An introduction to ancient Persia’s metaphysics and spirituality by Andre Atabaki
The man of today is drowning in the ocean of subjectivity, in phenomena, falling for his own shadow, falling a second fall. By continuous feeding of our little desires we have made a mistress out of them; mental and physical needs become more subtle, and we have developed a consciousness for them; we have become too conscious of every disturbance, and we struggle to suppress it one way or another, like a madman trying to calm the waters by pressing down upon waves. But this growth of desire has no end, a shoreless ocean it is; it opens up indefinitely like a fractal.
We are so mesmerized with the dance of forms that we can’t remember our exalted station. Man is a frail and fragile creature, a transient phenomenon; but what is within him, or what animates him, is immortal and indestructible. It is the androgynous perceiver of all the states of reality. It perceives all points of view at once; It sees through all eyes: It is the beholder of every now and then, of every here and there. It is what it is; “I am that I am.”
This universe is a one-man universe. There is no one else in it but you; there is no “other.” It is like when we reenact a situation or lost opportunity in our head, playing all sides and conversations by ourselves! This world, this diversity of subjects and objects, it is one of those situations in the mind of the Solitary One. And you are that One, the One without a second, the only One; and there is nothing like it.
If you see the success of others, why jealousy! In them, in their hearts, it is you; their gaze is your gaze. So their achievements should make you better and happier; their success is yours and their failure too is yours. Who else is in this world!? When you judge you judge only your own perceptions. If you are true to yourself, if you are objective at all, you must realize that you see nothing but your own perceptions. So, if the world is hell for you it is the hell of your own perceptions; and if it is heaven, it is the heaven of your own perceptions.
The otherness of the other is just another perception. The other is a manufactured reality, a notion, an alien interpretation read into the Current of Forms. I am all alone; I am the only reality. The diversity of subjects and objects, giving rise to the illusion of multiplicity, has its cause in a greater and higher intelligence beyond the mind. Being one and alone, It perceives within itself an apparent diversity, much like when a single mind can perceive such diversity in a dream state. As it is in the nature of light to shine, it is in the nature of consciousness to project, to make an image of its ideas. So the reality of the image is not to be found in the image itself but in the consciousness that projects it. All we perceive is light; world, diversity, is an interpretation: “The face of Truth is concealed by a golden vessel.” (Isha Upanishad)
In this world there is no such thing as equality. There are greater men as there are lesser men. What shines in them is the same; the difference is only in what they reflect of that Intelligible Light. The difference is in the degree to which they reflect in the outside world what is reflected within them. It is the matter of concentration and utilization. The psycho-physical constitution of a man, and indeed of this modern people, is such that the intelligence shining in him is mostly dissipated by mundane curiosities and irrelevant information; the attention is leaking out every which way.
As sun shines equally on everything, pure intelligence too shines equally in every being and animates it; but the receptivity of the spirit to this light always depends on our spiritual/intellectual orientation. If your mind-body complex is consuming most of your intelligence, then you are moving toward intellectual dullness and stupidity. Here lies the difference between literacy and knowledge, between mere information and true wisdom: Literacy doesn’t make noble men; it doesn’t impart virtue. Books don’t make men; it is men who make books. We see more crookedness, arrogance, and awkwardness in the merely literate than the illiterate. While literacy concerns itself with the letter, or the most superficial reading of it, knowledge is concerned with the spirit behind the letter, i.e. the transcendent and immutable meaning of things.
The imperative has always been the same: Know thyself. Know, first, that by knowing which everything else is known.
We produce informed but not wise men. We produce readers but not seers. We produce sterile beings. It is by the admission of our scientists and philosophers that “the more we know we realized how little we know.” That this knowledge, this outward curiosity, adds not to knowledge but to our ignorance. Then, how can it be called knowledge when by possessing it we feel less knowledgeable. Simple is the answer: This cannot be knowledge in the true sense of the word if it does not remove ignorance and instead multiplies it. That is why the more we fill ourselves with this world-knowledge, the more empty and arrogant we become. This is the difference between knowledge and literacy; in the latter we accumulate letters, a pile of names and forms, something even a tiny flash-drive can do; while in knowledge we accumulate nothing; we only peel off the many layers of ignorance; we add no more conceptions but stand behind all conceptions. By reaching the ground of Being we stand under everything; then and only then can we say we truly understand.
