Consciousness, Emptiness, and Well Being
This is an advanced post on the complex relationship among consciousness (awareness), emptiness, and well being. Readers with advanced understanding of Buddhist Psychology will recognize the inherent relationships among consciousness, emptiness, and well being and interactions with core Buddhist concepts and experiences such as happiness and suffering, impermanence, non-dual nature, dependent origination, and emptiness of all phenomena related to the former. It is the total integration of these concepts, processes, and experiences that guide us on our personal path to enlightenment or nirvana. If we achieve wise-mind skills and meaningful regular meditation/yoga practice – as well as keep the above information in mind – we will also achieve mind and body wellness to the highest possible levels.
In an advanced contribution to our understanding of consciousness, , R. Spira (2017). The Nature of Consciousness opens up many doors of awareness to just what consciousness is and what it is not. Spira reminds us that only consciousness is aware of consciousness, and that WE are the only conscious entities that are aware of experiencing it. Unlike the epiphenomena of the universe, in which we become aware of the seamless, unified wholeness of it all, the space between the subjective (our mind – the I/Me/Mine)) and the objective (something outside or inside that you become aware of) eventually leads us to an error in perception: That we are separate, substantial, solid individuals experiencing separate, substantial, solid things in the world. We believe the objects and experiences we are aware of are solid, full, real forms of form in a very temporary time-space continuum. However, our consciousness and awareness are transparent, empty, and formless; thus, our mind-body of experience making sensory contact with objects – and registering as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral – is also transparent, empty, and formless. It is simply just how the mind and body function. Consciousness has no set of values or valences; it is simply a state of neutral awareness.
Leading physicists (Einstein, Planck, Bohr, and Schrodinger to name a few) have for a very long time noted that observation effects the observed; that is that subjective (mind) investigation of objects of matter do change the objects of matter. We can only observe the wave energy or the particle at one time but not both. As we observe subjectively, the object of observation undergoes some form of change. Perhaps this is the barely noticed effect of the very subtle energy in observation impacting the observed. So our consciousness is the only absolute reality of all things that appear to exist. The momentary sensory contact with objects and experiences produces that which consciousness is aware of. So, with these somewhat heavy viewpoints from Buddhist Psychology, we will examine upclose the meditative experience of being conscious of pure emptiness. Personal awareness of your consciousness is a neutral continuum of constancy, but sensory contact with objects and experiences leading to pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant feelings is a limited time-space phenomenon in the present moment.
As you meditate, apply complete attention, awareness, and deep consciousness on the following statements about your possible meditative experience here now. This is difficult; do your best.
- Consider the reality of physical, empty, transparent space between your mind and the object of interest.
- This inter subject-object space is invisible, but your consciousness knows it is there (close or far).
- We can experience timeless-space and spaceless-time.
- Since the essential nature of mind is awareness (pure and empty consciousness), our space-time and time-space consciousness is borderless and boundless.
- In the experience of conscious emptiness there is no up, down, right, left, outside or inside – there is no solid object entity, just atomic space and surrounding space.
- The human mind is the action of pure consciousness/awareness via sensory contact with objects.
- Our awareness of being conscious of our consciousness means that is the only true entity of the self.
- It is the I/Me/Mine of the ego that registers consciousness of something, anything.
- Consciousness of ultimate emptiness is the highest understanding possible in human life as well as in physics.
For more details refer to Spira, R. (2017). The Nature of Consciousness: Essays on the Unity of Mind and Matter. Oxford, UK: Sahara Publications, pp. 3, 19-33.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness