07 maja 2018
End of Discussion. Reflections on Enlightenment
I used to love proving my point. I remember spending long dinners on animated discussions and whole years on on-line polemics, twisting my tongue to the extremes of argumentative skill. I exchanged views in logical battles with people who, as I of that time, were crazy about logical positivism and reductionist science.
It is quite a different issue to talk about it at leisure, exchanging views in a relaxed and friendly manner, enriching yourself, as it were, with each other's originality and knowledge. As it surely remains a right of every discoverer to prattle about his discovery in front of a listening audience. In any of those cases, it is okay for me to use „reason” as a pointer, a reference for comparison, to draw a clear picture of what is removed from "reason" by its very definition. And what I mean, as you've correctly guessed by now is the very act of Belief.
Got it! (?)
Just as the system of sun, planets and comets is put in motion by the forces of gravity, and its parts persist in their motions so the smaller systems of bodies also seem to be set in motion by other forces and their particles to be variously moved in relation to each other and, especially, by the electric force.
– Sir Isaac Newton
To a logical positivist (materialist), Reality is the world of objects that he perceives. That view puts perception as axiom, i. e. it states that we should believe our senses.
The problem is, we all are, up to a point, enmeshed in that view. It's great temptation to see observable things as really there because it is so, well, practical. We become lured into believing that events logically result from other events, and that some keys fit certain holes, only because very often it simply works. For example, there was something wrong with my car and I gave it to the workshop. Now it runs smoothly as ever and the workshop owner says they have exchanged something inside which he calls intake manifold gasket. Whatever, but my goal was achieved!. The little thingy was found responsible for the problem, and thus the problem ceased. So, indeed, sometimes we need to just understand what went wrong.
Discussion remains an essential part of that paradigm. It is a form of splitting hair, while looking for the reasons. Risk is that we often find even more reasons at the bottom of the first layer, and then comparing it all to itself, calibrating, trying to find out whose reasons remain more reason-able and why, might turn tedious. People who developed a gift of intuition (or what I sometimes refer to as Inner Voice) often find their need to discuss greatly diminished. It is not to say it is completely out of he curriculum, for we still need to discuss what food products to buy, what food to cook, what to repair and a whole lot of things we need to understand clearly do in order to live. However, we begin seeing how much unnecessary discussion we spend our time on in the past. Discussion is a great „eater” of time. If it is a constructively used time, very well, but very often we discover, that rying to find a consensus in something serves us as excuse, numbing the mind to other, much more vital necessities. A vague constatation begins to appear: wouldn't it just be better in such cases to do something constructive with our lives, without first asking the „permission” of others? There are two questios that follow. First, are we willing to make a change in our life? Second, are we actually sure of what we preach?
The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not “the thinker.” The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken. (www.azquotes.com...)
– Eckhart Tolle
It is tempting to arrange our lives around reasonable guidelines, but this not always seems to work. Let's say you think you know what is best for your 17 year old.. It is not enough then just to understand the seeming solutions to a problem as you conceive of it. The young person, by the way, is highly probable to see it otherwise. There is a whole separate skill of seeing the issue from another person's perspective. Then, there is another, although related skill of penetrating the obvious and finding what's underneath.
The young man or woman might not even know what subject to choose as a topic for his five year study. The practical perspective of his parents, as useful as it might turn, will surely not be enough. What is needed would be the sensitivity to penetrate ones own depths and answer questions about ones own liking. What do I really like to do in life? Where do I feel drawn? These are not easy, and the answers remain often quite surprising to the rational mind. There is a whole new area called introspection, quite different to what we call common sense or logic. Is developed in us, in a way, alongside, or independently, of our discursive and logical capacities.
Introspection, penetrates into big and important arenas of our lives. It is tackling the crucial problem of life's choices and the satisfaction derived herewith. What should we do in order to be happy? Why some people who achieved a lot in the material sense, cannot say they are at peace with life? This kind of inquiry is known to undermine the very basis of what we consider our sense of rationality. We might have a job that leaves us unfulfilled, because we do not pursue in it our truest talents. We can write books but remain unpopular, for lack of emotional connection with the audience. Or we could have great family but no quiet time for ourselves. All these and many similar problems call for solutions not in the realms of cause and effect, but in the very motivations and attitudes that are going on inside our minds.
Reality sometimes takes on this very specific meaning. Moments in life come, when we are not concerned by the parts of our car, our insurance policy, or holiday plans. Instead we spend time trying to find out what's going on on the whole. Taught by bitter experience, we discover that the broad view is equally or even sometimes more important then the particular arrangements. This other kind of Reality, let's call it Reality II is often called en-lightenment - for it en-lightens us not in the realm of details, but in what can be called a big, opera-style picture of the whole. We can also call it a mystical experience or a state of spiritual sight.
Reality II asks: „Hey, what's really going on?”, or „Hey, do I have to see things that particular way?” It begins to occur in us when we temporarily undermine the logical understanding of our problems in hopes that it is not all, but part of the picture.
The quest for Reality II starts when you are not satisfied with words. You start looking for the a deeper meaning in anything you do. Is there deeper meaning, you ask, not a drug trip, not a dream journey, not an emotional high – but the experience that translates our chaotic daily hum-drum to a more holistic, integral paradigm?