In true knowledge we add nothing but subtract everything until the true Self shines, until its beams emerge from underneath a pile of forms and letters. Literacy makes a man heavier, less flexible, less immortal; but knowledge, i.e. knowledge of universal principles, makes a man light, more flexible, and closer to immortality. At the summit, when the last veil, i.e. your human cover, drops and His face, your true Self, is beheld, then immortality is realized. And it is the immortal man who hovers over the surface of the waters, the waters in which the literate man of today is drowning to his demise.
Some make their own truths, and some let themselves be made by the truth: To be made is to be hammered.
The student: What is the cause of this world?
The master: Ignorance.
The student: What is ignorance?
The master: It is confusing the seer with the seen.
The student: What is the seen?
The master: Everything.
The student: What is the seer?
The master: You are the seer.
The student: Who is confused?
The master: No one.
The student: Then, why is there ignorance?
The master: There is no ignorance.
The student: So how come there is a world?
The master: There is no world. What from afar appears to be the world from near is realized to be the Truth. “The face of Truth is concealed by a golden vessel.”*
The student: But I can see and hear the world!
The master: That Truth is that very seeing and hearing in which you find yourself wrapped in a world. The seen and the heard are naught; they are like the waves in the ocean, just water like the rest of it. Only water is real; wave is mere name and form, i.e. conditioned emptiness.
The student: Who am I then?
The master: You are the unconditioned Reality, the Knower of that emptiness. You are the answer to your own question. Don’t seek; see!**
The student: Whatever.
The master: Exactly. At once drop all notions and be happy; you are already perfect: You are unconditioned Reality. Notion is condition.
Metaphysics is the science of the universals; it is the science of essences, i.e. realities that are universal and unchanging,i.e. do not depend on time or any particular degree of manifestation. Metaphysics is not the same as speculative philosophy or theories of creation. Metaphysics is and is true whether or not Big Bang Theory of the Hypothesis of Evolution are true. The subject matter of metaphysics proper is the Truth as perceived by the so-called Divine Mind. Metaphysics is not a human knowledge but is the content of the Divine Intellect or Pure Intellect. Metaphysics is not invented or learned; it cannot really be taught; it is only discovered, i.e. remembered, by a Seeing that is altogether other-worldly and absolute. This science, contrary to all other human sciences, is not done by speculation or experimentation but through intellection which is a transcendental, and by no means mental, activity of the spirit.
Metaphysics is about Truth Itself and not what men and women, whether saints or philosophers, have thought or said about the truth. Metaphysics is about the architectonics of reality as a whole, i.e. totality, as opposed to empirical science which consider reality only insofar as it is sensible and measurable by minds and men. We cannot say, for example, that metaphysics is other than physics though it is also not identical with it. Metaphysics encompasses all other sciences and is their very ground, but the nature of its relation to human sciences is always misunderstood; this relation is best understood only within the framework of an analogy, of course until the attainment of metaphysical realization which is the same as the Liberation. So, we offer the following analogy that we hope clarifies the nature of the relationship between metaphysics and empirical reality or empirical sciences:
Consider a video game in which your avatar, i.e. your embodied character inside the game-world, is put in a world similar to ours and its mission is to explore this world and find its natural laws. Basically, in this game you are a scientist that has to use the tools of the game to find the most general regularities of that world, things such as gravity, electricity, etc. Now, if we want to transpose the idea of metaphysical knowledge into the context of this game, what element of the game should we choose? Let us begin by saying that metaphysics is not anything of the nature of a fact or a piece of knowledge within the game-world and can be sought and found in the same manner that one seeks and finds the facts of a world. It is not something that our scientist can find by means of exploring inside the world game.
Within the context of our game, metaphysical knowledge can be compared not to any natural law or any fact of the game-world but to the programming code that is behind the very phenomenon called the game-world and has made that world possible. Our scientist cannot find this underlying code by exploring inside the game-world and experimenting on its phenomena; he himself and all his explorations, etc. are nothing but the manifestations of the programming code underlying the game. To access metaphysical knowledge, i.e. the code in this analogy, the avatar does not even have to look outside himself or to move around, for this knowledge is, as it were, inside him, i.e. known by realizing that “there is a game” and then trying to transcend it. Now, how a game can be programmed so to make such our scenario possible, and whether it is possible or not, is entirely irrelevant here. The point of analogy was only to show the radical nature of this science of metaphysics and its relation to all other empirical sciences which can know only what is inside the game and not what is behind it. Even the methods of inquiry are radically different: In empirical science we explore and experiment, but metaphysical truths, i.e. that programming code, is not susceptible to such methods of investigations; the only way of accessing such knowledge is to somehow exit or transcend the game, or more precisely, to wake up rather than to look out and explore.
