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  • Rudy Bauer

The Direct Experience of Our Ontological Sense of Being as Self

Rudolph Bauer, Ph. D. Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P.


This paper describes the self- liberating power of a person being in the

transitional space of awareness. By being in the transitional space of

awareness, we are able to directly experience the field of Being and to

experience our embodied sense of the field of Being. We are directly able

to experience our sense of self as the ongoing continuity of embodied

Being. This paper explores the sources and dimensions of our lack of

Being and the natural resource that brings forth our simultaneous

experience of the duality of beings and our direct sense of the non-duality

of Being within the duality of beings. The paper illuminates the drama of our

direct knowing of Being and our knowing of the indivisible experience of the

Being of phenomena.


The Felt Sense of the Lack of Being


The experience of the lack of the foundational sense of Being is

experienced by most people at the different phases of their life. This felt

sense of the lack of Being is experienced throughout their life. This lack of

Being is not simply some form of clinical psychopathology but this vast

existential sense of lack reflects our human limitations in our knowing of our

own embodiment of Being. The felt sense of the lack of Being is a powerful

motivator throughout our life. Philosophy, theology, psychology, arts and

literature have arisen from our profound felt sense of the fullness of Being

and our profound sense of the lack of Being. The problem of the

experiential sense of the lack of Being is not simply intellectual but is

deeply experiential and existential.


Our Sense of Being is Our Sense of Self


What is amazing is that the unfolding of our felt sense of ongoing continuity

of Being and the felt sense of the continuity of our sense of self is a

convergent experience. Our very sense of self and our very sense of Being

are intimately and ultimately the same experience.

The existential psychoanalyst Donald WInnicott understood and articulated

the ineffable mystery of the intertwining of Being and our ongoing continuity

of our sense of self. The experience of our experience of Being is

phenomenologically the same as our experience of our sense of embodied

self. The experience of this sameness of our experience of Being and the

sameness of our experience of our sense of self is of central focus in many

of the forms of existential phenomenology and existential psychology.

Maurice Merleau Ponty’s phenomenological work ‘The Visible and the

Invisible’ can be read in this light. The existential psychological work of

Rollo May, Erving and Miriam Polster, Eugene Gendlin, Menard Boss,

Michael Eigen are some of the existential psychologists who understood

and wrote about this convergence of the sense of Being and the sense of

Self.


Awareness as Transitional Space


Donald Winnicott once described the unfolding sense of self of the child as

the unfolding sense of ongoing continuity of Being. Donald Winnicott also

elaborated his understanding of awareness as transitional spaciousness,

which is a form of knowing that directly knows our experience of ongoing

continuity of Being. The sameness of our experience of self and the

sameness of our experience of Being is known directly and experientially

through the doorway of our transitional field of awareness.

The phenomenological action of our becoming aware of our own

awareness brings us immediately into the field of transitional awareness,

which is an experiential opening to know directly, to experience directly the

sense of self and to know directly and experience directly the Being of our

own embodied Being.


Gnosis, Jnana, Dasein: Language of Direct Knowing of Being


The experience of transitional awareness is not unlike the experience of

Dasein that Heidegger spoke of and used to express the openness of

human beings to Being itself. The language of awareness as direct

knowing is very similar to the language of gnosis of the early Gnostics or

Jnana of the Tantric Buddhist and Tantric Hindu Lineages. This knowing of

Being in immediacy and in directness is symbolized in the Nyingma Tibetan

Dzogchen Traditions as semde. In the language of the Dzogchen tradition

the word sems is used for knowingness of mind which knows forms and

semde for the direct knowingness of awareness which knows Being. This

distinction between mind and awareness is a most important distinction in

the Nyingma Dzogchen tradition of the direct experience of Being. Our

human direct knowingness of Being is an embodying event. Through our

experience of our becoming aware of our own awareness we learn the

embodiment of Being. Being is the experience of spaciousness, vital

energy, and radiant luminosity as spontaneous presence.


