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Commentary on a discussion of consciousness



Originally written on March 26, 2017 and edited on July 31, 2018

On Consciousness

Ricardo Manzotti and Tim Parks, in a series of articles in The New Yorkerdiscuss the nature of consciousness. Below is my commentary about the key points made in the articles.

First, I start with Manzotti and Parks’ conclusion that consciousness is nothing more than the experience of objects. That is, the experience of objects and the objects themselves are one and the same! This is a nondual perspective. My first Zen teacher used to say something very similar: “Who you are and what happens to you are the same thing!”

Consciousness and the experience of the world co-arise together. Simultaneously. They are mutually interdependent. This is a core aspect of all spiritual teachings. But from what or where they co-arise cannot be known.

Unfortunately, Manzotti and Parks err when he concluded that objects are real; that is, that there is an external world that exists and that somehow those objects have become conscious only because the objects exist in relation to one another.

But, to discuss my objection to this last statement, I need to summarize the other philosophical perspectives that Manzotti and Parks dismiss.</