Rupert Spira: Presence Volume II
by Victoria Ritchie
Former Manager of Watkins Bookshop
and Editor for Eckhart Tolle
Presence is a luminous book with great power and is obviously the fruit of many years of contemplation. It is a profound and inspired offering, often innovative and never less than piercing in its drive towards finding the deepest understanding. These two volumes together are a relentless and utterly thorough examination of the nature of Being, exploring every square centimeter of the territory with absolute excellence and ruthlessly precise analysis. Its astuteness and clarity will be extremely exciting to those readers who are ready for the next steps in lifting the veil of separation and I suspect it will become a spiritual classic that readers will savour slowly and return to again and again.
Presence is one of the most exciting and illuminating books on non-duality I have encountered and its precision, articulateness in naming the nameless, unparalleled depth and ability to inspire were constantly appreciated. It is a brilliant and lucid work carrying great strength and authority suggesting it is an indisputable source of Truth.
Both the imaginary separate self and Presence, Awareness, are explored and described in the fullest terms with not one superfluous word. The understanding that peace, love and happiness are synonymous with Presence or Awareness and ‘lie always available at the heart of all experience’ runs consistently through both books in a way that gently dilutes that veil that has kept them out of reach.
The whole section on the exploration of non-duality at the level of the body is extremely clear and offers a unique understanding that I have not seen before. Likewise readers will be helped and inspired by descriptions and comparisons of life before and after the dissolution of the imaginary separate self that show the difference and quality of everyday life between these two orientations.
This book succeeds in taking the reader beyond concepts and into the experiential level. The irony is that this work, which is so advanced and sophisticated in its use of language, thought and conceptualization, is inexorably directed toward pure experiencing.
Overall, reading these two volumes has the marked ability to shift one seamlessly from identification as the imaginary separate self to abiding as Presence, Awareness. The obviousness of it is there even after a few pages and as the reading progresses, it leaves the separate self in the dust, taking its last desperate gasps before complete dissolution. It dies a little more on each page.
It is also the thoroughness and unrelenting repetitiveness of the material that makes it finally impossible not to ‘get it.’ It is always the same jewel being gazed upon and described but looking at its many facets gives a sense of various topics and a diversity of subjects. But eventually they all say the same thing. All the Truth is here between the covers.
In closing, the dedication at the beginning of Volume Two will be quoted. It is a haiku of the first order as well as a reduction of the whole volume to Essence:
Parted by thought
Becomes a self and world
'The Amness of Self is the Isness of Things'
Book extract from Presence Volume II:
The Intimacy of All Experience
by Rupert Spira
The sensation of the wind on our face is one single sensation. However, thinking conceptualizes it as two. Thinking fragments this single sensation into two apparent objects, the wind and the face. In fact, it is one. We could call this new sensation ‘windface.’
The division of ‘windface’ into wind and face is a conceptual division that seemingly divides experience into a face, ‘me’, and the wind, ‘not me’. As a result the ‘person’ and the ‘world’ seem to become two distinct and independent entities or objects.
In this way the seamless intimacy of experience is fragmented into two apparent parts—an inside self and an outside object, other or world—which are imagined to be joined together by an act of knowing, feeling or perceiving. Hence we say, 'I know such and such,' 'I feel the wind,' 'I love you' and 'I see the tree.'
However, in the seeing of a tree for instance, there is no seer and there is no seen. There is no inside ‘I’ that sees and there is no outside ‘tree’ that is seen.
The ‘I’ and the ‘tree’ are concepts superimposed by thinking onto the reality of the experience, which in this case could simply be called ‘seeing’.
It is thinking alone that divides the seamless intimacy of experiencing into a subject and an object, into an ‘I’ that sees and a ‘tree’ that is seen. However, awareness, or ‘I’ and the reality of the tree are not two separate experiences. They are one.
‘I’ and ‘tree’ are one experience in the same way that the wind and the face are one experience. There is never a subject or an object of experience. There is always only seamless intimate experiencing.
Or we could say that the apparent ‘I’ and the apparent tree share the same reality, are the same reality. It is only a concept, an idea, which apparently divides them.
However, this division between the seer and the seen, between the experiencer and the experienced, never actually happens. Separation is an illusion. It is never actually experienced.
In other words, I don’t see a tree. In the experience of seeing, I am the tree. I am its reality. The only substance present in our experience of the tree is seeing and seeing or, more generally, experiencing, is awareness, our self.
The awareness that is seeing and the reality of that which is seen are not two separate things. They are one and the same.
We should say, 'I am tree-ing.' That is, ‘"I", awareness, is treeing.' The amness of ‘I’ and the isness of ‘tree’ share their being.
The amness of self is the isness of things.
The apparent mind, body and world is ‘I’ mind/body/world-ing.
All the great religions are founded upon this realization. For instance in Christianity the saying, 'I and my father are one,' means precisely this. It means that ‘I’, the awareness that is seeing these words or experiencing whatever is being experienced in this moment, is one with whatever is being experienced, that is, it is one with the reality of the universe.
The Sufis say, 'There is only God.' The Hindus say, 'The Atman (the apparently individual self) and Brahman (the ultimate reality of the universe) are one.' The Buddhists say, 'Nirvana and samsara are one.'
This is not an extraordinary experience, known only by a few enlightened sages. It is the direct, intimate, immediate experience of each of us, although it may not have been noticed.
In fact, the knowing of this unity between ‘I’ and the ‘world’, is a very familiar experience. It is known as beauty. When we are struck by the beauty of an object or landscape, all that keeps us at a distance or separate from that object dissolves and in that timeless moment, timeless because the mind is not present there, we realize our identity with the apparent object.
The experience of beauty is the dissolution of the apparent ‘objectness’ of the object and the ‘subjectness’ of our self, leaving only the seamless intimacy of experiencing.
Of course, when the mind returns it recreates the separate inside self and the separate outside object, other or world and we think and feel, as a result, that ‘I’ see the ‘landscape’. Thinking now attributes beauty to the landscape and in that moment beauty is downgraded from a revelation of the eternal nature that pervades all seeming things into a relative quality of the mind that belongs to some objects and not others.
In that moment, time and distance or ‘otherness’, which is another name for space, are created and the true experience of beauty is again veiled.
When the same dissolution between ‘I’ and an apparent other is known, the very same experience is known as love. Happiness, peace, humour and intelligence are all names that are given to the experience of this direct recognition of the seamless intimacy of experience. In fact, all the names of the mind, body and world refer ultimately to this one reality.
It is for this reason that love, happiness and peace are said to be unconditional, absolute. They depend on nothing. They are interwoven into the fabric of all experience.
Once the ‘I’ and the object, other or world have been conceptually separated from the seamless intimacy of experience, love, happiness, peace, beauty, etc., which are inherent in all experience, seem to become veiled and, as a result, the seemingly inside self embarks on a search for them in the apparently outside world.
The resolution of the search, which is known as peace, happiness or love, always involves the recognition that experience is not divided into two parts—‘I’ and ‘other’, ‘me’ and the ‘world’—whether or not it is actually formulated in these terms. Likewise, suffering always involves the forgetting or ignoring of this simple, primordial fact of experience.
Happiness is simply the unveiling of this ignorance. It is not a new experience. It does not come and go. It cannot be given or withdrawn. It can only appear to be forgotten and remembered or recognized. It is like the keys under the papers.
They seemed to be lost but are, in fact, always there. In the experience of peace and happiness the inside self and the outside world dissolve. In the experience of love, the one who loves and the one that is loved dissolve.
In fact, our only experience of the world and all others is made only of knowing, so we could say that in the experience of peace and happiness, the apparent otherness or outsideness of the world is dissolved in our experiential understanding that there is always only knowingness or awareness. That is peace, happiness, love and beauty.
However, it is only the mind that thinks that peace, happiness and love seem to be lost and seem to be found.
Presence never loses itself.
[Extract from Presence Volume II: The Intimacy of All Experience.
Copyright © 2011 by Rupert Spira. All rights reserved. Reprinted by arrangement with Non-Duality Press, Salisbury, U.K., non-dualitypress.com.]
A talk by Rupert Spira on the transparent and empty knowingness that is modulated by all experience.
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