Since I'm currently reading Nisargadatta's book I AM THAT, I'll make another futile attempt of presenting what I see as an alternative to beliefs either religious or nihilistic.
Nisargadatta: The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source. When you realize that you are not the person, but the pure and calm witness, and that fearless awareness is your very being, you are the being...
Questioner: Shapes and names are all of one and the the same God?
N: Again, it all depends on how you look at it. On the verbal level everything is relative. Absolutes should be experienced not discussed. ... Q: Does it mean that the Unknown is inaccessible?
N: Oh, no. The Supreme is the easiest to reach for it is your very being. It is enough to stop thinking and desiring anything, but the Supreme. ...
Q: Why do desires arise at all?
N: Because you imagine that you were born, and that you will die if you do not take care of your body. Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble.
The vast complexity of the world captures our attention. The mystery of ourselves gets ignored as are fascination with the manifest universe developes. The meaninglessness can serve to direct our attention back to our basic nature. Dissatisfaction in the dream state can function to help awakening.
The meaning is not out there in the world. Nor is it even in the organism as desires, feelings, ideas. It is in that which is the seeing and thus can't see itself.
I can't imagine there not being subjects and objects, things and beings.
That is where my feeling of futility comes from. How to explain how the subject object perception arises and how it resolves. I just haven't found a way to do it.
The nondual teachings point to only consciousness existing. Things are a perception, an idea that we become enthralled with. They are forms of consciousness. The metaphor is of gold that can be crafted into any shape but remains gold. You can melt the object down and recast it. The form changes but the gold remains the same. Things are temporary. Being is the unborn undying essence.
Well the mind is denied also, so I think the implication is not the same thing as mental. I think it's more like Spinoza's use of the word "substance". The fundamental thing is mystery. You can go so far with explanations and then you fall into the mystery of being.
I get that, but your version goes even further. Not only is there no physicality, there is no subject to be conscious. What we have is consciousness per se.
But remember this is pragmatic. What the sages are doing are pointing to how you actually experience. Typically you point to some concept or state that you designate as your "self". The thing is that concept or state is an object in awareness. You keep looking at that awareness noticing that you/it keep identifying with an object as its self but.. that can't be as you/it are the subject. It begins to dawn on you that you can't define or know yourself. You know about the body, the mind but what do you know about the awareness of those objects? The awareness of existence, of isness is what you are and that is a mystery to be experienced finally in silence, that is with out concept, to taste it itself.
To me that's like saying there is nothing that is dead, but there is such a thing as deadness.
I'm not clear what you are saying here. When the void, that is nothingness as literally No Thingness is spoken of it is as of a deep mystery that is the creative source of the manifest universe.
Things are concepts and so deadness of a thing is a qualifier of a concept. We divide up the universe into parts or things like stars, planets and people. But life, or what I understand you to mean as beings depend on the entire universe for their existence. They aren't discrete.
The question I have for you is where do beings come from? How do they arise and where do they go at death? That is to ask what is birth and what is death?
Edited by lfen, : oops, meant to click preview wasn't done proofing
I understand what you say. And I'll try a quick answer and then see if something better comes to me later.
I think it may hinge on having a little taste of the experience, otherwise it probably is not something people can relate to.
I am also interested in the studies of semantic and philosophical modeling regarding what existence and an object is. This would include the teachings attributed to the Buddha and the philosophies derived therefrom as well as Wittgenstein and science. That is the intellectual aspect.
But the surrendering of the beloved Other is a crisis that some individual's have reported. Ramakrisha worshipped the Supreme in the form of the divine mother Kali. He was an ecstatic devotional type and he didn't want to go beyond that. There are others I have read but don't recall at the moment and as I'm heading out the door this will have to wait.
One function of posting here is challenging myself to understand and find ways of presenting these difficult to grasp notions and experiences. Maybe all I will learn is that they are ineffable and I should just remain silent, but until I've gotten that I'll keep trying approaches.
Before I head out the door I'll just note the account of the Buddha is that by examining his experience in phenomenological depth he discovered that there was no person there. But I know his insight is not appealing to most westerners.
perhaps later I'll find something more clarifying, or not ...
Okay, some of this is coming back to me from some time back.
Beings possess consciousness and you are referring chiefly if not exclusively to earth based lifeforms?
You are not sure if consciousness is a quality of all life, including bacteria or have you arrived at a cutoff point? Like say oh worms maybe?
It seems that you are then agreeing with the position that consciousness is an emergent quality in the universe that come about when? With cells? With sufficiently complex neural organisation? With brain?
Yes that is the core question. That is why Ramana was telling people to question "Who am I" and keep sorting through the experience getting deeper and deeper looking for the core of experience which is not words but in the same way you taste a cherry and there it is the flavor of cherry, the texture, the experience.
It's not settling for the first verbal answers and then getting back to all the busyness of everyday life, television, etc. This is contemplation or meditation this alert watchfulness. The same way a naturalist would sit and observe some species they were studying one can observe the functioning of their experience allowing it to reveal itself. And it requires the same patience of a naturalist waiting for the animal to emerge and then quietly watching it as it goes about its activities.
Sometimes that sense of being so enclosed in this so very specific strangeness of my I-ness can give me chills, make my hair stand on end. It's so ODD my being me and nobody else, only once in the entire history of the world and never again. WHAT IS IT? I want to know. Not how it got here. Not how it connects to physical things. But, what, IN ITSELF, is it?
You may have made this connection but I wanted to mention that your statement points to a key distinction about individuals the East calls sages.
Sages aren't prophets, preachers, ministers, theologians, etc. They are individuals who have deeply experienced THAT as you put it IN ITSELF and then are available to assist others in that realization. Their utterances are attempts at helping people see into themselves.
I think you are pointing very clearly to the obvious intimate secret of our being that is at once elusive and yet so constant.
Sometimes that sense of being so enclosed in this so very specific strangeness of my I-ness can give me chills, make my hair stand on end. It's so ODD my being me and nobody else, only once in the entire history of the world and never again
I am reminded here of what Bernadette Roberts wrote in the opening of her book The Experience of No-Self. Having returned it I can only roughly paraphrase. She mentions that she had often been at the edge of a great silence but had always at the last moment felt a fear and in some way drew back, but on that day no fear came and so she just sat until the nun rattling the keys signaled the chapel was closing.
The ego or self is a mystery and beyond it lies an even greater mystery.