The non-reality of nothingness

Jonathan Bricklin brickmar at EARTHCOM.NET
Thu Nov 27 00:44:20 CST 1997

Greg Goode, on November 24th,  wrote, in explaining Nisgardatta's term,

> [...}When you have done all the stripping, you will have no
>left in 'awareness.'  Everything personal has been stripped away.
>Awareness is all that will be left, and this awareness is Brahman, or the

This is the interpretation I believed, I just didn't believe Nisgardatta's
believers believed it.  What follows is a little commentary (based on this
interpretation) along with a few quibbles and questions:

>Without the absolute denial of
> everything,

[or, rather, every thing,]

> the tyranny of things would be
>absolute.  (89)

>It [the Supreme] is without quality and beyond consciousness. You may say
it is a point
>in consciousness, which is beyond  consciousness. Like a hole in the paper
>is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the
>very centre of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness.

No paper, no hole.  No consciousness, no beyond consciousness.

> The supreme gives existence to the mind.
>The mind gives existence to the body.  (34)

What is gained by this sequence?  To believe recent research in
neuroscience, the mind is far more a creation of the body than has been
previously believed.  The severed brain in a vat thought experiment has
become totally discredited.  What is and is not meant by "mind" as
Nisgardatta uses it?  At any rate, surely "the supreme," if it is the
supreme, gives rise to both mind and body.

>Awareness takes the place of consciousness [...]  (263)

Only if you want to needlessly clutter how advaitin ontology gets
translated into English.  The distinction between "consciousness" and
"consciousness of self"  obviates the need for the additional term,

>Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless,
>uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change.

Why not in the spirit of a/dvaita use a privative prefix to indicate the
ultimate realm beyond duality?  "Un-
localized (,focalized, or relativized) consciousness" can take the place of
"awareness".  There is no need to conscript the word "awareness" to do
service by itself, in isolation from all other terms, on the other side of
an ontological boundary.

>There can be
>no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without
>consciousness, as in deep sleep.

I have earlier questioned whether all black-outs are black-*ins* with only
the last moment of blackness before coming-to being remembered.  I also
mentioned a week in which I experienced deep sleep simultaneously with the
consciousness of blackness.  At any rate, I believe that it is only
consciousness of self, not consciousness, that is intermittent. But
Nisgardatta probably means something else by "the
awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep."  What?

>Awareness is absolute, consciousness is
>relative to its content;

Only relativized consciousness is relative to its content.

>consciousness is always of something.

Except for an unrelativized consciousness which is of everything.

>Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless,
>calm and silent.

There is no change without stasis.  No stasis or changeless without change.

>Interest in your stream of
>consciousness takes you to awareness. (29)

Perhaps it could be said that we, as individuated consciousnesses, are
whirlpools in the stream of consciousness.

>All movement requires a motionless background.

And all motionless backgrounds require movement.

>Once you have found it in yourself, you know that you had never lost that
>independent being, independent of all divisions and separations.

Whatever you find "in yourself" is as dependent, divided and separated as
you are.

>But don't look for it in consciousness, you will not find it there. (410)

You can't look *in* consciousness because you can't be *outside*

>This is the heart of the problem. Either you are body-conscious and a
>of circumstances, or you are the universal consciousness itself - and in
>full control of every event.  (320)

How about just being surrendered to what is.  Whatever is, is.  No slavery,
no mastery.

>Yet consciousness, individual or universal,
>is not my true abode; I am not in it, it is not mine, there is no"me" in
>it. I am beyond, though it is not easy to explain how one can be neither
>conscious nor unconscious, but just beyond.

Old Pond
Frog jumps in
Sound of the water

> I cannot say that I am in God
>or I am God; God is the universal light and love, the universal witness: I
>am beyond the universal even.  (320)

Yes.  By being dissolved in it.


Jonathan Bricklin

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