Being in its most foundational manifestation is the experience of timeless

awareness in time. Being is the experience of oneness and Being is the

experience of non-duality. Being is ultimately always Pure. To live in the

luminous felt sense of the embodiment of Being is self -liberation in the

tradition of Dzogchen and Kashmir Shavism. Existential Dzogchen uses the

word Rigpa to describe the experience of our awareness as the direct

experience of Being.


The Foreclosure of the Direct Knowing of Awareness


When transitional awareness or the experience of becoming aware of

awareness itself is foreclosed by our mind, we may no longer experience

the felt sense of Being. This sense of Being is the sense of Being in and of

itself, but also there is the sense of Being of phenomena. When our

knowing as awareness is foreclosed, we can no longer experience the

indivisibleness of Being and Phenomena. When we are in our mind alone,

we can experience phenomena but not phenomenological being and not

the Being of phenomena.


To experience the Being of Phenomena and the indivisibleness of Being

and Phenomena it is necessary to integrate the knowing of our mind as the

knower of form within our field of knowing as awareness. Our awareness

knows Being. Without the knowing of our mind, our awareness will know

Being but not the form of beings. Without our knowing of Being through the

direct knowing of awareness, our mind will only know phenomena as form.

To know the experience of the Being of phenomena and the indivisibleness

of phenomena and Being, there is the need for the union of our mind

knowing form and our awareness knowing Being. We are one knower with

two ways of knowing.


Many philosophical traditions, psychological traditions and theological

traditions do not know or have this understanding about the distinction

between the knowing of mind and the knowing of awareness. These

traditions will find themselves often limited to knowing the duality of


phenomena but not knowing the non-duality of the Being of the

phenomena. Or these traditions may be limited by knowing the non-duality

of Being but not knowing the duality of phenomena. There are mind alone

traditions that are concretely mechanistically realistic and will only know the

duality of phenomena. These traditions will only know the duality of

phenomena and forms by dismissing the actuality of Being. There are

transcendental traditions that are idealistic and will only know and

experience the non-duality of Being. They will only come to know non-

duality of transcendental knowing by dismissing the actuality of

phenomena. Both these polarized forms of knowing are experientially

incomplete.


Knowing of Mind and Knowing of Awareness: Our Two Ways of Knowing

When we can no longer enter into the field of awareness (our field of direct

knowing of Being) then we will only know through our mind alone. Through

our mind alone we can know forms of beings and forms of things, but not

the Being of beings and the Being of things. Through our mind alone, we

will not experience the Being of our own being. Through knowing through

our mind alone, we will not know the Being of all the beings. We will not

experience directly the Being of Being itself. Through knowing of our mind

alone we will know difference and we will only know duality. We will not

know the oneness of Being within phenomena. We will not experience the

Relational Being of phenomena.


Our Awareness Knows Being


When our direct knowing of Being is foreclosed, our Direct Knowing of self

is foreclosed. Our felt sense of our own being-ness and the felt sense of

our own self converge. This foreclosure of our direct knowing of the being-

ness of our own being can foreclose the Direct Knowing of the field of

Being itself. This foreclosure of the direct knowing of Being through our

awareness and the corresponding foreclosure of our knowing the field of

Being, informs our sense of character and informs our sense of humanness

and informs our sense of ethos. We become more ‘thing’ like and the world

becomes more ‘thing’ like when our knowing of awareness is foreclosed.

When Awareness is foreclosed our felt sense of Being diminishes. We can

begin to feel empty, hopeless and lifeless.


The Cultural Mythology of Knowing Only Through Mind Alone


How does it happen that the direct knowingness of our awareness is

foreclosed by the knowing of our mind? Our mind and the cultural prejudice

about our mind can foreclose our knowingness of awareness. Our mind

can become personally and culturally contextualized and our mind can

think there is only one way to know and that way is through mind alone.

