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The Nature of Being

June 7, 2015

eternal observer

Although we call ourselves human beings, we are in fact conflating the true nature of being with the animated human life-forms we take ourselves to be.

So what is the true nature of being? The answer is difficult to accept, but it’s still the answer. The answer is the true nature of being is timeless being, which can only be identified as a void of undifferentiated consciousness.

What does that mean? In the words of Jed McKenna, “It doesn’t mean anything. It just is”. That’s the nature of timeless being.

Nisargadatta describes timeless being as the Supreme state of being:

The Supreme state neither comes nor goes. It is.
It is a timeless state, ever present.
Before the mind happens, I am.
Before all beginnings, after all endings, I am.
All has its being in the ‘I am’ that shines in every living being.
I am dead already. Physical death will make no difference.
I am timeless being.

Timeless being is undifferentiated consciousness. If we try to describe it in physical terms, we can only describe it as void or an empty space of potentiality.

Nisargadatta makes it clear that only the primordial nothingness (the void) is ultimately real, and that this nothingness is the nature of undifferentiated consciousness, which he calls pure awareness:

Awareness is beyond all.
Awareness is primordial; it is the original state.
Awareness is undivided-aware of itself.
Reality is essentially alone.
To know that nothing is, is true knowledge.
Nothing perceivable is real.

So how does our individual being or consciousness, not to mention a perceivable world, arise from the void of undifferentiated consciousness?

The answer has recently been discovered and can be explained in scientific terms, which is discussed in detail in other essays that can be found at this site. Only the briefest outline will be discussed here.

Individual consciousness is differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness whenever a world is created for the observer of that world. The observer of that world is only a focal point of consciousness that is differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness when that world is created. This differentiated focal point of consciousness is present at the central point of view and arises in relation to a surrounding holographic screen on which all the images of that world are displayed and animated.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

How does the holographic screen arise? The answer is dark energy. Whenever dark energy is expended, space appears to expand away from the central point of view of the observer at an accelerated rate. The farther out in space the observer looks, the faster space appears to expand away from the observer. At some point, space appears to expand at the speed of light. Due to the limitation of the speed of light, which is like the maximal rate of information transfer in a computer network, this is as far out in space as the observer can see things in space. This point defines the boundary of a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. A cosmic horizon is a bounding surface of space that limits the observer’s observations of things in space.

expanding universe

The holographic principle then tells us all the bits of information that define all the observable things the observer can observe in that bounded space are encoded on the cosmic horizon. The horizon acts as a holographic screen that encodes all the bits of information that define all the observable things the observer at the central point of view of the screen can observe in that bounded space. This is just like how a computer screen encodes bits of information. Each pixel on the screen encodes a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s.

Information01

That is how the illusion of a world is created. Illusion is a strong word, so maybe it’s better to describe the world as a virtual reality, just like a kind of virtual reality world displayed in a computer animation. All the observable things in that world are no more real than computer generated images animated and displayed on a computer screen. The animated images are only composed of bits of information defined on the pixels of the screen, and are only animated in the flow of energy that energizes the computer.

Modern physics tells us the screen is a holographic screen and the energizing flow of energy is dark energy, which gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space that leads to the creation of a cosmic horizon that acts as a holographic screen surrounding the observer at the central point of view.

horizon information

If this holographic screen only displays an animated virtual reality, then how real is the observer of that world? The observer is real in the sense of the individual consciousness that is present at the central point of view of the screen, and as such, has its own sense of being present or I-Am-ness, but this individual being is only differentiated from timeless being or undifferentiated consciousness when dark energy is expended and the observer’s holographic screen or world arises.

Atman Brahman

This is what Nisargadatta says about the nature of individual being (I Am). He also describes the observer as a focal point of consciousness:

Only the onlooker is real, call him Self or Atman.
That which makes you think that you are a human is not human.
It is a dimensionless point of consciousness, a conscious nothing.
All you can say about yourself is ‘I am’.

Nisargadatta also describes how the light of consciousness creates the world like the images of a movie that are reflected off a screen:

Whatever happens, I remain.
At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light.
This speck, by its nature, radiates and creates pictures in space and events in time, effortlessly and spontaneously.

singularity

Nisargadatta describes the nature of reality in terms that resonate deeply with the holographic principle:

In pure being consciousness arises.
In consciousness the world appears and disappears.
Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality.
The center is a point of void and the witness a point of pure awareness; they know themselves to be as nothing.
But the void is full to the brim. It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal actual.

