Sunday, December 30, 2012
The word Emptiness has many various meanings. The experience of awareness becoming aware of its own self opens the experience of emptiness in a most direct manner. Experientially emptiness has many faces. Sometimes the face of emptiness is a void or abyss like experience. This abyss can open the unhappy experience of falling and falling and falling. This void experience can at times open the experience of disappearing and dissolving into a terrifying nothingness. And sometimes emptiness is experienced as no thingness. Sometimes emptiness is experience like endless and infinite space. Sometimes emptiness is experienced as unbound openness. Sometimes emptiness is experienced as deep unmoving stillness, stillness of movement and stillness of sound. Sometimes emptiness is experienced as bliss, vast bliss. All these variations of experience unfold over time as one becomes aware of their own awareness. Sometimes emptiness is experienced as freedom of pure potentiality. Often the word sunyata implies the experience and nature of emptiness. The personal experience of emptiness is a vast range experience often beyond words and language. The human range of experiencing emptiness is vast and ineffable. The experience of emptiness can range from nihilistic experience that can not be thought to the positive experience that is unbound bliss as gnosis. This wide range of meaning of emptiness is not only personally experiential but there is vast range of the historical cultural unfolding of the appearance of emptiness and articulation of emptiness by the various spiritual traditions. Over time the phenomena of emptiness has been articulated in various ways, and at times in ways that are in opposition to each other.
Historically, emptiness has had many meanings in the history of eastern philosophy both in Buddhism and Hinduism. I will briefly describe some of the meanings ascribed to emptiness in Tibetan Buddhism. I will describe the appearance of emptiness and the unfolding of the understanding of emptiness over time.
Emptiness as Dependent Origination
In early Buddhism (approximately 400 BC through to the second century AD) the understanding about emptiness was primarily dependent origination. During the time of Buddha Shakyamuni and the Brahmanic scriptures, the Vedas had not be written down. Buddha’s own words or understanding was not to be written for several centuries. For the Tibetans, this was the first turning of the wheel of teaching and was to be continued on within the ongoing revelation of the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings. Another way of thinking is that the early teachings of Buddhism was part of an ongoing, unfolding process of reformulation and self revelation. For the Tibetans the word Buddha referred less to the historical person than to the universal process of self revelation.
Early Buddhism was preoccupied with causality as karma. The word karma itself means action. The early understanding of mindfulness was a total awareness of the immediate situation. Realization or enlightenment has the implication of being able to read the karma of the situation; the knowingness that allows the reading of the subtle causes and results. Early Buddhism grew out of a shamanistic context. Its formulation was none the less within a clerical context with the emphasis on monastic life and spiritual rules of behavior. This shamanistic clerical tension manifested early in the Buddhist tradition and has continued to manifest throughout time; the dynamic tension of the rational and logical with the magical and esoteric.
Buddha gave subtle insight into the relational nature of phenomena in his early teachings. There is the famous formula pratityasamutpada, which is dependent origination. Dependent origination understanding was foremost philosophically in early Buddhism. There is this ceaseless arising of mutual causation. The emptiness of phenomena is described as all phenomena are without substance and are empty since they do not exist independently. Dependent origination reflects the understanding that phenomena are the result of infinite multiple causalities. Interdependent causalities bring phenomena into a temporal and time limited existence. Interdependent phenomena are empty and have no basis within them. Every and all phenomena are a result of multiple infinite causalities. This causal result is phenomena and the resulted phenomena, in turn, enters the sequence of causality and in turn contributes to innumerable causal sequencing resulting in infinite phenomena arising. Interdependence is the meaning of emptiness. This experience of emptiness is experienced as the view of phenomena within our own self and as well as our view of all external phenomena.
Because every phenomenon is the result of causes outside of its own being, its own being is empty and contingent. The self concept was considering the occurrence of attributions and reality was regarded as some sense real. Reality was regarded as somewhat real as the subject and object implies each other, or co-emergent with each other. By self concept we may use the contemporary language of self representation. Self concept means how I represent myself to myself on the level of ideation or representational thinking. In this phrasing the sense of self or sense of subjectivity becomes an ideational and mental configuration.
Some people interpret this vast infinite interdependency as an empty process with empty results. They consider this is a mechanistic approach to emptiness. This view is there is simply this unending process of events without basis, without source or without end. This interdependent view is considered by some to be nihilistic. In this view of emptiness there is neither cosmological source nor intrinsic meaning. Some think this dependent origination can be also understood beyond the rationalistic. Dependent origination frame can be viewed from within the shamanistic frame. From within the shamanistic frame this would imply the power of unbound resonance, the vast magical net of radiant luminous energy that makes up the universe. This is implies a cosmological framing of the vast relational reality of the energetic luminous universe.
Unthinkableness of Emptiness
In time (1st or 2nd century AD) the meaning of the appearance of emptiness was described by Nagarjuna. He formulated the Madhyamaka traditions. This great tradition was part of the unfolding of the Mahayana tradition. This was another turning of the wheel of dharma, the wheel of understanding. Mahayana or great vehicle was a vast shift in the experience and projection of Buddhism. Mahayana and Madhyamaka are not the same. Mahayana was a vast shift in understanding and practice of Buddhism and Madhyamaka was the major philosophical part of this shift.
The Madhyamaka tradition is an epistemological tradition. Epistemological traditions focus on what we know, how we know, and if we can know. This epistemological tradition of Madhyamaka suggests that emptiness means empty of meaning and empty of signification. This emptiness of meaning suggests that emptiness can not be thought and neither can emptiness be conceptualized or linguistically represented. In a profound way, no signifier actually can signify emptiness. So this place of emptiness is a place without reference and without signification. This emptiness is the essence of phenomena or the essence of everything about which nothing can be said or thought. This is an epistemological and deconstructive approach to emptiness. In a way, the methodology of approaching emptiness is by deconstruction of both meaning and attribution of meaning. This deconstructed event is experienced beyond language and words. This view has nihilistic sides (no meaning) as well as being powerful in its epistemological openness which is free of language attribution.
