Sunday, April 18, 2021




he Experience: UG says this, when somebody asks him about “the Experience Of Oneness”:

‘UG: Let me interrupt you. The oneness that you are talking about is something which cannot be experienced at all. 'That there is an integral relationship with everything' is something which can never, never be experienced by that experiencing structure. So, to talk of oneness has no meaning.

Visitor: But don’t you feel one with all you see?

UG: Not at all. The separation is not there, but that doesn’t mean there is oneness. What creates the separation is very clear, but what is there when the separation or the division is not there is something nobody can talk about. The divisive movement that comes into being is all that you can understand. When that movement is not there, what is happening in that situation is something that can never be experienced by you; it can never be talked about. It’s not a mysterious, mystifying thing. Don’t call it love, compassion and all that kind of a thing. You cannot talk about it, you cannot experience it, and what it is you will never know.’

There is light. If the light is not there, you have no way of looking at anything. The light falls on that object and the reflection of that light activates the optic nerves which in turn activate the memory cells. When the memory cells are activated, all the knowledge you have about that object comes into operation. It is that process which is happening there that has created the subject and the subject is the knowledge you have about it. When you reduce it to that, you feel the absurdity of talking about the self. The lower self, the higher self and self knowing, self-knowledge, knowing from moment to moment, is absolute rubbish, balderdash! You can indulge in such absolute nonsense and build up philosophical theories but there is no subject there at all, at any time. (The Natural State, p.41)

So not only the ‘I’ but all the physical sensations are involved in this. Sound, smell and the sense of touch -- the operation of any one of these sensations necessarily creates the subject. It's not one continuous subject which is gathering all these experiences, piling them up together and then saying, ‘This is me,’ but everything is discontinuous and disconnected. The sound is one. The physical seeing is one. The smelling is one. They come and go. There is no permanent entity there at all. What is there is only a first person singular pronoun, nothing else. If you don't want to use that word it is your privilege. That's all that is there. There is no permanent entity there at all. (p.42)

All these quotes above assume that there is some state or something in which all these things are happening or not happening.  All these are projections of what you might be when none of the other things exist from where you are.  But the problem is there may be nothing: no consciousness, non non-dualtity, nothing.  You can’t say you will be dust and there may be just the universe going on without you.  All that is mere talk, a mere projection.  You can’t utter a word, or even possibly think, about what might be the case when you are not there.

Now, you ask the question what about this ‘me’, ‘this’ point of view, ‘this’ angle.  In the vast scheme of things, processes and interactions are taking place.  The ‘this’ question simply does not arise unless there is a duality in the first place.  The question of the self ultimately boils down to the question of duality, and no one can answer the question how or why this duality occurs except simply to say that the duality occurs when thought exists, as brains are capable of thought, as a representation of the world through image or sound or a repetition of past experience.  All the neuro-scientific or other explanations of thought do not really address the problem, i.e., the duality which creates the ‘me’.  All that is absolutely irrelevant when it comes to this question. Duality cannot arise except when thought arises, as also does the intentional world.  It’s only in the intentional world that there is duality.

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When one transcends the world of name and form, i.e. the realm of thought, there is neither thought, nor duality, nor even consciousness, for to say there is consciousness one has to use a name.  The moment you use a name, you not only bring in consciousness, but also something it is aware of, and someone who is aware, because naming is a product of the thought process which has to imply the subject and the object.[1] The Upanishads said, “Not this, not this.”  But that too implies duality, meaning that there is a ‘this’ as opposed to something else (‘that’). 

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As I said before, traces of past experiences which made physiological imprints, by their sheer force and strength thrust themselves into consciousness through our thought process.  And in the cases of experiences of oneness, it’s not that there is no such experience, but whatever it is, it is not in the realm of the known, but as soon as the physiological traces of it turn themselves into memory traces and impinge themselves on consciousness in the form of recognition and other forms of thought, which necessarily imply duality, we are no longer in the realm of oneness of being.

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What remains after all this discussion?  Nothing.  It’s foolish to ask fundamental, metaphysical questions about the self, what it is, or why it is there or how it comes into being.  Any answer that is given is an objective abstract answer and does in no way address the real problem.  Because, the real problem is the subjective feeling of ‘I’ or ‘me’.  Nothing can explain it away.  The ‘objective’ does not and cannot explain the ‘subjective’.

You can’t even ask the question of how you live without the feeling of the ‘I’.  We cannot live without it.  The fear of death, however, remains.  It’s not just the fear of the loss of the known, as both Krishnamurtis point out. It’s primarily the fear of the ending not just you, but of everything.  It more than that.  The feeling of the ‘I’ is independent of all that is known and experienced.  You can feel states of pure consciousness (without the past or time), still there is the self-reflexive ‘I’ in all that.  Of course, you lose that in states of unconsciousness (of which there are many sorts).  I think there is no alternative in all this to just accepting that as long as we are aware (conscious), the ‘I’ remains and that it, as well as everything else, can go some time or other.  The mere acceptance of that is all there is to the freedom from the fear of death.  There is nothing else that can be done.

