Views and Formulations within Eastern Philosophy that Negate Personalism and Humanism
By Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D., Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P.
The experience of awareness is embodied. This unfolding of the awareness field is an embodied unfoldment. This lived experience of awareness is centered in our body that opens immediately out into the world. Perception and the perceived are given immediately to us in natural oneness. There is within knowingness itself the natural non-duality of indivisibility of the knower and the known within the context of duality of appearance.
The inner ying (field) meets the outer ying (field) to use the language of Dzogchen, as expressed in the foundational text The Yeshe Lama by Jigme Lingpa. To experience means being an embodied subject opening simultaneously to the openness of the existent world and to the openness of our own subjectivity. Both subjectivity and the world arise out of singular primordial openness, the singular primordial source of embodiment. The world as flesh arises out of the manifestation of the elements. We can never get outside or beyond the pathways of experience of the body being the medium of the awareness field.
My body is a field of localization. Primordial awareness is located within me as me both in time and beyond time and space. I am both in time and within timeless awareness. This is the wonder of being a human being. The world is the ground of all beings and things. The world is the ground of Being manifesting beings and things and actions. There is the revealing and unconcealing of the truth of awareness as the Beingness of beings. The Greek word Aletheia is the perceptual unfolding that leads progressively to a more complete experiencing of the beings and things perceived. There is an entering into the essence of appearance, and into the essence of the apparitional manifestations.The world of Beingness phenomenalizing itself into perception. The flesh is like an element. The dimension of flesh is the manifestation of the elements and the manifestation of field replete with meanings. Words and language are not the only source of meaning. Meaning is within the world and the fields of the world. So language is the articulation of these felt fields. The primordial field of awareness both manifest and absorbs and dissolves phenomena. The path of awareness is the path of appearance and apparitions and pure openness. Awareness is luminous openness of the appearance and the luminous openness of disappearance of phenomena.
Embodiment of Awareness is Easily Lost
Through meditation praxis of becoming awareness of awareness and the unfolding result of becoming awareness itself we experience embodied beingness of Being. This experience of embodiment is easily lost. Awareness is embodied and through the embodiment of awareness we come into the realization of Being. The embodiment of awareness is realization of the beingness of our Being. For many people their awareness is disembodied, and they dissociate both from the embodiment of being in their body and in the world.The body is the medium of the field of awareness. Through the disembodiment of awareness we lack the embodiment of Being. This dissociation creates detachment that can be isolating and create a contained solipsism.
Many person’s can be lost in witness consciousness peering into life through the periscope of objectification. Witness Consciousness is a dissociated state of isolated subjectivity. Witness consciousness can arise out of trauma, as well as arising out of dissociative spiritual practices.
Many people become lost in alternate states of consciousness, lost in luminal states of mind. People are lost in trance states by separating body and mind from natural awareness. This separating from mind and body results in disembodied awareness afloat in a vacuum-like sea of bewilderment.
Some people are lost in the functions of their mind. Some are lost by being located in the thinking function alone; some are lost by being located in their extreme affective states; some are lost by being located in continuous painful sensation; and some are lost by living only in memory. There is a functional absorption and containment in a particular ego function that leads to functional dissociation.
Some people are lost in the vacuum, blank-like states and believe that they are in meditation. These vacuum-like states are autistic in nature.These vacuum-like states are not the experience of awareness as primordial awareness, with the quality of potential spaciousness, energy and clarity. The true self is an embodied state, a natural state. This awareness may be exceptionally alert and within this awareness there is exceptional lucidity and stability.
Many Eastern philosophies formulate a dissociative approach to experience. They are antagonistic to embodiment of world as flesh. Some eastern philosophies attempt to invalidate all human desire and the corresponding bonding and attachment to human experience and to relational life with others. The goal of anti-desire and deconstruction of all desire results in the development of avoidant relational attachment styles and solipsistic life. This avoidant perceptual and relational style is both inwardly focused on the personal inner experience. This anti – desire focus is a distortion of the aesthetics of the human realm and internalizes an autistic shell model of human experience. This desconstruction of all desire results in the development of avoidant and ambilvalent attachment styles of human relatedness.
