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October 01, 2006


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Dear Brian,
So: is your "mind of spirituality. Measurable. Discernable. Practical. ...[with] results here and now" the same/equivalent of "becom[ing]...light"? Such seems different from "non-phenomenal truth."
Robert Paul Howard

Robert, I see what you mean (I think). But it seems to me "non-phenomenal truth" and "measurable/discernable" aren't necessarily at odds.

Quantum mechanics is non-phenomenal. No one has ever sensed a quantum-level "entity" (I put that in quotation remarks to indicate that there even is debate about whether the quantum world has distinct "entities").

Yet quantum mechanics is highly measurable. In fact, the measurements there are amazingly precise. That's one reason why microchips work as well as they do (software, that's another question, as any Windows user can testify).

What I liked about the startle experiment is that it showed that a meditator doing something mysteriously unobservable can produce effects in the phenomenal world. This doesn't mean that consciousness or mind is material, but that the effects of such can be observed in interesting ways.

After all, spiritual/mystical types usually don't confine themselves to making statements about the realm of Mystery. For example, Sant Mat mystics like to say that mantra meditation (simran) is so powerful it can stop a moving train.

OK. Let's see it. Or if not a train, how about a small marble rolling across a table? Never has happened, so far as I know. So this is an example of a supposed non-phenomenal truth not having a measurable effect.

If spirituality doesn't leave any traces in the material world, what good is it for us as material human beings?

Dear Brian,
From what you indicate, it would appear that some "non-phenomenal truth[s]" are just delusional falsehoods. We seem forced back upon "judging a tree by its fruits" - i.e., "phenomenally." Lacking personal experience of it, then, I must reserve my suspicions about even the existence of "pure consciousness." I've only encountered consciousnesses of lesser dimensions/degree. And, frequently, some of them are "deluded."
Thanks again for your replies.
Robert Paul Howard

Robert, yes, it's difficult to imagine what "pure consciousness" would be like. I've never heard of a convincing description of this state, which probably doesn't exist.

I mean, a truly pure consciousness seemingly would have no duality to it. So, no one to be aware that a pure consciousness exists. Still, I like the idea, if only for aesthetic reasons. It seems to be the ultimate end point of what familiar human consciousness is--filled with all kinds of stuff.

Eliminate that and you're left with...what? Something beautiful perhaps. Or, I suppose some might say, the ugliest scariest nothingness: awareness without anything to be aware of.

Either way, it's a fascinating subject.


It is not so difficult: "pure consciousness" is simply consciousness itself. No "convincing description" need exist. Descriptions are merely thoughts and concepts which cannot possibly encompass the indescribable nature of consciousness itself.

Also, "truly pure consciousness" actually has "no duality to it". Duality is but a misapprehension due to identificaton with form.

You said: "so, no one to be aware that a pure consciousness exists". Pure consciousness IS existence and awarness itself...and not an individual 'someone'.

You also said: "...human consciousness is--filled with all kinds of stuff". I would suggest that consciousness itself is not "filled with" anything. It remains only as eternal and immaculate pristine awareness....unborn and boundless. "Filled with" and "stuff" is a dualistic point of view. The "stuff" that you speak of is more on the level of being a kind of transitory dream-like apparition. Just as a rope which is mistakenly perceived to be a snake. The rope is not "filled with" the snake. The snake is simply a misapprehension, an illusory appearance of mind, just as dreams are in the sleep-state. Consciousness alone is.

Tao has here outlined the 'state' of pure consciousness as realised by the great sages, such as Ramana, Shankara and so on.

They are all clear that such pure consciousness is the foundation of 'existence'.

I find it equally hard to imagine a world of pure objectivity with all sentience and mind stripped out. May I paraphrase you:

"It's difficult to imagine what "pure objectivity" would be like. I've never heard of a convincing description of this state, which probably doesn't exist".

Bishop Berkeley and David Hume thought that pure objectivity was likewise a fiction, and so the prevailing scientistic reductionistic materialist belief is rebutted.

I love the competitive edge in eastern spirituality. How long will it take the monk to dry the wet sheet in the Himalayan winter air? Can you still yourself until sound itself does not exist? My ego wants to hold its breath!

So impressive! So "benching 250," and as essential to the play of maya as the purely objective view of... oooh! donuts!

My ego wants to prove how spiritual we are through extreme detachment. My ego will relish the competition. My ego will not get enough and start betting on relative heart rates!

My ego is more detached than yours! Or mine!

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