Our mind can foreclose our experience of knowing directly through our

awareness. Our mind can think that direct knowing is impossible and that

there is only one form of knowing which is knowing through mind alone and

the forms and functions of our mind. This knowing of mind is knowing

through thinking, knowing through feeling, knowing through memory,

knowing through sensation and knowing through imagination. We think we

can only know the world through our representational conceptual mind.

This knowing of mind alone is conceptual and representational knowing.

Conceptual knowing is knowing about something! The knowing of mind is

mediated knowing. Mediated knowing through thought, through sensations,

through feelings, through memory and through imagination.


The mind of some people believe that the word awareness means simply

the focusing of attention by the mind. This is a conventional understanding.

The mind focusing of attention by the mind, is not the vast open

spaciousness of direct knowing of and within transitional awareness. The

direct knowing of awareness is unmediated by mind and the functions of

the mind. This awareness is a field of knowing that is vast and

multidimensional. This awareness is the base of our being, as our Being.

The innermost field of awareness is the openness of our being to Being as

Being. The innermost field of awareness is actually the innermost field of

Being in its knowing-ness.


The mind of some people think that Being is not an experience but a

speculative concept about experience. The mind of some people think we

do not know the Being-ness of beings and the Being-ness of our own

being. The mind of some think that the self is not a direct experience but

rather is simply a conceptualization about the experience of the mind. This

prejudicial way of thinking in our mind can actually foreclose our experience

of our awareness of Being.


The Religious and Cultural Mythology of Direct Knowing of Our Felt Sense

of Being


Our mind can be contextualized by culture and by religious cultures. Some

religious cultures mythologize that our direct knowing of our awareness of

Being is a kind of knowing that is very rare and is an aspiration that

ordinary people cannot experience. The cultural understanding as

contextualized by some western and eastern religious and spiritual cultures

believe that only the great spiritual masters or the great saints of the culture

can know directly the sense of Being. Moreover, some of these cultures

believe a person who embodies the felt sense of Being has to be a great

lama or great swami or great saint. This is of course not the truth of natural

experience. This is not the bliss of the ordinary. Yes, the Bliss of Being is

the Bliss of the ordinary. Just as it is. This bliss of knowing our being as

Being is a foundational given-ness.


Many of the religious cultures both of the west and of the east believe that

the beatific experience of Being has to be earned and merited and

ritualized. Many of these religious cultures have this grandiose elitist

understanding that the direct knowing of Being is the knowing only of a

superior person; is only the knowing of an exceptionally trained person and

only the knowing of a totally pure person. This understanding is simply the

hype of religious status and spiritual caste. This in today’s language is a

marketing method. This hierarchal framing more often than not, reflect

transcendental prejudice, patriarchal prejudice, and the prejudice of

theocentric caste both in eastern and western forms of hierarchal culture.

These cultures combine spirituality and royalty often in some form of

costume.


Patriarchal traditions institutionalize this Prejudice. Of course this

patriarchal prejudice is often a hierarchal and theocentric distortion of our

natural innate human experience of experiencing the Being-ness of beings

and the Being-ness of Being itself. Being is luminous. Being is Beatific.

Being as Beatific experience is completely natural and is possible for

everyone just as they are. Just as you are, naturally so.


This cultural limiting view of the direct knowing of Being and the Being of

phenomena is expressed by both western and eastern hierarchical

patriarchal traditions. These traditions take complete ownership of our most

natural immanent innate human capacity of knowing the Being-ness of our

own being and the being-ness of other human beings, and knowing the

being-ness of phenomena and the knowing of Being in and of itself.

Religious cultural traditions of both the east and the west “brand” their own

idiomatic expression of this natural capacity of knowing directly Being

within our own being and within the being of all beings. It is true that our

direct immediate experience of the Being-ness of our own being is the

experience of Being itself. Moreover, our experience of the Being of our

own being is also our experience of our embodied self as embodied Being.