Madhyamaka orientation was also a response to the concreteness of earlier Buddhist formulations of mind and awareness. Nagarjuna‘s work challenges some of the fundamental concrete language and imagery of the Abhidharma. Nagarjuna used rationalistic thinking to deconstruct the rationalistic Indian Buddhist philosophy of the day. Nagarjuna attempted to logically prove that the logical assertions about the nature of reality are inconsistent and useless assertions about emptiness. All language and rational thought takes us away from sunyata. The mind can not lead us into emptiness and can only distract us from the non conceptual experience of emptiness.
Madhyamaka does have limitations. A limitation is that Madhyamaka seems to make no active understanding or intuition as to phenomena of emptiness. Madhyamaka makes no attribution as to the indivisibility of phenomena and emptiness. The dimension of phenomena is simply left out of the Madhyamaka. Phenomena is left as unsaid and unthought. Within this lack of inclusion of phenomena there is a loss of the understanding of the non duality of appearance and emptiness. The presentation of Madhyamaka lacks reference to phenomena that does reflect the non-duality of form and emptiness as expressed in the heart sutra. The non-duality of relative truth and ultimate truth is by passed and unsaid. The dynamic aspect of radiance is unspoken and un-recognized in Madhyamaka.
Nonetheless, the actuality of the great compassion as sunyata is spoken and signified. The bodhichitta is also expressed and signified. The sambhogakaya dimension is also relatively unsaid, as is the nirmanakaya dimension. The Madhyamaka is an epistemological presentation of the dharmakaya via the path of negativity. What is not rather then what is.
It was on the basis of a group of Mahayana sutras the Prajnaparamita sutras that Nagarjuna created Madhyamaka philosophy. Prajnaparamita is the “Perfection of Wisdom” and means going beyond. Cutting through dualistic thinking, conceptual thinking; into experience of wisdom. The Madhyamaka uses rational thinking in cutting through rational thinking and understanding. In this approach, he deconstructs causality and all and any assertions that can be made about nature of reality or emptiness or sunyata. The cessation of conceptualization will itself transform samsara into nirvana and brings forth enlightenment.
Nagarjuna says emptiness is essentially compassion and compassion is emptiness. Ultimately the Madhyamaka philosophy opens the doorway to non-conceptual actuality of compassion. Similar to Madhyamaka methodology is the post modern philosopher Derrida’s methodology which deconstructs language and its meaning. This path of negation is also present in forms of Vedic philosophy as well as in Christian theology.
Emptiness as Buddha Nature
The next major tradition to unfold within the Mahayana was Yogacara originated by Asanga around the fourth century. The Prajnaparamita was considered the second turning of the wheel of dharma. The later sutras that followed Nagarjuna were considered the third turning. The Yogacara reflects a number of sutras, especially the five teachings of Maitreya revealed by Asanga. In the teachings of Maitreya, the understanding of the Tathagatagarbha clearing arose and is translated as Buddha Nature. This understanding and actuality of Buddha nature was specifically developed in the Uttaratantra. The Uttaratantra is one of the five teachings of Maitreya. This tradition of the givenness of seeds of enlightenment as the innate Buddha nature is understood to be within everyone and all sentient beings. The Tathagatagarbha doctrine is significant here as representing a contrasting pole in the presentation of Buddhism to the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna. The Tathagatagarbha doctrine provided the basis for a different way of conceptualizing the process of enlightenment. Rather than a progress along a path in which the path is primarily one of purification, the Tathagatagarbha perspective understood the attainment of Buddhahood as the uncovering of potential that was always there. The path is the path of experiencing the underlying sublime structure of reality. This arising of the Uttaratantra tantra and the Tathagatagarbha gave cosmological base to dependent origination. This primordial awareness as Buddha nature became the primal cause of dependent origination. This is an amazing shift and there is the opening for the Vajrayana to unfold. Within this formulation there can be an implicit theism. Within this understanding, phenomenon was also included into the path of realization.
The Yogacara also provided a frame to hold the relationships between conventional reality or relative truth and the ultimate truth. The realm of phenomena was being integrated into the ultimate reality. The two truths understanding contrast our ordinary perception of reality with the absolute or ultimate truth.
Tathagatagarbha understanding is different than the Madhyamaka approach. Rather then the rational descriptions of the illusion of samsara there is the beginning attempts to experience the indivisibleness between view of phenomena and the enlightened state. This view is closer to the shamanistic view of meditative practice. The Madhyamaka descriptions are negative and deconstruct experience. The Yogacara was the view of yogis and meditators. The Nyingmapa tradition or the old translation school manifest the positive descriptions of primordial awareness as emptiness that is neither void nor dead. Rather, primordial awareness is alive and luminous radiance and is the source of phenomena and the possibility of experience of the indivisibleness between phenomena and emptiness. The Tathagatagarbha was emptiness but within each person it is the base of experience and the world. Buddha nature is emptiness, which is alive and compassionate and is knowingness or gnosis.
Emptiness as Cosmological Radiance Embodied: The Path of the Tantra
Within this formulation of the tantra, emptiness is primordial awareness that manifests the three kayas. This next unfolding was the revelation of the great tantras and the Vajrayana and Mantrayana paths. The arising of the understanding of emptiness as radiant light and bliss. . This period was from the fourth through the 12th century. These great tantras arose, which elaborated the practice of deities and the cosmology of the deities and dakinis. The world of awareness as being multi-dimensional was unfolding as dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya.
Dependent origination is now ultimately light. Emptiness is understood to be the openness of spaciousness, luminous radiance. And this radiant light is the great compassion that creates everything and manifests everything directly ceaselessly. Since luminous emptiness was manifesting the infinite circumstances of dependent origination, dependent origination was also light. So the world is fused with light as light, and the map of Indra reflects this understanding of the interpenetration of energy and light. The indivisibleness of phenomena and luminous emptiness and luminous emptiness and phenomena is central to the tantric practice.. Also, the field of light can be located within the human body but is also beyond the body. Hence, there is this interfusion of the world of beings as light. This allows for extension to place us within the other directly and not just by words or modeling but by extension and transmission of awareness itself. The time period of the tantras was an extension of the great sutra’s and goes from about 400 A D through 1200 A D. The Guhyasamaja tantra, one of the major Anuttarayoga tantras may date as early as fourth century. New tantras continued to appear until the last stages of Indian Buddhism. One of the most important tantras for the Tibetans was the Kalachakra tantra. This tantra appeared in India not long before the destruction of Buddhist monasteries by Islamic armies.
