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October 10, 2023


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“If I ever achieve such a state,....” since yogic practice and life in general is usually all about achieving “states” of consciousness, it is assumed enlightenment is about achieving a “state of enlightenment.” Misconception. Consciousness is the constant underneath all “states.”
You can have a gold ring, gold cup, and gold chair. These are all states of gold. Gold itself is not something in that category but the underlying reality. You can’t have a gold gold. Gold is what makes up all conditions. Gold cannot be included in the category of things made.

Similarly consciousness is not included in the category of states, states such has peace, joy, anger, resentment, bliss, yogic samadhi. Those are things that come and go.

Waking, dream and deep sleep have an underlying reality in common, consciousness. You can’t achieve pure consciousness since there never was anything but consciousness. The “you” that you believe is you is an appearance in pure consciousness. Consciousness has no identity. It is the reality behind all identities. The one thing that “is” before all identities begin.

Then what do you do? You recognize the one thing you can never lose. It is not about achievement, it is about recognition. You cannot lose consciousness/awareness/ being/ knowing/ because if you did, you wouldn’t be there to have problems with it.

What about the claims of peace and serenity on the achievement of enlightenment? When you recognize consciousness cannot be harmed, and there is only consciousness, the one thing, naturally all worry is over. If you can’t be harmed what possible worry can there be? It is the attachment and identification with the temporary that causes suffering.

That consciousness can die is a logical fallacy. There cannot be, non-being.

And now we are back to the hard problem of consciousness which is based on a wrong assumption. “Matter” cannot produce consciousness because without “consciousness/awareness” there is no matter or anything else. For something to “be” requires consciousness/being/awareness first.

Enlightenment is simply an impossibility without the recognition that consciousness creates the world and it’s not the world that creates consciousness.


First of all, if you say the world is, you’ve already said consciousness is, so the world can’t come first and create consciousness.

Secondly, if consciousness was something that can die, then enlightenment or perfect peace would be impossible because there would always be worry of imminent demise which would be scary.

The question of whether the material universe can exist independent of consciousness can be answered by a simple experiment. We set up a camera in the desert where there is no living thing. Turn it on, then go away. Two days later we come back and review the video. If we have a video of the desert when no consciousness was present, then we will know that the world exists independent of consciousness. Right? Wrong.


Because the entire experiment is performed in consciousness. At no time did we ever leave consciousness. To see if the world can exist without consciousness we have to leave consciousness and then see if there is a world. That would be extremely unlikely to say the least.

Breer: - “It's breathtaking to discover what a scene (and I mean any scene) looks like when it is no longer seen from the biased perspective of an observer whose primary mission in life in [is] self-survival.”

I’m assuming that Breer’s description of one’s ‘primary mission in life being self-survival’, refers to the ‘primary mission’ of the assumed self’s raison d’etre to survive at all costs. An assumed self is restricted to only see life through its own conditioning, through its own contents, that is, through thought, via the medium of names, labels – basically from the brain’s wealth of information.

Naturally, the data available to the self is part of the mind’s contents in that the mind is totally comprised of information garnered from experience. To be aware of ‘what a scene looks like when it is no longer seen from the biased perspective of an observer whose primary mission in life is self-survival,’ has to come from the deep realisation that there is no self.

Maybe such a realisation – when the self is (temporarily) absent – is what Breer describes as Pure Consciousness. Whether that consciousness arises from matter (the brain) or the other way around is a further question.

"I found Breer's assertion in his second book to be more problematic: that it is possible to become enlightened by coming to an experience of Pure Consciousness.

"This supposedly is consciousness before it becomes identified with things in the world, though in a Zen-like assumption (he practiced Zen for five years) Breer says that Pure Consciousness never stands alone, but always is experienced along with the sensing of material objects.

"So this explains why a Zen practitioner can become enlightened upon hearing a bell rung or seeing a bird flying. At certain moments Pure Consciousness is manifested as the ground upon which impure consciousness operates."