Many religious and spiritual cultural traditions of both east and west,

ancient and contemporary pretend complete ownership over our human

knowing which is our direct knowing of awareness, which is our natural

capacity to know Being itself. These patriarchal, transcendental and

theocentric traditions not only take ownership but pretend authorship and

authority as if they are the ones who know, who alone know, and who

alone manifest this capacity of direct knowing of Being and the Being of

phenomena. Each religious and spiritual tradition considers its lineage and

idiom as the source. Their language is theocentric and their context

hierarchal. Their philosophical frame will often be relentlessly

transcendental and they will dismiss the reality of immanence and the

natural equality of Being as all beings. The natural univocity of Being and

beatific-ness of Being destroys the patriarchal illusion of hierarchal knowing

and hierarchal authority.


The Natural Developmental Unfolding of the Two Ways of Knowing


Of course our direct knowing of awareness which is our human nature

knowing Being happens developmentally. We are born with and within this

direct experience of knowing relational Being as babies, knowing relational

Being as children, knowing relational Being as youth, knowing relational

Being as families, knowing relational Being as friends and as companions,

knowing relational Being as lovers, knowing relational Being as mothers,

knowing relational Being as fathers, knowing relational Being as persons,

and knowing relational Being as dying, knowing relational Being through

our death event, our knowing relational Being beyond our death event,

knowing relational Being life after life, and knowing relational Being death

after death. Our knowing of Being is a Relational Event. Birth is a relational

event and death is a relational event.


Knowing Being as a Relational Event means knowing the duality of beings

within the non-duality of Being and knowing of the non-duality of Being

within the duality of beings. This is the Existential experience of Oneness

and Difference.


Traditions such as existential Dzogchen and existential Kashmir Shavism

understand that the ongoing continuity of Being is the very nature of

awareness and the very nature of Being. In the unfolding of contemporary

existential phenomenology, our experience of the ongoing continuity of

Being is the essential nature of the Being of awareness and the awareness

of Being. Awareness is our very Being knowing Being. Being is in essence

indestructible. Being is in essence unborn and undying. Being is forever

self-manifesting us as us. Being is self-manifesting as our own subjectivity,

as our own Being as knowingness, as our own knowing as awareness as

our own self as Being.


The Prejudice of Thinking Our Mind Alone is the Self and the Consequent

Foreclosure of our Experiencing Our Self as Being


So it is true, really true that our mind can focus on our mind and think our

mind is the self. Our mind thinks itself is the self. Many person’s experience

their mind as their sense of self. This sense of self as mind is a conceptual

or representational event. Our mind as self is a judgmental event. Our mind

as self is a mind event. Our mind as self is a schematic mentalis-tic self.

The mind as self is often as series of mental cognitions and corresponding

affects. Much of contemporary clinical cognitive psychology is focused on

the mental mind self as self. Our mental mind self becomes a series of

cognitive events. Our mind as self is not our true self. Our true self is our

inner-self, our innermost awareness, our self as ongoing continuity of

awareness as Being, our self as our subjectivity as the very manifestation

of field of Being in us as I am. Yes, our subjectivity is the Field of Being

manifesting us as our Subjectivity, as our awareness, a knowing Being.


Endless Ontological Terror


Believing that our mind alone is our self, opens us for everlasting

ontological terror, the terror of annihilation of our mind self as life and the

existence of everything we know and love and take refuge within. There is

often no refuge other than the religious fantasies or the mythologies of what

happens or does not happen at death and thereafter. Many of these

mythologies are mythologies of eternal judgement since the mind self is

itself a function of mental judgement and belief. Of course the patriarchal

and theocentric traditions have authoritative opinions about what will

happen to you and yours!


Belief Is Not Knowing


As the English Theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman describes in his

great text The Grammar of Assent, Belief is not knowing but a mere

intellectual assent. To directly know the Being-ness of our own awareness

as Being is the experience of self-liberation. The ontological qualities of our

awareness as Being, naturally arise within all of us experientially including

the unfolding experience of the ongoing continuity of self as singular Being-

ness that we are. There is the natural arising of the sense of Being as

being unborn and undying. This arising of the experience of our awareness

as Being itself opens the door to experience timeless awareness both

beyond time and simultaneously in time. We are both in timeless

awareness beyond time and we are timeless awareness in time through the

power of the union of the knowing of our mind and the knowing of our

awareness. Our mind awareness union is the Mysterious Conjunctio that

Carl Jung so seriously pursued, described and studied.


