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Problems with the Study of Objectless Consciousness

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I've been going through Advaitic sources again, which at a certain level, are not unlike Zen sources. Both of them discuss the formless mind or objectless consciousness.

 

Shankara is pretty clear in Drg Drska that when he is discussing objectless consciousness, he is talking about our "witness" and not necessarily a state (i.e. nirvikalpa samadhi).

 

There are several problems in this area:

 

1. Objectless consciousness is not an object.

 

Objects, for humans, are sensory. They have color, sound, or touch sensations to them. OC has no color, no sound, and no feel.

 

Objects include thoughts, feelings, moods, intellect, memory, etc.

 

2. Objectless consciousness cannot be compared to an object.

 

I think there is a lot of confusion by comparing OC with light, space, and so on. Because it lacks any object qualities, it cannot really be compared to an object. To even call it a "witness" is to turn it from objectless consciousness into an object.

 

Words are simply objects in verbal form. Which is why OC can't really be discussed.

 

3. Objects are not apart from objectless consciousness.

 

Just like light and seeing cannot be understood apart from each other, all objects are "known" via objectless consciousness. So while OC is not an object, it is not apart from objects either.

 

Understood in this way, most questions/problems turn OC into an object.

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......................

 

Shankara is pretty clear in Drg Drska that when he is discussing objectless consciousness, he is talking about our "witness" and not necessarily a state (i.e. nirvikalpa samadhi).

 

I'd disagree with that - but we're almost certainly looking at different sources. :)

 

A witness implies subject/object duality. Consciousness does not.

 

Also, nirvikalpa samadhi isn't a "state", as it's timeless and objectless (as is savikalpa samadhi because although objects (and therefore time) appear to be present the apparent objects are not seen to be separate from the Self and it's seen that there is only this Present moment).

 

There are several problems in this area:

 

1. Objectless consciousness is not an object.

 

Objects, for humans, are sensory. They have color, sound, or touch sensations to them. OC has no color, no sound, and no feel.

 

Objects include thoughts, feelings, moods, intellect, memory, etc.

 

Cannot disagree with that but seeing this isn't a problem - it's an important intermediate step.

 

2. Objectless consciousness cannot be compared to an object.

 

I think there is a lot of confusion by comparing OC with light, space, and so on. Because it lacks any object qualities, it cannot really be compared to an object. To even call it a "witness" is to turn it from objectless consciousness into an object.

 

Words are simply objects in verbal form. Which is why OC can't really be discussed.

 

I'd disagree with some of that, I'm afraid. We can use analogies and everyone knows Consciousness - it's that which is reading these words. Everyone Know that they Exist and that they Know (that they Exist) (i.e. Sat Chit). Consciousness Knowing Itself = Self-Illuminating.

 

3. Objects are not apart from objectless consciousness.

 

Just like light and seeing cannot be understood apart from each other, all objects are "known" via objectless consciousness. So while OC is not an object, it is not apart from objects either.

 

Understood in this way, most questions/problems turn OC into an object.

 

Cannot disagree with that.

 

And thank you for an extremely interesting and thought-provoking post - the Advaita Forum's been a bit of a barren desert lately. :)

 

Also, in looking for Drg Drska, which friends have refererred to before but which I'd never read myself previously, I also came across this video, which may help others unfamiliar with what you're discussing here: -

 

Edited by gatito

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Shankara is pretty clear in Drg Drska that when he is discussing objectless consciousness, he is talking about our "witness" and not necessarily a state (i.e. nirvikalpa samadhi).

 

I think this is a very good point. Using terms like "witness" can also be dangerous, once one thinks "I am the witness", they have slipped into object land. I like the term "background field of awareness".

 

:)

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Re: Nirvikalpa samadhi

 

Again, I suppose it depends on the source.

 

From Atmananda:

 

 

1034. ACTIONS (56)

Two distinct kinds of actions have been employed in order to visualize the Truth. They are called voluntary and involuntary, with reference to the attitude of the mind.

1. The voluntary action makes the mind active and tries to comprehend Truth as its object. This path is evidently doomed to failure, since it can never take you beyond objective truth.

