1. What is the difference between a concept and Reality?
a. A concept is a thought of a separate object together with a name or identifier of the object.
b. Thoughts begin to arise in early childhood. The infant’s mind contains few concepts whereas the sage’s mind sometimes may contain many thoughts but the sage always sees directly that separation is an illusion.
c. Without thoughts, there are no objects (e.g., in dreamless sleep, under anesthesia, or in samadhi) because, by definition, an object is the thought of it.
d. Reality is not a thought. Rather, It is absence of separation.
2. What is meant by true and untrue concepts?
a. A belief is a concept which contains the concept of attachment.
b. A belief that cannot be verified by direct seeing is always subject to attack by a counter-belief. Therefore, it must be constantly reinforced by repetition of the belief.
c. Since Reality is absence of separation, It cannot be perceived. Therefore, concepts cannot describe Reality (but they can be true, see g and h below).
d. Example: A material object by definition is separate from other material objects. Therefore, material objects are not real. The belief that material objects are real is constantly reinforced by materialistic culture, and is sustained only by a failure to see the distinction between objects and Reality.
e. Although concepts cannot describe Reality, they can point to Reality.
f. A pointer is an invitation to see directly the distinction between an object and Reality.
g. If a concept asserts or implies the reality of any object, it is untrue. If it negates the reality of an object, it is true (but not a description of Reality). A true concept can be a useful pointer to Reality.
h. Example: The concept that material objects are not real is true, and is a pointer to Reality.
3. What is the world (the universe)?
a. The world (the universe) is the collection of objects consisting of the body-mind and all other objects. The world appears to exist in time and space.
b. However, time and space are nothing but concepts. They are not real.
c. Time is the concept of change. Since all objects change, all objects are temporal concepts.
d. Space is the concept of extension (size and shape). Since all objects are extended in space, all objects are spatial concepts.
4. What are polar, or dual, pairs of concepts?
a. Thought always results in inseparable pairs of concepts (dual pairs) because every thought has an opposite.
b. Reality is apparently split into dual pairs by thought. However, no thought is real since Reality cannot be split.
c. The result of apparently splitting Reality into dual pairs of concepts is called duality.
d. The two concepts of a pair are always inseparable because the merger of the opposites will cancel the pair.
e. Example: “I”/not-“I” is a dual pair of concepts. If the “I” and not-“I” merge, neither concept remains.
5. What is Awareness/Presence?
a. Awareness/Presence is not a concept or object. It is what is aware of all concepts and objects.
b. It does not change and It has no extension so It is time-less and space-less.
c. However, It is said to be space-like because all concepts and objects are said to appear in It.
d. The terms “Awareness/Presence” and “Reality” are equivalent conceptual pointers.
6. What are We?
a. We are not a concept or object because We are what is aware of all concepts and objects.
b. Therefore, We are Awareness/Presence.
c. Because the body-mind and the world are objects, they appear in Us–We do not appear in them.
d. We do not appear in the body so We are not contained or restricted by it.
7. What is existence?
a. An object is said to exist if it is believed to be separate from Awareness/Presence. It then also appears to be separate from other objects.
b. Existence is only apparent because Awareness/Presence always remains unsplit.
c. The apparently real existence of objects is called illusion (Maya).
d. The sage, being only Awareness/Presence and knowing only Awareness/Presence, knows that he/she is not separate from anything.
8. What is the “I”-object?
a. When an “I”-concept is believed to be separate from Awareness/Presence, it is said to exist as an “I”-object.
b. However, clear seeing shows that there is no “I”-object.
c. We are not objects and We do not exist as objects. We are Reality (Awareness/Presence).
9. What is it that makes other objects seem to exist?
a. Whenever the “I”-object appears to arise, the not-“I” object also appears to arise.
b. Then, desire for completion also arises, including the desire for the not-“I” object.
c. But, because fear/desire form a dual pair, whenever desire arises, fear also arises, including the fear of the not-“I” object.
d. Thus, the not-“I” object seems real.
e. Thoughts also splits the apparent not-“I” object into a multitude of apparent objects, and fear/desire makes them all seem real.
10. What is the true nature of all objects?
a. All apparent objects arise in Awareness/Presence.
b. Because physical space and time are apparent objects, they also arise in Awareness/Presence.
c. No apparent object is separate from Awareness/Presence. Thus, all apparent objects consist of Awareness/Presence.
d. Objects are not real as objects but they are real as Awareness/Presence.
e. Awareness/Presence welcomes/loves all apparent objects that appear in It.
11. What is the personal sense of doership?
a. Along with illusory “I”-object, arises also the sense of personal doership.
b. However, since there is no “I”-object, there is no doer, no thinker, no chooser, and no observer.
c. Therefore, “we” have no control. Thus, whatever happens, happens. Whatever doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen.
12. If there is no doer, how do things happen?
a. Everything that happens is only an arising in Awareness/Presence.
b. Only one arising is present at any moment. No other arisings are ever present to affect the arising that is present.
c. Since no arising is present to affect the arising that is present, there can be no law of cause-and-effect.
d. The concept of causality, i.e., that one event causes another event, is only an arising in Awareness/Presence.
e. Since causality is only a concept, “I” can never do anything.
f. Because “I” can do nothing, neither can “I” choose. Thus, free will is nothing but an empty concept.
13. What is suffering?
a. The feeling of being separate is an arising that carries with it a sense of shame for feeling isolated, alienated, lonely, and disconnected.
b. The sense of free will is an arising that carries with it the feeling of personal responsibility for “my” past and “my” future.
c. The sense of personal responsibility is an arising that carries with it guilt and regret for “my” past and worry and anxiety for “my” future.
14. What is awakening (enlightenment)?
a. Awakening is the realization that I am not separate and I have never been separate. Therefore there is no shame.
b. Awakening carries with it the realization that I do nothing and I have never done anything. Therefore, there is no regret, guilt, worry, or anxiety.
c. Awakening is the awareness that Reality, which is what I am, has never been affected by any concepts.
d. Awakening is the awareness that my true nature includes a sense of Welcoming/Love.
15. What can we do to awaken?
a. Since direct seeing shows that there is no doer, there is nothing that the “individual” can do to awaken.
b. Since awakening transcends time, no practice that occurs in time can bring about awakening. Thus most practices do not bring about awakening.
c. However, direct seeing can bring about awakening because direct seeing is timeless seeing.
16. Does this mean that there is no hope for the sufferer?
a. Definitely not. There are many practices that will lead to less suffering. However, like all other actions, they are never done by a doer since there is no doer. Therefore, “we” cannot do them. If they happen, they happen. If not, they don’t.
b. Example: To see that there is no “I”, look inward for it and see that there is none. See also that everything that happens, including all thoughts and feelings, happens spontaneously so there can be no doer.
c. Example: To see that no object exists, look and see that all objects are nothing but arisings in Awareness/Presence. Then, look and see that no object could ever bring “you” peace. Finally, see that nothing can affect You who are Awareness/Presence/Presence Itself.
17. What else can we do?
a. We can go inward and downward and feel the breath. This takes us out of the head and the thinking mind and puts us in the body and the senses.
b. We can practice mindfulness and see that our attachments and aversions are nothing but arisings in Awareness/Presence.
c. We can become aware that all objects are nothing but arisings in Awareness/Presence and therefore cannot affect Us.
d. We can see that there can be no suffering in pure Awareness/Presence.
e. We can trust Awareness/Presence, which is our true nature.
f. We can rest in Awareness/Presence, which is our home
Courtesy of Stanley Sobottka, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4714. Source: http://faculty.virginia.edu/consciousness