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Does the word 'consciousness' point to anything actual?

Discussion in 'Mind, Body & Spirit' started by Kauil, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    Okay. I thought I had this thing, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the mind and its concepts of the world and how it plays games with you to keep you believing in illusions that are never real. But something I just heard Jeff Foster say in a video almost made me angry. It literally made me think "What is this I am hearing?! Can this be true? Have I been wrong all this time?"

    YouTube - Jeff Foster - pointers on Nonduality (Advaita) and Oneness - Audiobook

    In the beginning of the clip Jeff is describing how there's nobody there thinking, seeing, feeling. Is this truly true :)D), is it so that there IS NO CONSCIOUSNESS? Is it another fable told by the mind?

    I finished reading about Tolle's descriptions of the awareness being the space in which contents exist, the nothingness in which everythingness is located. But it never struck me like this.

    Is there really nothing there, or is there just no 'thing' there? Is it only a thought of the mind, or are the thoughts pointing to something actual?
    Is the consciousness something, or is it nothing?
    Is there an "I" at all?
    Is there no-one driving this vehicle that is my corporeal whole, my body in all it's atoms? Is this body just meat and brains, operating under the illusion of choice?
    Is consciousness or awareness just the opening through which life operates?

    I can't really come up with any more words for my question... I'm not even sure what I'm asking here...

    I just felt really cheated suddenly and there was an urge to find an answer.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010
  2. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

    This is a deep subject :D and I’m sure will promote some good debate. Trying to understand consciousness is impossible you can only use pointers to help you undersatnd. :)

    From my limited understanding, consciousness is what you are in the most basic sense, before you look to any thoughts, labels or forms appearing within awareness. Consciousness is the actual, vast, no-boundary, non-conceptual space from, and through which all appearances, including all labels, thoughts and forms seamlessly come and go. It knows no boundaries. It knows no divisions.
    Consciousness is impersonal. It is not yours. Any sensation in the body that give the sense that consciousness is located in your body, either in your head, or chest, or some other part is happening in awareness. It is not consciousness itself. It is not what sees the sensation. Consciousness has no boundary and cannot be proven to be restricted to an individual.

    I cannot exist by myself. I exist only in relationship to people, things, and ideas.
    –Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Peace :)
  3. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    Jeff Foster is an Advaita teacher.
    Every ... method or religion pointing towards the same endpoint has a different description, you could say have their own language so to speak.

    When Jeff says that there is nobody thinking, seeing or feeling, he is talking about the ego. No-body, there is no person or ego there, just consciousness.
    And at the same time he is making a very accurate description of consciousness as well: no-thing !
    So in a sense, if you knew how to describe consciousness, you would probably have made a mental image of it, and every mental image of consciousness is wrong, because mind can never grasp something that is there while it is a no-thing.

    What I find interesting is your reaction:
    This sounds like a typical reaction of the mind, trying to defend it's viewpoint.
    Obviously mind must have made some concept of consciousness that it is trying to defend, or anger would not have risen at all...

    Ask yourself "who is angry ?"
    Give this some thought.
    What is the difference between nothing and everything ?
    If consciousness is nothing, at the same time it has to be everything.

    There is no denying that consciousness exists.
    You are here, you notice every moment in which your body exists that you are here.
    No illusion what so ever.

    However, when trying to look for consciousness, you can't find it.
    I am going to use a well known example from Advaita:
    A knife can cut through everything except itself.
    A camera can make pictures of everything except itself.
    Consciousness can see everything.... except itself.

    It is impossible to see consciousness, because you allready are that.

    In this thread, where Midnight gets his "moment of insight", he figures this out by himself at this post: http://www.project-meditation.org/c...-box/3151-jarring-resistance-2.html#post15714
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  4. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    I can only think of the scientific explanation of nothing being everything in that everything = condensed nothingness.

    I read most of Midnight's thread and the answers therein. He describes an underlying sense of being aware of it all. I'm not sure I'm recognising that in myself.

    Still, is it so that the mind must think through these things until it exhausts itself, finding no more answers through conceptual thinking? I suppose the amount of thinking exhaustion required varies from person to person. Is that what Jeff meant with "failing with the spiritual search"? The mind has to fail.

    This is all feels like a great mindf*ck, if you know what I mean. And all the while the consciousness is watching and laughing at the mind's efforts in understanding something it possibly couldn't.
  5. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    It is ! The worst thing you could do instead of searching for the answers yourself is to "become spiritual". Ask questions, don't act on faith alone.
    Haha, well, consciousness isn't laughing. It is watching. And basically, that is all it does. Everything else that happens in this world, being it things, thoughts, emotions, movements, those all happen in consciousness.
    And they are effortlessly seen by consciousness.