The old tantras were transmitted to Tibet during the eight century. The major sources of the new tantras were transmitted two centuries later. Some of the major tantras concerning the supreme siddhis of enlightenment were the Hevajra, the Guhyasamaja, the Chakrasamvara, Kalachakra and the Guhyagarbha tantra. In this understanding, emptiness becomes positive, alive, luminous radiance, potentiality and is embodied as human awareness itself.
Indivisibleness of Emptiness and Phenomena
In the old translation traditions of Nyingma tradition phenomena is brought deeply into understanding of the essential relationship between luminous emptiness and phenomena. The understanding was the non-duality or the indivisibility of phenomena and luminous emptiness was essential to the path of realization. The oneness of relative truth and ultimate truth is an essential aspect of the Vajrayana path. The meaning of heart sutra is completed explicitly. The early understanding of sutra was emptiness alone. And the later understanding was the indivisibility of form and emptiness and emptiness and form. There is the moving away from emptiness as void alone to the understanding of emptiness as potentiality and source of manifestation of the world and the archetypical energies as the deities and dakinis. There is the recognition of the divinity of appearance and the divinity of experience within the Vajrayana. The Nirmanakaya dimension is included in the drama of realization.
The arising of Dzogchen during the 8th and 9th centuries was the most exquisite understanding of the indivisibleness of phenomena and luminous emptiness. The indivisibility of relative phenomena and absolute truth was completed within Dzogchen. There is much speculation since the origins of Dzogchen are mysterious that Chan Buddhism influenced the arising of Dzogchen. Other influences were the Indian Mahasiddha tradition, Bon, Indian Yogacara /Tathagatagarbha understanding, Hindu Kashmir Shaivism, the Mahayoga tantras, and even Gnosticism. Of great influence was the fundamental Mahayoga text of the Nyingma School, the Guhyagarbha Tantra.
Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D.
1.For Husserl phenomenology is an experiential philosophy of essence as phenomena. For Husserl there is the indivisibility of the essence and the manifestation of the essence which manifestation is phenomena, the manifestation of appearance. This was Husserl’s great contribution to philosophy, the inseparability of essence and phenomena. Merleau Ponty made this the focus of his philosophical work.
Essence as phenomena
2. Essence is the essence of something. The essence of being, the essence of some quality, the essence of some dimension of experience are examples of essence and its relationship to phenomena. Phenomena and the essence of phenomena are within non duality and are indivisible. Phenomena and the noumenon are within non duality and are indivisible. Being and the appearance of Being as beings are in non duality and indivisible within the very duality of appearance. Appearance as phenomena are dualistic. There is a me and a you and we are indivisible.
Essence is manifested in phenomena as the phenomena. Phenomena is the manifestation of essence. This understanding that essence and phenomena are not in opposition dissolves many philosophical and theological impasse’s and the violent splitting of the actuality of reality. This understanding opens up the possibility of experiencing pure primordial awareness as manifesting our own singular subjectivity. Pure awareness is essence and our subjectivity in time and space is the phenomena.
3.For Plato and much of ancient philosophy(not the presocratics) the essence was the unchanging and subtle idea, a subtle dimension of being. There was opposition between the ephemeral world of the senses and the essence of reality. There was a split between the world and the essence of reality. This split is played out both in western philosophy and theology as well as eastern philosophy. The split was expressed in vedic philosophy as the split between consciousness and prakrti(flesh). In buddhist philosophy there was a split between ultimate reality as emptiness and the appearance of phenomena. The appearing of phenomena of human life was considered deluded and illusionary. Some would consider this very splitting of essence and phenomena as the true grand illusion and deludedness. As human experience is validated, except for the rare few who become realized.
In psychoanalysis there was a foundational splitting between phenomena and noumena. The split was a function of dynamics for un knowning such as foreclosure, repression, denial. This foundational split is found in both western and eastern traditions of philosophy. Jung ‘s struggle was with understanding the intimate relationship between phenomena and noumenon. In Jung’s thinking the relationship was between known experience and unknown source, between consciousness and unconsciousness. He searched for the medium of indivisibility.
4. Merleau Ponty focused on the actuality that essence and phenomena are indivisible. Phenomena is the manifestation of the noumenon. the essence. The essence can not be detached from the phenomenal form. The essence makes its appearance in the world as phenomena. The essence may not itself be limited to the sensible but can manifest itself in sensorial form. There may be different levels of manifestation or different dimensions of manifestation of the singular essence. The phenomena and noumena are intimately related. The essence and its manifestation are intimately related and are actually in non duality. Non duality manifesting in duality. Non duality manifested within dualistic appearance.
As was already described there is foundational split found in certain forms of buddhism and vedic philosophy. The unhappy and nihilistic views of the world as not being real, and the realm of appearance is delusion…
The Iconic Openness of Phenomenon as Appearing
5.Merleau Ponty continues that the essence can be experienced from the iconography of vision and experience. The essence is not simply a contemplative reflection, but essence presents itself within corporeal vision, The field and medium of the flesh are indivisible. To know is not limited to thinking conceptually but we can see and gaze non conceptually and directly into the place of essence. Essence can be known non conceptually and experienced directly. Understanding can be thought free. Direct knowingness is natural and is non duality within duality. This is the phenomenology of the icon, the iconic view of reality. The iconic view of Being manifesting through beings as Being.
6.Essence can be the very presence of the thing appearing. There can be the representation of the thing and there can be the appearing of thing. Representation is only one form of knowning. Representation is not experiencing the essence of what is. The mapping is not the experience of the territory. Representational thinking and representational conceptualizing is the mapping of experience knowing the experienced.
7.The visible bears the invisible within itself, inside itself. The language of the icon takes us beyond representational knowning and representational thought. Thinking and conceptualizing is one kind of knowingness. The iconic opening expresses the essence becoming visible experientially. The icon is the place where the invisible becomes visible. The visibility of the invisible, the visibility is where the invisible appears. The iconic place, the icon space, the iconic openness of phenomena is the indivisibleness between the visible and the invisible. Being and the appearing of beings are indivisible and all beings are iconic doorways. The realm of the flesh and medium of the flesh is iconic.
