‘The Professor and ‘I’’
Notes on Spiritual Awareness by Peter
‘Awareness = ‘I’’ by a A. Deikman,
PETER: Hi Alan,
Just a note, and a bit of chat. We have had a good bit of de-bunking of the spiritual lately on the list, so I was interested to come across a piece on Awareness written by a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at California University. It indicates very clearly that spiritual concepts are not confined to those living in Ashrams or those following Gurus on the so-called spiritual path. The professions involved in studying the psyche, consciousness, human behaviour, brain functioning, etc. have a deep-seated and inherent spiritual viewpoint – after all they are studying the ‘spirit’, the ethereal entity that dwells within every human body. Jung and Freud, for example, were both steeped in Eastern mysticism, but then again, so is the whole of Western science and philosophy. Science and philosophy only emerged from the incestuous bosom of the church in Europe in the Middle Ages and, after some valiant attempts at independence, eventually came under the fashionable influence of Eastern religious thought in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
So, it’s useful to shine our torch on the ‘mainstream’ and see what is on offer in comparison with the words of the Gurus that can often be too easily dismissed as the more ‘lunatic fringe’ of Eastern spirituality.
It’s a fairly long piece, so I’ll break it up to comment on it as the Professor’s story unfolds –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Awareness = ‘I’
We seem to have numerous ‘I’s. There is the I of ‘I want’, the I of ‘I wrote a letter’, the I of ‘I am a psychiatrist’ or ‘I am thinking’. But there is another I that is basic, that underlies desires, activities and physical characteristics.All quotes from: Arthur Deikman, Journal of Consciousness Studies: http://www.imprint.co.uk/online/Deikman.html
PETER: So, very quickly we have located the psychological ‘I’, and he defines it well. It is beyond ‘desire’, and I assume he means physical desires such as food, warmth, comfort and sex (and hot showers), beyond ‘activities’ like going for a walk, shopping, having a chat or typing a letter, and beyond ‘physical characteristics’ such as the sensately evidenced, solid, verifiable, factual, active, vibrant, tangible, see-able, feel-able, smell-able, hear-able, down-to-earth, sensual, actual world, here in space and now in time. Beyond people, things and events.
Note also the dis-association from the process of thinking, as in: ‘I’ am not my thoughts. This is to completely negate what the brain does as its business. The brain thinks, just as heart pumps blood and the liver ‘livers’ (or filters the body’s wastes or whatever it does). What absolute nonsense to deny the brain and its functioning! Basically, the human body is a walking brain and sense organs. In fact, the brain and the sense organs are one – the eyes are the seeing stalks of the brain, the ears are hearing cones of the brain, the nose is the sniffing snout, the mouth its taster and the skin its direct interface as in touch and feel. The brain and body are one and part of the brain’s job is to think and reflect. It is the sole function that distinguishes the human animal from the rest of sentient beings. How do you deny all that and shut it all down?
By sitting in the corner with your eyes closed, of course, and then go into your feelings and imagination. But I’m in danger of digressing, so I’ll put the professor back on –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: This ‘I’ is the subjective sense of our existence.
PETER: It sure is. Subjective as in –
And from the Oxford Thesaurus – subjective as in – ‘personal, personalized, individual, biased, prejudiced, bigoted’
The Thesaurus particularly sums up ‘I’ very well. ‘I’ can only have a subjective sense of the actual world, for ‘I’ look out through these eyes, ‘I’ hear through these ears, ‘I’ touch with this skin, ‘I’ taste with this tongue, ‘I’ smell through this nose – for ‘I’ am located inside my head. The little man, or woman, inside the head who is pulling the levers and desperately trying to control ‘the show’. Given that ‘I’ exist inside my head (and heart), ‘I’ can only have a subjective view of the world and certainly not a direct sensate experience of what is actual. But the professor is searching for a new basic ‘I’ – one that is still subjective in essence but now even more so.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: It is different from self-image, the body, passions, fears, social category – these are aspects of our person that we usually refer to when we speak of the self, but they do not refer to the core of our conscious being. They are not the origin of our sense of personal existence.
