Question: Does ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness’ have a source, eg. is the actual brain organ the source of all manifestations and sensations? Or is consciousness primary and the ground of existence?
Tom: I don’t know the answer to that question. I only know about ending suffering. When suffering ends, one could say that all there is is consciousness, as this is the undivided experience, but this is only an experiential truth, not a scientific one, and so your actual question remains unanswered.
Jiddu Krishnamurti used words in a very specific and often unusual way. He, generally speaking, uses the word ‘attention’ to signify awareness without the presence of the ego or chooser, and therefore without resistance or direction. Below is an example, taken from The Book of Life, June 12th:
What do we mean by attention? Is there attention when I am forcing my mind to attend? When I say to myself, “I must pay attention, I must control my mind and push aside all other thoughts,” would you call that attention? Surely that is not attention.
What happens when the mind forces itself to pay attention? It creates a resistance to prevent other thoughts from seeping in; it is concerned with resistance, with pushing away; therefore it is incapable of attention. That is true, is it not?
To understand something totally you must give your complete attention to it. But you will soon find out how extraordinarily difficult that is, because your mind is used to being distracted, so you say, “By Jove, it is good to pay attention, but how am I to do it?” That is, you are back again with the desire to get something, so you will never pay complete attention. … When you see a tree or a bird, for example, to pay complete attention is not to say, ”That is an oak,” or, “That is a parrot,” and walk by.
In giving it a name you have already ceased to pay attention… Whereas, if you are wholly aware, totally attentive when you look at something, then you will find that a complete transformation takes place, and that total attention is the good.
There is no other, and you cannot get total attention by practice. With practice you get concentration, that is, you build up walls of resistance, and within those walls of resistance is the concentrator, but that is not attention, it is exclusion.
Continuing the series of Krishnamurti posts this week, the following is written by Jiddu Krishnamurti, taken from BULLETIN 4, 1969:
The physical organism has its own intelligence, which is made dull through habits of pleasure. These habits destroy the sensitivity of the organism, and this lack of sensitivity makes the mind dull.
Such a mind may be alert in a narrow and limited direction and yet be insensitive. The depth of such a mind is measurable and is caught by images and illusions. Its very superficiality is its only brightness.
A light and intelligent organism is necessary for meditation. The interrelationship between the meditative mind and its organism is a constant adjustment in sensitivity; for meditation needs freedom.
Freedom is its own discipline. In freedom alone can there be attention. To be aware of inattention is to be attentive.
Complete attention is love. It alone can see, and the seeing is the doing.
The body-mind entity can accept, reject or be indifferent to things. This is relative acceptance and is an action that can be performed. Awareness is all-accepting, always embracing ‘what is’. This is total/absolute acceptance and is not something that you can do, but something that can be recognised as already being here.
Awareness cannot accept or reject anything, as it does nothing. It just is: present and aware. All actions occur at the level of the body and mind (and world).
Awareness could be said to unconditonally/choicelessly ‘accept’ everything that occurs within it, in the same way a mirror ‘choicelessly accepts’ the reflection within it.
…but actually, as this example illustrates, the mirror-like awareness is not actually doing anything apart from ‘being itself’.
In the way I speak about this, awareness cannot identify with anything. It is only the mind that identifies with/as the mind.
Or to put it differently, thought imagines it’s a thinker and believes itself.
Awareness is ever-free, just like the mirror in the example above
Through identifying with choiceless awareness/consciousness for sometime, the ego/doer is seen through and no longer identified with. Then the identification as being choiceless awareness/consciousness also can be dropped.
What we are left with is ‘just this’: simple, direct, beyond words. This is the ‘realm beyond verbal teachings’. Here the apparent duality conceptualised by differentiating (viveka) between that-which-changes (objects) and that which doesn’t change in our experience (the subject, I) is resolved into non-duality.
I have often seen people talk and write about various levels of reality. Typically, they talk of the level of the absolute and the level of the relative. On the level of the absolute, everything is one, so they say. Whereas on the relative level, the level of being a person different rules apply. On the relative level differentiation exists, we talk to each other, we love one another, we get annoyed and irritated, we buy fast-food from time to time, and yet ultimately, at the highest and truest level we are told this is all oneness.
Well let me start off by saying that I reject the notion of levels of reality. I think reality has various aspects, but not levels per se. Now this may seem like a minor difference, a play of semantics if you will, but let me explain the difference.
Talking about the same thing in different ways
When I say reality has various aspects, all I really mean is that there are various ways you can talk about reality – actually there are various ways you can talk about anything. That doesn’t mean there are different levels of reality.
Lets take a simple example: lets take a human body. You can talk about a human body in different ways. You can talk about it in terms of its size: you can say it is big, small, medium. You can talk about its age: is it a young or older body. You can talk about it in terms of organ systems such as the cardiovascular system or digestive system and how they function and describe the body that way, or you can talk about its anatomy and how various parts of it fit together. You can talk about the body’s name and culture – eg. maybe it is called John and it comes from the United Kingdom, you can talk about its occupation. You could talk about its fashion sense, its muscularity…
…ok ok, hopefully you get the idea: there are different ways you can talk about things. There are different conceptual frameworks from where we can view the body. And this is true for anything. We can talk about a pebble in terms of its age, size, geology or how good it would be to skim on a lake’s surface. We can talk about a lake in terms of its scenic beauty, how choppy its water are, its phosphorus content, or remark how it is all made up (mainly) of water.
Now, how many levels does a body or a pebble have? It doesn’t actually have any levels at all – there is only one body or stone (in the above examples) – it’s just that we can talk about them in various ways. In the same way there are no levels in reality, just different ways of talking about it.
No particular conceptual framework is intrinsically higher than another
Also note that no particular way of talking about the body or a pebble is intrinsically better that any other way. It just depends on what you want the conceptual framework to achieve. For example, if you want to skim a stone on the surface of a lake, then it’s less useful to talk about the geology of the stone, and more useful to look at it in terms of its shape and size with respect to achieving your goal (skimming it across the lake). You can’t legitimately claim that one way of viewing something is intrinsically higher and another way is lower, which is something you often hear when talking about ‘ultimate reality’ or the ‘highest level’. It just depends on how well the way you are conceptualising and viewing the object(s) in question fits in with your goal.
It depends on what you want to achieve
Similarly, it is not necessarily better to talk about the body in terms on physiology or organ systems compared to it’s occupation or fashion sense. As previously stated, it just depends on what you want to achieve. If the body has a disease, then understanding the physiology and how to correct any imbalance or defect in this is useful. Conversely if you are going out on a first date, then perhaps a degree of fashion sense would be useful.
No paradoxes, no contradictions
Also there in no contradiction in talking about a single object in different ways depending on the context. There is no paradox that a stone has both an age and a shape, or that a river is a single system made up of a variety of different things, all of which are in motion. There is a consistent underlying reality that underpins the various ways we talk about it. No contradiction or paradox at all.
Different ways of talking about the same experience
Remember, what we are talking about here is our experience of reality. Our reality is our experience – that’s all we know. We can talk about how everything we perceive is non-different to our consciousness, and we can also talk of how things interact within this consciousness, and the rules and consequences thereof. These are just different ways of talking about our experience and our experiences. No particular way is higher or lower, and there are no actual ‘levels’ that exist apart from our conceptualisations.
The description is not the described
We can chose how to conceptually carve up and talk about our experiential reality in order to achieve certain specific aims. To that end these conceptual maps are useful and often necessary. However we must not mistake any particular conceptual map of (our experience of) reality for reality, just as no particular way of describing the body is the body itself.