8. The experience of Primordial being is as Merleau Ponty describes is beyond representation thinking and yet is not invisible to non conceptual direct perception of open awareness.
Embodiment as Medium of the Field
9.Embodment manifest in us within space and time. Our embodying is embodying the medium of the field. The field of being is manifesting within the dimension of flesh. The field of flesh moves itself through us and is the expression of spaciousness. This experience of the flesh is experiencing the essence of luminous spaciousness. The body illuminates the phenomenological flow of the field of the world which is the Field of Being manifesting within this dimension of flesh.
10.This essence can be grasped from the iconography of vision. The classical essence as Husserl’s description as being constituted by the mind in noetic noematic frame is replaced by contemplative awareness and non conceptual thought. The essence presents itself within corporeal vision. Essence can be known nonconceptually and then language and represented in various ways of words and sentences. There are many words and languages that approximate essence but no word holds the whole experience. Language is limited. This is the phenomenology of the iconic view of Being manifesting through beings with languaging referencing the experience in approximation.
11. Essence is within the very presence of the thing, There can be the representation of the thing, and there can be the appearing of the thing. The appearing of the thing as Being manifesting as thing. This essence is ultimately is no thing and arising from within this no thing can be everything and anything. There is always some distance between language and experience.
12.The visible bears the invisible inside. The experience of icon takes us beyond representational knowning or represenatational thought and language. There is direct and indirect knowning of essence. The icon expresses the innermost relation. The icon is the place where the invisible becomes visible. The visibility of the invisible. The visibility where the invisible appears as such, the iconic place, iconic openness of phenomena.
Embodiment As Phenomenological Flow of Singular Essence
13.My body manifest within space and time. Our body is the medium of the field of the world, the field of being manifesting as this dimension of flesh. The field of flesh sounds itself through us and is the expression of spaciousness. The understanding of the flesh of the field deconcretizes the body and illuminates the phenomenological flow of the field of world which is the field of BEING manifesting within this corporeal dimension. Embodiment is a relatedness of the field of the world and is a hollow or fold or flesh of openness which is made and can be unmade. My consciousness is saturated with limitless blue, the blue of the sky somehow gives self in me. The skill of Merleau Ponty is the expression and realization of how subjectivity is de concretized , de entified or de -reified, de -objectified, de-thinged.
No thingness As Essence of Phenomena
Yes I do exist but I am not a thing…although my body and mind have thing qualities. There is an extension in space but this extension is non materialistic form. No thingness arise in everything and as anything. In this way the essence of phenomena is emptiness as no thingness.
14.The essence of the unfolding understanding of Merleau Ponty in his later work is the non dual relationship within duality and duality non duality. Merleau Ponty will continually try to elaborate how there can be both oneness and twoness. How there can be intertwining between appearance and essence. For Merleau Ponty the experience of flesh as openness will not emerge if you overly reify phenomena.
15. There is infinite manifestation of singular experience. No thingness, manifest fields and the field of fields. These fields in which things, people, creatures, intertwine, interweave, yet there is wonder in each singularity. Everything and everyone is connected within the field. There is the fluidity of all phenomena as all beings are open and within otherness. The indivisibility of twonness within oneness. There is the expandedness and interrelatedness and interpenetration of all beings through the flesh of the field. There is non duality of Being within the beingness of all appearance can be experienced easily.
Intertwining of Phenomena
16.The body is actually embodying. As embodying the self that emerges as embodiment Is foundational. Always emergent among all the being emergence, and of the world. Embodiment is an ongoing upsurge of the, an interweavement, a kind of bringing forth that has the foundation of no thingness and yet is everywhere as the dimension of the flesh of the world is not material drama. These vortices that are en bodying and the perceived of the world are spirals of transformation that find themselves with moments of meaning as the emergence of sensibility. The depth of the world is our participation in Being without restriction, a participation in the being of space. There are transformations of movement within vibrational reality. This embodiment is corporeal. There is confusion between being the dimension of corporealness and equating that quality with not being real or existing. This is untrue. The flesh of the world is spaciousness Viscousity.
The Flesh as indivisibleness of Phenomena
17.The metaphor of flesh allow us to go beyond the thing. For Merleau Ponty there are not simply sensible objects contained within themselves but rather a series of showings, appearances, and emergence of sensual meanings that retains vitality in keeping open the infinite variety among l infinite singular things with infinite singular subjectivities which are openings within and of the field of Being.
18.There is the ongoing transformation and relational intertwining of all beings such that they do not exist independently on their own. Being is being brought forth ceaselessly and in their beings both appearing and disappearing. Time sequencing gives the illusion of fixed thingness.
19.Within the flesh of embodiment there is the experience of spaciousness ,pervading spaciousness, pervading energy and pervading luminosity. This dimension of no thingness is the source of the spiraling vortexual energies, which bring forth ongoing embodiment. This is the dimension of fluid spaciousness. The views of intellectualism and empiricism are ways of the mind alone organizing experiencing of the world.
20.Merleua Ponty works within non duality within duality. His move to non dualism went against the history of western philosophy. Emptiness or Spaciousness or Potentiality is not the embrace of non being or nihilism but rather the sense of intertwining of vortices, of ongoing, foundational emergence or manifestation. The seemingly void of nothingness is the fullness of Being. We are shared embodiment of the field with another. This description is a description of the dimension of flesh. In the language of vajrayana, this is nirmanakaya.
21.The resonating bodies of human beings are part of an enveloping sense that we can enter and penetrate into the flesh of Beingness. The flesh of awareness in which we are intertwined is non dual ontological vibration that everyone communicate through. This vibration is the wild region of being from which everyone has originated or are ceaselessly originating from within. The childhood experience of gnosis is never completely liquidated and may be used in the re-experiencing of direct perception. The feeling of inseparability is present before the age of three and can be reincarnated experientially.
Merleau Ponty suggests that the Phenomenology of awareness gives rise to a phenomenology of the invisible becoming visible.
Husserl Early Phenomenology
1. Through phenomenology Husserl studied the conditions of possibility of appearance of phenomena; this form of understanding leads to idealism, and the solipsism of the self contained mind alone. This idealism emphasizes the contributions of mind alone to knowing and amplifies the split between subject and object actuality.
