Rupert Spira on The Provisional Acceptance of The Witness

The Question: “You comment that Awareness or consciousness is simply observing the various arisings…as though there are two things: one called Awareness or consciousness and the other called arisings. Why would you posit such a dualistic notion in an effort to share the wisdom of non-dual experience?”

Here is Rupert’s answer, worth the time to completely digest.

This is said to one who believes him or herself to be a person, located in and as the body, looking out at a world of objects that are considered to have an existence that is separate from and independent of their being known.

The terms in which such a person expresses his or her question (that is, the belief in a separate entity, separate bodies, objects made of matter, a world that has independent existence etc.) are granted provisional credibility in order that we may proceed from what, at least appears to this person, seem to be the facts of the current experience.

In other words we start with the conventional formulation that ‘I,’ inside the body, am looking out at an objective and independent world of objects. This is a position of dualism, that is, ‘I,’ the body (the subject) am experiencing the world, objects and others (the object).

From here our attention is drawn to the fact that the body (sensations) and the mind (thoughts and images) are in fact experienced in exactly the same way as the world (perceptions). In other words, the body/mind is not the subject of experience and the world the object of experience, but rather the body/mind/world are all objects of experience.

We then ask what it is that experiences the body/mind/world. What is it that is referred to as ‘I?’ It is obviously not the body/mind, because at this stage the body/mind has been seen to be the experienced rather than the experiencer.

What then can we say about this perceiving ‘I?’ It cannot have any objective qualities because any such qualities would, by definition, be objects and therefore experienced. However, it is undeniably present and it is undeniable conscious or aware or knowing. For this reason ‘I’ is sometimes referred to as Consciousness, Awareness or Knowing Presence.

At this stage the Knowing Presence that I know myself to be (that is, that knows itself to be) is conceived of as being ‘nothing,’ ‘empty’ or ‘void’ because it has no objective qualities, and could be formulated by saying simply, ‘I am nothing.’ It is the position of the ‘witness.’

This position is still a position of dualism in that there is still a subject (Knowing Presence) and an object (the body/mind/world). Yet it is one step closer to a truer formulation of an understanding of the true nature of experience than was the previous formulation in which separate entities were considered to be existent and real.

If we explore this Knowing Presence that we know ourselves to be, we discover from direct experience that there is nothing in our experience to suggest that it is limited, located, personal, time or space-bound, caused by or dependent upon anything other than itself.

Now we look again at the relationship between Knowing Presence and the objects of the body/mind/world: How close is the world to our knowing of it? How close is the world to ‘experiencing?’

We find that there is no distance between them. They are, so to speak, ‘touching’ one another.

Now we can go deeper. What is our experience of the border between them, the interface where they meet or touch? If there was such an interface, it would be a place where Consciousness ended and the object began. We find no such place.

Therefore we can now reformulate our experience based upon our actual experience, not just theoretical thinking. We can say that objects do not just appear TO this Knowing Presence but WITHIN it.

At this stage Knowing Presence is conceived (based on experience) more like a vast space in which all the objects of the body/mind/world are known and experienced to appear and disappear.

However, it is still a position of dualism, a position in which this vast knowing space is the subject and the world is the object that appears within it.

So we again go deeply into the experience of the apparent objects of the body/mind/world and see if we can find in them a substance that is other than the Presence that knows them or the space in which they appear.

This is a very experiential exploration that involves an intimate exploration of sensations and perceptions and which is difficult to detail with the written word. It is an exploration in which we come to FEEL not just understand that the body/mind/world is made out of the substance that knows them.

However, in this formulation there is still a reference to a body/mind/world, albeit one known by and simultaneously made out of Knowing Presence. It is a position in which the body/mind/world doesn’t just appear WITHIN Presence but AS Presence.

But what is this body/mind/world that is appearing as Presence? We explore experience more deeply again and find that it is this very Presence itself that takes the shape of the body/mind/world.

