With the so-called Enlightenment of the 17th century, Western culture found its religion but lost its soul, embraced the methods of empirical science but forgot the methods of meditation, invented objectivity but turned the self
into a four-letter word.
"When I enter most intimately into what I call myself
, I always stumble on some particular perception, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.... We are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity..." (David Hume, A Treatise On Human Nature
Why does Hume write, "I never can catch myself at any time without a perception?" Because he tries to catch a thing instead of a Self. He grasps. And in the very act of grasping, he breaks reality in two. The subject denies its own existence as it reaches out for the object of attention, instead of resting attention in its source. Like Hume, we live in a culture of grasping, a culture of distraction, a culture of flight from Self-awareness.
On Hume's oversight hangs the entire Age of Enlightenment with its Empirical Philosophers. Francis Bacon, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Newtonian physics, with its laboratory method of science, Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations," with its blind faith in free markets, even fundamentalist Christianity: all rooted in Hume's oversight. I say oversight
rather than insight,
for Hume's philosophy is doomed by its failure to perceive what is most obvious, immediate, and intimate to the act of perception: awareness itself.
In honoring the content
of awareness as a flow of perceptions, he overlooks the prior space that must be already present to contain its content. O Philosophers, you are so absent-minded in your knowledge that you cannot find your spectacles, though they sit on your nostrils! You do not see the invisible clarity through which colors and forms appear. You do not hear the silence through which sounds arise. You do not know the consciousness that is already there before a single thought is born!
All the modern perspectives spawned by your empiricism - from physical science to evangelical Christianity - insist on one principle: an objective
interpretation of what is real. All assume that the world of the object, external to our subjectivity, is the only reality. Because the object is valued as real
, the self
is unreal. This devaluation of consciousness, as a reality in itself, leads the scientist to assume a material particle as the essential building block of nature, and leads the Christian to assume an external authority as the only source of revelation.
Dr. Hume, what is that formless and motionless space through which your perceptions pass in frenzied succession? If you are nothing but a "bundle of perceptions," then who is it who perceives them? Who is the witness of your thoughts - the "I"? Why do you overlook your Self?
O Philosopher! Overlooking the Self, you forget the Self. Forgetting the Self, you degrade the Self. Degrading the Self, you subject the Self to the institutions and armies of an ignorant world, a world inanimate and devoid of Spirit. Our economic and political crises, spawned by your philosophical materialism, cannot be solved by any progressive reforms. All reform movements are reactions to the problem, growing out of the problem, born of the same oversight. A problem is never solved by reacting to the problem, but by shifting attention to a prior level: the level of the cause. Therefore, economic and political problems have no material solution. Their solution is to know the Self.
Our problems have one cause, whether they are private or political: we mistake the sensation of things
for the inward satisfaction that arises when our mind rests in the radiance of its source, which is no-thing
. This world is at war because we grasp at money, land, weapons of dominion, food, clothing, naked flesh to fill the lusts born of mental distraction. The violent nihilism of our culture is the logical end of an argument that began in the 17th Century. For over three hundred years we have raised our children to believe:
* That there is nothing real inside me;
* Therefore, there is no good inside me;
* Therefore, the only real and only good lies in matter, ownership of property, and external authority;
* Even God must be an external authority, for God could not possibly dwell in my sinful soul;
* Therefor, I am bad, my intuition is untrustworthy, and my salvation is assured only through blind obedience to someone else.
We have come to the point where a great reduction
is required. We need one thing: an act of simplification.
We need to turn the beam of our attention 180 degrees inward, to shine upon its source.
Resting there, Philosopher, become wise. Not in sensation of objects, or in grasping of thoughts - for thoughts are also objects - but in the glory that arises when you dive beneath all sensation, all thought, and touch bottom. Yes, touch the dark and formless ground where the subject alone becomes an object of its own awareness. This happens where I
, with no noun predicated on that AM
. For I am not a noun. I am not a man, an American, or a Christian. Those nouns are accidental to my essence: but what I
know as AM
is essence itself. I must return to an infinitely simple relationship with the ground of my Being.
Philosopher, rejoice in the reverberations of pure consciousness. Your magical stone, your wish-granting jewel, is simply the no-thing
where awareness knows itself. That tremor of awareness, pulsation of Self on Self, strikes creation's fire, producing wave upon wave of reflection, a cosmos whose energy is pure awareness. As an algebraic equation appears to be composed of numbers, yet has no other substance but abstract intelligence, so all the complexity required to manifest this universe arises from the stillness whose sole business isto be aware.
We can now clarify the colossal mistake of Western philosophy, and ease the crisis of perception that dis-eased our science and religion for centuries. We begin to see the Truth: Consciousness is not produced by an evolving complexity of material particles. On the contrary, matter is produced by consciousness
, imagining itself in evermore complex reflections of its first and only Self-Reflection.
Thus, religion and science are grounded in the same awareness. The founders of modern quantum physics told us as much, but few listened. Einstein wrote: "The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving force behind scientific research." And physicists Arthur Eddington, founder of quantum mechanics and president of the Royal Academy of Science said, "I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor a dualism of matter and spirit... I contemplate a spiritual domain underlying the physical world."
Plato tried to tell us this at the source of Western philosophy. But we listened to Aristotle, the materialist, instead of Plato, Hume instead of Leibnitz, Calvin instead of St. Theresa. We sought reality out there
, when all the time it was arising from within
us. Now it is time to strip naked, dive deep, touch bottom, and come up singing again....