Invalidation of Experience
Some forms of eastern philosophies advocate the unreality of human experience and the unreality of this world. This invalidation of naturalistic experience of perception of the actuality of reality results in basic distortion of actuality of experience and normalizes dissociative states of relatedness that fosters personal difficulties in attachment and bonding. For such persons, life and human experience is deluded and illusionary. Many seek to become disembodied to go beyond the world of pain, and gain safety through dissociation from being neither in the world, nor in the body. Successful dissociation results in the ongoing experience of nothingness, meaninglessness and derealization. The dissociative person experiences the loss of the sense of self as lack, and this lack is afloat in an ever present vacuum. The unhappy basic assumptionof the world being a delusion foreclosures the embodiment of being and intimate relatedness to the Beingness of being through our relatedness to other beings we know love and with whom we are bonded. The unhappy basic assumption of the appearance of the world being a delusion forecloses the realization of non-duality of appearance and awareness within the very duality of appearance. The assumption of our perception of the world being deluded forecloses the experience of the divinity of appearance. The iconic pathway of appearance of phenomena of our unfolding life as it is, is closed. The door is closed to direct inside to inside experience of non-duality with duality of appearance. Strangely, non-duality becomes a solipsistic experience as there is no otherness with whom indivisibility is experienced. The model is the singular Buddha or Singular Shiva in mountain top isolation. This model of realization is dated.
Co-emergent Process of Us
The detachment from the sense of awareness as being the self, and the corresponding detachment from a person’s awareness of their own awareness means that this inner experience of ongoing continuity of the beingness of Being is never experienced directly within the person. The detached person may not be able to experience the self arising of innermost presence either in themselves or in others. The sense of self relation to otherness may be foreclosed. When there is no sense of self in one’s self, then how can there be the sense of otherness in the other. The self and otherness are a co-emergent process. Compassion does not exist without moving through the doorway of self to self. Compassion is an intersubjective event. When there is no ‘who’ then ‘for whom’ is the givenness of compassion? And, where does compassion arise within, if not within a ‘who?’ The ‘who’ is the place of compassion.
Of course, a ‘who’ is not a thing, and actually the ‘who’ is no thingness. Yet, from within this no thingness everything human manifests. The no thingness of the ‘who’ is a manifestation of primordial no thingness from which all beings and things arrive. No thingness does not mean non-existence. Sometimes people think only things exist. Knowingness is no thingness. Awareness is no thingness and exists as no thingness. Concrete mental states and concrete cultures equate existing with thingness. The potentiality of awareness as no thingness, the sense of self as no thingness, and ‘whoness’ as no thingness is beyond the thing like mind. This concreteness of mind leads to much of the languaging of emptiness as thingness. The madhyamika is an attempt to articulate the actuality of no thingness through the language of thingness.
Delusion As Appearance
When the world is considered a delusion, and the who as the experiencer is considered an illusion, then there is a foreclosing of the experience of non-duality between awareness and appearance, and between emptiness and appearance. Compassion is the experience of the indivisibility of non-duality within duality. As the Dakini says to Dudjom Lingpa, “You and I are indivisible.” Compassion is the very indivisibleness between appearance and awareness. Compassion is the indivisibleness between appearance and emptiness. Compassion is the very indivisibleness between you and I.
If everything is delusion, then there is no action or touching the actuality of the world. With such unhappy basic assumptions in time, our experience of world complies to these assumptions and so the world is felt as unreal and not existing. Viewing the world as illusion becomes a self induced dream. Personal love itself becomes illusionary, as one illusionary lover loving another illusionary lover. This is illusionary love. The illusionary mother loving the illusionary baby is illusionary love. Ah, here is the illusionary Buddha loving the illusionary disciple in illusionary time. This is not a fun view. This is a negation of actuality of the manifestation of the Beingness of being as human beings. This is a negation of light as appearance. This is the negation of the path of appearance and emptiness.
The experience of lacking the sense of the innermost awareness as subjectivity results in the empty person relating to empty objects of their own empty imagination, within elaborate empty solipsistic enactments of empty fantasy. Ah…another empty illusionary day. The actuality of a person’s awareness manifesting within the human body within the actuality of the world is unthought, unfelt and undesired by illusionary assumption and prejudice.
