This is Post 4 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series.
The unity of Consciousness and that which arises in Consciousness, is often spoken of in terms of non-duality or oneness, but what we actually experience in the self-inquiry experience, might better be characterised as a relational unity. Each of the great spiritual teachers have found different ways of pointing to this fundamental unity or oneness. When Jesus said “I and the Father are One” he was expressing this truth in the context of Jewish tradition. Similarly, the Buddha challenged us to notice that the conventionally assumed atman or soul in Hindu tradition cannot be located, and is actually ‘empty’ of self-nature. Now Quantum Physics is pointing to the same fundamentally unitary reality in which everything arises.
There is great practical psychological value for each one of us in trying to find our own experiential way into the actual perceptual reality behind these confusing and challenging ideas. For me, the core idea experientially behind these teachings, is that we are invited to acknowledge Consciousness – that which is generally overlooked in the perceptual process – and are invited to notice the ethical and relational qualities that are inherent in Consciousness, and to recognise that our assumed state of absolute separateness is a superficial phenomena – one that is denied, or at least relativised, by our more fundamental unity and connectedness on the level of Consciousness.
Plato’s Cave – an Allegorical Description of Consciousness
The unconscious and habitual tendency, which characterises ordinary egoic awareness, is such that we fail to acknowledge Consciousness. All our senses are directed almost exclusively towards objects. In regard to our sense of sight for example, we look ‘forward’ – with our attention solely on the object of our awareness – and do not acknowledge the Consciousness that is ‘seeing’. When we look forward in this way (without reference to what is looking) our perception is always limited and – paradoxically – can accurately be described as ’subjective’.
It is only when we allow ourselves to draw back and include Consciousness in our experiencing, that we become capable of perceiving reality as it is – that is, objectively. This way of experiencing, where we draw our attention back into the observing Consciousness, so as to include, or even give primacy to, the observing Consciousness in the perceptual relationship, is what the Buddhist tradition has come to refer to as Mindfulness. Continue reading