30 Mar The Naõ Tea Ching
The aim of this post is to show that deep within the core of every religious, mystical and spiritual tradition, from across the globe and throughout history, lies a common strand of universal Truth.
In essence, this Truth cannot be explained in language, as it lies beyond the dualistic limitations of the mind. As Laõ Tzu himself famously put it, in the very first line of his eighty-one chapters trying to describe it: The Taõ that can be named is not the true Taõ.
Many others since have implied the same paradoxical nature of Truth: ‘like trying to describe the perfume of a rose to someone with no sense of smell’; ‘like trying to jump in the air by pulling at the straps of your boots’; ‘the eye trying to see itself’, or even ‘trying to eat your own mouth’.
However, this Truth can at least be pointed to, in the hope that an intellectual grasp of what is being suggested, may ultimately lead to an intuitive understanding of What Is.
In the Wikipedia definition, the Perennial Philosophy, or philosophia perennis, also referred to as Perennialism, ‘is a perspective within the philosophy of religion which views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, universal truth on which foundation all religious knowledge and doctrine has grown.’
In his 1945 book, The Perennial Philosophy, the British intellectual Aldous Huxley defined this core truth as ‘the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical to, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions.’
What I aim to illustrate, is that Huxley’s erudite but rarefied description can be translated into very simple language. Why? Because that Truth is precisely what You Are, have always Been and always will Be. In fact, it is impossible not to Be It, because it is closer to you right Now than the air you breathe in your lungs. You don’t need to gain, learn or change anything – because, in essence, It’s You, or what you really Are.
My hope is that, by the end of this post, the reader will not only recognise the universality behind all our religious and spiritual traditions, but will also at least entertain the possibility that what they actually Are, is not an Ego-Mind, an individual human being, a separate body-mind organism, but in fact nothing but the pure present Awareness, shared by every human being, within which all of our so-called Reality arises.
Ultimately, it comes down to a simple but deeply erroneous assumption we all make about our identification, thinking we are merely a wave, when in fact, all we ever Are and ever can Be, is the ocean. It’s a quantum shift in perspective, where the identification we usually make with the limited body-mind, shifts to an identification with the Totality of Being. The foreground goes to the background, the background comes to the foreground. When the Mind finally accepts that it cannot understand the Truth, it collapses, revealing the Truth that was always there – That which prevails prior to Mind – the formless but infinite and eternal presence of pure pristine awareness.
Although this Truth is only ever One, it can be approached and alluded to in an infinite number of ways. The Now Teaching/The Naõ Tea Ching presents the following five concepts as an introduction to this Copernican shift in consciousness, which many believe could usher in a New Renaissance. They are all shared by myriad sources and all point to the same basic understanding – that what You Are, in Reality, is not just a human being, but pure Awareness Itself:
1. The Truth is Non-Dual and cannot be understood by the Mind.
If there is an Ultimate and Absolute Truth, it must logically be One, without an opposite. Otherwise it would not be Absolute Truth, only relative truth.
A thorough personal investigation will reveal that the only universal Truth, shared by every human being, is the intimate knowledge that they exist – I Am-ness, the sense of Being, of Awareness itself.
However, as soon as that is expressed or articulated in any way, either verbally or internally, even that becomes an untruth, as it introduces the possibility of Not Being.
This reveals the basic limitation of the Mind, which can only ever comprehend anything in terms of duality – Right and Wrong, Black and White, Up and Down, Life and Death, Being and Not-Being.
The Mind may have intellectual notions about Oneness, but only in relation to two-ness; the Mind can never truly understand Oneness, as it depends on two-ness for it’s very existence.
2. There is only Now.
Although the modern human condition is typified by anxiety about the future and regret about the past, thus removing us from the experience of the present Reality, it is worth remembering that the time is always Now.
Despite New Age cliches about ‘living more in the Now’, a quick investigation reveals that it is impossible ever NOT to live in the Now – even if you are worrying about the future, or feeling guilty about the past. It’s still Now.
In fact, further enquiry reveals that the present moment is all that ever existed and that Time is merely a useful concept. There is no reality to the past or the future, beyond mere memories and projections of the Mind.
Similarly, our attempts to reach our goals, to gain or achieve happiness, security or spiritual enlightenment, are all projections into an imaginary future, thereby removing them from the Reality of the present moment and thus making them logically impossible to Real-ize Now.
3. Consciousness is the Ground of All Being.
Our society and culture educate us to believe that Consciousness is ‘an epiphenomenon of the brain’, a mysterious quality that has arisen as an ‘emergent property’ of complex evolution and finds it’s most sophisticated expression in homo sapiens sapiens.
As the mystics have been saying for thousands of years, this is the most pervasive delusion preventing humanity from finding the peace and happiness that we seek, since we have it all back to front.
As many quantum physicists now believe, there is much to suggest that Consciousness is in fact the Ground of All Being, the very matrix within which the universe is made manifest.
In other words, Consciousness, or Mind, gave rise to Matter, rather than Matter giving rise to Mind – You are within Consciousness, rather than Consciousness being within you.
4. Who I really Am cannot be the Mind or the Body.
Simple deductive logic clearly shows that we cannot be limited to either the Body or the Mind.
For something to be observed, there must be an observer. Since you can observe both the Body and the Mind, you cannot be limited to being either.
What is It that is the ultimate witness of all that is thought, seen, heard, sensed, felt and experienced in any way, other than Awareness Itself?
Every cell in the body has been replaced within seven years, so there is no continuity of Matter.
Where have you, as the Ego-Mind, gone in deep and dreamless sleep?
Pure Awareness, or That which You Truly Are, must therefore contain all three states – waking, dreaming and deep, dreamless sleep.
5. All there is – is Awareness.
This analysis soon reveals that there is one thing that absolutely everything depends upon for existence – Awareness.
Due to our misidentification with the psychological construct of the Ego-Mind, we claim ownership of all that is experienced in any way, superimposing a fictional ‘experiencer’ onto the background of pure Awareness, when in reality there is only ‘experiencing’.