I received an email the other day from a fellow non-duality student. I thought this exchange to be one important enough to share.
As you will read, the email is in response to comments I made during a recent Satsang; comments that themselves were prompted by a recent experience while undergoing a routine 10-year medical procedure. Before the procedure, there was the expectation of being ‘put under’. As the drug was administered into my arm, it was my intent to carefully observe my own consciousness as I lost consciousness. I expected the process to be a gradual one, similar to falling asleep. However, one moment, I was conscious; the next I was not. And when consciousness returned it was almost as quick as it was when it disappeared.
Based on these experiences, I made the comment during Satsang that conscious Awakeness or the witness is ‘unit’ dependent. The ‘unit’ refers to the body. Conversely, all perceptions, including those of the unit (the body) are dependent on consciousness. Thus, in what is known as a strange loop (a paradoxical self-referencing system), that which we call consciousness and that which we call reality are mutually interdependent. One does not exist without the other.
So, when a drug, for example, shuts down consciousness, it also shuts down reality. What is left? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Also known as the void, or in Buddhism, emptiness.
Anyway, here’s the exchange (slightly edited).
Hi Vince, I just watched this last Sunday’s Satsang. I loved what you said. A quick sharing, my awakening experience with Fred, June 2015, was to the Void, Nothingness, Vastness, Darkness, Infinite, good descriptors at best. You spoke of being present, then out like a light, then back again, noting the “gap”. Oh wow, there can be no consciousness without the unit and vice versa. Only what is right here, right now. It so simple, yet frequently resisted. Adyashanti points to this often but I really liked how you expressed it, I sensed your personal experience more clearly. It made me think about the manifested: objects appearing. A sound must be heard, a shape or a color has to be seen, a bodily sensation has to be felt. So, another way of describing what is NOW is to say that there is hearing, seeing, feeling, bodily sensations, and thinking. Experiencing. Awareness is the sensitive space where every experience appears. Thought seems to measure change in “time”: seconds, minutes, hours, days, and so on. So, time is the measure of change but, in order to be perceived, change needs a changeless background: consciousness or awareness. Change is made of experiences that arise and pass away. For example, in order to perceive the beginning of a song, consciousness must be there before the beginning and after, and in order to perceive it, our consciousness must be there during the song and after the song has ended. So, consciousness is always here; it is constant, while experiences arise and pass away in this space. Is there any experience, perceiving experience – any seeing, any hearing, any feeling – that can be ap