It is natural that the methods of inquiry inside the game, methods designed to find empirical facts and natural laws, can in no way help one even become aware of the possibility of a programming code behind the game, let alone finding that code. All such methods, all empirical sciences, are sciences of phenomena, but metaphysics, being the science of essences, i.e. the science noumena as opposed to phenomena, has nothing to do with phenomena but the meaning behind them. In other words, metaphysics studies the metaphysical roots of phenomena. Therefore, the failure of empirical methods in becoming conscious of the possibility of metaphysical knowledge, let alone discovering it, is only a failure and a shortcoming and doesn’t mean that there is no metaphysical foundation, or code, behind the game, a code that is different from the facts and natural laws inside the game simply because these laws are themselves manifestations, or projections, of that very code. One cannot use these methods to prove or deny the existence of a program behind the game, and this indicates the futility of all attempts at denying that there is a metaphysical foundation behind all things. The ultimate proof of metaphysical truths and realities is metaphysical realization, and this realization has been known and done and is not something up for discussion or refutation. As we have said many times, those trying to deny metaphysical knowledge, which by the way has nothing to do with god or religion but encompasses them, are like blind men trying to dispute the reality of a rainbow. A true metaphysician, i.e. a Jivan Mukta, never bothers trying to prove to anyone the possibility and reality of metaphysical truth; he can at best show the way for the seeker of truth to see and realize for himself that which is never a matter of opinion or speculation of any kind: The only proof of the Face is the face Itself.
Now, what does all this have to do with geometry? Well, as we said metaphysics is the science of universal and immutable truths, realities that are unchanging, and hence do not depend on time or any becoming whatsoever. Thus, all theories of creation, modern or traditional, religious or secular, are only human theories and speculations and at best have symbolic value, for they all presuppose a becoming of some sort. In metaphysics, there is no becoming. Creation is a human fact; from a metaphysical, i.e. transcendental, point of view, creation and becoming are absurd and unreal concepts. But since we find ourselves as humans in the midst of a world of becoming, our thinking is conditioned by it and can understand things mostly in terms of being and becoming. At the same time, because of the transcendental nature of metaphysics it can only be understood through analogies until the point of metaphysical realization in and through which all metaphysical truths are grasped immediately and intuitively and with absolute certainty.
A proper and successful analogy is that which is based on a fundamental but common feature present in both sides of the analogy. Since immutability and the absence of time and becoming is the most fundamental and definite characteristic of metaphysics, the most appropriate analogical means for its expression should be another science that is devoid of the concepts of time and becoming. We know that all empirical sciences such as physics, biology, etc. are in fact about change and becoming, so they cannot possibly provide enough ground for a successful analogical method of communicating metaphysical truths. Of all the sciences accessible to man, the only one that is devoid of the concept of change and time is geometry, and in general pure mathematics. There is a direct correspondence between most propositions of geometry and abstract algebra, and this to the extent that we can even say geometry and abstract algebra are only two different ways of expressing same mathematical truths: In abstract algebra we are dealing with abstract symbols and their relationships but in geometry we are dealing with spatial relationships, so it is like abstract algebra only with the advantage of visualization. For this reason, geometry is a little more suitable for communicating metaphysical truths because it allows some space for visualization which is a great tool in all learning.
Thus, we believe and we can show that metaphysical truths, which are entirely independent of the concepts of god, creation, divine, etc. but are at the same time the very source and ground of all these concepts and realities, is best conveyed through geometry. And it is no surprise that geometry has always been considered a sacred science and present almost in all esoteric schools such as Pythagoreanism, Platonism, Neoplatonism, Eastern and Western religious esoterisms, and also in Freemasonry. For example, the letter G at the center of the symbol for Freemasonry consisting of square and a compass, traditional tools of architecture, stands both for God and Geometry, in which God is viewed as the Great Architect of the Universe who creates by means of immutable and intelligible relationships, i.e. geometrical forms. We only add that geometry is not to be seen as identical with metaphysics, and we should not think that in reality there are points and circles; but geometry and its concepts are used as the best symbolic means of expressing intelligible realities that are beyond any spatial relationships. In other words, geometry is the reflection of intelligible truths in the plane of human mind which can understand things only in terms of the conditions of time and space. The reflection of the sun in the pond is not the sun but can tell much about the sun, at least about its form. Metaphysics too exposes the universal forms by which truth can manifest Itself, the Truth Itself and in Itself remaining always unmanifest and only known by being it, a mode of knowledge accessed upon metaphysical realization, i.e. Supreme Identity.