Nirvikalpa samadhi is the highest experience that can result from such action. It is preceded by an intense effort. In the relative level, this effort may well be considered to be the cause and nirvikalpa samadhi its legitimate effect. So nirvikalpa samadhi is limited by causality. The yogin admits that he goes into nirvikalpa samadhi and comes out of it. Therefore it is also limited by time. In order to get into nirvikalpa samadhi, the body is necessary for the yogin to start with. Therefore nirvikalpa samadhi is also limited by space. Thus nirvikalpa samadhi clearly forms part of the phenomenal.

 

2. The involuntary action is the other type. This is spontaneous and objectless. It comes over you involuntarily; you yield to it and merge into it. In its progress, the mind gets relaxed and ultimately disappears, leaving you to yourself all alone.

This experience denotes the real significance of the term 'deep sleep'. The interval between two mentations is another instance of involuntary action. You stand as yourself alone in both these experiences, but you do not cease to be the same Reality, yourself, in the so called dream and waking states. Therefore you do not ever go into or come out of deep sleep, and it is uncaused.

 

Hence deep sleep, if correctly understood, is evidently your real nature. It is, strictly speaking, no state at all; and is far beyond any samadhi.

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I've been going through Advaitic sources again, which at a certain level, are not unlike Zen sources. Both of them discuss the formless mind or objectless consciousness.

 

Shankara is pretty clear in Drg Drska that when he is discussing objectless consciousness, he is talking about our "witness" and not necessarily a state (i.e. nirvikalpa samadhi).

 

There are several problems in this area:

 

1. Objectless consciousness is not an object.

 

Objects, for humans, are sensory. They have color, sound, or touch sensations to them. OC has no color, no sound, and no feel.

 

Objects include thoughts, feelings, moods, intellect, memory, etc.

 

2. Objectless consciousness cannot be compared to an object.

 

I think there is a lot of confusion by comparing OC with light, space, and so on. Because it lacks any object qualities, it cannot really be compared to an object. To even call it a "witness" is to turn it from objectless consciousness into an object.

 

Words are simply objects in verbal form. Which is why OC can't really be discussed.

 

3. Objects are not apart from objectless consciousness.

 

Just like light and seeing cannot be understood apart from each other, all objects are "known" via objectless consciousness. So while OC is not an object, it is not apart from objects either.

 

Understood in this way, most questions/problems turn OC into an object.

 

OC is simply OC. Without any object. Why complicate things? When thoughts have ceased (or as in the extending gap between thoughts) is OC. When they start again (thoughts ie) it is not OC any longer.

 

Of course objects are apart from Objectless Consciousness. When Objects are a part of OC, it is not OC anymore. That's not to say that they are "separate" (going by Advaita terms), they are projections.

 

That's of course the humble opinion of this dumb advaitin.

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Because you've now transformed something that is always present into a state that is attained and lost.

 

OC is simply OC. Without any object. Why complicate things? When thoughts have ceased (or as in the extending gap between thoughts) is OC. When they start again (thoughts ie) it is not OC any longer.

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Here is a link to the Drg Drsya if anyone wants to look.

 

http://archive.org/d...viveka030903mbp

 

Thanks, I'll have a look at that.

 

Re: Nirvikalpa samadhi

 

Again, I suppose it depends on the source.

 

From Atmananda:

 

Yes; it not only depends on the source but on the context and I'm going to stick to my guns on this one because regarding nirvikalpa samadhi, I don't need to go to a secondary source; I'm speaking (or rather writing :) ) from my own knowledge.

 

Regarding the specific Atmananda quote: Notes on Spiritual Discourses Taken by Nitya Tripta. Note 1034. ACTIONS, I've a couple of comments/suggestions that you may wish to consider : -

  • Notes on Spiritual Discourses suffers from the absence of the questions that were asked, so that the replies cannot be matched to the context of the specific question, which in this case appears to have been primarily about "Action" rather than primarily about nirvikalpa samadhi, which is definitely not limited by time.
  • Direct Path teachings rely on provisional truths which address the specific issuses of the sadhaka and therefore the answers should be viewed from this perspective - they are often apparently contradiuctory and Sri Atmananda makes it clear that he''s speaking from the relative level (as opposed to a more absolute level) in his answer.
  • Given that I'm an anonymous poster on an internet forum and that you've never met me in person, I can understand that you may (sensibly) view my comments about nirvikalpa samadhi with a degree of healthy skepticism. This being the case, I'd suggest that you might want to go directly to Atma Darshan, as a more advanced (absolute) level of Sri Atmananda's teachings. You will see immediately that it contradicts the Notes (Atma Darshan Chapter 5. Deep Sleep, Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Natural State)

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OC is simply OC. Without any object. Why complicate things?.....