2. Husserl’s early understanding of the epoché (suspension of judgment) helped him gaze into the phenomena in a manner that was freer from the view of cultural prejudice. The view of early phenomenology was not simply the experiential articulating of our experience of appearance but the attempt to understand the conditions of the possibility of appearance of phenomena.
3. Husserl in his phenomenology focused on appearance of phenomena and he understood that no appearance is independent and self sufficient. Appearance refers to something other than itself. Every appearance is characterized by self other structure; appearance is an appearance of something for someone, appearance is relational. Similar to Buddhism, he understood the interdependency and interpenetration of phenomena.
4. Appearance of phenomena has horizons which are the range of limits imposed by the reference of appearance to the context of other appearances. There are many different views of the same phenomena. Our experience of phenomena of appearance is organized by our awareness of the horizon of various views of the phenomena. Early phenomenology of Husserl was a phenomenology of mind alone viewing how appearance of phenomena comes to be conceptualized and represented or constituted.
5. There is the subject for whom the appearance is given and for who the appearance appears. As St. Thomas Aquinas the medieval theologian would say “Quid quid recepitur ad modem recipientis recipitur.” (Whatever is received is received according to the mind of the receiver.) These appearances of subjectivity of ones own subjectivity is radically different than the appearance of an external phenomenon. This appearance of subjectivity to subjectivity may have a self other structure; the subject manifesting itself to itself as subject, is very different then phenomena external to subjectivity manifesting to subjectivity. The issue of whether there is a self object structure in this phenomenology of self appearance depends on what is meant by subjectivity and what kind of phenomenology is being used. Subjectivity identified with mind alone can be limited to the mind and contained within the mental function of thinking and to the realm of the conceptual representation. In this early phenomenology of Husserl, Husserl used the language the noetic noematic mind structure and this cognitive framing limits subjectivity to being a structure of mind. Subjectivity as mind is contained within the noetic noematic structure of apprehending and conceptualizing the object of appearance. This noetic noematic structuring of experience will be a self other structure. The self other structure happens whether the object is phenomena outside of subjectivity or whether subjectivity itself is the object of noetic noematic cognitive structure. This noetic noematic structure results in subjectivity becoming objectified. Amazingly in subjectivity becoming objectified the essence of subjectivity disappears.
Later Phenomenologies of Heidegger, Merleau Ponty and Husserl
6. In Heideggerian phenomenology as well as the work of Merleau Ponty and later Husserl, the mind is differentiated from our awareness. In Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhism awareness is differentiated from the mind. In this context mind means the functions of thinking, feeling, sensing, remembering, and fantasy. In these functions, phenomenology’s suspension (epoché) becomes the suspension of the mind, and what remains is awareness. This shifting from mind into awareness allows awareness to become aware of awareness itself and consequently to know and perceive itself directly which is from inside to inside. This shifting from mind into awareness also allows awareness to be present to phenomena in a direct and most immediate manner. This openness of awareness experiences the givenness of phenomena in a preconceptual and non-conceptual manner. When the person’s sense of subjectivity is no longer located within their mind alone, then the sense of subjectivity can be located within awareness itself as awareness itself. Because and within this awareness state a profoundly different kind knowingness can manifest within us. This kind of experiential perception takes knowingness outside of the noetic noematic cognitive structure and places phenomenological knowingness within the realm of the direct perception of awareness. This direct perception is pre-reflective and non-conceptual knowingness.
7. What is most amazing as one enters this awareness of awareness continuum, awareness begins to manifest as a field. In this unconcealment the great qualities of the field of awareness become apparent. The field quality is a signature of later phenomenologies of Heidegger, Merleau Ponty as well as later Husserl. Again, it is also of great interest that in the tradition of Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhism the awareness field (dbying) becomes felt and the qualities of the field manifest. There is this shift from mind to awareness of awareness in the meditation practioner. When the field manifests in meditation, the power and expanse of meditation is felt and the power of extension within the field can be used. In this experiential view of the phenomenology of the awareness field, the phenomenon of the field begins to show itself experientially.
8. There are many qualities of the field. The most fundamental quality is openness, or spaciousness or emptiness, or no thingness. The field is luminous or light or radiance or clarity. The field is energy and is the very life force of phenomena. The field is multidimensional and infinite in its horizon. There is the primary or primordial dimension of formlessness or pure potentiality; there is the apparitional dimension of the field as archetypical energies and configurations manifesting continuously; and there are fields of the flesh, to use Merleau Ponty’s metaphor, which is the appearance of the phenomena of the world. In Dzogchen language the dimension of pure potentiality is dharmakaya, the dimensions of the apparition of archetypical energies is sambhogakaya, and the flesh dimension of the world is nirmanakaya.
9. The field is self arising. The self arising of the field of awareness allows the field to permeate and manifest both subject and the otherness. The field in its self arising manifests both subject and otherness. The field arising manifests both awakened awareness and awakened phenomena. The possibility arises to experience within the duality of singular phenomena and within the appearance of individual phenomena, the non-duality of indivisibility between phenomena and the field of awareness. There is one awareness field manifesting all the differentiated beings and within all the differentiated beings is the same awareness field.
10. In the unfolding of these later phenomenologies the field of awareness is experienced as the field of Being. As Merleau Ponty declares in the unfinished text, “The Visible and the Invisible”, the field of Being manifests both the subject and the object. Everyone shares the same flesh. The flesh is the medium of the field. In this experiential understanding, subjectivity appears to itself directly and immediately without the mediation of mental cognition. The view of knowing conceptually from the reflective mind differs from the view of the non conceptual knowingness of awareness itself. Subjectivity, which is awareness, experiences its own self as the appearance of awareness. The appearance of subjectivity is not a self other structure. The self otherness structure involves objectification in which awareness or subjectivity disappears. The mind looking at mind, involves self other objectification. The mind looking at its self would involve self other objectification. The mind looking at the subject as mind and otherness as mind results in objectification.
