Where to Next?
Reviewed and updated: February 2019
I have stated a number of times in this book that I believe I have only reached a staging post on the journey to the Truth, a process that still requires some very significant and fundamental changes to be worked through, maybe more so than has been realised to date.
There is a moment, just as consciousness arises in the waking state when there is a flash of pure knowing. This ‘knowing’ is just the closing of the gap, the subject/object consciousness. For that moment there is no ‘I’ no ‘other’ only the Unknown. It seems that in that instant, the veil of duality is lifted, momentarily. The doorway through is the Silence. Amy
The slightly scary but also sort of reassuring aspect of this journey is that the question ‘where to next?‘ doesn’t need my active involvement. It seems that this isn’t a process that requires energy to be expended on normal actions like setting goals and making detailed plans to reach the next stage. At some point, as I have said before using Bernadette’s words, the ‘divine takes over‘ and an energy other than the conscious controls and sets an agenda and determines the timing involved. I guess we just have to hang on and see what happens!
Having lived through Stage Two with no idea of what was going on, and in retrospect that was unfortunate, I now believe that there is a benefit in having some concept of what might happen next. The difficulty is that I doubt there is a lot of information available on the subject. Not being an energetic reader on this topic honestly I have no idea but Bernadette writes about the unexpectedness of her experiences because of the lack of forewarnings. Amy doesn’t cover it, although I presume she made the transition, as her book finishes ten years before her death and is more concerned with Stage Two/Three aspects. Bernadette also writes very little about this subject in her book and what she does is mostly hidden away in a chapter with a pretty dry title called ‘Pure Subjectivity‘.
Before I came across Bernadette’s version of what I would call Stage Four and hints to the final destination, I had written some words based on my own guesswork and, as I think they still have relevance, I have used them as an introduction before merging into more recent writing:
I am sure that in the following I am only stating what I will read with more comprehension later but my feeling is that to progress there has to be a change to the ‘fixed point‘ from which I observe the world. In fact, the next day after writing this I was sitting on the boat with a morning coffee – some of my best insights happen at these times (my dear mum had a lot of her realisations when in the bath!) and came across an entry by Bernadette on the subject of what she calls ‘pure subjectivity‘ (where subject and object are identical):
Pure subjectivity is the eye of seeing itself, and whatever it looks at sees nothing but itself. It knows no within or without……The eye seeing itself knows no ‘I, me or mine‘ since it knows nothing that is not ‘I, me or mine‘ and therefore has no need to make such a distinction.
My reading of this at its most extreme interpretation, is that at some stage we move from the less/no-self I write about as Stage Three in this book to a different view again. This is because I currently still experience a ‘central point‘ of seeing, even if the objects are neutral in their impact:
While perceiving, Buddha nature is empty of a perceiver, while being empty, there is still experience. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
My connection to that centre-point, even if more diluted, still creates what Bernadette calls a subjective consciousness (the duality of a subject/object). Pure subjectivity would take this view to another level and would involve the complete death of the self by removing the less/no-self view of the world and replace it with a true no-self all-encompassing view. With no self-centred point on any level, everything must become as one.
This assumption may be supported by Bernadette (yes, it is – read on). Although she doesn’t write a lot about the journey after the no-self stage in her book, she hints at a life beyond in the extract below. As with everything related to this topic reading the words on a purely intellectual level only makes limited sense, for me anyway. It is when the words become a reality, when intellectualism is replaced by experience, that their full meaning takes life. If you have a hang-up about the word ‘God‘ then substitute the ‘Truth‘, which is neutral:
What this means is that all our experiences of silence are nothing more, yet nothing less, than the silence of no-self — a mysterious foretaste of what is yet to be. It means the waters of self are gradually being wrung from the structure of being; that the mechanism of self-consciousness is coming to an end in a way we may never understand. And above all, it means that without a self we are free to come upon that which lies beyond any notion or experience of silence. No-self is not God; rather, it is the gap between self and God, and the gateway to what is not only beyond the self but beyond no-self as well.
So here, the first movement is the transition from self to no-self, while the second movement is the transition from no-self to nowhere — meaning nowhere in particular, yet everywhere in general. It is a transition from a relative silence to the non-relative silence of what Is, and if I call the latter a silence it is because no words can be used for description. It can be known, however, known as it knows Itself; what Is, knows not words nor does it communicate as such.