 

...........

 

Perhaps because if you go to a more advanced teaching too soon and miss out the intermediate steps, it's unhelpful to the sadhaka (like Neo-Advaita)?

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"That's not to say that they are "separate" (going by Advaita terms), they are projections" from Implicate order.

 

Your sentence is along the lines of how I to would allude.... An image that one might also use is that of an electrical transformer that can flow either way, but instead of electricity we have "Spirit" on one side and on the other side we have "mind" thus they have a connection; yet the Mystery of Spirit and the mystery of the tranformer can not be held by any power of mind, for mind is transformed (thus it's gone so to speak) if it dares enter back into this "first and last" transformer.

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Because you've now transformed something that is always present into a state that is attained and lost.

But it is not a matter of attainment or losing. It is a result of the limiting adjunct...or in shankara's terms - upadhi.

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Perhaps because if you go to a more advanced teaching too soon and miss out the intermediate steps, it's unhelpful to the sadhaka (like Neo-Advaita)?

 

What is Neo-Advaita and how does it differ from Advaita? Whom is teaching Neo-Advaita?

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What is Neo-Advaita and how does it differ from Advaita? Whom is teaching Neo-Advaita?

 

Here's a good working definition of Neo-advaita: -

 

"Teaching which does not recognize the existence of teacher, seeker, path, etc and which attempts to communicate the nature of reality directly."

(from www.advaita.org.uk/teachers/teachers.htm)

 

Advaita recognises the importance of teacher, seeker, path etc. and it encourages the seeker to investigate their own direct experience (as opposed to following a religion of nihilism and non-doing).

 

 

Whom is teaching Neo-Advaita?

 

Tony Parsons

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/hypnotic_parsons.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/neo_parsons.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/not_twoness_parsons.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/final_parsons.htm

 

Richard Sylvester

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/paths_sylvester.htm

 

Jeff Foster

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/jeff_dialog.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/silence_foster.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/walkrain_foster.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/oneness1_foster.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/oneness2_foster.htm

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/nihilism_foster.htm

 

Unmani

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/whatiam_unmani.htm

 

Nathan Gill

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/nomind_gill.htm

 

Sailor Bob

 

etc. etc........................ (ad infinitum smile.png )

Edited by gatito

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I believe this is exactly the problem. If you can make it into an object, it is not what you're looking for. Shankara points this out in the Drg Drsya.

 

Ramana Maharshi put it this way:

 

There is no goal to be reached. There is nothing to be attained. You are the Self. You exist always. Nothing more can be predicated of the Self that that it exists. Seeing God or the Self is only being the Self or yourself. Seeing is being. You, being the Self, want to know how to attain the Self. It is something lie a man being Ramanasramam asking how many ways there are to reach Ramanasramam and which is the best way for him. All that is required of you is to give up the thought that you are this body and to give up all thoughts of the external things or the not-Self.

 

 

What's good about the words ‚Äúobjectless consciousness‚ÄĚ is that they can only point you in one direction. If you see objects you're looking the wrong way.

 

However, to find this objectless consciousness, you will need to make the subject an object. I see no other way.

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Hi Boy,

"

However, to find this objectless consciousness, you will need to make the subject an object. I see no other way.

 

"

 

It is a very simple practice. You keep receeding into the self. You go backwards, or down. If you see an object, anything, a thought, a feeling, a sensation, you turn your attention around 180 degrees and move closer to the subject by "being" it, that which is watching. You keep doing that. Realize that the light is a reflection in the mirror and still keep going backwards. You will eventually pass through all the states, normal conscoiusness, the dreamstate, the light, the space..

 

Eventually, after practising this for a few hours per day for a few months, you will find that you don't sleep at night, or rather, your body and mind are sleeping, but you are there watching. But that "you" has no bounds. You have become a rather expanse of nothing but "you". It is quite unsettling, especially for one accustomed to sleeping..