    It is so hard to recognise for you because you are so very close to it.
    Your very existence is based on your conscious self.
    If your body would be unconscious at this time, the world may very well stop existing and you would not notice it.
    First there is consciousness, and in consciousness is where thoughts, emotions, and all your senses appear.

    But I feel that I may be confusing you even more instead of helping you...

    Maybe it would be better to go about this like Sherlock Holmes would.
    By eliminating everything it is not, the truth, however unlikely, will be left.

    Try to find out who you really are.
    Are you your body ?
    For instance your hands, of course you can move them, but are your hands who you are ?
    If a person by some accident or disease would lose their arms, would they stop being who they are ?
    So, because you can observe your body, it is not who you are.
    People who think of themselves as old or ugly say the same thing: When I look into the mirror the person staring back at me is not who I am.

    So, you are not your body.

    Who are you then ?
    Is it like Descartes said "I think, therefor I am" ?
    Since you are probably familiar with meditation, you will probably have noticed that even though you can sometimes get caught up in thoughts and emotions, they can be observed as coming up, and disappearing, like the cloud analogy in the free meditation course by Michael.

    So, you are not your thoughts.

    And emotions ? Can they be observed ? Do they come up and disappear ?

    So, you are also not your thoughts.

    So, if you are not your body, thoughts or emotions....

    What is left ?
  6. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    I just figured something :D If only I could remember what it was... :)

    So this "enlightenment" isn't something that the mind can accomplish. Meaning it never has been, and it never will be. And also that it's no "it". It's not. Difficult to put into words, yes. :D

    So whatever this "enlightenment" is, or isn't, it always has been, or hasn't been.

    This, I think, proves that enlightenment is paradoxal to the mind, and also something that always is.

    Thank God for paradoxes.


    If I am the watcher, wasn't Descartes then wrong in saying "I think, therefore I am"?
    There is no I, so no "I think" either, nor an "I am". What were you implying with this?
  7. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    That is the power of self-inquiry.
    You come up with the answers yourself, emenating from a truth within rather than just listening and believing someone.
    Yes you are right, everybody is enlightened, but we think we are not.
    Because wether you believe it or not, Self is always there to witness everything, even your belief in being a seperate person.
    Wow you catch on fast !
    Descartes should either have said : "I am, therefor I think",


    I observe my thoughts, therefor I am

    Could you explain why you say that there is no "I am" ?
    I am not saying that you are wrong, I just want to know if you can explain that.
  8. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    I am. Doesn't that imply duality? If the being a separate person is a delusion, then isn't saying 'I am' or 'You are' just a derivative of this delusion? If there is no separation, there are no separate persons, so there is no-one. There is no one. One requires the other. With not even 'one' to begin with, there's nothing else either, so there's nothing. Or rather "Nowhere's nothing." But even these are concepts to the mind... ok I'm veering off point :p

    I suppose Descartes should've said: Nothing is, therefore everything is. But I suppose he was coming from a faulty assumption to begin with, the "I am."

    Or perhaps it's not faulty, he just failed to include it inside "Everything is.", in which case it becomes insignificant to state "I am" in the first place. I think I'm chasing the 'Everyone is enlightened, so there is no such thing' analogy here. Someone in another thread quoted/told an ample example: If everything was blue, nothing would be blue.

    You could say: "Is." There's no doer in that one. But it's not really grammatically correct and quite confusing to state just that. Is. :)

    I feel my mind isn't so interested in spiritual seeking as it was a few months back. Maybe it's a good sign. Maybe that is so. :)
  9. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    I had just made a nice post for you and then the PM forum server had a hickup.
    Lost !

    Will post later, haven't forgotten you !
  10. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    I agree that saying "I am" makes no sense.

    However the feeling "I am" is a whole different story.
    The feeling "I am" points towards the fact that you are here, that you exist, it "is" to speak in your words ;)
    In this "isness" everything appears.
    Ok, so you allready see that consciousness is not personal.

    So, if it is not personal, and you allready know that consciousness is that in which everything appears, you now need to try find it.
    Consciousness has no properties, no size, no form. See if you can look inward, and find out where consciousness ends.
    Just try to find out how big consciousness is.
  11. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    But how can I look at it if it is what I am? I thought it only watches, and cannot be watched. The knife cutting through everything but itself. Or does this just mean that I can't watch it in myself? Can I watch it in everything else?
  12. GilesC

    GilesC Member

    You can't see what you are. That would be like trying to look at your own eyes.
    The true Self, the observer, the one consciousness, call it what you will, can only observe and can only be aware of it's own existence by the fact that it observes.