Revelation induces complete but temporary suspension of doubt and fear. It reflects the original form of communication between God and His creations, involving the extremely personal sense of creation sometimes sought in physical relationships. Physical closeness cannot achieve it.
– A Course in Miracles – Chapter 1 – II. Revelation, Time and Miracles
Enlightenment is a complete state of communion with Truth. It cannot be described. It is a knowledge of perfection that comes from an utterly other perspective that we are used to in ordinary life. It is not ecstasy and it is not some kind of spiritual trance. Although it includes some form of pleasure, this comes mostly from lack of stress (attack) in our brain, and can thus be compared to a state of deep relief or rest. It's just that stress, which has been so far taken as self-evident necessity, now becomes suddenly removed - and the brain is naturally thankful. Nothing unusual really happens here, we just remain in a light-hearted, sweet-smelling silence and gratitude.
There is a very important point here - Enlightenment is not a state of mind. Well, for somebody who hasn't experienced it (or experienced something else and confused with it) it is tempting to assume it is. However, it will be an all wrong assumption. Once you experience enlightenment, you'll agree with me, but before that you must believe my word. Enlightenment is not something that happens in the mind, it is a cessation of mind as a whole. It shows beyond any doubt, that perception is not all, then a much higher level Reality is present here, and that we can access it via some way other than mind and senses.
This level is revealed to us in a way that is best called revelation. It is silently obvious, obviously passing beyond logical explanation. But you must experience it to know. That's how the idea of faith (or belief) came into operation. Those who experience enlightenment, know what it is, but others can only believe. The discussion, by the way, is completely pointless. Not because „one does not discuss about beliefs”, but because no belief can actually reflect what is, ultimately, true.
Enlightenment remains rational in the sense that it doesn't change anything that you see (doesn't exacerbate, pump up with pleasure, look down on, interpret, or intellectualize). Everything stays precisely as it is. At the same, all thought and thought-related pressure is removed so you can experience Reality in its bare nakedness, unmediated by the pro's and con's of discussion. There are no separate objects now, just as there are no separate thoughts. There is only consciousness mirroring everything gently, in the state of very natural, very fresh awe and inspiration. You feel completely connected to all things, while remaining at ease, lightly humorous and sure that this is it.
This state is so difficult to describe because it is uncomparable to anything else we have seen or known. And yet, it is also very familiar, i.e. we reach a level of understanding that we all longed for, that was promised to us since the beginning, and having which we finally cease to question the sense of things as they are. We do seem to touch the universal level 0, and the experience remains overpoweringly there. More there than anything else I have heard or known.
Finally, it is quite rare that enlightenment remains permanent. For most people it starts as short flashes of timelessness that then can be prolonged to longer meditative encounters. Those finally begin to radiate to the rest of our day with intensity that gradually increases as you awake. The timelessness begins to means what is does: that there indeed is no time. Time, logic and mind fade away, and enlightennment stays as the only Reality.
Understanding vs experiencing
Revelation is intensely personal and cannot be meaningfully translated. That is why any attempt to describe it in words is impossible. Revelation induces only experience.
– A Course in Miracles – Chapter 1 – II. Revelation, Time and Miracles
Both the logical positivism and enlightenment, are actually interested in Reality. They want to know what it is. The thing is they have different ways of measuring it. The first would like to „understand” it, while the other is looks for the „experience”. While logic aims to understand how the Reality was brought about by other realities around us, the spiritual experience wants to penetrate how such understanding was made possible by ourselves in our own mind.
The positivist outlook intends to comprehend Reality by comparing it to other realities that are accepted a priori, from the witness of mind and senses. At a later instance, later generation perhaps, someone might want to analyze also these formerly a priori accepted concepts. This can and often does undermine a lot of the reasoning done so far, which is a big drawback of rationalism when looked at from an eagle's view. This way, the process of explaining Reality can go on and on and will rarely reach ultimate certainty. Always there will be elements „yet to be explained” and always there will be new theories abolishing the old.
This is life. We have a brain for a specific purpose to understand the material reality around, to survive in it and to build our future. We need to collect data, reason about the bits of puzzle, and accept the fact that we will never have the whole picture. We would require hundreds of thousands of years to make it complete, which is called „evolution” or „civilization”.
The problem every organism on the evolutionary ladder, as well as every civilization in the Universe always will have, is fact that there is always something missing. „Holistic experience” is about filling that gap. It is not so much stretched in time as it is happening now. It collapses the need for evolution, because it shows that the actual Reality has nothing to do with Time or Space. It has nothing to do with understanding or convincing anybody about anything. It lies in asking oneself, in a contemplative way, what is the nature of knowing. „What is the nature of my observing it?” I want to know and I have no time to wait! I am looking for a wordless revelation coming to me all at once, in which all questions cease. The answer is then obvious: there is a Higher Force at work here. It is beyond the small efforts of man, and yet it is very tangibly present, and offering solutions, if only we are willing to hear.
The text was first published on Author's blog: www.doorwaystheory.com