Why form and consciousness are not recognized



    “Pure existence is created in silence and dies in silence at each moment. What you call permanent existence, creation, is a thought, a convention.” (Jean Klein)

    In 'ordinary', conventional life, we dwell in the world of subject and object. It is the objects that define ourselves as subject. All that we find around us and all that we find within us tell us that we are. By virtue of them the self as subject comes into existence. Objects also tell us who we are. By means of them we become someone and our lives become meaningful. The subject engaged in these objects is not aware of consciousness. In the 'ordinary' way of living, consciousness is the unconscious background against which everything takes place. When pointing at the painting, we no longer see the wall it is hanging on. Wherever subject and object make their appearance, consciousness disappears from view.

    As soon as consciousness recedes, a double projection emerges from form: subject and object. The subject stands for the impression that a real self or 'I' exists. The object stands for the impression that there is a real world apart from this 'I'. When we say, "I see a tree", we are implying that the 'I' and the tree are real entities, and that both exist separately. As soon as subject and object arise, form and consciousness fade into the background. Here there is no longer awareness of form and consciousness.

    How is it then that, in the double projection of subject and object, there is still the impression of consciousness? For example, when we see a tree or think about one, it seems to be that we are conscious. What is the reason for this? The answer is straightforward: objects arise from form, and form is, after all, a manifestation of consciousness. In the tree-as-object, consciousness is delimited in time and space. Consciousness becomes local in the projection of form into object, and as a result mistakenly understood as limited to that locality. But this downstream process can be inverted. Upstream, "I see a tree" can be discovered as a trail towards pure form-in-consciousness, just as the moonlight in the night can lead us to the sun.

    The moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun. When the sun has set, the moon is useful for displaying objects. When the sun has risen no one needs the moon, though its disc is visible in the sky.
    (Ramana Maharshi)

    In the darkness of the unconscious mind, we can be seized by the ‘great fear’ that both subject and object are nothing but mirages. This is the fundamental fear that ‘I’ (the subject) does not exist, and/or that the world (the object) is profoundly different from what it appears to be. A feeling then overwhelms us that our perception of reality is profoundly mistaken. The great fear whispers to us that we are missing out on reality, missing out on life including ourselves. This is also the fear of waking up from a dream and coming to realize that we have been wrong our entire life.

    Through the grace of God alone, the desire for nonduality arises in wise men to save them from great fear.
    (Avadhuta Gita)

    This fear is at the same time unfounded and well-founded, for subject and object do and do not exist. They are the projections on the rock face in Plato's cave metaphor. The rock face on which images are projected, represents our mind. ‘I’ and ‘world’ are the dreamlike representation we live in. If we are caught in them, consciousness is veiled and no longer able to recognize itself . However, if ‘I’ and ‘world’ are apprehended as form, then they are recognized anew as residing in consciousness . In this recognition the third principle - energy - plays a crucial role, as we shall see further on.

    A world is not really a world. It is called a world.
    (Diamond Sutra)

    Form is original objectivity. Its rainbow-like quality becomes discernable when we loosen our mind's grip on phenomena. Form is recognized as form, as manifestation in consciousness. Consciousness is original subjectivity. It is the expanse in which all rainbows appear and disappear.

    A person who is conscious, views the world from originality. When he sees a tree, he is aware of its form in consciousness. There is ‘tree’-form - as sensory image, word and concept. And simultaneously with awareness of form there is awareness of consciousness. This awareness is consciousness being aware of itself.

    Notice how tempting it is to represent consciousness and form as objects, that is, as substantial entities which really exist apart from ourselves. Form is only form and does not exist outside of consciousness. Existence outside of consciousness is merely a thought, an assumption, a convention. Likewise, consciousness does not exist outside of consciousness.

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