Part Three of REALITY AND EXISTENCE.
We must never forget that a greater self is a greater error: there is just naturing, and the essence of this selfless naturing, is selfless knowing. Thus naturing and knowing are completely synonymous terms. It is not even that naturing and knowing are coextensive, they are one and the same activity. Look within what you experience as you and realize that all that you are cognizing is manifesting presentially, by appearing, being present in the now. Then, look outwards towards your experience of the world and realize that everything you are cognizing is manifesting presentially here as well. It’s still just the same naturing, but it evidences something really important. I’ll let the venerable Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche introduce it:
The I that we are emotionally attached to seems to step back and look on life, evaluating experience and wishing to avoid suffering.
—Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness.
In a dualistic structure we see experience as the awareness of what is happening, but this cannot be true in the absence of a separate, independent, lasting self, an entity that is you. Yet evaluation occurs, in the same way that phenomena appear, and it is just more naturing. Yet I noticed something more subtle to grasp: the naturing is affective so that the process makes a difference to, or has an affect on what is natured next. I believe this is the true ground or basis for karma as this affectivity conditions what arises.
What happens matters! And this is the reason, I feel, for a needful focus on compassion and self-less loving acceptance of oneself and all that is other than yourself. Merely the movement of attention changes everything. We let advertising move our attention to things we don’t have, leading us to desire them. We focus on memories and thoughts of what has happened, rather than being present. We get stuck going nowhere in our lives, because we try to change what is, and we can’t.
There is nothing other than this. I call it sciomorphogenesis, literally knowing through the generation of form, but you can call it what you like. The important thing is not to think of this manifesting as being anything other than the naturing of all that exists. This naturing is the activity of reality, and at some point you may have the additional meditational insight that nothing that exists can exist separately, apart from this naturing, so that when you speak of reality you encompass it all.
Just please, don’t think of reality as some thing because it is processual rather than substantial. This, then, is my fourth guide: What happens matters. Obscurations of our true naturing, which are also only manifestations conditioned by karma and primordial activity, that which came logically before, can be systematically removed through meditation and the progression of insight that it brings. The idea that “There is no one, so nothing to do” is just another obscuration. The understanding that for something to happen, some actor must do something is a false understanding.
Naturing happens without a thing called Nature doing it. This is hard for us to accept, because we are steeped in the idea that all action needs an actor. When we suddenly realize the lack of an enduring self during meditation, we have an unfortunate habit of creating an understanding that this means there is nothing to do, even while a universe of stuff happening swirls around us! We can’t seem to escape it, except through dedicated meditation, which is a way of quiescing the continual arising of obstructions of our true naturing.
This leads me to my fifth guide: Buddha was correct when he said there was conventional truth and real truth. Our lives unfold and we experience them in a conventional way. Speaking about our life and experiences using conventional language filled with nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. is correct and proper. Why? Because of the conventional truth that we live. If we didn’t have language, and we didn’t have the higher mental functions that defines our species, we would still be living in a conventional world, all beings do. This conventional world structures speech.
We cannot speak about the real because it is directly unknowable, and yet, there are ways to bend language so that it points beyond the conventional truth we live, as Plotinus did in the quote above. But language itself, and the mental formations it is based upon, can never encompass reality, so there is no need to make believe we are speaking from somewhere beyond. Yet, language can, in some impoverished way, help us tell others what happened along our path.
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