at all?

A couple of issues are apparent. Some people seem to be driven intuitively to 'wake up'. Given the insight and open-heart that follows, a discussion of non-duality is inevitable by way of compassion and in the presence of suffering.

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