It is outside the scope of this article to delve into geometry and show the metaphysical truths that are reflected in it. Our goal was only to show, firstly, the radical nature of the science of metaphysics and its relationship to all other spheres of human knowledge, and secondly, to suggest the best way of approaching this science, which is done through geometry. We hope that in the future we can devote a few articles to some aspects of metaphysics using geometrical truths. The main problem that makes metaphysics difficult to understand for the average mind is that metaphysics is not a science for everyone and requires a very refined and objective intelligence not deformed by the assaults made against the mind by the universal compulsory education. One needs to know some abstract algebra and be very well familiar with geometry, particularly the theory of functions, power series, Taylor Expansions, etc. in order to perceive the subtle metaphysical truth reflected in these forms. However, metaphysical truths, which is a way toward liberation and Supreme Identity, is not the only way. Religion and spiritual disciplines have the same end in view. While metaphysics is the way to Truth for the born philosopher, religion is a way for everyone, even the last man. The spiritual man if he succeeds may come to see the Face of Truth, but the metaphysician if he succeeds comes to see the Whole of Truth.
We end this piece by mentioning the simplest of all metaphysical truths whose reflection is found in the geometry of a circle:
Where there is a circle there is also a center, as no circle can exist without having and belonging to a center. A center, a singular point, however, can be without belonging to a circle. But what is a circle really? A circle is nothing but the expression of its center in terms of spatial relations. All the points on the periphery are the outward projections of the central point. In other words, a circle is nothing but a dimensionless point in expansive mode: Circle is the expression of a point. Or, when a point utters itself, the circle is that utterance.
Note that in expressing itself the center has not become, or turned into, a circle; the center doesn’t become the circle or cease to be the center; the center just is, and it is all that there is, for the circle is nothing but the center in its expansive mode: Circle is only a point’s dream. In reality, there is no expansion or contraction; there is only expression, the sound, The Word.
As every circle has a center and is nothing but a homogeneous expression of that center, every world, i.e. degree of manifestation, has an origin and is nothing but the homogeneous expression of that origin. This origin is exactly what is known as God in all spiritual traditions of the world.
In more abstract terms, a circle is the Taylor Expansion of a dimensionless point. Here, there are no two realities but only one reality with different names. To see and understand the exact logical and ontological relationship between the center and the points on the periphery of the circle consider this analogy: In life you are one person but with different roles or relationships. Say you are a man; to your wife you are a husband; to your son you are a father; to your father you are a son; to your employer you are the worker, and to your employee you are the boss; you can also be an uncle, a grandfather, a nephew, etc. As a father your relationship to your son is different from your relationship to your wife as a husband, etc. All these names, i.e. son, father, boss, husband, cousin, etc. which are different roles and relationships pertain to you, one and the same person. All these names designate different relationships that can be potentially established, or activated, within one and the same person; some of them may be only potential, for example you are only potentially a father when you have no kids, but once you have a child you have activated that potentiality which was within you all along and was nothing apart from you. Now, the logical and ontological relationship between you and all these names, i.e. relationships, is the same as the logical and ontological relationship between a central point and all the other points on the periphery of a circle spanned by that central point. Therefore, there are no many points; there is no becoming. There is one reality and multiple expressions, the expressions being only potentialities within one and the same point which is the basis of all Reality.
The three stages of spiritual path are Katharsis, Theoria, and Theosis: Katharsis is Purification through Abstention. Theoria is Illumination through Contemplation. Theosis is Deification through Concentration. Theosis is Obliteration in Affirmation.