  13. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    How quick was I to forget that there is no separation and only one consciousness that flows through everything. Indeed, how could I then watch it in others. Brrh, I'm feeling I'm experiencing a some setbacks with my spiritual search. Like forgetting obvious stuff all the time.
  14. Mr Monkey

    Mr Monkey Member

    I can assure you your not the only one ;), I'm having my own fun and games with this stuff. I seem to 'get it' one minute then realise I am forgetting bits (and big bits at that) the next :eek: :mad: :confused: :eek:

    The good news is, I think we're in the right place for help & guidance :)

    Wishing you well on your journey.
  15. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    Maybe you gave up too quickly here.
    Have you genuinly looked ?

    Have you proven that this is so ? Or do you let your mind do the reasoning for you ?
    Have you explored the "feeling of I AM" back to it's source ?
    Have you FELT for yourself that that which you are is infinately larger than your body ?

    Until then, all is just reasoning done by mind, and that's just another strategy of the mind to keep you from really seeing it.
  16. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    The obvious problem that arises here is the inability of knowing.

    I suppose it's a bit like what Morpheus said to Neo in The Matrix when they went to see the Oracle.

    "I can only show you the door, but you're the one that has to walk through it."

    Have I explored the "feeling of I AM" back to it's source?

    This is really troubling me. :confused: If I can't look back into myself, If the consciousness has no way or realizing itself, how could I possibly explore this?

    Something related to this came up when I meditated this morning. I tried to focus on "feeling" it, tried to feel the awakened state within... but then I realized I don't need to do that, as I already do already, all the time. The only obstacle was that I thought I even had to try.

    I was so focused on doing nothing I failed to recognize that "focusing on doing nothing" is a massive concept of the mind by itself.

    Well... I get it or I don't. What happens, happens. I'ma quote Morpheus again :D

    "...What happened, happened and couldn't have happened any other way."
  17. GilesC

    GilesC Member

    To explore it to look at it from the outside, and you cannot look at your Self in that way, because as you know, the observer cannot observe the observer. The "desire" to explore it is another trick of the mind. It's so simple we often miss it and the mind covers it with these "needs" to explore and try and recognise things (when the mind really knows we can never find it by looking). Simply recognising that you are observing is realisation itself of the Self.

    No, you get it. ;)

    I think you're mind is just creating some expectation that it's got to be something more complex and difficult than the simplicity that it really is.


  18. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    I agree with Giles, this is what I wanted to hear.

    Basically, this is all there is.

    You now know your true Self. You know that whatever trick mind will try, it will be observed by your true Self.

    Once you "get it" it becomes so increadibly simple that people have been known to burst into laughter, saying "is this what took me so long to understand ?".

    Now there is nothing more you need to do to realise it, except maybe to recognise every time the "I" thought comes up that that isn't you.

    Congratulations !
  19. Kauil

    Kauil Member

    Thank you. There is still a way to go... My mind is sort of let down of not being like Mooji... to have the calm and answer to every question.. heh. But indeed, nothing to do to be that I guess. Just everything to be.

    Last time I tried meditation of any sorts was when I was interested in astral projection. Yesterday was my third consecutive morning meditation and fifth overall meditation attempt during this spiritual search.

    I feel meditation is a natural continuation to all the thinking I've done.

    Yesterday I also noticed a peacefulness in my behavior. I feel more natural in how I'm acting with people... I'm growing an addiction to this meditation thingy :p I feel meditating just before school is working nicely for me, as it's usually quiet and I'm sufficiently awake to not just fall asleep (happened a few times, I've found this can easily cause sleep paralysis :p).
  20. Edwin

    Edwin Member

    Ramana Maharshi told those who have seen that Consciousness is seperate from all manifestations, just like you have, to "abide in the Self".

    Roughly, that means that as much as you can, you try to remind yourself that you are indeed not your body/mind, but that which observes it all.

    When thoughts come up, and judging from your last post they are trying very hard to keep your focus away from who you are, realise that just like in meditation, they come up and go away. Only those that seem useful if you are in that Calm, when you know that you are the watcher, that you are consciousness, that consciousness is not an entity that has to be found, but that you ARE that, the thoughts that still have truth when in that state, those thoughts should be followed. Pay every other thought no extra attention anymore, that addiction should slowly end as your practice to "abide in the Self" slowly turns into all that is there, as it is right now.:cool:

    Unless you have some more questions, I think that Giles and me will have nothing more that is needed to say to you, all the tools are there :)

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