Actually, Brian if "pure Consciousness" isn't attached to any physical conditioning, then no such experience can trigger it. All those conditioned experiences are in fact conditioning more.

One experience can break the behavioral chain of thinking and acting. And then it simply triggers another.

The problem is using terms like "Enlightenment" in a mystical way. Enlightenment is any new understanding. That happens every time we learn something new. And wherever we are, we have further to go. There is no "Enlightenment" as a fixed end point, as far as you and I are concerned. That is very presumptuous of Breer. True experience of something more is a humbling experience that more is there, just like the practice of science. Scientists don't walk away with a lot of new conclusions. They walk away with one or two conclusions and a dozen more questions. They know the unknown is real and they have yet to travel it.

Consciousness and Pure Consciousness are very abstract terms.

And unreal to most folks. I don't think anyone should be hoodwinked by their use or abuse.

If you want something that isn't mystical, then why attempt to coopt those terms?

I have another suggestion. Think about clear thinking vs muddled thinking.

Let's bring this down to earth. And leave the mental masturbation to the modern Philosophers.

I doubt very much if Breer, Watts or Harris have experienced anything at all. If they had they would be seeking advice from others who went before, and further. Their experience would bring them joy, humiltiy, and fear: it would convince them that something unbelievable is real, and worth pursuing, and they would seek new and better guidance from others with far more than "five years of Zen practice."

As for the mystical realms, these guys are absolutely not qualified to discuss it, nor to provide any testable means for anyone else. They offer a dead end to those looking for it.

If they were sincere in the slightest degree, they would have no need to dismiss the ancient teachings they coopt. They would honor everything that came before. And they would realize and acknowledge the fact that now they realize they don't know shit.

That's enlightenment.

Studies say that it is possible that a person can be convicted purely on the testimony of a single individual. The jury makes that decision.

The details of the Paul Breer case seem to be completely confidential, so it's not possible to say whether there was any evidence put forward against him aside from the testimony of whatever family member accused him. Given all of that, it's possible that Breer was wrongfully accused of sex abuse of a child / incest and that his accuser did indeed lie.

On the other hand, studies also show that denial is extremely common among sex offenders, convicted or otherwise. Extremely common. And so, while it's no doubt true that accusers sometimes do lie, I don't automatically trust Breer's claim of innocence. He went to court and was found guilty, and even with the possibility of false testimony, that considerably puts the odds against Breer's innocence.

What then to say about Breer's No-Agency philosophy? In his case, it's either the MO of a person of mature advaitic realization...or it's simply a strategy of denial by someone who can't reconcile his deviant acts with his stature as a sensitive and spiritually wise intellectual.

Whether Breer is innocent or not, this all points to something the Retired Professor told me many years ago, back when I was enamored with morally fast and loose (crazy wisdom!) teachers like Muktananda and Da Free John. He said, "A guru is worth following if he's the kind of guy you'd want to have dinner with your parents."

It's sage advice, because however lofty and advanced a guru's CW teachings may seem to us, they can't transcend the moral plane for the sake of some no-self higher truth. And neither can we.

Spence alleges (with a straight face),

"I doubt very much if Breer, Watts or Harris have experienced anything at all."

You simply don't know this and if you have read and listened to Sam Harris, for instance, extensively you would have learned otherwise."

Such ad hoc judgements about the experiences of others is hubris 101.

Watched a film last night where a woman took off to live a solitary life in the hills. She was asked what she wanted to do in the future and she simply answered “I want to notice.” The rest of the film she re-connected with nature and herself. A bit drastic living alone out in the wilderness but her aim to ‘notice’, was akin to developing awareness.

Reminded me of some of the posts and comments on Breer, Harris and Watts. They are excellent communicators describing facets of life and human nature in a way that people can work with in order to help with such re-connecting. Their books and talks embrace the naturalness of existence – much like the eastern teachings of Zen and Taoism.

