Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some Speculation

P. Bralley with Bubble Diagram, ca '73.
it's unavoidable that the body will die.
brain function ceased.
no more thoughts.
no more perceptions…
there is no you.
when the body dies, there's not going to be a special essence that wafts heavenward.
there is no you.
Fierce Freedom

I have a friend. At least I think she’s out there somewhere, though we’ve never met in person. Her voice and thoughts get communicated to me through the computer in a manner that leads to me to believe that someone out there exists.
However, I can also say the same thing regarding the behavior of the computer and my father. After he died, he seemed to be communicating that way too. … and at the time that really rattled me, but that’s a ghost story for another time.

I mention my friend now, because from time to time she’ll say things that stick in my head. She’s been helpful and challenging in this. The quote above is from her.
She’s an ardent “no self” advocate.

I appreciate that. But, I entitled this whole blog, “Seeing for My Self.” By that I meant, my effort in this spiritual quest has been to try to understand my own experiences. This has included past-life flashbacks, devas, guides, animal spirits, and as mentioned above, Pop’s ghost. I could put all of these experiences in quotes (because they embarrass the scientific part of me) – but I won’t. I just want to present a short list of the kind of "data” that has challenged my mind.

Given these experiences I took a fairly strong exception to my friend’s statement about nothing drifting heavenward after death. But, it seems rather speculative to argue as if I were certain about what happens after death. So, I just let the thoughts sit there.

Then, yesterday, I came across the thoughts of Rupert Spira regarding death. He makes some very interesting points from a deeply non-dual, no-self perspective:

...there is no mind, body or world, as such, so we cannot meaningfully speak of their possible survival. The mind, body and world are simply the names that thought gives to the current thought, sensation and perception…
However, this does not mean that when a sensation/perception (the body) disappears, it will not be ‘followed by’ a thought.
In that sense there is nothing to suggest that the mind does not survive the death of the body.
Thoughts keep coming after the ‘body’ has disappeared.

Whoa! I hadn’t seent that coming.
I think of Maharishi saying, “Thoughts seem to come from somewhere deep inside” - his point being most people really couldn't say from where.
I think of Adyashanti and Byron Katie emphasizing that we don’t think our thoughts. Thoughts just come. They think us.

Rupert explains his point this way:
Thoughts keep coming after the ‘body’ has disappeared.
In fact, that is exactly what happens at night. When we ‘fall asleep’ the body, that is, the current sensation or perception vanishes, but dream thoughts and images appear. This is the experience of mind without a body.
In fact, mind is always experienced without a body.
The body is just one of the possible ‘shapes’ of the mind.

One of the hardest concepts for my scientific mind to grasp was the idea that the body does not generate consciousness. Rather, Pure Consciousness, Awareness, the Self precipitates into solid form. That form may be an animate form with a brain that expresses consciousness. It may also be inanimate: a mountain with an awesome presence. Or it may be animate sans nervous system: an ancient redwood which again seems wise and conscious.  In essence, only Consciousness can become conscious. 
It is not really what I learned in biology, that unconscious matter evolves to become conscious, VOILA!  No. Sometimes though, Consciousness can become conscious - like when brains evolved.  But, Consciousness was there all along, even in the rock.

I am also reminded of the Bubble Diagram.
Maharishi used to explain how thoughts arise within the mind. He said, the mind is like an ocean with waves upon the surface. At the bottom of the ocean a tiny bubble forms and begins to rise. As it arises, the bubble expands until it bursts upong the surface. So thoughts begin the from depths of Pure Consciousness and rise within the mind, through unconscious levels, up into the thinking level of conscious awareness where they are finally experienced.
He also said those quiet, silent depths were the level at which celestial beings existed, but he didn't want to dwell on angels.

I’m thinking that it is at these deeper levels that thoughts continue without a body.
That can be after death. Or it may be picked up while we are alive.
But, in either case, a “me” is never really the author, the instigator, of the thought or of the “thought form.”
It’s non-dual. No-self. And still, and yet, a thought appears.