Pure being is timeless being or undifferentiated consciousness (the void), individual consciousness (the focal point of I Am/consciousness, the witness) is differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness, and the world is a reflection against a surface (an animation of images displayed on a holographic screen). The world can only appear in that reflection (of the light of consciousness), and without that reflection, disappears.

Nisargadatta describes the world in a way that is perfectly consistent with the holographic principle (as animated images displayed on a screen):

You know yourself only through the senses and the mind.
You take yourself to be what they suggest; having no direct knowledge of yourself.
You have mere ideas.
Whatever you think you are you take it to be true-imagining yourself perceivable.
I see as you see, hear as you hear.
All this I perceive quite clearly, but I am not in it.
I feel myself as floating over it, aloof and detached.
There is also the awareness of it all and a sense of immense distance as if the body and the mind and all that happens to them were somewhere far out on the horizon.
I am like a cinema screen-clear and empty. The pictures pass over it and disappear, leaving it as clear and empty as before.
In no way is the screen affected by the pictures, nor are the pictures affected by the screen.
The screen intercepts and reflects the pictures.
These are lumps of destiny, but not my destiny; the destinies of the people on the screen.
The character will become a person when he begins to shape his life instead of accepting it as it comes-identifying himself with it.
To myself I am neither perceivable nor conceivable; there is nothing I can point out and say “this I am”.

Nisargadatta also describes the unreality of this animation of the world on a screen:

Once you realize that there is nothing in this world which you can call your own you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage or a picture on the screen.
To know the picture as the play of light on the screen gives freedom from the idea that the picture is real.
In reality I only look.
Whatever is done is done on the stage.
Joy and sorrow, life and death, they are real to the man in bondage.
To me they are all in the show, as unreal as the show itself.

The holographic screen defines every observable thing the observer can observe in its world. In effect, every observer has its own world defined on its own screen.

Nisargadatta also describes this one-world-per-observer paradigm:

Delve deeply into the sense ‘I am’ and you will discover that the perceiving center is universal.
All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness.
Whatever is done is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.
There can be no universe without the witness, no witness without the universe.

Nisargadatta describes the I Am/consciousness is at the center of its own world:

Go beyond, go back to the source, go to the Self that is the same whatever happens.
See everything as emanating from the light which is the source of your own being.
Find the immutable center where all movement takes birth.
Be the axis at the center-not whirling at the periphery.
Nothing stops you except fear.
You are afraid of impersonal being.

Nisargadatta describes that beyond the I Am/consciousness (the witness) is the ocean of undifferentiated consciousness (pure awareness):

First we must know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centers of observation, and then realize that immense ocean of pure awareness, which is both mind and matter and beyond both.

How do we understand a consensual reality shared by many observers? The answer is many holographic screens can overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information to the degree the screens overlap, and so many observers can share information in a consensual reality they share together. This is just like the kind of information sharing that occurs in an interactive computer network.

Overlapping bounded spaces

The holographic screen is a bounding surface of space that must arise in some all encompassing space. We call this all encompassing space the void, which is an empty space of potentiality. The nature of this empty space is undifferentiated consciousness. The observer’s individual consciousness is differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness when dark energy is expended, a cosmic horizon arises, and the observer’s world is defined on a surrounding holographic screen. The expenditure of dark energy creates the observer’s world, and in the process differentiates the observer’s consciousness from undifferentiated consciousness.

The void of undifferentiated consciousness is the nature of timeless being. The observer’s individual being and consciousness is only differentiated from timeless being and undifferentiated consciousness when dark energy is expended and the course of time and energy begin to flow. This is just like the flow of energy through a computer that animates the images displayed on the computer screen.

What happens to the observer’s differentiated focal point of consciousness when the course of time and the flow of energy come to an end? What happens when energy is no longer expended? Everything eventually comes to an end, including the flow of energy through the observer’s world. What happens then?

The answer is the observer’s differentiated focal point of consciousness returns to undifferentiated consciousness. This return is described as a dissolution, like a drop of water that dissolves back into the ocean. Individual being dissolves back into timeless being. The observer’s differentiated focal point of consciousness dissolves back into the void of undifferentiated consciousness.

Osho describes that the inner space is only realized through dissolution:

The inner emptiness itself is the mystery.
When the inner space is there, you are not.
When you dissolve, the inner emptiness is there.
When you are not, the mystery will be revealed.
You will not be a witness to the mystery, you will be the mystery.

Nisargadatta describes how only the I Am/consciousness in motion (the expression of energy) creates the world, and that the I Am/consciousness dissolves back into the Absolute (the void) without that expression of energy:

The ‘I Am’ in movement creates the world.
The ‘I Am’ at peace becomes the Absolute

Modern physics tells us that the ultimate nature of this energy is dark energy, which we understand as the accelerated expansion of space. In this sense, the Absolute (empty space) expresses energy with the “bending of space”.