It dawned on me several decades ago that generally we humans are not aware, it’s as though we habitually live in a sort of ‘thought sphere’, a self-enclosed bubble of self-justifying thoughts and concepts that never allow us to really interact with life. Unfortunately, many of our religious, spiritual and many other institutions, probably unknowingly, support a bubble-like existence.

Concepts surrounding such topics as enlightenment, souls, consciousness, spiritual and the mystical etc., only serve to reinforce individual bubbles effectively avoiding some of the realities and wisdom that writers like Breer, Watts and Harris attempt to convey.

Hi SamHarrisYoungerBrother:

Tell your brother about the bigger world he seems oblivious to, and to stop re-writing what others wrote into his own tiny experience, rather than seeking to learn and understand.

I honor Buddha, Christ, Moses, David, Kabir, Krishna, Leo Tsze, Mazu Daoyi, Dogen, Paul Reps, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gurinder, Charan, Swami Ji, Sawan, Jagat, Dadu, Ravidas, Rumi and Shams, Shiv, Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill, Socrates, Plato, Aquinas, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, Frie Louis De Leon, Origen of Hippo, both D.T. and Shunryo Suzuki, Pope Francis and others.

I guess I could add Breer, Watts and Harris to that list, but maybe just as junior members.

But I pity those who, in their fandom for Breer, Watts and Harris, reject the others.

Neuroscience isn't on Breer, Watts and Harris' side at all, BTW.
Consciousness is awareness and not distinct from body nor identity but is focused to optimize both. So science teaches us.

Dear Spence,

You simply need to do a deeper dive into the writings of Sam Harris and his podcast, especially Waking Up.

Your characterization of his views, of his philosophy, indicates you need to expand your horizons on all things related to Sam Harris.

Yes, there will be points of disagreement, but when it comes to meditation, the use of medicinal aids, and the rest, then you will find that Sam Harris (who spent nearly 10 years off and on in Nepal and India meditating, etc.) has taken the inner quest and what it offers very seriously.

Best not to pontificate about the inner experiences of others (or their supposed lack). It doesn't reflect well on the pontificator, particularly if it is inaccurate.

Hi SamHarrisOlderBrother:

Have you had a convo yet with your younger siblings?

They too seem to have a problem pontificating about the inner experiences of others, particularly those who hold OTHER beliefs than there own. You are right, this doesn't reflect well at all on Harris / Breer / Watts pontifications.

Fortunately, mine are limited to blog comments, and not built into a business of speaking and selling writings for profit that denigrate the experiences of others.

So, I would suggest that you practice what you preach. Find in what I have written that is worthy of respect, and ignore the rest as my own level of ignorance. We all have such levels.

I do take your encouragement to read more Harris in the positive light it was given, and will do so.
I appreciate, as I'd mentioned, Atheists sincere about discovering reality are worthy of respect. Though they should not try to make claims of the experience of others...Yes, I did that about Breer, Watts and Harris, but only to point out that they are themselves professionals at it. I'm guilty as charged of the crime they have made into organized crime.

And not surprised you are unable to see it. So, while I take a deeper dive into Harris' writings, let me ask you to do the same.

If my penance, dear SamHarrisOlderBrother, is to read more Harris, what shall yours be?
Perhaps to read more Rumi? With an open mind?
That would be a great start.

Dear Spence,

I like Rumi very much and have read him for decades. What an insightful poet, thinker, Sufi mystic, and well worth a deep dive for anyone, regardless of affiliations.

Glad you will take a deeper dive on Sam Harris.

Dive deep enough and you will be pleasantly surprised.

You could teach the Path in your own way, Spence, and gather your own flock. Maybe it's time. I'm serious. I think it would fulfill your natural proclivities, and you could work real wonders.