11. Awareness as subjectivity can only be known experientially and directly. In mind alone phenomenology, the thought that is experienced is not the experience of knowingness but the thought of the experience of knowingness. To think subjectivity within mind alone is not to know subjectivity as awareness. This phenomenon of awareness can only be revealed experientially and then the experience can be languaged as thought, and conceptualized within thought. What is thought is the conceptualization of appearance of the experience of awareness of awareness.
12. There is a radical difference between the earlier Husserlian phenomenology of mind alone as reflective thinking that constitutes the appearance of objects as concepts and the phenomenology of subjectivity as awareness knowing itself directly and experientially. Within the phenomenology of awareness phenomena can be experienced and known directly and experientially.
Non Conceptual Direct Perception as Radical Difference
13. It is true that there is a difference between object manifestation and self manifestation. The radical difference within phenomenology’s is not the difference between object and self manifestation but rather the difference between representational conceptual knowing and the non-conceptual direct experiential knowingness of self and the knowingness of otherness. The knowing of phenomena whether as self appearance or as object appearance is known both directly and experientially.
14. The earlier Husserlian phenomenology was mind alone with its corresponding idealistic containment. The mind which can take itself as an object and the mind which takes itself as subject is an enclosed mind and enclosed subjectivity; enclosed in conceptualization. This earlier phenomenology studied the constitution of mental objects whether as subject or as object. This phenomenology was the mentalization of experience in dualistic appearance and situated in the land of ideation. This phenomenology was not the phenomena of awareness as subjectivity in non dualistic relatedness within world of dualistic phenomena.
15. The earlier phenomenology did not actually study the appearance of experience but of cognition about experience. This study was mind alone and contained within itself. The earlier phenomenology was a study of conceptualization or representational thinking. This is a limited view of knowingness and phenomenology. The earlier phenomenology of Husserl took place in the cognitive dimension of mental experience and not the direct perception of the experience of phenomena. Awareness within itself and within the world is the new phenomenology. This newer phenomenology was opened up by Heidegger as well as Merleau Ponty and the vast amount of unpublished papers by Husserl in the Louvain archives. The earlier phenomenology did not focus on awareness as field and the direct knowing of field of appearance.
16. This radical shift of experiencing awareness as field took place in Heidegger, later in the work Merleau Ponty and Husserl. The phenomenologist Sartre remained in mind alone and within the solipsism and idealistic framing of phenomenology. The self contained phenomenology of mind alone was over come by Heidegger, later Merleau Ponty and Husserl himself.
Reflective and Prereflective thinking
17. We may consider that Heidegger was the master of prereflective methodology and Merleau Ponty and Husserl’s initial methodology was reflective and evolved into prereflective methods.
18. There is a vast difference between reflective methodology and prereflective methodology both in the understanding of self-manifestation as well as other or object manifestation. This understanding will not only lead us to understand self-manifestation as subjectivity in and of itself but also self-manifestation within and through the other. The experience of self-manifestation of the other in the singular field of awareness is radically different then object manifestation as the other in the rational phenomenology of mind alone phenomenology. The doorway of the phenomenology of awareness opens to us the experience of non-duality within duality and duality within non-duality. Or as the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa, “You and I are indivisible.” There is actually a “you” and actually an “I” and there is the actuality of indivisibleness. Non duality becomes visible and experiential because the one field manifests the knower, the known and the process of knowingness. Within two there is indivisibly… As the Dzogchen tradition describes, there is awakened awareness and awakened phenomena.
19. Understanding self-manifestation of awareness opens the door way for a deeper and truer understanding of manifestation of the appearance of otherness as self. Both self-manifestation and object manifestation may be experienced from the mediated view by mind alone. In this view there is duality alone. From within the radical view of awareness knowing awareness within self and within the other there is non-duality within duality. This radical view takes place when awareness is experienced as field. Awareness is a field, vast and infinite in its horizons. This radical experience of awareness becoming aware of its own self as the great expanse radicalizes the experience of both self and world, subject and otherness. Knowingness as outside subject to outside object and knowingness as inside to inside is a radically different experience. The duality of experience is a natural manifestation of the differentiation of phenomena into singularity and individuality. The language of delusion of dualism as often used by Buddhist and Vedic thinkers negates the natural unfolding of recognizing non-duality within duality. This nihilistic language forecloses of the actuality of differentiated and individual appearance of a “me” and a “you”, within which and through which is non-duality of the pervasive and singular field of awareness. These eastern thinkers can only think non-duality because they foreclose the actuality of duality.
20. This arising of duality is both the biological and cultural natural unfolding of complexity of singularity and individuation. This capacity to experience the naturalness of openness of non-duality within the duality of appearance arises effortlessly when a person enters the awareness field. This radical opening from reflective mind to the immediacy of the prereflective awareness field opens for us within the natural duality of appearance and phenomena, the experience of non- duality inherent within and through phenomena. This is an experience of liberation and consolation of the highest aesthetic.
21. Moreover, and this is most important, within this differentiation of mind from awareness there must be in time a reintegration of mind within the awareness field. As mind is reintegrated within the field of awareness there will be simultaneously mediated and unmediated knowingness. One can experience both reflective and prereflective knowledge. One can experience both duality and non-duality within the same phenomenological event. Or as the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa, “You and I are indivisible.”
The Efforts of Michel Henry and Self-Manifestation
22. Self-manifestation has various manifestations from that of mind to that of awareness field. From the reintegration of mind within the awareness field view, there is the experience that I am the one experiencing the phenomena manifesting within the field. This occurs the moment one is acquainted with experience in the first person mode of givenness. It is possible to speak of self-manifestation the moment I am no longer simply mentally conscious of the foreign object, but through my experience of the givenness of object or phenomena or appearance as well. This is both reflective mediated and prereflective unmediated experience. Reflection is mental reflection upon the experience of the object. Prereflective is the experience of the givenness of the phenomena directly and experientially and non-conceptually. Conceptualization may follow after or even during the direct experience of the phenomena.
23. Michel Henry takes subjectivity to be absolute in the sense of being completely self sufficient in its radical interiority. This kind of self absorption unhappily arises from his misunderstanding the nature of awareness field as immanence. His narrow and contained understanding of immanence leads to Michel Henry having a contracted and solipsistic view of awareness. For Michel Henry this immanence of self manifestation is enclosed and highly contained within the body and is auto centric at best and ultimately autistic. For Michel Henry the sense of awareness manifest itself to itself without ever leaving itself, without extending itself, without producing or presupposing any kind of expansion or extension. The original self- manifestation of subjectivity excludes all kinds of exteriority and expansion beyond the body mind boundaries. For Michel Henry the immanence of awareness is bound within the body mind boundaries.
