Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rupert Spira - The nature of mind

All that is known, or could ever be known, is experience. Struggle as we
may with the implications of this statement, we cannot legitimately deny
it. Being all that could ever be known, experience itself must be the test
of reality. If we do not take experience as the test of reality, belief will be
the only alternative. Experience and belief – or ‘the way of truth and the
way of opinion’, as Parmenides expressed it in the fifth century bce – are
the only two possibilities.

All that is known is experience, and all that is known of experience is
mind. By the word ‘mind’ in this context I don’t just mean internal
thoughts and images, as in common parlance; I mean all experience. This
includes both our so-called internal experience of thoughts, images, feelings
and sensations, and our so-called external experience of consensus
reality, that is, the world that we know through the five sense perceptions.
Mind thus includes all thinking, imagining, remembering, feeling, sensing,
seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling.

If all that could ever be known is experience, and all experience is
known in the form of mind, then in order to know the nature or ultimate
reality of anything that is known, it is first necessary to know the
nature of mind. That is, the first imperative of any mind that wishes to
know the nature of reality must be to investigate and know the reality
of itself.

Whether mind perceives a world outside of itself, as is believed under the
prevailing materialist paradigm, or projects the world within itself, as is
believed in the consciousness-only approach suggested in this book, everything
that is known or experienced is known or experienced through the
medium of mind. As such, the mind imposes its own limits on everything
that it sees or knows, and thus all its knowledge and experience appear as
a reflection of its own limitations. It is for this reason that scientists will
never discover the reality of the universe until they are willing to explore
the nature of their own minds.

Everything the mind knows is a reflection of its own limitations, just
as everything appears orange when we are wearing a pair of orangetinted
glasses. Once we are accustomed to the orange glasses, orange
becomes the new norm. The orange colour we see seems to be an inherent
property of consensus reality and not simply a result of the limitations
of the medium through which we perceive. In the same way,
the mind’s knowledge of anything is only as good as its knowledge of
itself. Indeed, the mind’s knowledge of things is a reflection and an extension
of its knowledge of itself. Therefore, the highest knowledge a
mind can attain is the knowledge of its own nature. All other knowledge
is subordinate to and appears in accordance with the mind’s knowledge
of itself.

In fact, until the mind knows its own essential nature, it cannot be sure
that anything it knows or experiences is absolutely true and not simply a
reflection of its own limitations. Thus, the knowledge of the ultimate nature
of mind through which all knowledge and experience are known
must be the foundation of all true knowledge. Therefore, the ultimate
question the mind can ask is, ‘What is the nature of mind?’
The common name that the mind gives to itself is ‘I’. Hence, we say, ‘I am
reading’, ‘I am thinking’, ‘I am seeing’, and so on. For this reason, the
question ‘What is the nature of mind?’ could be reformulated as, ‘Who
or what am I?’ The answer to this question is the most profound knowledge
that the mind can attain. It is the supreme intelligence.
The question ‘What is the ultimate nature of the mind?’ or ‘Who or what
am I?’ is a unique question in that it is the only question that does not
investigate the objective content of the mind but rather the essential nature
of mind itself. For this reason the answer to this question is also unique.

The answer to any question about the objective content of mind will always
itself appear as objective knowledge. For example, the question
‘What is two plus two?’ and the answer ‘Four’ are both objective contents
of mind. But the nature of the mind itself never appears in, nor can it be
accurately described in the terms of, objective knowledge, just as the
screen never appears as an image in a movie.

The mind’s recognition of its own essential nature is a different kind of
knowledge, a knowledge that is the ultimate quest of all the great religious,
spiritual and philosophical traditions and that, although we may
not realise it, lies at the heart of each person’s longing for peace, fulfilment
and love.

text from the book:

No comments:

Post a Comment