For some forms of eastern philosophy all human passions are poisonous, and so there is this passionless non-commitment to persons within the sea of relatedness. At all costs one must never become what he or she is. At all costs one must not desire to be what one is and what one can become. To have such desire or aspiration is considered ego by the illusionist. The becoming of what one is (aham ah, I am becoming what I am) is considered ego. So many people use the language ego with minimal reflection. Most of their refection is prescribe within pietistic religious context where the I am is negated. The ownership of experience is considered ego. Perhaps the one thing the person is asked to own is their faults. So, the Eastern philosophy loves students confessing faults. This must be a relief to have something to own even if it is only your faults. Christians of course also have the same lot of existing as a basic fault. As Sartre’s St.Genet exclaimed, it is better to be a robber or pervert, then to be nothing absolutely nothing whatsoever. This nothing is not the no thingness of awareness. This nothingness is being empty like an empty house or empty box or empty hole or empty mouth.
What is the ego actually? The ego is the mind itself and without mind or ego you are in amoeba status. The mind is thinking, feeling, sensation, memory, and fantasy. The mind is also the internalization of developmental history, the representations of familial history. There is deeper meaning of ego when we understand that the ego is the experience of ‘I am.’ This claiming of ‘I am’ is considered by some Eastern philosophy as deluded narcissism. For many Eastern philosophies the ‘I am’ is an illusion or delusion. The act of ‘I am’ is simple action of self-determination, of self agency. The experience of ‘I am’ ( aham) is the experience of beingness of being as your beingness in time and space. So without aham one must remain ungraspable, illusive and without self agency. This actually means being neither here nor there, or maybe being elsewhere. In the language of attachment this is the making of an avoidant relational attachment style. With such assumptions the fear of action takes place, and so if one were to act, one would be at the mercy of the experience and actuality of experience. The action is never experienced as true actuality. The world which is an objective element is nothing, and so action is a pretended performance. The inner awareness as self withholds itself from the objective element of otherness both in respect to perception and action. There is no spontaneous action and there is no spontaneous perception. There is no commitment in action. The great Shavite masters declare in the Shiva Sutra, “ Knowledge is Action.”
Self agency is avoided and only obedience is permitted. Submitting is permitted. The self is uncommitted to the flesh of the objective element. Such a self is free to dream and imagine anything without reference to the objective element. One can be all things to one’s self. This freedom and creativity is exercised in a vacuum and the creativity is the creativity to produce phantoms which substitute for the lack of relatedness of being in the world of Being. Without the sense of self agency, passivity alone becomes skillful means. Passivity replaces and substitutes for receptivity.
It is amazing to know that the Counsel of Nicea in 325 AD struggled to understand the essence and nature of a person, both as human and as divinity. What came to be is the understanding that the very essence of person is self agency, whether as human person or divine person. Ultimately, non-self as negation alone deconstructs the sense of person as agency and as a who. The who is no thing and a human being is not a thing, yet without the who the human becomes just a thing.
This anti-ego, anti-I am experience, anti-self agency experience, or anti-libidinal ego leads to tragic events for us personally, politically and culturally. The personal, political and cultural actualities when seen and experienced as unreal create a false sense of safety and protection of the illusionary position within the mind. When terrible possibilities become actual, there is no actual preparation, because world as delusion creates the lack of self agency. Without self agency there is no protection from terrible realities. Personalities are destroyed, political agency is destroyed and cultural realities are destroyed—they disappear! Witness Tibet !
The Beingess of Being
The beingness of Being is the ground of all beings. Within the singularity of all being, the beingness of Being is. The ground of being is the anima and the singular beings are manifestation of anima. The very earth is anima, which is the manifestation of the elements. The earth is alive; the earth where we live and from within which we rest and move. The earth, being the ground from which all rest and movement arise, is itself, luminous flesh and is alive, just as the dharmakaya is alive. The primordial source is manifest as the embodied source. These elements bring beings into being and into place, and lifts all particular beings out of no -thingness, into somethingness, luminous somethingness arising out of luminous no thingness.
This is a wonderful understanding of the world as an open ended horizon or ground, which is of elemental density and is the place of humanness, the place of flesh.
Challenges to Eastern Philosophical Views of Negation
This paper challenges the negative language and negative views of eastern philosophy. The paper challenges the negative language and view of the invalidation of human experience. The paper challenges the negative language and view of the delusion of appearance, as well as the negative language and view of passionless life, the negative language and view of anti-ego, and the negative language and views of the path of dissociativeness. These challenges take place by using the positive view and language of awareness as who, as subjectivity as who, who as self, and who as no thingness. This is a challenge to the vacuousness of idealistic philosophy.
This paper does not challenge the actuality of eastern compassion, true love and divine practices. This paper does not at all challenge the greatness of the masters and the greatness of the lineages and traditions. The areas of actual life humanism and the drama of compassion are exquisitely expressed in the many forms of Buddhism and Hinduism. The dismissal of the actuality of experience is the vulnerability that the paper points out. This philosophical lack is easily transformed. This philosophical lack is neither necessary or essential to the Buddhist or Hindu spiritual aspirations and praxis.
Neither Eternalistic nor Nihilistic
In order to avoid being either eternalistic or nihilistic eastern philosophy often uses negative language of the negative path. This path is the path of neti neti or not this and not this. Such negation is unnecessary and lacks grace of actuality, lacks the force of actuality, and lacks the beauty of actuality.
This positive language we are using is not eternalistic nor nihilistic. The language of who or subjectivity is emptiness, openness or spaciousness. The who is the who of awareness; the who is the subjectivity of awareness; and the who is primordial openness of awareness, the emptiness of awareness manifesting in mind and body, in time and within timelessness.
Awareness is differentiated from the mind. The mind thinks, feels, and is sensation, memory and fantasy. To focus on mind as ego is not clearly as empty or open as awareness. Awareness, subjectivity, or whoness is more clearly empty then our thought filled, affect filled, sensory filled, fantasy filled mind. For most people the mind is filled with thoughts, sensations, memories, fantasy, affects and emotions. People most often equate their sense of subjectivity with their mind. So subjectivity becomes a thought, affect or sensation. Within this frame there is no freedom or liberation. If one can differentiate their mind from their own awareness, then subjectivity is experienced as openness, vast emptiness, or unbound wholeness. This dimension of innermost awareness is no thingness from which everything arises. This whoness is not nihilistic, as everything arises continuously. This dimension is not eternalistic. The no thingness of awareness, whoness or subjectivity is not something inert or nothingness. This no thingness is not non existent. This no thingness exists as no thingness and does not exist as a thing or as entity. This nothingness of whoness or subjectivity is emptiness as luminous awareness clarity. This whoness is the manifestation of primordial emptiness or primordial awareness. The dharmakaya is primordial awareness manifesting as whoness in the nirmanakaya dimension of multidimensional awareness field.
The Validity of Human Experience and the Actuality of Appearance
Human experience is the manifestation of awareness in context. The manifestation of awareness within appearance of phenomena both internal and external. Experience can manifest both the internal awareness, as well as the appearance of external phenomena. Such experience is multidimensional, as awareness itself is multidimensional. So experience can manifest the nature of the inner experience and the experience of the external phenomena of appearance, the phenomena of circumstance. There is validity at the surface level of phenomena, as well as within the openness of phenomena as essence.
Experience can open further both within and without, since manifestation has depth and breath. The very same experience of awareness can experience its own nature as openness, emptiness, spaciousness, or who-ness. This capacity of seeing into one’s own self or awareness is the same capacity that can see into the nature of the appearance of phenomena as openness, luminosity or emptiness. Open awareness and open phenomena of appearance is ultimately the openness of the dharmakaya.
In this way relative experience has its own signification and validity. A tiger approaches you and a tiny ant approach you. Both have the same innate luminous nature. And, in truth you and tiger and you and the ant are indivisible. Yet at the relative level the tiger can eat you and the ant can at most bite you. Your experience will be very different and valid according to the bite. At the level of essence the validity of the indivisibility of you and ant and you and tiger is complete and valid.
Human beings have the capacity to be aware of their experience of within and without at various levels of perception. Both dimension of experience are valid. The relative is the manifestation of the essence. To know the relative is to know the essence, and to know the essence is to know the relative. Of course, one can know more or less deeply. One can perceive deeply within the phenomena of one’s own who-ness, and also perceive deeply within the who-ness of the other, as well as the external phenomena of the other. This is the magnificence of being a human being.
One does not know the essence always explicitly or reflectively, and such knowing is the ongoing developmental task of being human. And, humans see the essence within themselves and see the essence within the other, more or less. Recognition of the signification of the surface of mind and surface of other is skillful means. The deeper and direct knowing of inner essence of one’s own self and the inner essence of the phenomena or appearance of the other is more or less.