This encompasses the method, the means, and the end of all spiritual ascent: First, we become aware of our existence; then, we see, with the Eye of the Heart, the non-existence of our awareness of our existence; and at last, we are no more and we see no more, for in our total obliteration it is affirmed that though “Nothing is like Him, He is the Hearing and the Seeing,” [Verse (42:11, Quran)] and He is the Being of all beings: At last, we have landed on the Cloud of Unknowing.
Spiritual ascent is a journey from man to Atman, from humanity to Divinity, from duality to singularity.
Nothing is ever achieved, for everything is already given. The wind of grace is always blowing; to receive it we only need to become receptive, and to become receptive is to be open, wide open, and to be open to Him is to be closed to ourselves, to be mute and dead to ourselves, i.e. to play dead before Him so we perceive His approach and receive His mercy and grace; it is to turn the attentiveness of the soul away from the Divine self-transmutation toward the Divine self-disclosure, from perception in reception to reception in perception.
Truth is waiting for us on the other side of phenomena. It is the attraction of truth that draws us toward Himself but to us it is experienced as an attraction toward phenomena, while it is really an attraction to that which lies behind and beyond them. The task is to cross over: Your soul is your boat and your remembrance of Him is your rowing toward Him.
The world, this ensemble of phenomena, is nothing but a transparent veil over the face of Truth. It is transparent, for we are at all times staring at the face of Truth but failing to recognize It. Instead we conjure up the world in place of the Face, darkness in place of light, obscurity in place of clarity, illusion in place of vision. Truth is always known by all. It is only a lapse in memory that make us oblivious to Its existence and nearness to us.
Since truth is transcendental, and hence atemporal, its perception too cannot be an experience in the usual sense of the word, i.e. experience as a temporal and dual stream, dual in the sense that all experience is based on a knower-known, or subject-object duality. Knowledge is proportional to its object, for both emerge and become manifest as a result of an apparent polarity within the knower. Therefore: The experience of the eternal is itself eternal.
Intelligence operates simultaneously at two distinct levels: In one level it is the pure onlooker, the Witness; in another, the lower level, it is the actor and constitutor. These two distinct levels of activity of God or the higher Intellect, the one transcendent and the other immanent, is reflected in the human plane as the two principal modes of wakefulness, i.e. a wakefulness in the world and a wakefulness to the world: This is the distinction between the active and the contemplative life. But even the active life, action here implying outward mobility, is founded on the contemplative activity of the spirit. After all, everything is contemplation, for the One is contemplation par excellence: It is contemplation that creates, i.e. transcendentally constitutes, the field of action.
Spiritual practices and rituals are not meant to invoke a deity or to bring the Divinity closer to the aspirant but to make the aspirant aware of the primordial nearness of the Divinity: The heart of the devotee is the throne of God.
The separation between man and God is a one-way separation, for it appears only to man and as long as he is man. From God’s side all is God and God is all. Though we are far away from God, He is eternally with us, for He is the eternity within us. This separation is of the nature of time. As time separates the tree from its root, the fruit from its seed, it has separated man from the Atman. To see this we must see that eternity is not something in time, but time is something in eternity. Because of ignorance, i.e. intellectual/spiritual impurities, or more precisely because of poor sight, we cannot perceive this truth. Spiritual practices are meant to remove these impurities as a result of which the ever-shining Face of Truth is immediately recognized.
Truth shines in the heart: Spiritual practices only make the heart receptive to this light. This is only a matter of spiritual/intellectual reorientation of the soul. In other words, spiritual practices in fact reorient the Intellect toward its origin, away from duality and toward singularity: The only way to Theosis is Katharsis.
If death of a loved one is felt as a finite loss for those left behind it is seen as an infinite gain for the departed. His death is in truth your death, the death of multiplicity and the rebirth into an eternal unity. What is apparently perceived as a loss of a loved one is our loss of his/her glance, the look in their eyes, a look that turns away from you and toward God. If the body is lost, the glance is never lost as it is only turned inwardly and reabsorbed into its immutable source in the Disinterested Onlooker, the Witness.
Thus, a man, insofar as he is identified with his consciousness, never really dies but only looks away, hither and thither, appearing as this or that. In his death and looking away you disappear from his sight more than he disappears from yours: If your thoughts of the them are with you, nothing of you is with them because their apparent death is their waking up to your absolute nothingness. For the departed soul it is you who are departed from his eternal glance, now turned away from you and looking into the void where he always dwells.