PETER: Okay, so this ‘basic underlying ‘I’, ... the subjective sense of our existence’, has got nothing to do with the ‘I’ who is selfish, self-obsessed and neurotic, and has got nothing to do with the flesh and blood body and its sensate experience, its instinctual passions and fears. This ‘basic underlying ‘I’’ is different from the normal ‘I’ that we think and feel ourselves to be and ‘that we usually refer to when we speak of the self.’ What we see is the emergence of a second ‘I’ – a second identity. But let’s face it; the first one wasn’t so hot given what a bastard it could be at times. ‘It’ got angry, pissed off, spiteful, moody, sad, lonely ... in short it was lost, lonely, frightened and very, very cunning. Thus a quick change of identity is a tempting option. Particularly when deep down inside we feel an alien on the planet – it’s a tough world ‘I’ live in – this real world. ‘I’ resent having to be here and forever long for better future where my dreams can come true. As you get older you realise that normal life in the real world is always a struggle and then, as you start to get closer to death, the promise of a life after death gets more and more seductive. Words like ‘core’, ‘origin’ and ‘existence’ start to resonate in the heart as one looks for meaning in life and death.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Stop for a moment and look inside. Try to sense the very origin of your most basic, most personal ‘I’, your core subjective experience. What is that root of the ‘I’ feeling? Try to find it.
PETER: You have to remember that this is a professor of clinical psychiatry talking here and not a mystic. To find this new ‘I’, the real ‘I’, the core of ‘my’ being, one is encouraged to try to sense the very origin, to discover the root of this feeling. We are enticed to go looking inside for a new basic ‘I’ that is different from the old ugly and evil one. Can you imagine what we will find, particularly if we have a little gentle guidance and a few seductive suggestions?
But I am jumping ahead of the professor and I don’t want to pre-empt his findings on this inner search –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: When you introspect you will find that no matter what the contents of your mind, the most basic ‘I’ is something different.
PETER: So, we are also enticed to abandon thinking and thoughts.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Every time you try to observe the ‘I’ it takes a jump back with you, remaining out of sight.
PETER: This is obviously the ‘going deeper’ stage. And it might be a good time to leave the professor for now as this post is getting a bit long and other pleasures beckon me. But I’ll follow up on the rest of his article in future posts, as it is useful to look at the mainstream views of consciousness, awareness and the ‘real’ self. The good bit is when he gets to describe awareness and I haven’t even got to that yet, as I’ve had so much fun on the way through.
Stay tuned – this could well end up an episodic periodical of tantalizing, tautological terrific-ness.
PETER: There’s a bit of a gap in work at the moment, the list was down, so I thought I’d continue with the Professor of Clinical Psychology and his understanding of awareness. You may remember from the last post we left him looking inside in order to find the most basic ‘I’. To recap where we left him –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Stop for a moment and look inside. Try to sense the very origin of your most basic, most personal ‘I’, your core subjective experience. What is that root of the ‘I’ feeling? Try to find it. When you introspect you will find that no matter what the contents of your mind, the most basic ‘I’ is something different. Every time you try to observe the ‘I’ it takes a jump back with you, remaining out of sight.
PETER: And then he continues on –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: At first you may say, ‘When I look inside as you suggest, all I find is content of one sort or the other.’ I reply, ‘Who is looking? Is it not you? If that ‘I’ is a content, can you describe it? Can you observe it?’ The core ‘I’ of subjectivity is different from any content because it turns out to be that which witnesses – not that which is observed.
PETER: Now we have this core ‘I’ of subjectivity, which ... is different from any content. Content is a defined in the Oxford as ‘The totality of the constituents of a person’s experience at any particular moment’. He has already defined his version of this content previously when he alleged this core ‘I’ has nothing to do with the ‘I’ who is selfish, self-obsessed and neurotic and has nothing to do with the flesh and blood body and its sensate experience, instinctual passions and fears.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: The ‘I’ can be experienced, but it cannot be ‘seen’. ‘I’ is the observer, the experiencer, prior to all conscious content.