Knowing Presence takes the shape of thinking and appears as the mind. It takes the shape of sensing and appears as the body. It takes the shape of perceiving and appears as the world, but never for a moment does it actually become anything other than itself.

At this stage we not only know but FEEL that Presence or Consciousness is all there is. It could be formulated as, ‘I, Consciousness, am everything.’ At the same time we recognise that this has in fact always been the case although it seemed not to be known previously.

So we have moved from a position in which we thought and felt that ‘I’ am something (a body/mind) to a position in which we recognised our true nature of Knowing and Being (Presence) and which we expressed as ‘I, Consciousness, am nothing.’ And we finally come to the feeling/understanding that I, Consciousness, am not just the witness, the knower or experiencer of all things, but am also simultaneously their substance. In other words, ‘I, Consciousness am everything.’

Even this is to say too much, for what is this ‘everything’ that is referred to? Language collapses here. Instead of saying ‘Consciousness is all,’ we should say just ‘Consciousness is.’ But then what is this Consciousness that is being framed….again it is to say too much.

To summarize we move from ‘I am something’ to ‘I am nothing,’ from ‘I am nothing’ to ‘I am everything’ and from ‘I am everything to ‘I,I,I….’

We fall silent here.

As we abide knowingly as this Knowing Presence we discover that it is not a void, an emptiness. Rather it is the fullness of Love. In other words, Love is the substance of all things.

The movement in understanding from ‘I am something’ to ‘I am nothing’ could be called the Path of Wisdom or Discrimination.

The movement in understanding from ‘I am nothing’ to ‘I am everything’ could be called the Path of Love.

The abidance in/as this Love is simply to abide as the Self that we are and that we know ourselves to be. Love is known to be the substance of every appearance and to be solely present throughout all the apparent stages of its revelation. It is the origin, the substance and the goal of our enquiry.

Ed: Amen, Rupert.

1. The Role of the Artist 2. The Painter Sees the Light 3. What Is Music Made Of? ~ Rupert Spira

The Role of the Artist

The Painter Sees the Light

What Is Music Made Of?

WITHOUT A MASK: Discovering Your Authentic Self by Avikal E. Costantino

Who is behind the mask that we have learnt to wear in order to survive and function in the world? Who are we really, behind familial and social conditioning? If we are free from fear and the preoccupations that in the name of survival justify adaptation? Is it possible to be spontaneous and authentic, or is it just an infantile desire to leave behind us along with our dreams?

This book tackles these themes and offers understanding and techniques for recognising our authentic Self, helping us to realise that behind the personality mask there is a mysterious universe, an ocean of potentiality, and that that is our true nature. Then the phrase “know yourself” will no longer just be an indication of philosophers and mystics, but will offer us the concrete possibility to ask the right questions, those that enable us to lift the veil that hides our true face and find peace and fulfillment.

Click here to browse inside.

Avikal Costantino

Avikal is a spiritual teacher. Curiosity, passion and love for the truth guide his teaching and are transmitted in a clear and focused way. He is the founder and director of the Integral Being Institute active in Europe, Asia and Australia. Avikal traveled extensively around the globe in his youth working as an anthropologist and a free-lance photographer.

His love for Martial Arts took him to teaching Aikido and Sword, while his love for the body produced diplomas and professional activity in different healing techniques.
From 1989 to 1994 he was the director of the Osho School for Centering and Zen Martial Arts in Pune, India, in the commune of the Indian mystic Osho.
Being involved with Zen and Advaita for more than 25 years, he now leads retreats such as Satori and The Awareness Intensive where the direct experience of True Nature is searched through the question Who am I?.

Since 1997 he has developed an innovative and original approach to the work with the Inner Judge and he is a well known teacher of Essence and Ennegram.
He is also a Life-coach, Management Trainer and Executives Mentor working with presence, leadership, resilience and conflict resolution in Italy and Australia.
He is the author of: “Freedom to Be Yourself. Mastering the Inner Judge”, Sydney 2007 and “Without a Mask Discovering your Authentic Self”, .London 2011

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