The glance is the indestructible center of the soul. If I tell you this it is because I have lived so many lives and died so many times, and all this in a timeless instant, the source of all duration but itself not a duration. This worldly life is for the soul like being buried alive, and the apparent worldly death is but the resurrection of the soul, an emerging from the mass-grave that this world is. You people who roam around as if living and willing are indeed the dead and nothing more.
Your worldly death is in truth the death of the world and worldliness of your glance. Death is the withdrawal of your celestial gaze from its captivation with this world-mirage. This worldly life of yours is but a passing deja vu. You think that when you wake up from a dream your dream characters mourn your departure!? No; no one lost anything, for you only left behind, and below, that which never was.
Your worldly death, being the death of the world, is the death of death, hence an eternal birth and breakthrough into the other side of Darkness. When I die in the world I immediately realize that there has been no world to begin with, no life; how could there be any death?! Thus, my life in the world is a living amongst the dead. What you perceive as life is death, and what you perceive as death is birth, an awakening to the nothingness of the world and creaturely existence. Ontological death, i.e. liberation from suffocating existence, is a waking up to the supra-ontological life in the permanent actuality of the Self, a Self that is infinitely like void as is infinitely unlike it. This you shall See for yourself.
We mean by transcendental consciousness a fundamental mode of consciousness as opposed to mundane or natural consciousness. Natural consciousness is our everyday consciousness; it is the consciousness by which we perceive ourselves as human beings in a world, a world that has religion, science, philosophy, art, etc. as phenomena inside it. In other words, natural consciousness is consciousness of a world; it is a mode of consciousness that perceives itself as a finite part inside a whole that it perceives as the world. We must note that this world, which includes me and my attributes, science and its findings, etc. is primarily something phenomenal before it is something material, a fact also discovered by Quantum Physics; this world is first and foremost something known through experience, in and through consciousness, and it is only later that I attribute to it the idea of materiality and independent existence, this attribution itself being something done by and within consciousness. Thus, this world which is essentially phenomenal than material is subject to the laws of phenomena before it is subject to the laws of matter, laws of physics and other modern sciences. The laws of phenomena, and the method of moving from natural consciousness to transcendental consciousness, are derived within the science of Phenomenology and also hinted at in Advaita Vedanta Metaphysics whose final aim is the direct realization of transcendental consciousness which is the same as Deliverance or Supreme Identity in which the individual self realizes that it is essentially identical with the Universal Self, Atman, and that it is in fact our ignorance about this Universal Self that gives the individual self, and the world, the illusory appearance of existence.
It is in natural consciousness that we perceive ourselves as individuals with personalities, thoughts and emotions, hopes and aspirations, etc. This natural consciousness is the consciousness of a phenomenal world. It is important to note that my individuality, my humanity, my thoughts and emotions, etc. are all parts of this world phenomenon, they are all phenomena embedded within the world phenomena; they are all objects of knowledge of consciousness, for after all I am constantly aware of myself as a human being aware of a world and also aware of himself being something inside this world.
Therefore, everything that is, in the broadest sense, is a phenomenon of consciousness, and hence this consciousness cannot itself be a phenomenon or anything inside the world, for if we claim that consciousness is a phenomenon inside the world, then who is it that knows and says this?! An object, or a person, that has always been inside something else and has never been outside it cannot possibly know that it is inside something else. Therefore, the claim that consciousness is a phenomenon inside the world entails that there be a consciousness that is, or at least has been, somehow outside the world, for otherwise it cannot make the above assertion.
This natural consciousness, or the natural attitude of consciousness, which has the same essence as transcendental consciousness is not anyone’s personal possession; it is not the human consciousness, simply because our humanity is itself something experienced in light of this consciousness, itself being an object of consciousness. Thus, by consciousness we do not imply a production of individual brain or something personal, since brain, personality, science, etc. are all things always already experienced as objects of the ever-present consciousness; they are phenomena within an impersonal consciousness that we falsely attribute to our own individual existences.
Transcendental consciousness, which is the nondual state of consciousness, is opposed to natural, or dual, consciousness in that it is no more a consciousness of a phenomenal world. This transcendental consciousness is not a state of my individual consciousness; it is not a higher state of human consciousness as such; rather, my individuality, my personality and all the things I attribute to myself, are only ideas within transcendental consciousness. More precisely, transcendental experience is not a human possibility; rather, it is humanity that is a transcendental possibility; humanity is itself a possibility within transcendental consciousness. As a natural consequence, the transition from natural consciousness to transcendental consciousness is the transition from human state of consciousness to the unconditioned, supra-human and supra-individual, state of consciousness which leaves no trace of humanity or individuality as such. To put it differently, transition into transcendental consciousness amounts to dehumanizing our consciousness, that is, to release it from the bondage of world and individuality.