PETER: Now here comes an apparently subtle, but not insignificant, shuffle to declaring that not only is this new ‘I’, the experiencer, different from the normal ‘I’, but the word ‘prior’ is introduced. Just a hint that this ‘I’, the observer, existed before conscious content and one assumes he means before birth but he could be hinting at an order of rank: as in higher, pre-eminent or real compared with illusionary. We shall see where he is leading us on this ‘inner’ journey –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Introspection and Subjectivity
When we use introspection to search for the origin of our subjectivity, we find that the search for ‘I’ leaves the customary aspects of personhood behind and takes us closer and closer to awareness, per se.
PETER: So, we have an introspective search going on – a looking inwards for the real ‘me’. We leave the rotten old ‘me’ behind and the physical, mortal body and the real world and go off looking ‘inside’ in a search for the origin. And we come closer to awareness per se; in other words, not an awareness of something but awareness itself. This act of being aware – awareness itself – takes precedent over and supersedes the customary aspects of personhood – such as mortality, sexuality, fear, aggression, sorrow, malice, resentment, growing old, etc.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: If this process of introspective observation is carried to its conclusion, even the background sense of core subjective self disappears into awareness. Thus, if we proceed phenomenologically, we find that the ‘I’ is identical to awareness: ‘I’ = awareness.
PETER: Thus, as one carries this process on to its conclusion, any personal sense of self disappears as the new ‘I’ becomes the watcher of the other ‘I’ – the one who is selfish, self-obsessed and neurotic, and this new watcher has got nothing to do with the flesh and blood body and its sensate experience, instinctual passions and fears. One proceeds phenomenologically as in
Thus ‘proceeding phenomenologically’ is to abandon facts and common sense and opt for pure intuition and as such we opt out of the real world of people, things and events and we become the awareness of these phenomena. Thus ‘I’ am not my feelings, ‘I’ am not my thoughts, ‘I’ am not my body, ‘I’ have nothing to do with the real world – ‘I’ am awareness only.
All this does nothing but more strongly confirm that ‘I’ am a disembodied entity who has taken up residency in this flesh and blood body. At its most basic this new stripped-down ‘I’ is really just the awareness of what is going on around me. Thus, the real world appears as an illusion or a picture show that ‘I’ am watching, initially from inside this body, but then even this bodily phenomena disappears into awareness itself. Thus ‘I’ = awareness = nothing at all to do with the real world of people, things and events and most definitely nothing to do with this flesh and blood body. Complete and utter dis-association is the result.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Awareness
Awareness is something apart from, and different from, all that of which we are aware: thoughts, emotions, images, sensations, desires and memory. Awareness is the ground in which the mind’s contents manifest themselves; they appear in it and disappear once again.
PETER: The Professor goes on to confirm this being ‘apart from’ and being ‘different from’. This new ‘I’ ‘is apart from, and different from,’ anything the other ‘I’ thinks, feels, senses, sees, touches, remembers, desires, worries about, etc. It’s a pretty cosy little set-up, especially if one keeps one’s eyes closed and withdraws from the senses. Desires like sex have always proved a tough hurdle for the inner journeyers, and going out into the real world can often be a trial, particularly in the early days of cultivating this new ‘me’. The new, basic ‘I’ is the ‘ground’ in which all the mind’s contents appear – the thinking, reflecting and the brain’s sensory inputs that directly experience the physical world. Thus ‘I’ am neither my brain nor my body. This new ‘I’ is basic, prior and becoming more and more ‘real’, in direct proportion to the emphasis and kudos it is given.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: I use the word ‘awareness’ to mean this ground of all experience. Any attempt to describe it ends in a description of what we are aware of. On this basis some argue that awareness per se doesn’t exist. But careful introspection reveals that the objects of awareness – sensations, thoughts, memories, images and emotions – are constantly changing and superseding each other. In contrast, awareness continues independent of any specific mental contents.
PETER: We now have this new ‘I’ – awareness itself – being beyond description, beyond words. And its confirmation as being unchanging and independent of all that goes on around and within the body. The professor is, despite his handicap of being unable to describe it, managing to build up an impressive description of this new ‘I’ – core, basic, unchanging, independent, subjective, apart, different and prior.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Experiment 2:
Look straight ahead. Now shut your eyes. The rich visual world has disappeared to be replaced by an amorphous field of blackness, perhaps with red and yellow tinges. But awareness hasn’t changed.