Osho describes enlightenment as awakening from a dream, and identifies what is left when the dream disappears as pure space (undifferentiated consciousness):

We call Buddha the awakened one.
This awakening is really the cessation of inner dreaming.
When there is no dreaming you become pure space.
This non-dreaming consciousness is what is known as enlightenment.

Nisargadatta also describes the world as a dream and describes the dreamer as undifferentiated consciousness:

The world you can perceive is a very small world-entirely private.
Take it to be a dream and be done with it.
By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature you create so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.
What you call survival is but the survival of a dream.
The dreamer is one.
I am beyond all dreams.
I am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear.

Nisargadatta describes the appearance and disappearance of the world:

Memory creates the illusion of continuity.
What begins and ends is mere appearance.
The world can be said to appear but not to be.
I see the world as it is, a momentary appearance in consciousness.

Nisargadatta also describes the world as a mental projection or illusion:

The totality of all mental projections is the Great Illusion.
When I look beyond the mind I see the witness.
Beyond the witness is infinite emptiness and silence.

Nisargadatta describes the creation of the world is no more real than a dream:

The very purpose of creation is the fulfillment of desire.
Things happen by their own nature.
From my point of view everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously.
I do nothing. I just see them happen.
Realize that you are dreaming a dream you call the world.
Look at the dream as a dream.
When you see your dream as dream you wake up.

Nisargadatta also describes the path of return:

For the path of return naughting oneself is necessary.
My stand I take where nothing is.
To the mind it is all darkness and silence.
It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery.
It is, while all else merely happens.

Relativity theory describes the expenditure of all energy as an accelerated frame of reference. Acceleration always implies the expenditure of energy, just like an accelerating rocket ship that expends energy through the force of its thrusters.

gravity

The observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference whenever energy is expended. The expenditure of dark energy is the only way the observer’s world can be created. This accelerated frame of reference is how a cosmic horizon arises that acts as a holographic screen that defines the observer’s world.

Observer's Horizon

When energy is no longer expended, this acceleration comes to an end, and the observer enters into a freely falling frame of reference. In an ultimate freely falling frame of reference, no energy is expended, no horizon arises, no holographic screen arises that defines the observer’s world, and so the observer’s world must disappear. When the observer’s world disappears, the observer is no longer present for that world. When the observer’s world disappears, the observer’s differentiated focal point of consciousness dissolves back into undifferentiated consciousness. This is described as “falling into the void”.

Osho describes this ultimate state of freely falling into the void:

You fall into an abyss, and the abyss is bottomless: you go on falling.
That is why Buddha has called this nothingness emptiness.
There is no end to it. Once you know it, you also have become endless.
At this point Being is revealed: then you know who you are, what is your real being, what is your authentic existence.
That being is void.

Nisargadatta also describes falling into the void:

It is like a bottomless well, whatever falls into it disappears.

We might say that the void of undifferentiated consciousness is the “ground of being”, but that’s not quite right. The void is timeless being, and as such it is the Source of the individual being and consciousness of all observers, just as it is the Source of everything in any observer’s world.

Nisargadatta describes the Source of everything is consciousness:

Consciousness itself is the source of everything.
What is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness.
Everything is a form of energy.
You are not the body.
You are the immensity and infinity of consciousness.
You are and I am only as points in consciousness.

Nisargadatta describes how the observer (the witness) identifies itself with its character (the person) in the animation it is watching:

You are the source of reality-a dimensionless center of perception that imparts reality to whatever it perceives-a pure witness that watches what is going on and remains unaffected.
It is only imagination and self-identification with the imagined that encloses and converts the inner watcher into a person.
The person is merely the result of a misunderstanding.
In reality there is no such thing.
Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession.
In reality there is no person, only the watcher identifying itself.

Nisargadatta describes the nature of self-identification as ignorance or wrong knowing:

The person is never the subject.
You can see a person but you are not a person.
The difference between the person and the witness is as between not knowing and knowing oneself.
Mere knowledge is not enough; the knower must be known.
Without knowledge of the knower there can be no peace.
I know myself as I am in reality.
I am neither the body nor the mind.
I am beyond all these.
In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.
In reality all is one, the outer being merely a projection of the inner.
The objects in the world are many but the eye that sees them is one.

Nisargadatta also describes the shift in the focus of attention of consciousness that allows an observer to de-identify itself from its character, break the hypnotic spell, and bring its own sense of being present into focus:

I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the pictures on the cinema screen to be but light.
It is enough to shift attention from the screen onto oneself to break the spell.