Timeless Awareness in Time


The experience of timeless awareness in time is described within the

phenomenological tradition as expressed by Heidegger as the four times.

The time of the past, the time of the present, the time of the future and the

time of timeless awareness. Existential Dzogchen also describes the four

times. There is the time of the present moment, the time of the past, and

the time of the future. And there is the time of timeless awareness. Great

compassion can arise out of timeless awareness into time. The great

Dzogchen master Yang Thang Rinpoche describes how we can extend

compassion which is the power of awareness and the light of awareness

and the vital energy of timeless awareness into time. We can extend the

radiance of timeless awareness into the past of a person, into the present

moment of a person and into the future time events of the person. The

power of timeless awareness is the power of the field of Being manifesting

through our awareness into time. We all have the power to be in timeless

awareness and time simultaneously.


In the Dzogchen tradition the very essence of awareness is indestructible.

This experience of being unborn and undying arises naturally not as a

belief or hope but as a profound sense of Being. Timeless awareness is

experienced both beyond time and being in time. To experience timeless

awareness in time is to experience the union of our mind within the field of

awareness. Within this union of mind and awareness there is the

manifestation of the felt sense of timeless awareness in time. This ongoing

experience of being in timeless awareness in time frees us from

annihilation anxiety and the fear of death. Being in timeless awareness

brings forth in us the abiding sense of potential space and the power of

potential space. In the language of Dzogchen this potential space is the

dimension of the Dharmakaya or ground of Being.


The Sublime Integration of the Knowing of Mind within the Knowing of

Awareness


The integration of the knowingness of our mind within the knowingness of

our awareness opens for us the experience of the field of Being. The

experience of the field of Being is spaciousness, luminosity, vital energy,

and direct knowing. To experience the knowingness of beings within our

own awareness allows us to know Being within our own being. The

integration of mind within our awareness allows us to experience the field

of Being through and within other beings. The person can experience

through the duality of beings the non-duality of Being. And within, the non-

duality of Being a person is able to experience dualistic beings. Moreover,

the person experiences their own field of awareness as the field of Being.

This experience is self-liberating. This experience is completely natural and

arises naturally out of the union of our mind and our awareness field. A

person experiences the field Being within phenomena and the field of

Being as phenomena. By sustaining and maintain this integration of mind

within awareness, a person can live within the non-duality of Being within

the duality of appearance, the duality of phenomena, the duality of beings.


This experience gives a person an intimacy within the world and a possible

freedom from annihilation anxiety. The freedom from annihilation anxiety

arises since our field of personal awareness has the range of Being in

timeless awareness and in time simultaneously. Moreover, by experiencing

the union of mind within awareness a person is able to experience and

know directly inter-subjectively, meaning self to self. The direct knowing-

ness into phenomena increases our capacity to know the character of

phenomena in a more essential manner.


The union of our mind that knows difference and our awareness that knows

Being, greatly facilitates our direct knowing of Being and our knowing the

indivisible experience of the Being of phenomena. The ongoing union of

mind and awareness brings forth the deepening of our sense of the

embodiment of Being within the corresponding convergent sense of being

as our sense of self. As we experience our sense of self as our sense of

Being, we can live in the presence of Being as our own self. We can live in

the ongoing continuity of Being, whatever the phenomenological events. By

living within the union of mind and awareness we can deepen the

embodiment of our sense of Being. We can live within Being as Being. We

can live beyond hope and hopelessness. We can live within timeless

awareness within time. And wonderfully as Yang Thang Rinpoche suggests

we can transmit this experience of the Being of awareness to others. This

is the great compassion. Of course this all happens just as we are!


Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D.

Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and the Washington

Center for Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy Studies

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Washington Center for Consciousness Studies

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