The older I get, the more I feel like embracing seriously simple approaches to spirituality.
That way, if I become senile, when someone asks me what I believe a ready answer is more likely to spring from my receding lips and failing psyche.
This helps explain why I'm enjoying Stanley Sobottka's Course in Consciousness so much. I've been lugging my laptop into my meditation lair each morning, reading some of his downloaded book-length manuscript before I meditate.
I'm about halfway through. The basic message is exceedingly simple, though it takes over 200 pages to express it.
Consciousness is all there is. That's the essence of Advaita, Vedanta, Buddhism, and some Western philosophies also.
Though countless books have been written about this notion, if you're asked to explain this world view whatever you say or don't say, that's it – already present in your questioner's consciousness, because he or she is conscious.
Over and over Sobottka reminds the reader that everything he's written is a concept, not reality. As is, in his opinion, time and space itself, plus the laws of nature.
What gives his position more intellectual credence is his status as an Emeritus Professor of Physics. Being someone who swings both ways with science and spirituality, I like how he starts off his Course in Consciousness with a solid overview of quantum physics, then heads into the airier philosophic reaches of nonduality.
Much of what Sobottka sets forth is virtually indisputable. Such as, knowledge of reality always comes through consciousness.
Well, yeah. How else could it come? If it's impossible to be conscious of something, what reality does it possess for us? Imagining a unicorn would be a lot more real, because that bit of fantasy would be present in an individual consciousness – which makes it something rather than nothing.
Just not a shared something, a part of supposedly objective reality that we can agree on. I say "supposedly," because Sobottka isn't big on objectivity given his consciousness is everything leaning.
More accurately, he sees subjectivity and objectivity as the same thing – consciousness. So the divisions we usually make between inner and outer, subjective and objective, spirituality and science, and so on, don't really exist for him.
From this perspective Descartes was right when he said, "I think, therefore I am." But he could also have said, "I don't think, therefore I am." More simply, "I am, therefore I am." Or "I am."
Or…anything at all. Like, "1, 2, 3, A, B, C." Whatever.
Whenever I read about nonduality or advaita, I tend to think "This is either the biggest bunch of crap ever, or the truest thing that can be said."
There's no in between, really. Once you say consciousness is all there is, you're committed 100%. Totally right or totally wrong. (Though if you're right, there's no right or wrong.)
Sobottka does a nice job of using quantum physics to support nondual notions. For example, he points out that those who posit some sort of transcendental mystic realm where quantum reality resides don't understand that the quantum wave function is deterministic and requires time and space to function.
So New Age notions about quantum phenomena being metaphysical don't mesh with scientific fact. They also don't mesh with nonduality or oneness, since dividing reality into "physical" and "metaphysical" is decidedly dual.
I also like how Sobottka demolishes the "we create our own reality" fiction. This often is heard from people who know just enough about quantum physics to make misleading philosophical conclusions about it.
He says that while consciousness does play a central role in the collapse of the wave function, which determines what quantum phenomena come into being and which remain potentialities, it must be a universal consciousness that does this – not an individual consciousness.
Again, this points to nonduality. We believe we're unique and separate from others, but it could well be that each manifestation of consciousness actually is an expression of the whole.
One reality. One consciousness. One thing going on.
Many would be tempted to say "too simple." However, that "too" leads to "two." Which could be the way things are. But I've got an affection for one.