In the above Bernadette refers to the ‘first movement‘, which I call Stage Three (no-self), while her ‘second movement‘ is the final revealing of the Truth (I think), which she describes in part as:
…………the awareness of everything else falls away —- the body, surroundings, the silence, everything — and compared to this intensity, the loss of self is as nothing………….
In my reading of Bernadette’s words, there is a transition stage in-between her first and second movement and she introduces this by downplaying the first movement (my Stage Three) and wonders why this experience of reality couldn’t remain.
I often wondered why this state of affairs could not last forever, but I now see this was not the final step; it was only the first step into a new existence and a whole new way of knowing. It was just a beginning.
Having gone through a pretty intense period to reach this third stage it is a bit daunting to have someone refer to it as ‘a beginning‘. However, once you are living it, that’s exactly what it does feel like. Somehow there is an innate realisation that this is a temporary milestone, that the job isn’t finished and there is more to come.
Unfortunately, according to Bernadette the first part of the ‘more to come‘ is far more intense than the ‘Transition‘ I wrote about and, as with so much of this journey, if one does come across a foretaste of what the future might hold, it doesn’t read as an experience one would voluntarily aim to participate in! I believe that the ‘no-choice‘ option is the only way we ever get to the destination because if we apply our self-based logical judgements and choices to what we read then we’d be taking the red pill antidote quick-smart and return to normal ignorance is bliss.
The second step (lasting about four months) was by far the most difficult period of my life, and of my own accord it was a step l would never have taken, not for all the promises in heaven. Though l cannot account for the exact mechanism that brings it about, it makes sense to say that without a knowable subject, we must soon be without a knowable object, since subject and object are functionally relational and not just logically so. Sooner or later the relation between a knowable object and an unknowable subject must fall apart when no relationship can possibly be established. At the same time, it appears as if the emptiness of the empirical subject had finally caught up with, and engulfed, all empirical objects in its own nothingness. Thus, in the absence of a subject, the initial compensating factor of pure objectivity eventually gave way to reveal the absolute void of all objects to the mind.
This second step seems to be a state of consciousness in which there is neither subject nor object, and if any relationship persists between the knower and known, it is the identity of absolute nothingness. This is a state of complete unknowing, wherein the usual methods of knowing have been cut off, and the only knowable thing remaining is an empty, meaningless, empirical reality. What is more, while in this state, there were times when I doubted if even consciousness remained because it too, had a curious way of disappearing and leaving nothing in its wake. BR
Cool – something to look forward to! Reading another newly discovered passage from Bernadette below I think it supports what I wrote earlier in this chapter:
Pure subjectivity would involve the final destruction of the self by dissolving the single point of observing the world and replace it with an all-encompassing view. With no self-centred point, all views become one. BR
I want to expand on the ‘single point‘ because it is the basis for understanding why there is more work required to truly achieve a no-self reality.
I find that although the connection with an ego-self has been greatly diminished in Stage Three, there is still an entity that sits in the centre of my view of life. I don’t recognise Tony Eastmead as a physical or self-based subject, but I haven’t totally faded from existence and I still feel that I project a presence in the world around me, even if it is in a muted form. The objects that form my view of the world are not processed via the normal self/mind channels, but the act of seeing those objects surrounding my ‘single point‘ of reference still creates separation, however, diluted, and therefore the subject/object relationship continues to apply influence.
Previously my centeredness and place in the world were determined by my self-identity, with all its built-in supportive mind baggage. I was the subject, a physical blob, surrounded by the mass of individual objects, each one carrying its own DNA of attributes as determined by my observation and processing of those objects through the mind. Once this centre is weakened in Stage Three our ‘me-ness‘, our centredness in the world is more determined by everything that surrounds us rather than being set by the mind/ego, of a Tony Eastmead looking out at everything else. It’s a bit like determining your position using a map. You firstly physically look at what unique attributes surround you and you then match them to the same aspects shown on the map and that determines your current position! Your pace in the landscape comes about by what surrounds you..
Bernadette proposes that subject/object are interdependent and once the subject dissolves (becoming less/no-self) then objects cannot exist in isolation and eventually fade.