24. For Michel Henry you cannot approach absolute subjectivity as if it were merely another otherness. There is no otherness within the confines of absolute subjectivity. For Michel Henry absolute subjectivity does not reveal itself in the world. Within absolute subjectivity it is impossible to grasp categories or dimensions pertaining to the world. This is a unique form of immediate and non- transcending manifestation. The manifestation of subjectivity is not only utterly different from the visibility of worldly phenomena, it is elusive and excluding. There is always something that eludes visibility and touchability.
25. The essence of self-manifestation cannot appear in the visibility of worldly exteriority, and Michel Henry describes it as obscure and invisible. The self-manifestation of absolute subjectivity must be characterized as an invisible revelation. Michel Henry’s misunderstanding happens because his own experience of self manifestation was contained within self referential awareness. This contained awareness did not expand beyond the boundaries of mind and body. This self-manifestation of his awareness was relentlessly self referential and the field phenomena that is so unbound and uncontained did not manifest for Michel Henry. For Heidegger, Merleau Ponty as well as within Dzogchen the immanence of awareness is pervasive and within everything and everyone. Michel Henry misses the actuality of awareness and the boundaries of immanence were imprisoned. Within his solipsistic transcendental view, the nature of self-manifestation and infinite field of immanence is lost for Michel Henry. His view is not unlike the Buddhist Madhyamaka tradition, with its nihilistic orientation to world and to its own manifestation.
Unfolding Visibility and the Self-Manifestation of Self Recognition
26. This is an immanent revelation which is presence itself and this presence remains invisible and can become visible. Heidegger and Merleau Ponty open this dimension of awareness of unbound openness and unfolding visibility. Paul Ricoeur is also a master at bringing into clarity the unfolding of self recognition in human experience. Self-manifestation and self recognition is not a once and for all event but an ongoing existential and developmental task of being human and becoming human awareness which is awareness itself. The unfolding of phenomena and appearance of phenomena is the natural unfolding human task of experiencing the light of awareness within and through phenomena. Just like the baby learns to recognize the mother and the father and others in every unfolding depth and breath of self other recognition, the same baby can learn to experience the light of awareness within the mother and the father and within the others. The same baby experiences the indivisibleness with the mother and yet differentiatedness from the mother in the same duration. So the unfolding development task is the deepening of the basic truth of indivisibility and differentiatedness.
27. When thinkers invalidate appearance of phenomena as delusion, they easily fall into the self isolation of Michel Henry’s absolute containment within absolute subjectivity or they fall into fusion states of mind alone arising out of various forms of dissociation. These dissociative fusion states are in essence self imposed trance states. Truly speaking the world does become a dream and dissociative detachment saves them from the relational pain of suffering but not from the suffering of living in the vacuum. The dissociative vacuum is in fact empty as a vast hole is empty and is not the natural state of nothingness of the open unbound human awareness within the world which is also awareness itself.
28. Nothing will manifest itself unless it is encountered by a self manifesting of awareness. We can only be aware of phenomena, if the phenomena manifest within our field of awareness. There is a oneness between the knower and the known. Implicit in the heart of experience is the non-duality of the knower and the known, the indivisibility between Being and phenomena, the indivisibility between relative and ultimate truth.
29. It is only a self-manifesting subject which can be conscious of appearing phenomena, and it is only because we are already given and opened ourselves to phenomena that manifestation becomes possible. This early phenomenology is a mind to mind phenomenon. In mind to mind phenomena the realm of awareness as field is not yet opened. Thus duality dominates. This dualistic mind knowing itself dualistically and other objects dualistically is mediated by mind alone. Even the Intentionality of mind alone presupposes self awareness and even the self transcending that we encounter in intentionality is founded on the self support of subjective immanence, which is awareness as the field.
30. The phenomenology of self-manifestation is the opening into the possibility of manifestation of both self and otherness as self. Self-to- self indivisibility opens up the subtle action of the passing through of self to self beyond mind body boundaries. The manifestation of both self and object is on the level of mind is objectification. The self-to-self oneness and interpenetration is the true intersubjective relatedness that is life giving and the drama of creativity.
31. Prereflective non-objectifying self-awareness was implicit in early intentionality studies but awareness of mind alone knowledge is not deep or complete enough. Later phenomenologists understood that in the study of intentional and mind based phenomenology there was foreclosure of intersubjectivity as Sartre described relentlessly.
The unhappy but common view
32. There was for many as there is now the assumption that there is only one type of manifestation and only one type of phenomenology. That is to appear, to be given was always to be given as an object, whether as self or as otherness. This is an assumption behind the persistent attempt to interpret self-awareness or self-manifestation in terms of reflection. This is the model of mental intentionality and the compelling extremes of idealism and realism; the mind looking at mind as the object or looking as its own subjectivity as mind alone, the “I” as an idea. There is the enclosure of identification of the mind and subjectivity. The sense of subjectivity is located in the mind alone. Self-awareness has been misunderstood as the result of an objectifying, intentional activity and self-manifestation has been misunderstood as a special form of object manifestation, characterized by interiority being locked in.
33. As long as mind and awareness are thought to be identical such objectification and inner alienation is sustained. Once the difference between awareness of mind and awareness of awareness is clearly experienced then the radical field phenomena of awareness is opened and unbound by self other duality…The self-manifestation of subjectivity, the self-manifestation of awareness is an immediate, non-objectifying occurrence, and therefore best described as awareness becoming aware of awareness.
34. First there was phenomenology of mind, mind knowing mind. This was the phenomenology of being located in the mind as mind; hence the emphasis on mental intentionality. Then there was the shift to becoming aware of mind and this brought forth the transcendental view with its distant objectification. And then there was the great leap of awareness becoming aware of awareness and within that leap the field phenomena become apparent and the openness of direct perception becomes possible.
