by Rupert Spira: The following is an extract from Rupert’s book: ‘The Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience‘…
There is something present which is experiencing the current situation. We do not know what that something is, yet we know for certain that it is present, that it is conscious.
We know that it is not the mind, the body or the world, because the mind, the body and the world are part of the current situation that is being experienced.
The mind, the body and the world appear to this witnessing presence of Consciousness.
If we try to find this Consciousness, if we turn our attention towards it, we are unable to see it or find it, because it does not have any objective qualities.
If it had objective qualities, these qualities would themselves be part of the current situation that is being experienced. They would be experienced by this witnessing presence of Consciousness. They would appear to it, along with all other objects.
At the same time, it is our direct experience that this witnessing presence of Consciousness is undeniably present. It is our most intimate Self.
It is what we know ourselves to be. It is what we call ‘I.’
The current situation is changing all the time. Even if the changes are minute, nevertheless from moment to moment we are presented with a different configuration of mind, body and/or world.
However, this conscious witnessing Presence, this ‘I,’ never changes. It is always simply present, open, available, aware.
Due to the inadvertent and exclusive association of Consciousness with the body and the mind, we tend to think that any change in the body and the mind implies a change in Consciousness.
However, if we look closely at our experience, we see clearly that we have never experienced any change in Consciousness itself.
If we look back over our lives we see that this conscious Presence has always been exactly as it is now. It has never changed, moved, appeared or disappeared.
The very first experience we ever had as a newborn baby was experienced by this witnessing presence of Consciousness. Consciousness was present to witness this first experience, but did we ever experience the appearance of Consciousness?
If the appearance of Consciousness was an experience there would have to have been another Consciousness present to witness this appearance. And if the appearance of Consciousness has never been experienced, what validity is there to the claim that Consciousness appears, that it has a beginning, that it was born?
Likewise have we ever experienced an end to Consciousness? If we experienced the disappearance of Consciousness, there would have to be another Consciousness present to witness this disappearance. And this ‘new’ Consciousness, which witnessed the disappearance of the ‘old’ Consciousness, would have to be present during and after its disappearance, in order to make the claim legitimately that it witnessed its disappearance.
Therefore we cannot claim that we ever have the experience of the disappearance of Consciousness and so what validity is there to our conviction that we, as Consciousness, die?
We experience a beginning and an end to all objects, but we never experience a beginning or an end to Consciousness, to our Self.
We may think that Consciousness disappears when we fall asleep and reappears on waking, but this is in fact not our experience. It is an uninvestigated belief.
However, it is a belief that has taken hold so deeply and become so much a part of the accepted norm, that we actually think that we experience the disappearance of Consciousness when we fall asleep.
As we fall asleep we first experience the withdrawal of sense perceptions or, more accurately, the faculties of perceiving and sensing. With the disappearance of perceiving, the world vanishes from our experience and with the disappearance of sensing, the body vanishes from our experience, leaving only thinking and imagining. This is the dream state.
The thinking and imagining functions are in turn withdrawn and, as a result, the dream state gives way to deep sleep.