Thursday, July 28, 2011

Inside Out

Inside Out
by Scott Bradley

Buddhism describes enlightenment as a "turning about in the deepest seat of consciousness." The description alone is worthy of contemplation. It would seem that we cannot, by effort and will power, turn ourselves about down there in the depths of what makes us view the world as we do, but we can, I think, get intimations of what it would be like.

"Intimations" is a word that well describes this kind of experience, connoting as it does both the deep intimacy of the experience, and its received and numinous character. It is mystical, yet only tentatively so.

My description of these intimations is as 'a turning inside out of perspective'. Buddhism may (or may not) be speaking from the fullness of the enlightening phenomenon, but I have only my own experience from which to speak. Every intimation of transcendence that I experience is one of the dissipation of my insular identity. It is as if the self were turned inside out and viewed the world, not as other, but as itself. Or rather, and this may be where many ways part in understanding, the self is absorbed into the world. This, I suspect, is the near universal experience of those that dabble in mysticism. I wonder what that might mean.

Strictly speaking, I do not 'believe' in enlightenment, if by that is meant something we are supposed to experience because it is our destiny, or because otherwise we are in some sense lost, or it's what the Universe wills for us. That is to say, for me, it has no religious content. If there is such a thing, then it is a purely natural phenomenon and simply a realization of evolved human potential, and even then, not necessarily 'better' than any other way of existing. I don't mean this as if I believed in some scientific and rationalistic way to view existence, only it is my way of attempting to maintain religious neutrality — to keep the slate clean and empty of belief so that reality can express itself upon it.

Do you dabble? You most likely do, but if not, I recommend it — you'll like it.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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