Friday, 17 March 2017

Layers of Ignorance

By Julia Molloy

All there is, is Experiencing. Its pure and perfect. Something interesting happens in the Experiencing - appearance of a Mind, the universal Mind, organizer of all experiences. Mind starts building structures - knowledge. The Self finds itself surrounded by structures. Structures hide the "what-is" or Presence and instead Self gets a "view" that is made-up, artificial. This view is nothing but knowing, knowledge itself. Mind presents that knowledge incrementally. While the structures are still forming, the knowledge appears incomplete and is seen as ignorance. It takes more experiences to complete the knowledge, which is done, but not before incomplete knowledge does its job - of causing suffering.

This incomplete knowledge is Ignorance. In essence, knowledge is ignorance. Mind is limited, it brings in immense amount of knowledge, still it remains incomplete. For a human mind, which is a part of Mind, the situation is even worse. Humans spend their whole life (or lives) under the spell of ignorance, well most of them do.


Origin and End

How does ignorance start?
This is a frequently asked question. In view of the above it starts as soon as the knowledge gathering starts. And when does knowledge start? It starts as soon as Experiencing itself starts, which starts organization of experiences via the Fundamental Process. And when does that start? Well, you can see where this is going. We quickly hit a wall here and encounter something that is unknowable.

Why is it? Because we are trying to apply the concept of time where it cannot be applied. Mind itself creates time, it cannot be applied to "before Mind" or beyond Mind. So the word "start" loses it meaning. Masters would tell you that ignorance is as ancient as Self itself, which is infinitely old. This answer is metaphorical, because Self is beyond time, or the idea of time does not apply to the Self. Experiencing is beyond time too, it is Change, which does not happen in time. So all we can say is - ignorance is, knowledge is.

Why does the all knowing Self get into ignorance, why does it even allow it?
Self is not ignorant, Mind is. Mind (and mind) creates knowledge, and hence also creates ignorance. Self does not allow it, nor it disallows it, it merely witnesses the play, it has no interest and is also highly interested. You will find mystical speak here and paradoxes. Yes that's normal, and we can see that its exactly like that.

When does ignorance end?
Now this one is a more useful question. It ends as soon as knowledge is completed. The completion involves realization that everything is Self. This dissolves all ignorance instantly, and the Mind is freed, ending suffering. A happy ending.

How to end ignorance?
It is simple. Realize who you are. As an individual, when the mind knows that it is nothing but an illusion in Self, ignorance ends. It cannot be done via reading about it, or by hearing it from a master, it can happen only via a direct experience. Why? because, as we know surely now, only experience creates knowledge. The direct experience of Self completes the knowledge.

How to get that experience?
Strangely, you cannot get it. It happens when the time is right. I call it Ripening, some people may call it Grace. A person has no control over anything, as we have seen before, and has no control over when his mind completes the knowledge. A person is only an illusion. Ripening happens, Grace happens, and experience of Self happens.

It can be triggered by a book, teachings, just some words that remind you of Self, some other experience, can arrive via a practice, by introspection, by meditation, energetic manipulation, drug use or perhaps by intervention from universal Mind itself. (Note the similarities with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, I'm obviously inspired by him, but it can be shown that he is more or less right, by various accounts).

Can the Ripening be quickened?
I don't know. Try it, who knows, it may work. Masters would say that if you are fortunate enough to encounter a teaching about the Self by any happening whatsoever, you are already going through Ripening. In other words, just knowing that such possibility exists is a sign of Grace. So if you are reading this, be sure that you are under the wings, so to speak. Once the Ripening is complete, you will be free. There is no harm in asking for "more Grace", "more Ripeness". It may work, or may not work. Reading about Self, singing its praises, being with wise, attending meetings that discuss it, practices that focus on mind, body and energies are said to quicken it. Sometimes just presence of a master is enough. But as usual, we cannot say if the knowledge is "caused" by such acts, or it merely happens irrespective of these acts to "get it". See the article on effort, for example.

Layers of Ignorance

If you are under the Grace, Self-Enquiry or introspection is the fastest way to get there. Is it a guaranteed way? No, we control nothing, remember that. Once we start questioning, which is essentially what path of knowledge is, we begin dismantling ignorance actively. Who is acting? No one, again this should be noted.

The ignorance is removed in the reverse order of its accumulation. So we go from outer to inner layers progressively. Its of utmost importance to note that we do not destroy the structures that cause ignorance, we merely see past them. In other words, we do not destroy the incomplete knowledge, we just complete it. So removal of ignorance is a process of gaining more knowledge.

The following is my understanding of layers. It matches my own experiences. Some of you may find more or less of them. It doesn't matter.

1.  Inert matter is the first layer of ignorance. Inert matter, which is not really inert, but shows incessant activity, is a structure in Mind, and hence is knowledge. One can say that the associated ignorance is huge. Its just gas, crystals and rocks. Self "thinks" its inert, rigid, bound in tight laws. All it sees is highly organized matter, which is itself. There is nothing there to remind the Self of what it is. Self itself is "inert and sleeping". Well, some metaphors there, but you get the picture. Can there be more layers that are "worse" than inert matter? Who knows. All we can experience is inert matter, there is nothing more inert than that, but the possibility remains open. Perhaps a matter which is even less active in some other universe. I am going to ignore non-physical stuff because it may not be in the experience of many.

2. Active matter is highly energized matter, such as reactive chemicals (e.g. fire), or radioactive elements. Sun, water, some planets etc. are active but are still tightly bound by mechanical laws. Laws means organization and hence knowledge. Self "thinks" its nothing but such activity. Here and in layer one, there is no possibility for Mind to know anything else. Its utterly and completely ignorant if you consider only these two layers.

3. Living matter, which is just plain matter but with some interesting and complex organization, is the third layer. DNA, unicellular organisms, plants, fungi etc. are structures of matter that grow, replicate and act in complex ways. They are mechanical and chemical, still bound by laws, but have a tiny bit of freedom. Self "thinks" its life. Its engaged in a play of germination, growth, reproduction and decay back to inert matter. Its engrossed in it. Here also there is no hope for Mind to know anything more. But we see immense amount of organization, much more than active matter is, a huge variety of actions, and forms. It simply means more knowledge.

4. Rudimentary minds are forth layer, where there is ingrained learning (genetic), basic memory and survival instincts. Insects, fish and reptiles have such minds. Also called reptilian minds. They have much more knowledge and perceive more than mere living matter, and have intricate bodies of living matter to play with. Self is mesmerized by them, its a captivating experience for Self. Again, such mind has no potential to know anything more that what is already hard coded. I can safely put machines at this level, as they currently are (2017).

5. Animal minds are fifth. They have even more knowledge, learning ability, emotions, rudimentary Ego and even some intelligence. Apes, mammals and birds are in this layer. Self is engaged in a survival game here, completely unaware of itself. That's a metaphor as usual. Minds and brains are highly evolved here, but still they have no possibility of completing the knowledge. They lack self reflection. Or in other words, animal minds lack the capability to know the Self. This is somewhat debatable, and some of you may say that there is some potential here. It is ok if that is your experience. Some people may opine that creatures with a vertebral column or spinal cord are well equipped to know their Self. I leave it to you. But know that they are on a brink, they can get that potential any time, things evolve, they don't stay same.

6. Human minds are sixth on the layers of ignorance. We are self aware, Homo sapiens sapiens, and it simply means, we are capable of knowing that which no other creature can know - the Self. So now you know why a human birth is considered most precious of all births. It is special. Human mind can reflect deeply, express and learn effectively, and has higher cognitive functions to override the lower (more ignorant) ones. Teachers, teachings, transfer of knowledge and students appear at this level. This is a miracle. Our pretty bodies with opposing thumbs and notoriously agile vocal cords makes it so simple to survive and leave a lot of time for self reflection. So humans have the needed potential to complete the knowledge.

But wait a minute. Why do only a handful of billions of us know the Self? Aren't we all the same Homo S. S.? Unfortunately, not all are created equal, we are on different sub-layers, ranging from totally ignorant animal-like to totally liberated and enlightened kind. All shades of awakening are in between. The reason is - Ego, which we had discussed in nauseating depths. The ignorant part of the human mind dominates most of us, and higher intellect is rarely seen. We have devoted many articles for study of extraordinary capabilities of the mind, so you already know how awesome it is. And we have devoted many articles on afflictions of the mind, so you know what a mess it is. That's another reason, no one is same. There is varying amount of ignorance in human kind. Fortunately this is changing, as it must, and the possibility of knowledge is increasing day by day.

So not only the completion of knowledge is a natural process, we humans have devised clever ways to get there quickly. In other words, we try to quicken our evolution by intention and effort. The funny thing is, if you ask anyone, even the most retarded person, if he is aware, and if he is aware of being aware, you will most probably get an Yes ! Which means humans are already there, very little needs to be done. However, Self is engrossed in Egoic stuff for some reason, it doesn't let go of it easily and Ego fights back, it has a mind of its own. So people would say yes, but then blankly stare at you, as if asking whats the big deal?

7. Parahuman minds are seventh. Now what kind of bird is that? They are also known as Angelic minds, non-physical beings or Devas. Just as we humans possess a physical body, these minds possess a non-physical one, which in their view is as physical as it can be. We are in a woo-woo territory now. Those who have direct experiences will agree, and others will simply laugh. So its perfectly ok if you think I lost it all here and its time to close this page. You are sane and intelligent. I'd do exactly that. However, as I said your experience may differ, you may find no evidence of a particular layer, which is fine. I'm on a borderline here, and I'm including these "things" only speculatively.

Going into even more speculation, it is said that parahumans have such a grand mind that they have conquered suffering, they live a heavenly existence, they have everything and can create everything on whim. Bill Gates is peanuts compared to them. Well that was a joke, but you get the picture. There is no motivation for them to remember who they are. For us humans, suffering and bondage is a great motivation, its a blessing. Nothing works faster than a combination of carrots and sticks. Parahumans have only carrots. But I guess they can complete the knowledge in an eye blink just by intention. They already know what Self is, but they are not very interested. Self is enjoying heavenly pleasures here, it is also not interested.

8. Rishis or Buddhas are eight and it would be stupidity to call them ignorant. It is a thin layer, almost non existent. Only thing is - these minds still experience individuality if they choose to. They are liberated and can take any form, from inert matter to humans to Devas. They can create and maintain whole universes. Since they are already enlightened and liberated, there is no proper ignorance here, except the Self is engaged in a grand game of creation. There are tiny vrittis (desires), and that's all there is, just nominal ignorance.

How do I know that? I don't. If I knew I wouldn't be here writing this blog. Can there be more layers between 7th and 8th, like differently awakened beings? Who knows. I can cook up some, but probably that will be too much for you to swallow.

9. Universal Mind is the ninth layer. Now this one I'm not cooking it up. It is by necessity. Fundamental Process creates one thing and one thing only, which is this universal Mind. It contains everything else, from Rishis to atoms. It is one, no duals here and no individuality, just pure knowledge. It is now familiar Ishwara, the creator according to the ancients. This makes religious people very happy. I don't mean to destroy their beliefs, but it is not an ordinary entity with superduperhuman powers, it is just a vast, almost infinite collection of structures. Our puny human minds cannot comprehend what it is.

That said, it has ignorance. That's a surprise, but remember that wherever there is structure, there is knowledge and ignorance. Universal Mind is still dwells in duality, even if it itself is one. It still divides. The first division it creates is that of experience and an experiencer, just like we, human minds, do. Anyhow the ignorance is almost nil. It always knows it is Self. I cannot say anything more about it, except that it has some fundamental limitations. Those of you who know it via direct experience will concur.

So it is obvious now that when the ignorance is removed our mind resembles universal Mind. It does not become yet another universal Mind, it simply merges with it. The ignorance is like barriers which prevent us from seeing what we are, and its removal is like breaking those barriers. At this stage, we not only know the what of Self, but also how, why, when and where of it all.

So this is how, in my limited an uninformed view, the Mind completes its journey to Self. It should be obvious that there are no fixed laws here, it may or may not happen in that order. But there are general predictable patterns. For example inert matter cannot jump to a Buddha, it has to evolve towards it. These are tiny steps, but once in a while there happens a big leap.

If you are on a path, just knowing this landscape eases everything. One can destroy all ignorance in one single blow if one wants to and if conditions are correct. Remember that you can quicken it, if possible, but there is no hurry, you are already the Self.



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