PETER: In my experience, when sight – the visual awareness of one’s surrounding – is shut down, then two options become apparent. If you wish to retain any sensorial experience then the focus shifts to hearing, feeling on the skin, smell and taste. Given that sight is such a dominant sense, the other senses can become heightened, but generally, in meditation practices, one begins to feel isolated from the ‘external’ world. Thus one’s focus or awareness inevitably falls on the thinking and reflecting of the brain in action. Given the intent of this inner search, one identifies as the awareness of the brain’s senses and the awareness of the brain’s functions of thinking and reflecting. ‘I’ become this awareness itself. This new ‘I’ – an unchangeable entity – is uninfluenced by, and disassociated from, all sensate experience that is occurring and any thought and reflection that is happening. This new identity is beginning to live in its ‘own’ world, more and more.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: You will notice that awareness continues as your thoughts come and go, as memories arise and replace each other, as desires emerge and fantasies develop, change and vanish. Now try and observe awareness. You cannot. Awareness cannot be made an object of observation because it is the very means whereby you can observe.
PETER: We have a further confirmation of awareness as being a separate ‘it’ – ‘it is the very means whereby one can observe’ – rather than simply a functioning of the brain itself. We have an almost complete separation of awareness, the new identity, from the flesh and blood mortal body and from the brain and its functioning of thought and reflection.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Awareness may vary in intensity as our total state changes, but it is usually a constant. Awareness cannot itself be observed, it is not an object, not a thing. Indeed, it is featureless, lacking form, texture, colour, spacial dimensions. These characteristics indicate that awareness is of a different nature than the contents of the mind; it goes beyond sensation, emotions, ideation, memory. Awareness is at a different level, it is prior to contents, more fundamental. Awareness has no intrinsic content, no form, no surface characteristics – it is unlike everything else we experience, unlike objects, sensations, emotions, thoughts, or memories.
PETER: This new identity, awareness itself, is building up quite an impressive curriculum vitae. It seems to be becoming more than a little imperious, more than a touch ethereal and definitely unquestionable.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Thus, experience is dualistic, not the dualism of mind and matter, but the dualism of awareness and the contents of awareness. To put it another way, experience consists of the observer and the observed. Our sensations, our images, our thoughts – the mental activity by which we engage and define the physical world – are all part of the observed. In contrast, the observer – the ‘I’ – is prior to everything else; without it there is no experience of existence.
PETER: So now we have the concept of duality introduced to give further credence to and supporting evidence for the existence of ‘awareness itself’ as being a separate but fundamental identity. The argument goes that because ‘I’, the observer, feel separate from what is observed then experience is dualistic. One part is awareness, per se, as a disembodied experiencer; the other part being the physical world, including the physical body and it’s instrument of observation – the brain and its senses. The professor, like countless others before him, predictably opts for that which is physical and actual to be seen as transient and illusionary and ‘I’, as awareness, to be real, substantial and prior. Thus ‘I’ am real – all else is unreal. And his logic is that without ‘I’ there is no experience of the existence of physical world. He comes perilously close to saying without ‘I’ the physical world does not exist at all, which is but a hair’s breath away from saying ‘I am the Centre of it All’, ‘I am God’ – but again I wouldn’t want to pre-empt the professor’s inner research.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: If awareness did not exist in its own right, there would be no ‘I’. There would be ‘me’, my personhood, my social and emotional identity – but no ‘I’, no transparent centre of being.
PETER: Now this is quite a leap. First he creates a new identity, ‘I’ as awareness itself, and then says if the function of awareness did not exist then nor would the new identity that is this very awareness! Round and round goes the logic.
