September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Because science only deals with relationships, the scientist can only understand consciousness in relation to objects. The scientific mind therefore explains consciousness in terms of its content. To science there is only one type of consciousness: consciousness with an object and with a subject.
In meditation we turn our awareness away from the object back to the subject. Meditation enables us to know consciousness without an object. Consciousness without an object but with a subject is Nirvana. As Subject, you are Nirvana.
Nirvana is not an object. It is not a place you enter. It is you as undefined, pure subjectivity.
Beyond Nirvana there is consciousness without an object and without a subject. This is Pure Consciousness.
Pure Consciousness is indefinable because definitions demand the use of objects. It is therefore not knowable in any conventional sense of the word because “to know” involves an act of a subject knowing an object.
Definitions of consciousness do, of course, exist. But if you look closely you’ll see that the definition either makes use of a subtle object or defines consciousness in terms of itself. A common example of the latter is to define consciousness as the power of awareness. But what is awareness if it is not consciousness?
Defining consciousness is not unlike defining time. A physicist will tell you time is impossible to define without referring to it in your definition. For instance, time is a measurement of “how long” (a reference to time) it takes for an object to move (movement involves a subtle notion of time) from one place in space to another (and space, as Einstein taught us, is inseparable from time). But just as we all know what time is even if we can’t define it, we all have some knowledge of what consciousness is, even if we can’t properly define it, either.
Consciousness without an object and without a subject is Emptiness.
Where there are no objects or form, and where there is no subject or self (i.e., the Buddhist notion of anatman) there can only be emptiness. But though it appears as empty, Consciousness Is!
In many ways, trying to define Pure Consciousness is like trying to define Pure Love. You can’t, because Pure Love also transcends both the subject and the object. One can only grasp at it, as did Elizabeth Barrett Browning when she wrote that love is the depth and breadth and height one’s soul can reach,
“…when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.”
(Number 43, Sonnets from the Portuguese)
Meditation to know one’s true nature is this same “feeling out of sight” for Being which knows no end because it has no beginning. And it is ultimately only through ideal Grace that we come to recognize our true nature as Pure Consciousness and Pure Love.
September 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
Smoke from a pipe drifts in the September air.
All about, monks are engaged in rigorous training.
For some time a servant in the temple has been neglecting his main job of preparing meals. He’s been doing zazen.
Some days ago he entered a deep Samadhi. Other monks kept an eye on him until finally, after three days; he got up from his zazen cushion.
“He had penetrated the heart and marrow of the Dharma,” writes Hakuin in a 1734 letter. “And had attained an ability to clearly see the karma of his previous lives.”
He went to the head priest but before he could set forth his entire realization the priest said, “Stop! Stop! The rest is something I have yet to experience. If you explain it to me, I’m afraid it might obstruct my own entrance into enlightenment.”
Hsiang-yen was quite learned in the Buddhist sutras but for years he made little headway in his meditations. He made up his mind to leave the temple and take up residence in a solitary hermitage. When he left, his teacher Kuei-shan didn’t even look at him.
One day a tile picked up by the broom hit a bamboo stalk and Hsiang-yen was immediately enlightened. After this he said, “It is not my late teacher’s religious virtue I revere. I revere the fact that he never once explained everything to me.”
It is with these events in mind that I pray the blunderings written here in “August Meditations” not lead you off the path.