35. When we are in the field and we are aware of our experience of feelings and moods, pain, anxiety, happiness, this experience is held within the field. This vital knowing does not arise through an intentional act that we are immediately aware of; there is no distance or separation between feeling the experience and our awareness of the experience. The experience is given in and through the awareness field as experience and ultimately given through and held by the field of primordial awareness.
36. Everything has a certain feel, and what it feels like to experience these feelings, and so there is meaning and signification as to what is experienced. Awareness is the subjectivity in which the experience takes place. Awareness is a place.
37. Primordial self-awareness is self-manifestation; awareness knowing awareness from within, immanent knowingness without the transcendental gap. This is a direct and immediate self awareness…direct knowing of knowingness. Self awareness can be purely interior and a self sufficient event involving no distance. Awareness is immediacy. Awareness can be an event which is beyond the felt horizon. Self-manifestation of subjectivity reveals itself to itself directly and with complete immediacy. Within this paradoxical awareness, the field manifests beyond reference and yet within its multidimensionality is within reference of otherness.
Timeless Awareness and Time
38. Self-manifestation is both temporal and atemporal in the vast realm of immanence. Self-manifestation as timeless awareness is atemporal and is within the timeless realm of immanence. Timeless awareness as immanence manifests in time and is time. Time itself manifests within timeless awareness as timeless awareness manifest within time. The field of immanence is inclusive of time and timelessness. All manifestation is ultimately self-manifestation, the self-manifestation of primordial awareness. The actuality of phenomena is the self-manifestation of primordial awareness. There is no real difference whatsoever between primordial awareness and the self manifested phenomena. To touch the phenomena is to touch primordial awareness.
The Beingness of Being
39. Awareness in becoming aware of awareness reveals the innermost actuality of awareness and the emerging sense of presence of awareness with its innate oneness within the beingness of Being itself as beings. This awareness of Being is the oneness of radical immanence. This immanence is not the immanence of a self contained subjectivity or self contained mind that is often so preoccupying to phenomenologist such as Michel Henry. This immanence of awareness is openness and ultimately infinitely unbound. The awareness field can not be contained within the mind body continuum but the focus within the field expands naturally into infinite horizons beyond mind body continuum and otherness itself.
Pure presence, presence as pure awareness, pure potentiality is without no reference. Being as source is without reference and is beyond the containment of reference and is infinite its horizons and unfolds into otherness and beyond all otherness.
40. Husserl could not conceive of pre-reflective self-awareness as truly immanent, and non- referential in self-manifestation. Husserl presents self-awareness as the givenness in inner time consciousness. This givenness becomes caught up in retention protention framing of time consciousness. The givenness of awareness is not actually contained between now and not now.
41. Time consciousness is the primary self-objectification of awareness according to Husserl…Where the source of self manifestation is timeless awareness there is no reification and objectification. This openness is the most fundamental source of manifestation and since it is no thing, anything and everything can arise from it. This is the true phenomenology of the invisible becoming visible. The manifestation of primordial awareness as non-dual subjectivity is the experience of timeless awareness in time. This manifestation of timelessness within time as non-dual subjectivity brings forth dualistic self other manifestation or self other appearance. This is a natural arising of duality within the appearance of phenomena. This innermost non-dual awareness is neither contained nor bound within duality of the appearance of self and other.
42. EmBodied life is awareness embodied and the body is the medium of the field. The body can become an intentional object but in essence the medium of the body is the embodiment of the awareness field in space and time as the luminous flesh. Awareness can become aware of its own self within its own self. The pre-reflective self- awareness is not the result of our own achievement, but is the given state and in becoming aware of this givenness is to experience self origination. The original self experience is not something we ourselves bring about; rather it is a primordial givenness of primordial awareness as primordial awareness. This primordial ground or base can be experienced when awareness focuses within awareness on awareness itself. Personal awareness ultimately is ground awareness. This movement of self recognition is wherein the field dimension opens and become visible. The true invisibility and true concealment is our own awareness as field which is the unfolding process of beingness of Being revealing and concealing within us as us.
43. The movement from visibility to invisibility is phenomenologically motivated. The desire to know our own awareness is ultimately the desire to know awareness itself within self and the otherness of the world. This vast surge to know awareness within our self and within phenomena is the surge of primordial awareness itself to know itself in infinite forms and conduits.
Appearance of the Manifestation of Being
44. For Heidegger, the very essence of phenomenology is to disclose what remains hidden from view namely, Being, the beingness of being. The phenomenology of the unapparent is the phenomenology of the translucent becoming apparent. The natural unfolding of the transparency of appearance is in essence the translucidity of Being manifesting and shining forth as phenomena and through phenomena. The nocturnal source of light is beyond mind as objectifying mind, linguistic mind. Phenomena interpenetrate phenomena as light penetrating light and phenomena infuses phenomena as light infuses light.
45. The experience of immanence goes beyond object fixation and the objectified and reified representationalized and conceptualized mind. Such a mind is concrete, operational, and dense. To enter into the world of knowingness experiencing knowingness is to go through the doorway of phenomena into the experience of Beingness manifesting being as beings. Awareness is awakened and phenomena are awakened and so awakened awareness meets awaked awareness through and within phenomena. The descriptions of self and other are identical in the nature and within the light of awareness.
46. Subjectively and otherness both belong to the singular ontological dimension of Being which is no thing and from this no thing everything and anything arises and manifests. The knowing of subjectivity of the other requires that one is in the dimension of subjectivity and within this inter-subjectivity indivisibility becomes visible; direct knowing takes place inside to inside. The non-mediated indivisibility becomes apparent. The invisible manifests itself in a radically different way than the visible. The invisibility of Being does not remain forever hidden but unfolds non-conceptually within subjectivity and the circumstances surrounding subjectivity. In essence, subjectivity is no thingness manifesting as no thingness within the mind body continuum and as the mind body continuum. No thingness as subjectivity manifesting within the thingness of body mind continuum. In true intersubjective states no thingness experiences no thingness in mutual recognition and the direct sense of indivisibleness.
47. The old phenomenology of intentionality and object manifestation is a surface phenomenology. The sublime act of becoming aware of awareness is completely natural and open to everyone. It is amazing that in becoming aware of awareness the light of awareness pervades everything and everyone everywhere.
Written by: Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D.