My human individuality and the world are the two poles of natural consciousness and hence depend on one another. When I enter into transcendental consciousness I lose the individuality, the ego sense and everything superimposed on it; losing this I-pole I also lose the world-pole, the whole of the phenomenal world. Thus, it is natural that upon transition into transcendental consciousness, which is a sudden and discontinuous transition very similar to a quantum jump, not only my individuality disappears but also with it the totality of phenomenal world vanishes instantly, all this being a very sudden and instantaneous change rather than a gradual transformation. The instantaneous and discontinuous nature of this transition stands in sharp contrast with human spiritual or mystical experiences which are gradual transformations and never go beyond the individual order, and hence are essentially natural experiences marked with subjectivity and sentimentality. The mystic even in his/her loftiest states of ecstasy and divine union is still bound to the individual order and far from realizing the Supreme Identity or Deliverance which amounts to the annihilation of his individuality and along with it of all his/her religious, spiritual, and mystical notions including God and union with Him. Transcendental experience, however, by the mere fact that it belongs to the supra-individual order is beyond all subjectivity and is not followed by any human sentiment and spiritual/mystical notions, for in transcendental experience our humanity is already transcended; thus, no human notion or idea, or any individual possibility whatsoever, survives the transition into the transcendental state: Everything has to die for Atman to arise.
When we enter into transcendental consciousness we lose the world; the phenomenal world is no more there. Since our human individuality and all its attributes were parts of world phenomena, they too disappear in transcendental consciousness. In other words, when I enter the transcendental mode of consciousness, which we can also designate as transcendental experience or nondual consciousness, I no more am a human individual in a world, nor am a thing in any sense of the word; I am no more embodied nor do I perceive a world or space-time. Upon entrance into transcendental consciousness everything disappears instantaneously. The only thing that remains is the self-consciousness of Atman, the universal Spirit. It is not that Atman becomes the object of my consciousness, me being something separate from it; instead, in transcendental, nondual, state I am aware of myself as Atman and I am directly perceiving myself as one with it, though this direct perception is not in the natural sense of the word which derives from natural, or dual, consciousness in which perception and its object are perceives as separate things. The direct perception, or Self-perception, in the transcendental state is nondual; there is no separation, nor is Atman perceived like a spatial or temporal object but as the Absolute and Infinite Self of all things. This direct perception is totally veiled in our natural consciousness and hence we cannot think of it or grasp it, even in our loftiest thoughts and speculations, as long as we are in the natural, human state which must be entirely overcome before the veil is dropped.
The world phenomenon and its phenomenal objects only appear to us as a result of a particular point of view, or orientation, of consciousness. It is from a particular angle that world appears to consciousness, and this world, including we in it, will immediately disappear the moment consciousness tilts itself into a different, transcendental, angle. Upon changing this orientation or direction of glance of consciousness the whole world with its objects and my individuality in it disappears all at once.
Time, space, embodiment, worldliness, and all phenomena in general appear to consciousness in virtue of its particular orientation which is not an orientation in space and time but rather a transcendental orientation, entirely outside space and time, which has to do with the way Spirit, or pure consciousness, projects itself. As a result of changing the orientation of consciousness from natural attitude to transcendental attitude the phenomena of time and space too disappear; hence, the “I” becomes naked; it loses its individuality and personality and self-hood; it is no more embodied in space, nor is it something extended in time as if it had a past and a possible future. The transcendental experience of time is wholly different from our natural experience of time in which we apprehend each moment to have a before and an after. In transcendental experience time too is naked; it is not embodied, that is, it is a now that has no before and no after. Time is experienced as an eternal now, a now totally outside the natural time of our natural, everyday consciousness.