I guess, he also has a bit of trouble in explaining what happens to his new ‘I’ when he goes to sleep at night-time and his awareness ceases to function. We won’t bother, just yet, with what happens to ‘it’ after death. But he has managed another of his shuffles for he says if the new identity did not exist then the old one would be back in existence. The going inside and searching for a new identity – the ‘transparent centre of being’ – has somehow magically managed to obliterate the old identity. Quite effortlessly it has disappeared, no doubt confirming it was merely an illusion in the first place and once again contriving, by implication, to confirm the genuineness of the new ‘I’ that has emerged. This new ‘I’ exists in a peaceful inner world and has superseded or transcended the old ‘I’ of the real world.
It all sounds so seductive, so easy, so effortless ... just close your eyes ... and go in ...
I might leave him at that for this post and continue later. It may seem that I am labouring a point here, and I freely admit to doing so. Underlying the Professor’s ‘logical’ thesis is the core of spiritual philosophy and the essence of its very delusion – a delusion being an illusion based on an illusion. Or, to put it another way, an insane, fashionable, concept, based on an ignorant ancient belief.
Up until now this delusion has offered the only ‘freedom’ from remaining normal, and it needs to be exposed for the fraudulent, imaginary freedom it is. This exposure is necessary and vital if human beings are to free themselves of the yolk of Ancient Wisdom and the horrendous, violent consequences of maintaining spiritual and religious belief.
There is now a third alternative – a new and non-spiritual, down-to-earth freedom.
Well, that’s it from me, Alan. Vineeto is home and dinner is being discussed, so I might send this off. Yesterday a new telescope was launched into orbit to look at the ‘Event Horizon’, but my event horizon is currently limited by thoughts of what to eat.
PETER: This has been sitting in my drafts for a while as we had a bit of trouble in sending recently. So I’ll send it off and reply to your post separately.
So, the Professor and I are on for another session. You may remember at the end of the last post, after looking inside, he had found a new shining ‘I’ that had somehow magically replaced his old rotten ‘I’. So, to continue –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Confusion of Awareness and Contents
In the very centre of the finite world is the ‘I’. It doesn’t belong in that world, it is radically different. In saying this, I am not suggesting a solipsistic ontology.
PETER: Well, Professor, just because you say you are not suggesting a solipsistic ontology doesn’t change the fact that you are well and truly into solipsism. Again I’ll call on the expertise of Mr. Oxford who says of solipsism –
Given that his new identity ‘I’ = awareness which ‘is at a different level, it is prior to contents, more fundamental, in the very centre of’, methinks he doth split hairs too finely here. He has said before that ‘awareness is the ground in which the mind’s contents manifest themselves’, which is readily translated into ‘I’ am the ground in which this keyboard appears, in which the rain is heard, the coffee smelt. Sounds mightily like solipsism to me.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: The physical world exists for someone else even when I am sleeping. But any ontology that relegates awareness to a secondary or even an emergent status ignores the basic duality of experience.
PETER: Ah, so he is sharing out the physical world a bit and generously leaving it for others to experience while he is asleep. This act of humility supposedly lets him off the hook of his personal new ‘I’ being the only thing that fundamentally exists. And then he calmly proceeds to put his new ‘I’ back up on the throne in the self-centred duality stakes.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: One can read numerous psychology texts and not find any that treat awareness as a phenomenon in its own right, something distinct from the contents of consciousness.
PETER: Which only proves that not all psychologists and psychiatrists indulge in such blatant solipsism as the Professor does.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Nor do their authors recognize the identity of ‘I’ and awareness ... [and] the phenomenon of awareness is usually confused with one type of content or another.
PETER: No doubt most are at the coal-face, dealing with what he have so magically left ‘behind’. He did say ‘the search for ‘I’ leaves the customary aspects of personhood behind’. Given that ‘the customary aspects of personhood’ include depression, despair, suicide, anger, hysteria, violence, etc., it seems not unreasonable that most psychology texts and their authors are concerned with this ‘type of content’. They are, of course, all dealing with the symptoms and effects of instinctually programmed fear, aggression, nurture and desire and all avoid tackling the root cause, but that’s another story.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: To the contrary, I would say that I am sure I exist because my core ‘I’ is awareness itself, my ground of being.
PETER: I could suggest opening your eyes and you would see a flesh and blood body as proof that you exist but then again you would probably say that falls into the ‘content of consciousness’ category. To prove that you exist you could even stick a pin into your flesh and blood body or try ‘the plastic bag over the head’ test ...