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In a sense, this is also true of any explanation of the particular:  You can explain ‘this’ in terms of a set of events, but that’s not really an explanation of the ‘this’ per se: for it can only lead to a regress of explanations.  Why ‘this’ or why ‘that’ will remain.  Explanations are always relative.  There is no absolute explanation of anything.  The ‘killer ‘whys’’ persist because they are all ultimately traceable to the duality between myself and the world I experience.

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The inner space is just as mysterious, if not more, as the outer space.  All kinds of things are borne practically out of nothing there, such as creative things, innovations, and various novel ideas. This is neither subjective nor objective.  It’s just there.  But thoughts do arise in it, in the form novel ideas and various combinations of elements of experience, and there is no way to account for them as to how or whence they arise.

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Here is an interesting contrast between the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’:  This morning in bed I was in a sense ‘spacing out’, imagining myself out of this body and what constitutes ‘my world’ into the vastness of the universe, and thinking how I was not only tiny, but ultimately nothing but the energy or even just the vast space of the universe.  In that moment, I could feel the ‘energy’ or whatever flowing through me, causing reverberations through my entire body.  But ‘objectively’, i.e., ‘outwardly’,  an observer could perhaps notice some changes, such as differences in the flow of electrical energy, a state of the body more relaxed, and temperature and pressure dropping somewhat or changes in alpha, beta or theta waves of in the brain.  ‘Subjectively’ the divisions that would have normally existed were washed away, and I get up from bed, utterly refreshed.  But the ‘significant’ moment, which someone might even call a mystical or whatever special experience, would be nothing but a relaxed state of the body.

This state might result in my transformed dealings with myself and my surroundings and other people in such a way that I am in harmony with myself and the rest of the universe, but all that would be reduced to a mere state of relaxation objectively.  How does one account for this difference?

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Perspective on Neuroscience: I think what all this points to ultimately is the role and status of neuroscience in our lives.  No neuroscientist would probably want to invalidate these experiences as such, for such an attempt is bound to fire back on the scientist himself, but he or she would only use the discipline to achieve specific behavioral changes in subjects, such as for example, solving problems of autism, sleeplessness, epileptic seizures, and so on.  In other words, the neuro-scientific investigations would and could have a significant role in human life in making people’s lives better, without necessarily translating or reducing all human experience to mere neural changes without a remainder.  The neuroscientist, being a person in a society, would perforce have to live a double life:  one in which he deals with scientific investigations in which values have no place, but only effects or results of his or her investigations, and the other in which he lives in the world among other human beings as a member of a society, with his personal values, goals, experiences he cherishes, his personal judgments, prejudices and so on.

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The temptation is to say that at Ground Zero, there is neither the subject nor the object or that it is both subjective and objective.  But the reality is that Ground Zero is a subjective experience, not shared by others, although it is subjective to others, from their point of view, it is not for me.  In my own experience there is neither the subject nor the object, should I say?  Only if I remain there and never move out of it.  As soon as I am conscious of it as such, I have to fit it in the framework of the subject (‘I’) and the object (the Ground Zero).  And we are back to square one! Ah, c’est la vie!

Letting Nature Take Its Course:  To let things be when they happen is to let Nature its course.  However, sometimes you’re so moved to take some action in a given situation.  In those circumstances, where do you draw the line between what you do and what Nature does or what just happens to you?

The interaction between the subjective and the objective can flow easily into the various aspects of life: say, caring for your own health, or determining what foods to eat, or how to interact with people and so on.  This is reflected often in taking a “third person’s point of view”.

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Dissolution of the Self: If you totally objectify thought, which is the basis of the self, thought dissolves itself into waves of energy. UG would say thought is sound.  I would add image to it. 

To dissolve thought, if that can be achieved, is at the same time to dissolve the self.  This may not be possible except in moments of total abstraction, for we need thought to function in this world.  But this temporary dissolution is sufficient to realize that in those moments not only the divisions between the self and the world, but also divisions of any sort, as well as the world we built on our values, all disappear.  Perhaps it is in those moments where meaning itself is dissolved. It also gives a glimpse into our value system, personal as well as social, and its total conventionality and arbitrariness.  Perhaps that’s when we realize the possibility of total reconciliation with existence and life in harmony. Such a state of stasis may, of course, may only be registered or recorded by a neuroscientist as changes in the EEG or fMRI or brain waves.


[1] Notice how in Vedanta philosophy consciousness is self-revealing.

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