As we said earlier, in transcendental consciousness I have already lost my humanity and individuality, thoughts and emotions, ideas of past and future, and in general all world phenomena that I attributed either to myself or to world objects. The “I” that survives, the “I” that is left after entering into transcendental consciousness, is a universal I; it no more has the character of mine or thine; it is not anyone’s “I” but rather it is the “I” that shines through all of us. Since this survived “I” lies outside space and time it no more has such a thing as history, no past or future; therefore, upon entrance into transcendental consciousness it instantly becomes evident, with absolute certainty, that this “I” is never really born and never dies, not because it lives forever but simply because it is no more something in time; it is entirely free from and outside the reach of time; it is no more partitioned and conditioned by time.
The transcendental “I” which is my true “I” or essence lies outside space and time and hence not subject to temporality or duration of any kind. It has no before or after, and hence from the point of view of transcendental consciousness the questions “where did I come from?” or “where am I going” become completely meaningless and don’t even arise in consciousness anymore since they are not applicable to this “I.” In the transcendental mode I am no more perceiving myself as a thing that has a before or after; even the ideas of before and after become inconceivable in transcendental consciousness since it is by its nature a consciousness transcendent to space and time, hence free from being conditioned by space, time, and causality. As a result, the idea of creation too collapses since in that state one realizes that the phenomenal world never truly existed; there has never been a creation; time and space and causality which are the ideas presupposed in the idea of world and creation are themselves only illusory phenomena and not real, since in the absence of time the notions of beginning and duration become meaningless. Thus, our belief in the world and creation is a result of ignorance, something like an optical illusion.
A brilliant analogy is given by Adi Shankara, the 7th century AD Indian monk and metaphysicist. He says that the appearance of the phenomenal world is a result of a false superimposition of names and forms, Nāmarūpa, upon the unconditioned Brahman. The situation is like when we see a coiled rope and mistake it for a snake, of course because we have in our memory the idea of a snake that can curl itself into the form of a coiled rope. This phenomenal world plays the role of the appearance of snake in Shankara’s analogy: It is in fact Supreme Reality or Brahman that we are conscious of, and directly perceiving in front of us, but we mistakenly, and as a result of superimposing forms and names on it, perceive Brahman to be the phenomenal world. From this analogy, transition to transcendental consciousness amounts to realizing that the object is not a snake but rather a coiled rope. I add that Brahman itself is not something perceptible by sense organs; when I say we are directly perceiving Brahman I mean the direct perception by Pure Intuition, namely the nondual glance of transcendental consciousness which is realized only when we suspend our natural, human consciousness. Thus, Brahman is always before us and we are, as the transcendental “I,” always staring at it; however, we are instead perceiving our sense perceptions as a result of constant recourse to memory which is the depository of names and forms. We fail to perceive Brahman because we are trapped in, in the bondage of, natural, human consciousness. Only the transition to transcendental consciousness by which the whole world disappears can tear the veil, and then the face of Brahman, the face of Truth Itself, appears before us, a face that the transcendental “I” immediately recognizes as its own. This instant is the moment of waking up from the world dream and to the Supreme Reality; it is none but the attainment of the Supreme Identity; it is the instant of Deliverance, namely it is The Liberation Par Excellence.
I emphasize that the manner of Being of the survived “I,” the impersonal, universal “I,” is entirely different from the way I experience existence in natural consciousness. Transcendental consciousness and the transcendental “I” is beyond Being and Non-Being: It is not Ontic; it is Meontic, that is, beyond being and non-being. This “I” and its Self-experience cannot be spoken of, nor can it be understood at all, in terms of our natural consciousness. The natural mind which is the human mind is essentially incapable of conceiving of transcendental experience in which there is no more a subject or an object, no duality whatsoever. Our natural consciousness cannot conceive of an experience in which the subject-object duality does not exist. Therefore, any attempt at understanding or imagining the transcendental consciousness is futile; the only way of knowing it is to actually enter into transcendental consciousness which entails the sudden disappearance of the natural consciousness and the whole of the phenomenal world with it.
From the point of view of transcendental consciousness I have not come from anywhere, nor am I going anywhere, since there is nowhere to have come from and nowhere to go. Since transcendental consciousness is transcendent to all spatiality and temporality, the ideas of here and there, now and then, are entirely meaningless and non-existent. Up there there is nowhere else except the universal Here and no other time except the eternal Now and no one else except the universal “I.” Duality has altogether vanished upon my transition into transcendental state, or the ground state, of consciousness. I have always been there will always be there, for “I” am the only thing that is, however in my absolute, infinite, and unconditioned state: I am Supreme Reality itself.