Sooner or later the relation between a knowable object and an unknowable subject must fall apart when no relationship can possibly be established.
This leads to the final transition she writes about where to break through this final barrier to realising the Truth a disconnection from the ‘view‘ by removing the centre-point is required and without a subject or object there can only be the now in its purest form. Without unique landmarks, it is impossible to position yourself on that map.
Though all doors to knowing had been tightly closed, there remained nevertheless a way out — a way I would not have dreamt possible. Without any means of knowing what remains in the absence of subject and object, the burden of proof falls squarely on whatever it is that does remain, which means it can make itself known — it can reveal itself. There may be no guarantee this will happen, but I believe no one sets out on such a journey unless this revelation has been intended from the beginning. And it is this timely revelation that brings about the third and final step in the transition between two incompatible ways of knowing.
Evidently, the revelation of what remains knows its own time and will only appear when it cannot possibly be mistaken for something else, or when the ground has been so thoroughly prepared, no weeds can grow up to choke its truth or ever hide it again. Once the ground is cleared of all obstacles or objects of consciousness, that which remains comes in the dark like a single shaft of light casting no shadows -— no doubt or error —— and thus, it is seen as nothing ever seen before.
For me, this disclosure occurred in the simple empirical gesture of a smile whereby the smile itself, that which smiled, and that at which it smiled were known as identical. In the immediacy of this way of knowing, the three aspects of the One were clear. BR
The supposition Bernadette makes is that the final transition totally removes all the remaining elements that establish our physical and emotional place in the world – the self-identity is finally destroyed in every aspect and the leap of faith is that in that state eventually, a new and totally natural way of seeing emerges, the Truth that has always been there hidden under the layers of our self-generated identity.
By the time the journey is over, the only possible way of living is in the now-moment, wherein the mind moves neither backward nor forward but remains fixed and fully concentrated in the present. Because of this, the mind is so open and clear that no preconceived notions can get a foothold; no idea can be carried over from one moment to another; much less, could any notion demand conformity from others. There are no more head-trips —— no clinging to a frame of reference, even if it is only the reference to tomorrow’s expectations. In a word, what is to be done or thought is always underfoot, with no need to step aside in order to find out what is to be thought, believed, or enacted.
In the now-moment the self never arises; nothing calls upon it do so. The eye seeing itself lives and holds everything tightly at this moment, a moment that has no need of a self. But even if we persist with the notion of self, such a label adds nothing to pure subjectivity. It tells us nothing more about it, and any clinging to self as a notion or an experience certainly constitutes an obstacle to clear vision. BR
All of this is a guesswork of course. To spend more time on what the future may or may not look like is a total waste of time in my opinion. It either happens or doesn’t. It either finalises in a new reality or not. I have NO influence on that process so why bother trying to pre-guess the process in detail. What Bernadette has written about of her own experiences has matched my experiences so far in a broad sense so I suspect that the general alignment will continue. As I am doing nothing to generate further change myself all that is required is to wait and see what happens next, which I will report on as it impacts if it does. Maybe this is as far as it goes!
When returning the manuscript, a friend asked me, ‘Now really, would you honestly recommend this journey to others?‘ I had to laugh; the use of the word ‘recommend’ made the account sound like a sales pitch for a travel agency, wherein I was recommending everyone buy a ticket for what —- to my friend, at least — was a most uncomfortable journey. As it stands, of course, the choice to make this passage or not to make it is not ours. When it is time for departure — a time no man knows — this ship of life moves into new waters, and without a self, we have no say and no control. Then too, starting from different directions, we will each pass through a different terrain and set of events. We will each be going beyond a different self so that the relative differences we notice along the way will not be the same; no two journeys can possibly be alike. BR
Who can understand what it means to learn that the ultimate reality is not a passing moment of bliss, not a fleeting vision or transfiguration, not some ineffable, extraordinary experience or phenomenon but instead, is as close as our eyes, as simple as a smile, and as clear as the identity of ‘that‘ which remains when there is no self? Bernadette Roberts (thank you – Tony)
I have three more chapters to add, two of which have been very recently completed and I include them below The Mind and Metadata and The Silent Mind, and one more chapter on the topic of Time, which is still in draft form.
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