What is also interesting to notice is the thoughts and feelings of the waking state tend to become the environment of the dream state.
In other words, what was on the ‘inside’ during the waking state becomes the ‘outside,’ in which the dream seems to take place…
There is nothing to suggest that this pattern will not continue after the ‘death’ of the waking body, which as we have already seen, is simply the disappearance of a bodily sensation, but not necessarily the cessation of mind.
Rupert Spira

Actually, why wouldn't the arsing of thoughts continue. 
To argue otherwise seems to say Pure Consciousness depends upon a me...
Just some thoughts, I thought I’d share. And I get to use this old picture that I recently found at Mom’s house: me with the bubble diagram, during my teaching days when Madras shirts were the rage.


Fierce Freedom said...

hey pat,
there's something out here, and i sure don't know what it is, but i'm glad you think of it as a friend.

when i wrote the words you quoted, i was speaking from the very deep experience of embracing the death of a creature i'd loved more than almost any other creature i've known before.

i should add that i find it impossible to prioritize a human life over any other form of life. And as ever is the case when sharing, i can only speak from the experience here.

seeing the quote on your blog now has made me laugh, because its tone is so certain! and while i am certain, it doesn't matter. it can't ever matter for anyone else what i'm certain of. i can say i found my own truth, but can i ever guide anyone else to theirs? i am humbled toward any other point of view, because i can never escape my own. i am humbled by knowing that every truth i think of as my own, that i've found or that has found me, will end. nothing of this experience of being was ever mine.

what i learned from what we typically call the death of my cat, is that in fact, there is no dividing line between life and death. what we think of as physical death is a transformation. there's intelligence everywhere in the universe. the bodies decompose and return to the earth. as this occurs each cell is as aware as it needs to be to do its job. the memory of the experiences with my cat lives on. the back yard is enriched by absorbing the body of the cat. all this is the only meaning i can find in the words Awareness or Consciousness or God.

the cat got sick and for 30 days it was in a state of ill health. i could have labeled this time as a time of dying. but does that mean anything? the cat and i shared love as this time passed. the honest answer here, for me, is that this was totally beyond what any words could ever describe. it became meaningless to try to tell about it, yet here i am trying again.

when i said there's no spirit that goes on, i meant there's no findable entity that escapes the corporeal form and merges with a different dimension of awareness. what i observed with my cat, is that dying is happening each moment. living and dying are names we give these processes, and we can only agree on what they mean in the same way that sports teams agree on rules of the game they are playing.

the only truth i find is the certainty that everything i think of as myself will be utterly gone one day. life is always the case, whether this form is animated and appearing as a unified functioning whole (alive) or decomposing and returning to the biosphere that has supported it all along (dead).

when people use words like Consciousness or Awareness the only meaning they have for me is to point toward this constant impersonal functioning of what IS, which is always indeniably the case, regardless of what human thought calls it.


Pat Bralley said...

Hi Becky,
It's nice to have your reply that explains things more fully. I am always amazed at what different perspectives we have... so different I am left rather speechless.

I do have one question (that has stuck in my head for months and may capture the essence of our different viewpoints) - What was your cat's name?
To me there's a hole without knowing her, his, but not "it's", name.

Fierce Freedom said...

her name was roach. there were three cats: roach, spider and cricket.

i am curious how you might explain further the idea that knowing the name of my cat captures the essence of our different viewpoints.

also, i think it's interesting that this observation of there being different view points is of consequence.

it seems perfectly natural to me that no one viewpoint is ever graspable by any other living being. i don't even know that i could say, from one period of time to the next, that my 'own' viewpoints would be graspable by myself... i've no proof that i remember my past accurately.

this is why real condition-less love is a miracle to me. nothing can be proved to be the ultimate Truth. what this is, is all there is and it's never the same twice. it seems possible to see through the selfing activity of trying to understand or control and merge with what is in acceptance.

i'm always grateful for your sharing, pat. thank you.

Pat Bralley said...

Well, I made ablog post to address the cat's name... I still have questions regarding the consequences of viewpoints. But, perhaps I ought to focus on earning my daily wages. Thanks for your thoughtful response. Pat