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: It is that awareness that is the ‘self of all other selves’. Bodily feelings are observed: ‘I’ is the observer, not the observed.
PETER: The ‘‘self of all other selves’’ sounds very close to ‘Self’ compared with ‘self’, but that would be pure Eastern Mysticism.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: The Distinction Between Awareness and Contents
Certain Eastern philosophies based on introspective meditation emphasize the distinction between awareness and contents ... Awareness is considered to exist independent of contents and this ‘pure consciousness’ is accessible – potentially – to every one.
PETER: Ah, he’s playing his trump cards now. Bringing in the wisdom of the ancient cave-dwellers – the Masters of escapist introspection and fearful navel-gazing.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Eastern mystical traditions use meditation practice to experience the difference between mental activities and the self that observes. For example, the celebrated Yogi, Ramana Maharshi, prescribed the exercise of ‘Who am I?’ to demonstrate that the self that observes is not an object; it does not belong to the domains of thinking, feeling, or action (Osborne, 1954). ‘If I lost my arm, I would still exist. Therefore, I am not my arm. If I could not hear, I would still exist. Therefore, I am not my hearing.’ And so on, discarding all other aspects of the person until finally, ‘I am not this thought,’ which could lead to a radically different experience of the ‘I’.
PETER: This is perhaps one of the most inane examples of Guru-wisdom – it’s no wonder Mr. Maharshi stopped talking very early in his career and sat on a bed in sublime silence for years and years. Mr. Maharshi’s ‘teachings’ are currently very fashionable due largely to the stamp of approval he received from a Mr. Poonjaji – a pundit who enjoyed a loyal following of Western seekers in his latter years.
A brief bio-note on Mr. Maharshi –
I particularly like the bit about ‘self-inquiry’ and then supplying his own ready-made answer. To call this practice inquiry is to make a mockery of the word – brain-washing, self-deception or self-hypnosis would be better descriptions. ‘Who am a I?’ always leads to the startling discovery that I am not this, a mortal flesh and blood body, but I am That, the Eternal Source, and, as such, I have blissfully ‘discovered’ that I am immortal after all!
The other atypical aspect of Eastern mysticism is that once the Guru has obtained his or her own ‘liberation’, they gather disciples who are enticed to practice ‘devotional surrender’ to the Guru and to the Guru’s Guru. Now, by any sensible evaluation, devotional surrender is the very antithesis of liberation. Surrender is
whereas liberation is
It is vital to note that Mr. Ramana Maharshi’s ‘liberation’ is a belief in liberation from rebirth, an imagined freedom from the imagined bondage of being forever trapped in suffering in a corporeal body on this physical planet.
This ‘liberation’ or ‘freedom’, as it is often termed in the spiritual world, is the antithesis of Actual Freedom whereby one is actually freed from the instinctually-reinforced illusion of being an alien entity, which believes itself forever trapped in suffering in a corporeal body. As such, one is also freed from any spiritual and metaphysical belief whatsoever.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Similarly, in Buddhist Vipassana meditation the meditator is instructed simply to note whatever arises, letting it come and go. This heightens the distinction between the flow of thoughts and feelings and that which observes.
PETER: There is nothing quite like the practice of sitting in a quiet room with one’s eyes closed (or unfocused) and looking inside to, firstly, disassociate from the bodily pain caused by forced stillness, and then to imagine that one is separate from the flow of thoughts and feelings. This imaginary shift is achieved by concentrating one’s thoughts on good and warm feelings which eventually can bring on states of divine feelings and bliss, and away one goes ... This heightened distinction between the mortal and human inevitably results in feelings that are Divine and Immortal – and since ‘I’ am that awareness, per se, then ‘I’ must be Divine and Immortal.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Who observes the observer? Every time we step back to observe who or what is there doing the observing, we find that the ‘I’ has jumped back with us. This is the infinite regress of the observer...often presented as an argument against the observing self being real, and existent. But identifying ‘I’ with awareness solves the problem of the infinite regress: we know the internal observer not by observing it, but by being it. At the core, we are awareness and therefore do not need to imagine, observe, or perceive it.
