There is knowing in the first person objective and there is stepping out from that.
I am returning to my wife in Germany in two days. Something has been resolved this time around. I no longer seem to be as attached to my home in Canada in the same way that I was. I know that I will miss friends and the peace and vast space here. I always enjoy a peaceful abode close to nature and Canada may be one of the best options in the world for that. But people are people and egos are egos. They separate us from being; under a collective disguise and facade of knowing that is a part of that. That separation is a deadly phenomenon; to humanity, to other beings and to the planet and this is so in a variety of ways.
Canadians are no different then people of other lands in this way. They may be more polite about how they interact but they seem to be just as blinded as most in their confidence in knowing and the fear that it arises from that. In that reduced place of awareness our “belief” in what we know separates us from the whole and a greater truth that comes with that and this general lack of awareness of this truth is most concerning. We are all fundamentally connected to each other and in our conditioning there arises a disconnection from that realization such that greatly contributes to the cause and perpetuation of the global crisis that is now looming on our planet.
A contemplative life has encouraged awareness and I now come to realize that humanity as a whole is responsible for taking the steps that would lead to a more comprehensive envisioning that transcends the fixated self that is the root of limited responses and interventions. This is a knowing of a different essence than can be realized by all.
The reality we live in is one created out of mental concepts that encompass a relative truth; meaning to some degree and that is not one of absolute truth nor a synchronisation with the reater reality. So how should we live in this existence of relative truths?
If we can come to understand the limitations of our human mind and how it has come to be conditioned and in that awareness come to find ground in direct experience and reflection of the kind of truth that Kierkegaard suggests, (truth of Subjectivity) here is the possibility that this influence can transform our conceptual orientation..
George Feurstein describes the classic Advaita-Vedanta perspective on enlightenment by defining it as “the shattering of all mental constructs about existence, including the notions of voidness and chaos or fullness and harmony.” He further suggests that, “Enlightenment is that condition of the body-mind in which it is perfectly synchronized with the transcendental Reality. It is identical with Self-realization.”
Truth as subjectivity (and reality) is Kierkegaard’s definition of “faith”. He encouraged the development of an inner life through critical self reflection. Through this reflection faith arises. Of truth, he comments that it is “an objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness that is the highest truth attainable for the individual.”
It is my experience and in turn realization that there can be agreement, or not, on objective perceptions but that a subjective reflection makes its way inwardly and in that inwardness it is culminated in passion; a passion that can not be easily communicated objectively. In my experience there arises a sense of vulnerability as a part of that experience that allows for dignity and that comes from being both capable and humble. It emphasizes the need for trust and courage alike in our relations and frees us to receive and respond to the other both in our need and through our own choosing; a freedom such that it is at the same time self-empowered and vulnerable, self-giving and receptive, independent and dependent.
Its only been recently that I am able to see in a more expansive way. For most of my life I perceived myself through the lens of assumed self. The thing that I now most realize is that what this self believes to be true is relative to the perception of the self. I was looking in a way that would only reveal relative truth through the observation of self as the subject observing the object.
It is from a place of greater openness that I am able to see with greater truth. Opening has involved letting go of fixed definitions, opinions and assumptions that have served a vague and limiting identity and a vague and limited understanding of the big picture . As well it has involved learning to cope and live with the experience of vulnerability rather than being dominated by its unacknowledged urges. A superficial resolution of these urges seems to have led humanity to a compromised perception. Often in open, honest and intimate reflection with others vulnerability can arise and I am coming to understand that it as a door to a more expansive awareness and greater insight.
One of the ways that I am finding myself transformed through this process is that I am discovering that I am much more interested and invested in the question as opposed to the conclusion.
I’m writing from the beach at the Oshawa marsh on Lake Ontario. This a favourite place of mine ; I know it intimately. It’s a place that I return to sit in silence. Today the waves are raging, more powerfully than I have seen them do in the past. The beach is submerged in the surge. I hardly ever encounter another person here at this time of year. It’s so desolate here at times yet so close to urbanity.
“The state we call realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one is realised, he is that which alone is and which alone always has been.” Ramana Maharshi.
Adyashanti writes that at the core of the false self is a void of deficiency derived from an essential turning away from one’s own divinity, either out of natural development, despair, or simply by succumbing to the trance of the world with all its masks of deception and harsh obligation to conform to its insanity. The false self orbits around this vacuous abyss at its core, in silent terror of its nameless, faceless threat of oblivion. The false self is a door you must pass through. I pass through it and return to it at times but more often these days I am able to leave it behind.
These days; more than ever, I value conversation and communication with others that explores, rather than asserts. I value the question over the conclusion. There is something intimate and expanding in that. Thinking; when it is rigid and mindlessly reflecting dogmatic claims is unappealing to me. Even claims about how one should practice in a spiritual way are not appealing as such. Buddhism has no shortage of claims to expertise.
In my own search and experience I have discovered that there is something of my intuitive essence that is aware of deeper truth that somehow, was conventionally deferred to other , assumed experts. It is something of a more authentic being that had been covered over in my learned attentiveness to beliefs, assumptions and deference to others. I support the search for scientific understanding but in the end much of the ;research regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease relates to a more conventional understanding of the self. Coming to a point where I am more clear about dogma and my own experience and the contradictions between them has been a most beneficial arising.
Recently I was involved in a discussion about the concept of dementia with a group. The discussion was not neccesarally focused on scientific explanations. As a social worker having worked in crisis, mental health for many years I am aware of these. There was some discussion about how it relates to self and/or no self but in the end there seems to be an absence of a sense of what a very Buddhist notion points to; that attachment to the small self and its related beliefs and assumptions have a lot to do with prolonging and perpetuating our suffering.
I cant help but think that the onset of dementia does nothing to alleviate all of this; in fact it might possibly intensify this experience of suffering.
Awareness of the truth of Self and how our attachment to the self, influences the thinking process has been very helpful for me in reducing suffering that was once an affliction that was the consequence of my attachments and delusions.
We seem to habitually look to our words and the story they form for resolution of our difficult experiences. But could it be that the story we create insulates us from that direct experience as do the emotions that arise in that selective speculation.
It seems that it is fundamentally important to be with that experience and to pass through it unfettered by thoughts that might provide superficial and fragmented understanding. Nothing in our words can replace that experience. How can we be sure that our analysis, configurating and differentiating mind and arising related emotions can be creating a complete and authentic grasping of the whole of that experience.