 

To learn more about consciousness without an object and the technique of turning the attention around and receeding into the subject, I would read "The Flight of the Garuda". Or the practice of Dzogchen.

 

:)

TI

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@Tibetan_Ice: You are speaking of how to make the object a subject. Logically it should be the same thing, but it is not.

 

Hi Boy :)

Really? I think we may have a problem with words here.

 

From the Visuddhimagga:

 

[(4) THE BASE CONSISTING OF NEITHER PERCEPTION NOR NON-PERCEPTION]

40. When, however, he wants to develop the base consisting of neither

perception nor non-perception, he must first achieve mastery in the five ways in

the attainment of the base consisting of nothingness. Then he should see the

danger in the base consisting of nothingness and the advantage in what is

superior to it in this way: “This attainment has the base consisting of boundless

consciousness as its near enemy, and it is not as peaceful as the base consisting

of neither perception nor non-perception,‚ÄĚ or in this way: ‚ÄúPerception is a boil,

perception is a dart … this is peaceful, this is sublime, that is to say, neither

perception nor non-perception‚ÄĚ (M II 231). So having ended his attachment to

the base consisting of nothingness, he should give attention to the base consisting

of neither perception non non-perception as peaceful. He should advert again

and again to that attainment of the base consisting of nothingness that has

occurred making non-existence its object, adverting to it as ‚Äúpeaceful, peaceful,‚ÄĚ

and he should give his attention to it, review it and strike at it with thought and

applied thought.

41. As he directs his mind again and again on to that sign in this way, the

hindrances are suppressed, mindfulness is established, and his mind becomes

concentrated in access. He cultivates that sign again and again, develops and

repeatedly practices it. As he does so, consciousness belonging to the base

consisting of neither perception nor non-perception arises in absorption making

its object the four [mental] aggregates that constitute the attainment of the base

consisting of nothingness, just as the [consciousness belonging to the] base

consisting of nothingness did the disappearance of the [previous] consciousness.

And here too the method of explaining the absorption should be understood in

the way already described.

 

 

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=9_Jhanas

  1. Delightful Sensations
  2. Joy
  3. Contentment
  4. Utter peacefulness
  5. Infinity of space
  6. Infinity of consciousness
  7. No-thingness
  8. Neither perception nor non-perception
  9. Cessation

 

So, when you hit the 8'th jhana, what is the object if there is no more perception?

 

:)

TI

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It seems to that there's possibly some confusion about Consciousness.

 

Consciousness is simply "that which is reading these words".

 

Try examining Consciousness in the presence of objects first. See if you can find an edge or boundary to Consciousness; that's an extremely useful experiment. Most people believe that they have an individual, personal, limited Consciousness - there's no evidence for that. Where does your consciousness touch another person's consciousness? People often visualise consciousness as a bubble with an outside and an inside - it's not like that. Be open to the possibility that Consciousness is Universal (i.e. that there isn't more than one). Being open to that possibility and exploring it thoroughly is extremely powerful and liberating. However, don't take anyone's word for that - you must explore it yourself until you are sure that you can find no evidence for a separate individual, personal consciousnes. It's neither necessary (nor possible) to do it the other way around (that would involve thinking, which is necessarily dual). You've already seen that you cannot study Objectless Consciousness - don't get hung-up on that. :)

 

You can also explore deep sleep, as suggested by Sri Atmananda. John Levy goes into greater detail in The Nature of Man According to the Vedanta. You can also find further detailed discussion of deep sleep in written answers to questions on Rupert Spira's website. You may also find Ananda Wood's website useful : - www.advaitin.net/ananda/3States&1Real.htm (pdf here: - www.advaitin.net/ananda/3States&1Reality.pdf).

 

It's said that if you nail that prakriya; it alone is sufficient for Liberation.

 

Also, there isn't really a problem. :) Consciousness already Knows Itself. It's nature is Knowing/Being (Chit Sat). It never doesn't Know Itself. Take your stand as Consciousness (as opposed to body or mind) and you'll see that the Universe will confirm your stand.

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What is Neo-Advaita and how does it differ from Advaita? Whom is teaching Neo-Advaita?

 

Just came across this, which may shed further light: -

 

www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/trad_neo.htm

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.....................................

 

@gatito: Isn't that too a kind of deification?

 

You'd need to be a bit more specific. :)

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