To call such unfolding as delusional, or stupid is actually weak articulation. Such weak understanding lacks respect for nature of awareness as human and phenomena or circumstance of the human dimension. The child who is slowly growing in recognition of the mother’s face, the father’s face, and the auntie’s face is not deluded, but growing in awareness slowly but surely. The young adolescent who is becoming aware of their who-ness and uses words and language to describe unfolding and confusing experience is not deluded and not stupid, but growing as nature requires. The aged person who is dying and lives a life of goodness and aspiration is unfolding in recognition even at the moment of death. Such knowledge is not the discursive knowledge of religions conventions or religious inventions.
The very nature, form, color, size, and shape of the phenomena of appearance is the very manifestation of essence. To experience form is to experience essence directly, pre-reflectively and non conceptually. The indivisibility of appearance and essence is experienced whether conceptually understood or not.The divinity of appearance is not simply within, but just as it appears as form. The appearance of essence has its true effect with or without conceptual reflection. Whether one has reflective knowledge of the essence is beyond the effect of the essence. The act of experience and recognition is non reflective and non conceptual. A person recognizes the essence of experience that is beyond the conceptual reflection of connotation of the experience. And, so when Buddhist philosophy declares that such lack of recognition is delusion or stupid, there is the self revelation of stupidity of the philosophy. Lack is speaking as lack about its own lack. As Longechenpa says, quoting The All Creating Sovereign, “Ah, oh courageous, excellent vajra, meditate on me. Since the ultimate meaning of their unborn total purity is evident, do not try and do away with sensory appearance. Since sensory appearance are naturally free in that they are unborn, do not meditate on them as empty. Freedom comes from realizing what simply is. Ah! The all creating sovereign, the teacher of teachers.”
I believe the allegiance to such language as delusion lacks the natural understanding of the great compassion and is sustained not by contemporary philosophical realities but allegiance to clerical concerns and allegiance to times go by. All forms of knowledge are impermanent, and the very unfolding of Buddhism and Vedantic philosophy definitely reflects the unfolding of human cultural knowledge. The very unfolding over time requires the eventual dissolving over time, disappearance of ancient assumptions, vanishing! What has been held in the past as a way of honoring primordial consciousness revealing itself through the human experience is not moving on by trying to maintain attitude and language that is not longer functional or tasteful. The unconcealing of the field of Being was not completed in the 2nd century. This does not mean one does not love the masters and thought and action of the early masters, but rather that there is the truth of one thing following after another. Holding on to past language and framing is not the best way of honoring ancestors and tradition. This is sort of like living in cave, since our ancestor did so. Language as knowledge unfolds through time. Language is the house of Being. In the past some of our traditions would have us place our dead relatives in a tree and allow birds and animals to eat them. This is no longer functional and definitely not in good taste.
Passion as Paths of Awareness
The splitting of mind from awareness or the foreclosure of mind from awareness is a form of dissociation that isolates the mind from the vast support and depth of awareness. With such dissociation the person is left alone with mind alone or psychology alone, and forecloses the cosmology of field with its vast spaciousness, energy, luminosity, and great compassion. So part of method is too integrate mind into the field of awareness. With such integration the human being becomes complete and the very passions become doorways into awareness as awareness.
When one is located in mind alone lack and lost dominate experience. There is no base other than a thought, affect, sensation or an old memory. When mind is integrated into the field of awareness, the field infuses the mind as well as infusing the circumstance of our environment. The method of dissociation of drives only exacerbates the drive in its fixatedness.
The history within certain tantric forms of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy with their sexual preoccupation, considering sexuality as the ultimate and singular vehicle of realization, is witness to this reactive fixatedness. The great masters such as Saraha, Atista, and Longchenpa have commentaries on this sexual fixatedness. Such cultural fixatedness is completely understandable given the early Buddhist and Hindu repressive and foreclosing view of sexuality, pleasure, and human embodiment. The early Buddhist and Hindu teachings were exercises in ahedonia. The repressive view and foreclosing view will be found in Vedanta; and the same sexual preoccupation will be found in their kula and yogini tantric traditions.
The focus of this paper is that the foreclosure of human experience and actuality is not the best of contemporary skillful means and actually, not the context of the truth of present time. Yes, the philosophical assumptions of the unreality of human existence are not only impermanent, but they are no longer the skillful means of this wonderful and difficult time.
Written by Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D. A.B.P.P.
The Washington Center for Consciousness Studies