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Topic: The Ghost in the Machine
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The Ghost in the Machine
on: December 26, 2010, 14:18

If I were to ask you: 'what is ultimately real about your experience of a tree, or a thought, or an emotion, or your body, or someone else, or anything or state you may perceive whatsoever', you might reply that; 'in all instances there is the perceived object and the awareness or consciousness which does the perceiving'. You might add further that: 'without awareness the object is just not possible. To see an object, to hear a sound, to feel a feeling, to notice a thought – all these are dependent for their appearance on the awareness living within me which perceives these.

If I now push you a little further into this matter, and ask you: 'which of the two aspects of perception is more fundamental, you might, upon some reflection, deliberate that clearly it is awareness which is more fundamental because it is present as the same awareness in all the percpetions mentioned above. You may have a strong sense that in fact, your most fundamental nature is consciousness, as everything you perceive is dependent on this consciousness for its appearance. So clearly, you might argue, consciousness is more fundamental than the different things presenting themselves to your consciousness. And so you believe you have discovered a fundamental truth about life and reality.

In fact, if you were to go back to many of the traditional spiritual paths, you might be surprised to notice that they agtree with you. And in this you feel you have confirmation of the truth that consciousness is prior to anything which might appear to us, and that consciousness is the perceiver behind everything you perceive. A kind of ghost in the machine.

And so deeply has this notion of consciousness as the ultimate observer within us coded itself within our understanding and grasp of ourselves, that we regard this explanation of things as some kind of ultimate truth about human nature. I now define myself as a being who has its ultimate existence in this 'witness consciousness', which I believe exists prior to all forms of appearance. Before everything else 'is', I, (as this consciousness) IS.

Yet, dear friends, if I now were to ask you a very simple question: have you ever directly perceived, intuited, felt, experienced or sensed this 'consciousness' which you regard as something to exist separate and prior to the appearance of the objects mentioned above, what would your reply be? Where is this consciousness of which you speak, and which you have come to accept as a reality more real than the objects you perceive? Have you ever, even once, directly sensed this awareness (consciousness) without any content whatsoever – just consciousness as consciousness – pure and completely free from any object whatsoever?

What would your reply be now? Is there consciousness without content? Is it possible to be conscious of consiousness per se? Or is this consciousness you have accepted as the fundamental truth about your being, nothing but a cozy thought, projected onto experience in order to try to explain it? Where is the ghost in the machine, you thought were the 'witness' behind all appearances?

I challenge you to seek it, in any moment of experience. Look for it. Search for it. Try to sense it, directly. Try to isolate it, so that you unmistakably come upon the true, sensation of 'consciousness'. I say this is not possible. But what I say has little or no meaning. So I challenge you to discover for yourself if there is such a thing or state you might call 'consciousness'.

In fact, allow me to suggest that the very notion of consciousness behind and separate from any present experience, sense perception of inner state, is one of the most fundamental pillars which holds in place our false sense of duality. As long as we believe in this ghost in the machine (that is, consciousness as something existing within us presumably separate from any experience we might have), we are mired in the false sense of inner division between the observer and the observed, the 'witness' and its field of observation, wholeness and fragmentation.

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Re: The Ghost in the Machine
on: December 27, 2010, 08:30

Moller your insight is very sharp, it seems to me that awareness, is always the case, and cannot be seperated from, it seems to be as automatic as thought, in that it is always already an integral part of our essential makeup.

Otherwise, how would we be aware of anything…

and as you say , the thought of awareness is just that..a thought.

Just another brick in the wall

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Re: The Ghost in the Machine
on: December 29, 2010, 16:03

Thank you, Weallone, for your input.

You mentioned:

>>Moller your insight is very sharp, it seems to me that awareness, is always the case, and cannot be seperated from, it seems to be as automatic as thought, in that it is always already an integral part of our essential makeup.

Otherwise, how would we be aware of anything…

and as you say , the thought of awareness is just that..a thought.>>

Moller: Yes. The thought of awareness is not awareness. However, here we need to be very careful to distinguish clearly between that which is created by thought and that which is not. In other words we need to be sensitive to the very real possibility that we may easily mistake thought for reality.

For instance, the moment you offer what appears to be a most logical and reasonable argument for the existence of awareness, such as: consciousness is part of our essential make-up, otherwise, how would we be aware of anything?

By explaining the relationship between consciousness and our awareness of things in this way, you create immediate duality between what you presume to be consciousness present in us as something separate from the thing it observes. Here you still explain the way things appear to us in a strict dualistic sense. In effect you say: if we did not have this consciousness within us, how would we be able to experience anything which exists out there in the world, categorically separate from us as observing consciousness? But whereas you can always observe a thought, you can never observe this 'consciousness' you are referring to. Your 'consciousness as something within us which does the observation' is therefore nothing but a projection of thought. It is thought which infers the existence of consciousness within us as something existing in its own right, fundamentally separate from its field of experience.

And to my understanding and insight, this is the most fundamental flaw in human experience. We have created an observer, as something separate from the thing observed, where in fact, there is no such entity. The most difficult concept for folks to grasp is the notion of wholeness. That is, that there is no consciousness separate from anything it presumably 'observes'. We have become so totally identified with the observer as the fundamental principle of observation behind all percpetion, that we have completely lost touch (direct experience) of the truth of the matter.

The truth about all present experience is that there is never awareness without content, or content without awareness. For anything to be, we have to be aware, and there is never any sense of awareness without content. It is not that we are not aware. But it is of crucial importance to appreciate that there is a categorical difference between 'being aware' and 'having awareness'. To be aware is an ongoing process, which makes it a verb, not a noun. To 'have' consciousness is to give it noun status, as though it exists within us next to other faculties such as thought, emotion, attention, bodily sensation etc. But consciousness/awareness is like life – as long as we are alive, it can never be isolated, examined, defined or giving any status other than as an ongoing process.

Awareness as process is never separate from content as process. Try this: close you eyes and bring your finger slowly towards an object. Go very slowly. The moment you have the sensation of touching the object, the object appears. Your awarenes of the object and the object itself can not, on present evidence, be separated. The one is the other. The content of what you feel and the becoming aware that you are feeling, is one indivisible present process. The content can as little be separated from the awareness of it, than the awareness of it can be separated from the feeling sensation of touch. The object appears simultaneously with becoming aware of the object, not before. This gives the experience a complete holistic feeling sense. No division exists between the sense of the object your finger is touching, and you becoming aware of its existence.

This is a crucial insight. In a later post I will try to explain the fundamental importance this insight or direct experience has on every aspect of our daily living. In fact, I will argue that without experiencially entering into the paradigm shift from indirect, observer/observed style of looking at things, to the non-dual experience of all present experience, (where the distinction between awareness and its objects begins to dissolve in the light of correct perception)your life will remain burdened by this powerful illusion of the observer and the observed. It amounts to little more than living a dream of separation.

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