I have recently been re-reading Sam Harris’s book ‘Waking Up’ which I read several years ago and in view of this current discussion have been diving into it again – with interest, particularly following my years of Chan practice (which some of the contents of ‘Waking Up’ reflects in many ways). It is definitely aimed at those who do not have religious leanings or have doubts about them yet are still looking for some sort of answers. To that end, ‘Waking Up’ makes a valuable contribution toward their enquiries.

Harris merely points out how his understanding; partly as a scientist and partly as someone who has studied the Eastern approaches toward a better understanding of the human predicament plays out from his studies and experience. He therefore offers a way in which enquirers can discover for themselves how to awaken from their particular ‘self’ constructed barriers. One of the biggest barriers toward understanding ourselves is the ‘self’ construct itself. Harris explores this phenomenon in some depth which can only help the reader to uncover the reality of the matter.

Harris would not find favour with practitioners of the Abrahamic religions as they generally preach and rely on faith which is counter too the practices of awakening that he outlines. Needless to say, this particular book is not aimed at or is suitable for them.

I have not read any of Breer’s work, nor feel inclined to do so, but in my early years of enquiring into the question of spirituality found the writings of Alan Watts to be particularly liberating and leading to further fruitful enquiries.

Hi Umami!
I'm following someone else's path, so all I can be is a student. I'm not qualified even to teach as an assistant.

It's a Zen Sant Mat path with three simple rules:

No Credit No Blame No Distractions...


Hmm, well, I get the impression Watts, Harris, Breer and their ilk offend you personally for misleading truth seekers everywhere. Why not set the record straight to the world? You have a lot to say, and we're a tiny audience compared to the multitudes they've impacted.

Okay, no disciples of your own, but how about a comprehensive treatise on your insights and perspectives? I'd read it. Am I alone here?

Doesn’t it just give you such a great sense of relief to believe that there isn’t really any such thing as free will? It removes the overwhelmingly oppressive sense of guilt. It’s so liberating.

Until you realize that without free will you are powerless over everything that happens to you.

What kind of god would instill that kind of belief in Powerlessness?

Take your time to think about this…

Hi Umami
I think what takes the wind out of my sails is when I realize I'm wrong on an issue I felt very strongly I was right.

As this happens every day I don't feel qualified to promote a position I might regret in a single day.

I love my Master, but I'm a terrible Satangi. I share everything, hate barriers, but have many more to overcome.

Every moment of my life takes place because of Grace.

So what I'm certain of today I may be ashamed of tomorrow. Doesn't stop me from calling it like it is. But I wouldn't want to publish it or promote it.

I don't think Breer, Watts, or Harris know any better. That they work so hard at it is admirable. They want it so badly and hate that they don't have it.

I'm not offended that they overreach, and try to claim they have it all. I offend myself more often. But the works of mystics towers above, with a depth to the word Enlightenment.

Knowledge is a strange thing.

"Those who say don't know..
And those who know don't say."

You're too humble. "Only the true Messiah denies His divinity!"


what you wrote Umami reminds me of a weeping minister in public stating ...

I am an sinner

Hahahaha .. who would believe such an man?

Thinking of the late MCS I do remember a man of great wealth in many fields but in his presence he never, not even for one second, he pressed down on me nor did I ever see him do it towards others.

Whether he was a saint, mystic or whatever, I just do not know but that much I do know I never im-pressed people with what has his.


Wicked! Absolutely, devilishly wicked!

You're hereby awarded a cool pair of red horns and cool forked red tail in recognition of your talents. Come take a bow.

Hi Umami
Anyone who recognizes their limitations does so.

How many people claim divinity?

From that point of view most people are humble in the same way.

But as for those who claim to know anything about Enlightenment, Caveat Emptor.

In the meantime, if we can just treat each other as equals and honor our various experiences and rejoice in our differences, really, that's great.

If I can be respectful of others who are different, that's a huge goal for me.

I've got my sights set on it!

Thank you, AR. It's an honor. To heresy! I raise my coffee cup!



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