PETER: Ah, he has solved the problem by abandoning ‘observation’ as in scrutiny, examination or sensible evaluation. This is the classic Eastern Mystical approach exhorted by the Ancients and mimicked by countless Gurus, would-be’s and wanna-be’s, down the ages. The last sentence is laughable, as when one abandons sensible observation and sensorial perception one is left only with the possibility of unbridled imagination and unfettered feelings running amok. Ask anyone to describe something which they can neither see, feel, touch, smell or taste and they will have to revert to guesswork – as in intuition or imagination.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Knowing by being that which is known is ontologically different from perceptual knowledge. That is why someone might introspect and not see awareness or the ‘I’, concluding...that it doesn’t exist. But thought experiments and introspective meditation techniques are able to extract the one who is looking from what is seen, restoring the missing centre.
PETER: The fascinating thing is what is seen has cultural variations, influenced by whatever thought experiments and introspective meditation techniques are taught to the inner journeyers. One is told (usually in seductive, poetic terms) what to look for and what to ignore – no wonder one finds God by whatever name and ignores the mere mortal ‘customary aspects of personhood’ that one was seeking to extract from in the first place. As the Professor freely admits –
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: Once we grant the identity of ‘I’ and awareness, we are compelled to extend to the core subjective self whatever ontological propositions seem appropriate for awareness.
PETER: By ‘ontological propositions’ he means metaphysical qualities, and indeed once one has developed this new amorphous, disembodied identity it becomes essential to adopt appropriate qualities for it, relative to others. It is astounding that all chose, or are driven, to become higher spiritual beings, teachers, Gurus, God-men or God-esses, with all the associated trappings of power, glory and adulation.
Prof. A. DEIKMAN: If awareness is non-local, so is the essential self. If awareness transcends material reality, so does the ‘I’. If awareness is declared to be non-existent then that same conclusion must apply to the ‘I’. No matter what one’s ontological bias, recognition that ‘I’ = awareness has profound implications for our theoretical and personal perspective.
PETER: The profound implications of the ‘recognition that ‘I’ = awareness’ can be readily seen for all to witness, observe and experience. It involves no more than a visit to countries where Eastern Mysticism has been operating for thousands of years. To see for oneself the poverty, sorrow and despair of human beings who believe they are trapped in a never-ending cycle of rebirth into perpetual misery. To see them prostrate themselves in devotional humility before those select few who have practiced introspection to the point that they truly believe themselves to be Divine, and play the imperial role of Guru. Imperial and ‘above it all’ they are, for they are afflicted by an Altered State of Consciousness, a state of delusion whereby one becomes at One with the Whole – the Spiritual Universe. In its most severe form the ASC can lead to the sufferer making outright declaration of God-ship. In Eastern Mysticism, provided one can gather enough worshippers, Guru-ship is a very good career path. ‘Money for nothing and your chicks for free’ was how I put it in my Journal.
The Eastern Mystical brain numbing and brain washing practice of recognizing ‘I’ = awareness, per se, leads directly to the institutionalized insanity of the Guru business.
It would be merely a curious quirk of the Human Condition, were it not for the fact that Eastern Mysticism has taken hold so voraciously in the West. Eastern Mysticism promised much to those of my generation who sought both personal and global peace, but the abject failure in delivering either has left appalling cynicism and self-centredness in its wake. My experience of writing on the Rajneesh list was ample testimony to this fact.
Still it’s early years for Actual Freedom – it’s just so good to be at the cutting edge of modernity and to have escaped from being a Luddite-follower of the Ancients.
So Alan, that’s it for the ‘Professor and I’. I have a bit more I want to write on awareness but I will leave it for another post as it has nought to do with Ancient Wisdom and the current, fashionable re-interpretations and re-hashes. I enjoyed the chance to write on the so-called awareness of the spiritual people. This awareness translates into an arrogant self-centredness which, if it gets out of hand, develops into the ultimate arrogance of believing oneself to be God.
It’s so simple to see through the whole charade – once you are free of the spiritual world.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.