Nisargadatta describes the detachment process:

Discrimination will lead to detachment.
You gain nothing.
You leave behind what is not your own and find what you have never lost-your own being.

Nisargadatta also describes the ascension of consciousness to a higher level:

Awareness comes as if from a higher dimension.
The witness that stands aloof-is the watchtower of the real-the point at which awareness, inherent in the unmanifested, contacts the manifested.

Plato's cave

McKenna calls awakening a process of ego death as a means to no-self. All self is false self. The only truth is no-self, which McKenna, Osho and Nisargadatta all describe as the dissolution of the individual consciousness of the observer (that arises at a point of view in relation to a viewing screen) into the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. Even an ascended focal point of consciousness (that no longer identifies itself with its character in the animated world it perceives on a viewing screen, but still exists as individual consciousness) is a false self. When the observer identifies itself with its character, it only magnifies this falseness.

McKenna, Osho and Nisargadatta (not to mention the Tao, the Bhagavad-Gita and many other ancient writings) describe the only way to awaken is to become desireless, which is to give up desires. These are all desires to live, and to give them up is a kind of death. The only way to awaken is with the willingness to die.

Awakening requires ego death, and the only way that happens is to give up the desire to live. The expression of ego always emotionally relates the observer’s character in its world to some other thing in its world with an expression of the desire to live, and to bring this expression of ego to an end requires giving up the expression of that desire to live. McKenna says the only reason anyone is ever willing to do this is because they hate the lie so much that they would rather die (suffer ego death) than continue to live the life of a lie. This process of ego death is only possible with the giving up of the desire to live.

As McKenna points out, the most basic kind of awakening is the integrated state, which requires giving up the desire to control things, have power over things, and force things to satisfy desires. This giving up is a surrender to divine will (which is a giving up of the expression of emotionally biased personal will, or as McKenna calls its, relinquishing the desire to control things in a futile attempt to try to force things to act in a way that’s to one’s liking). With surrender to divine will, one puts one trust in the normal (unbiased) flow of things to sort out what is for the best.

Further along the path of awakening is the ascension of consciousness to a higher level (the ascended point of view outside the viewing screen), which requires giving up more desires to live. Only the expression of the desire to live (that emotionally relates the observer’s character to other things in its world) can attach the observer to its world (as the observer feels self-limited to its character and identifies itself with its character). Only the willingness to give up the desire to live can detach the observer from its world and de-identify the observer from its character. The willingness to sever these emotional attachments is only possible with the willingness to give up the expression of these desires to live.

The detachment process (that leads to the ascension of consciousness) is also a shift in the focus of attention away from the expression of the desire to live and onto one’s own sense of being present as a focal point of consciousness (the singularity of the observer’s world that is at the center of its holographic screen).

Only the observer’s focus of attention on the expression of the desire to live energizes the expression of that desire. Nisargadatta points out the observer’s willingness to give up the expression of that desire requires a shift in the focus of its attention away from the expression of the desire to live. The only other place the observer can focus its attention is on its own sense of being present as a focal point of consciousness (the singularity) at the center of its world.

Once the observer (the focal point of consciousness) brings itself into focus (and knows itself to be nothing more than a point of consciousness) it brings itself right to the edge of the abyss that separates the existence of its world from the void and the non-existence of its world. The observer brings itself right to the edge of the abyss that separates being present for its world from the disappearance of its world and not being present. At that point, the observer can fall into the void and dissolve into undifferentiated consciousness (no-self).

The observer’s differentiated focal point of consciousness is always present at the central point of view of a surrounding holographic screen, which only arises when dark energy is expended. The expenditure of dark energy is the nature of the differentiation process. We understand the expenditure of dark energy as the accelerated expansion of space, which expands at an accelerated rate relative to the central point of view of the observer. In the sense of the curvature of space-time geometry, this accelerated expansion of space is the “bending of space”.

The timeless nature of being is an empty space of potentiality. When this empty space of potentiality expresses its power with the expenditure of dark energy and the accelerated expansion of space, an observer’s focal point of consciousness is differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness and a cosmic horizon arises that acts as a holographic screen that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. That is how the observer’s world is created and how the observer’s being comes into being. This “bending of space” is the only way the observer’s world can be created and the observer’s individual being can come into being.

Ultimately all the observer really is, is empty space. Ultimately all the observer really does is bend space as it expresses its energy.

Do not try to bend the spoon. That is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.
What truth?
There is no spoon. Then you’ll see it’s not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
The Matrix

there is no spoon

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