Friday, May 4, 2012

Experience and realisation

Reality is realised. Existence is experienced.

Perhaps one way of understanding this distinction is to say that 'what is real' and 'what exists' are different, and this relates to the difference between 'realisation' and 'experience' and between the noumenal and phenomenal. Reality is much greater than what just exists, because it includes possibilities, meaning, and more.

There are those who object to the idea of 'noumenon'  because it seems to imply some 'world behind the world', a real world as opposed to an illusory one that we normally inhabit. Perhaps not. Perhaps 'what is', consists not just of 'things which exist' but, more importantly, the relations between those things, which is, of course, changing in every instant, because everything is in motion. So 'what is', which is 'the noumenal', is actually always fleeting, because it is changing at every moment, while 'what exists', which are those things that we actually can know, measure, and talk about, are of a lesser degree of reality than 'the totality'.

In this understanding, 'what exists' is indeed what can be measured, ascertained, photographed, captured, and so on. So it really does exist. But 'existence' itself is simply a momentary aspect of the totality - and the totality is what is real. I think this is why the sages see things as they do - they are alive to the totality, which is why they say that 'all is one'.

Another way of considering this. Reality is the totality of your experience at this very moment. It includes everything you can see, know, think about, and of course an indefinite or infinite amount more which branches out into the vastness of space around you and also down into the depths of your own unconscious processes. The nature of 'awakening' is to be completely awake and alive to the immensity of this current moment of reality.

In practice, this state always being occluded by the conditioned outlook, the constant interplay of memory-and-expectation, desire-and-aversion, and the many other states, both conscious and subliminal, that constantly arise and pass away from one moment to the next. This is what dictates our actual experience of life moment to moment, or what you call 'yourself' or 'your life'.

Now the point about a 'purified consciousness' is that it is intensely alive to each moment and to the sense of immensity which this brings. There is a sense in which one's own aliveness and the aliveness of all that lives intermingle in this awareness. But of course we cannot appreciate this immensity precisely because of the burden of self-hood, of the weight of who we are and what we own.

Existence, on the other hand, is your life considered longitudinally, that is, through time. It relies on time to introduce the sense of continuity, which established a series of moments, which comprise your conscious existence through time. It describes all that you know, measure, think about. 'You' are that process which exists through time, which measures and knows and hopes and so on.
If you are able to meet each moment completely, live it with complete attention, without any effort, then it doesn't leave any marks on you. Everything just falls off you like water off a duck's back. But of course I am not like that, I am always thinking, planning, getting, doing, the very thought process is always creating itself according to its previous experience.

So this is the purpose of spiritual discipline: to realise that state of intense aliveness and awareness. With it comes an increased sensitivity to the nature of things which really can't be captured by thought, no matter how subtle, clever or refined. Because thought itself is of the nature of time.

Now I make no claims to be in this state or to know this state. However I do, now, understand that it is something real.

No comments: