“… All experience takes place here and now, so the nature of Reality, whatever that is, must be present in the intimacy and immediacy of this current experience …” ~ Rupert Spira
“… Recognition of our true nature does not need studious reading of spiritual texts, years of meditation practice or deep devotion to a teacher. We need only the willingness to engage in a rigorously honest investigation into the nature of awareness itself – not an intellectual investigation, but a personal investigation into what we truly are.
In The Transparency of Things, Rupert Spira not only distills the essence of this inquiry into everyday language; he does so without reference to any metaphysics or esoteric doctrines. He appeals only to our direct experience, encouraging the reader to dive into the personal investigation of what it means to be aware. If you do, you will find yourself tasting the realisation enjoyed by the awakened ones throughout the ages.” ~ excerpt from Peter Russell’s Foreword In the newer edition of the book
In this series, we are taking a peek into Rupert Spira’s book The Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience, which is ultimately reflections on our True Nature … …
… the 1st part Unknowingness & Nature of Experience … provides a framework for digging into the nature of experience … and is the Foreword (by Rupert himself)
… the 2nd part is Clear Seeing “… of the essential nature of experience …” … and is the chapter (titled Clear Seeing) from his book
… and, in this concluding, and 3rd, part Rupert talks about what exactly is Reality? … what is the essential nature of “isness?” … and is the chapter titled What Truly Is from his book.
For another perspective on a similar exploration, you might consider taking a look at our recent, 5-part series, where Nirmala “dug into” aspects of our True Nature: from this moment’s treasure … to subjective/objective reality … to navigating feelings of emptiness within … to oneness & how to experience it deeply … and finally considering the question can awakening be ignited? …
This series’ posts are an edited migration from the old Stillness Speaks (pre June 2016 “REDO”) archives. All text below (except for the blockquote) is from Rupert’s book and is published here with his permission. The subsection headings are not part of the original text and were added only for this post.
Whatever it is that is seeing and understanding these words, is what is referred to here as ‘Consciousness.’ It is what we know ourselves to be, what we refer to as ‘I.’
Everything that is known is known through Consciousness. Therefore whatever is known is only as good as our knowledge of Consciousness.
What do we know about Consciousness?
We know that Consciousness is, and that everything is known by and through it. However, Consciousness itself cannot be known as an object.
If Consciousness had any objective qualities that could be known, it would be the Knower of those qualities, and would therefore be independent of them. We cannot therefore know anything objective about Consciousness.
Therefore, if we do not know what Consciousness is, what ‘I’ am, but we know that it is, and if everything that we experience is known through or by this knowing Consciousness, how can we know what anything really is?
All we can know for sure about an object is that it is, and that quality of ‘isness’ is what is referred to here as Being or Existence. It is that part of our experience that is real, that lasts, that is not a fleeting appearance. It is also therefore referred to as its Reality.
We know that Consciousness is present now and we know that whatever it is that is being experienced in this moment, exists. It has Existence.
If we think that we know something objective about ourselves or the world, then whatever that something is that we think we know, will condition our subsequent enquiry into the nature of experience. So before knowing what something is, if that is possible, we must first come to the understanding that we do not know what anything really is.
Therefore the investigation into the nature of ourselves and of the world of objects initially has more to do with the exposure of deeply held ideas and beliefs about the way we think things are, than of acquiring any new knowledge. It is the exposure of our false certainties.
Once a belief that we previously held to be a fact is exposed as such, it drops away naturally. Whether or not something further than the exposure of our false ideas about the nature things needs to be accomplished, remains to be seen. We cannot know that until all false ideas have been removed.
Many of our ideas and beliefs about ourselves and the world are so deeply ingrained that we are unaware that they are beliefs and take them, without questioning, for the absolute truth.
For instance, we believe that we are a body, that we are a man or a woman and that we were born and will die. We believe that we are an entity amongst innumerable other entities, and that this entity resides somewhere in the body, usually behind the eyes or in the chest area.
We believe that we are the subject of our experience and that everything and everyone else is the object. We believe that we, as this subject, are the doer of our actions, the thinker of our thoughts, the feeler of our feelings, the chooser of our choices. We believe that this entity we consider ourselves to be, has freedom of choice over some aspects of experience but not others.
We believe that time and space are actually experienced, that they existed before we did and will continue to do so after we have died.
We believe that objects exist independent of their being perceived, that Consciousness is personal and limited, that it is a by-product of the mind and that mind is a by-product of the body.
These and many other such beliefs are considered to be so obviously true that they are beyond the need of questioning. They amount to a religion of materialism to which the vast majority of humanity subscribes. This is especially surprising in areas of life that purport to deal explicitly with questions about the nature of Reality, such as religion, philosophy and art.
The only field available for enquiry is experience itself. This may seem almost too obvious to mention, but its implications are profound. It implies that we never experience anything outside experience. If there is something outside experience, we have absolutely no knowledge of it, and therefore cannot legitimately assert that it exists.
This in turn implies that if we are to make an honest investigation into the nature of Reality, we have to discard any presumptions that are not derived from direct experience. Any such presumptions will not relate to experience itself and will therefore not relate to ourselves or the world. If we honestly stick to our experience, we will be surprised to find how many of our assumptions and presumptions turn out to be untenable beliefs.
All experience takes place here and now, so the nature of Reality, whatever that is, must be present in the intimacy and immediacy of this current experience.
‘I,’ Consciousness, is present, and something, these words, the sound of the traffic, a feeling of sadness, whatever it is, is also present.
We do not know what this Consciousness is. Nor do we know what the Reality of these words or the current experience is. However, there is the Consciousness of something and there is the Existence of that something. Both are present in this current experience.
What is the relationship between them?
Reality vs The Mind
The mind has built a powerful edifice of concepts about Reality that bears little relation to actual experience and, as a result, Consciousness has veiled itself from itself. These concepts are built out of mind and therefore their deconstruction is one of the ways through which Consciousness comes to recognise itself again – that is, to know itself again.
Consciousness is in fact always knowing itself. However, through this deconstruction of concepts, Consciousness comes to recognise itself, not through the reflected veil of apparent objects, but knowingly and directly.
Concepts are not destroyed in this process. They are still available for use when needed.
In the contemplations that comprise this book it is acknowledged that the purpose of reasoning is not to frame or apprehend Reality. However, it is also acknowledged that the mind has constructed complex and persuasive ideas that have posited an image of ourselves and of the world that is very far from the facts of our experience.
These ideas have convinced us that there is a world that exists separate from and independent of Consciousness. They have persuaded us to believe that ‘I’, the Consciousness that is seeing these words, is an entity that resides inside the body, that it was born and will die, and that it is the subject of experience whilst everything else, the world, ‘other,’ is the object.
Although this is never our actual experience, the mind is so persuasive and convincing, that we have duped ourselves into believing that we actually experience these two elements, that we experience the world separate and apart from our Self, and that we experience our own Self as a separate and independent Consciousness.
In the disinterested contemplation of our experience we measure the facts of experience itself against these beliefs.
The falsity of the ideas that the mind entertains about the nature of Reality, about the nature of experience, is exposed in this disinterested contemplation.
All spiritual traditions acknowledge that Reality cannot be apprehended with the mind. As a result of this understanding some teachings have denied the use of the mind as a valid tool of enquiry or exploration.
It is true that Consciousness is beyond the mind and cannot therefore be framed within its abstract concepts. However this does not invalidate the use of the mind to explore the nature of Consciousness and Reality.
Ignorance is composed of beliefs and belief is already an activity of mind. If we deny the validity of mind, why use it in the first place to harbour beliefs?
By reading these words, we are, consciously or unconsciously, agreeing to accept the validity and, by the same token, the limitations of the mind.
We are giving the mind credibility in spite of its limitations. We are acknowledging its ability to play a part in drawing attention to that which is beyond itself or outside the sphere of its knowledge.
It would be disingenuous to use the mind to deny its own validity. Our very use of the mind asserts its validity. However, it is a different matter to use the mind to understand its own limits.
It may well be that at the end of a process of exploring the nature of experience, using the full capacity of its powers of conceptual thinking, the mind will come to understand the limits of its ability to apprehend the truth of the matter and, as a result, will spontaneously come to an end. It will collapse from within, so to speak.
However, this is a very different situation from one in which the mind has been denied any provisional credibility on the basis that nothing it says about Reality can ultimately be true.
As a result of the exposure of beliefs and feelings that derive from preconceived, unsubstantiated notions of Reality, a new invitation opens up, another possibility is revealed.
This possibility cannot be apprehended by the mind because it is beyond the mind. However, the obstacles to this new possibility are revealed and dissolved in this investigation.
They are dissolved by our openness to the possibility that in this moment we actually experience only one thing, that experience is not divided into ‘I’ and other, subject and object, me and the world, Consciousness and Existence.
We are open to the possibility that there is only one single, seamless totality, that Consciousness and Existence are one, that there is only one Reality.
The edifice of dualistic ideas, which seems to be validated by experience, is well constructed with beliefs at the level of the mind and feelings at the level of the body, which are tightly interwoven, mutually substantiating and validating one another.
In the disinterested contemplation of these ideas and feelings their falsity is unraveled. We see clearly that our ideas do not correspond to our experience. This paves the way for experience to reveal itself to us as it truly is, as in fact it always is, free from the ignorance of dualistic thinking.
We begin to experience ourselves and the world as they truly are.
Our experience itself does not change but we feel that it changes. Reality remains as it always is, for it is what it is, independent of the ideas we entertain about it.
However, our interpretation changes and this new interpretation becomes the cornerstone of a new possibility.
This new possibility comes from an unknown direction. It does not come as an object, a thought or a feeling. It is unveiled, in most cases, as a series of revelations, each dismantling part of the previous edifice of dualistic thinking.
And the unfolding of this revelation, in turn, has a profound impact on the appearance of the mind, the body and the world.
The Play of Consciousness
Consciousness veils itself from itself by pretending to limit itself to a separate entity and then forgets that it is pretending.
As a corollary to this self-limitation, Consciousness projects all that is not this ‘separate self,’ outside of itself. This projection is what we call ‘the world.’ And thus the separation between ‘I’ and ‘the world’ is born.
In reality this separation has never taken place. If we look for it, we can never actually find it. Ignorance is an illusion. It is an illusion that is wrought through the conceptual powers of the mind, through erroneous beliefs.
These beliefs are created and maintained through a process of deluded thinking – that is, by thinking that bears no relation to actual experience. The dissolution of these beliefs is accomplished by exploring and exposing them, using direct experience as the guiding reference.
Nothing new is created by this process of exploration. Its purpose is not enlightenment or self-realisation. It is simply to see clearly what is.
Our beliefs are the root cause of psychological suffering and they are dismantled by a process of contemplative investigation.
What we normally consider to be a line of investigation begins with assumptions that are considered to be implicitly true. In this contemplation we start with the same assumptions, but we measure them against the truth of our experience. We do not build on them, we deconstruct them.
This line of reasoning leads to understanding. However, understanding does not take place in the mind. It is beyond the mind. It is a moment when Consciousness experiences itself directly and knowingly.
Understanding is not created by a process in the mind any more than blue sky is created by a clearing in the clouds. However, it may be revealed by it.
Understanding is often preceded by a line of enquiry and can subsequently be formulated by the mind. Such a formulation, that comes from understanding and not from concepts, has the power to take us to the experience of Reality.
Through its reasoning powers the mind is brought to its own limit and, as a result, the edifice of mind collapses. This is the experience of understanding, the timeless moment in which Consciousness is revealed to itself.
Consciousness perceives itself. It knows itself, knowingly.
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This series is meant to just whet your appetite – give you a sense of Rupert’s views on our True Nature … and if it draws you then you can undertake a deeper exploration by purchasing his book The Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience.