Sunday, 1 January 2017

Introspection - 6 : Consciousness Without Content


We will attempt to gain a direct experience of the pure consciousness, in other words, Self that is not engaged in experiencing anything, or when there are no contents to experience. Note that its not possible to even remember such a state, because there will be no memories of it, so we will just try to get a taste of it.


Nothing more than that which is already mentioned for other introspections. Although sometimes a friend who can ask you questions mentioned below can be useful. Best done with eyes closed, but it is not necessary.

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Fake it

It is the easiest thing to experience, it happens every time you are in a deep sleep. There are no contents, no Mind, no people, no world, nothing at all. The problem is there is no memory of it also, no knowledge is formed out of it. So the obvious question is how do we know if the Self still existed in deep sleep?

The obvious answer is – we cannot know. Knowing involves organizing contents, naming, experiencing, understanding, memorizing, learning – all functions of the Mind, and when the Mind itself is absent, nothing much can be done as far as mental tasks are concerned. The good news is it can be still experienced. The only thing that can be known is re-emergence of the Mind from deep sleep via direct experience. It is our everyday experience that Mind boots up in the morning and there is a witness to see it doing the act. The state previous to that remains unknown.

So lets find a workaround for the situation by roughly simulating a consciousness without contents. It will give a taste of it and will open you up for new possibilities. Let’s play a game. The rules of the game are :

  1. You need to pretend that you are asleep, the Mind is not functioning, no analysis, recognition, understanding, naming, classification, division and so on, are happening. Pretend its not possible, Mind is deactivated.
  2. Memory recall is deactivated, however memory formation is active. So you are free to memorize what is happening now, but you are not free to recall anything else from the past. You have lost your all memories.

The rules are simple, it can take a while to practice the “mind-dead” mode, because the mind keeps jumping back up. But those who are expert in meditation will find it a piece of cake. So lets start.

Question (or since you are pretending to be mind-dead, let a friend ask you these questions) – Where are you now? If the answer is that you are at home, or name of a city, then it is the mind springing back from dead. Ignore that answer, let mind go away, just observe, do not think. The obvious thing that remains is an experience of you here and now.

Que. – what country you live in? You have no memory, so the answer is you have no country, there is no such thing.

Que. – who are in your family, parents, kids, wife? You have no one, you just are. There are no relatives and friends.

Que. – what’s your name and what are your likes or dislikes? These words do not even make sense. What is a like? What is a name? Why should I have them? You can question in response to it.

Que. – are you suffering now or are you happy? Most probably you will find that you are just peaceful, even a bit happy, since there is no burden of suffering which comes from memories of past. It’s a blissful state.

Que. – what do you see? You can see something, but you don’t know what it is, there is just experience and an experience of an experiencer. Both are one.

See that when the mind is dead, the conditioning is absent. You are pure consciousness now. This is a taste of Self without contents or the classic Nirvikalp Samadhi.

If your eyes are closed, open them slowly and let the mind return to normal functioning, recall something, recognize your room and objects. Now you are back in the world, your family, possessions, body and everything is restored as it was.

Analysis and Conclusion

This little game gives us a taste of content-less consciousness. This is not an unfamiliar state, we just do not know it, we are ignorant about it. We wrongly call it unconsciousness or sleep. It is just a pure and blissful consciousness, nothing more, nothing less. The advantage of the game is that it allows us to keep a memory of it all, so the Mind gets a hint of how the state is like when it leaves everyday.

You will also note that time makes very little sense, but it is there in the game since memory formation is allowed. Its not difficult to infer that stopping the memory completely will completely wipe out the time. This is exactly our experience when we wake up from deep sleep, the time we leave the world is exactly the same as the time we arrive back here.

Yog Nindra (meditative sleep) comes very close to this game and those who have experienced it will know what I mean.

All you need to do in order to advance in this area now, is to turn this game into a practice. Try turning off as much of the mind as you can. This can be done everyday for only a few seconds or a couple of minutes. See what remains, how you feel. I do not recommend to stay in Nirvikalp for extended time periods. It needs supervision, especially if you are talented enough and can do it very easily. For most of us, the problem will be opposite – our minds won’t let us stay there for long. In any case, it is important to get a taste of it first-hand. It is important to convince yourself by a direct experience that such a state is possible.

What are the implications of knowing this? And why would anyone even want to know this weird thing? Well, if you are already happy and free, then it’s a waste of time for you. But if you are on a path of knowledge, trying to progress further and further, then this introspection will make you jump ahead by a thousand miles. You will not only witness the Self in its purity, you will also witness the whole drama of creation, engagement and annihilation of the personality and world. You will directly see that these contents are due to Mind. Nothing can be more freeing than such an experience.

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