Monday, February 12, 2007

What is the nature of consciousness? What is true in our experience?

We derive great meaning from the world we have constructed for ourselves but what is it, actually? What is 'being'?

Do the levels of meaning we ascribe to our experience have any reality at all?

We are human beings, we live in a world of symbols that we interpret constantly to exist in a civilised state. The symbols we've created divide us from reality, the language we've created to express these symbols and their interpretation to one another divides us further from reality. Our relationship with this world of symbols has a powerful effect on our psychophysical state.

When we say 'It is a dark and rainy morning - it makes me feel depressed' we are expressing a reaction to environment in words that convey something but nothing even approaching the reality of the situation. Indeed our very framing of the concept is based on so many conventions that it has ceased to mean very much at all. Our very experience is altered by our concepts such that experience in this context ceases to have the flavour of reality. However without our commonly agreed conventions of language and thought we cannot communicate. To be human is in part to be communicators. Our communication seems to be reductive and inaccurate to the point of nonsense. True experience is incommunicable in this way - true experience is a transmission, an exchange in reality with language and symbols merely a crude and superficial backdrop.

Even the most primitive of responses - to pain, to fear, to lust and so on are to a certain extent conditioned. We imagine them, as primordial instinct to be somehow pure and devoid of interpretation but this is not true. In this case we would have no irrational fears. even what we might call real fears like that of death is predicated on invention. We cannot know what death is but we associate it with pain and fear and the end of something. But, like life itself we cannot know death until we die but will we know it even then? We cannot penetrate the truth of experience with what we call and cherish as our human 'mind' we can only do it with our whole being. We can express our intention to experience reality by permitting the frenetic, driven movement of thought and will to become still, to fall away and in this to notice the nature which is essential.

At the heart of pain, of lust, of fear is something which does not feel pain, lust or fear, something still at the heart of movement, cool in the midst of heat, calm in the midst of fury, undying perhaps at the heart of dying. Beyond contradictions of this nature is something true that cannot be expressed, it may be the only truth. Peering over this parapet of conceptual safety is vertiginous but ultimately shatters preconceptions to reveal something quite different from concepts, shining in this moment of the present.

Un-processed experience is what a human being is before it begins to frame concepts about that experience and forever divide itself from an undivided consciousness which originally identifies it.

What is it, in itself, without anything else? Who can answer this?


Pierre Turlur said...

I like the questions in your text, brother in the dharma, unseen friend, I kind of agree with every word, I feel the gloomy rainy morning and yet IT has never been so beautiful, the legs and face and breasts of this woman are so inviting and yet, the universe making love to itself is my joy too, nobody can answer this, the silence and shout is IT too.

Thank you.

Michael Tait said...

'The legs and face and breasts of this woman' is this universe making love to itself, it is your joy too.

Pain crushes us and love sets us back on our feet and kisses us to remind us how foolish we are.

There are no preternaturally poised Zen monks - there is pain and there is joy and there is something that is neither pain nor joy but within every moment.

It's very good to read you so happy.