Consciousness with a Big C: The Spiritual Red-Herring
In certain spiritual circles, what you’re about to read is extremely controversial. It strikes at the heart of many people’s core beliefs.
Whether you’re seeking Consciousness or Self, you’re never going to find it. Whether you spell these things with a capital letter or not, they’re just dead concepts.
When it’s seen that there’s no self, it’s also seen that there is no Self. When it’s seen that there is no consciousness, it’s also seen that there is no Consciousness. The idea that there is some special Consciousness or Self where the illusory self can hide from total annihilation is simply what it is: another form of spiritual bypass, another way for the self to continue dreaming that it’s real.
Self and consciousness, whether capitalized or not, only have meaning in a subject-object context, and the only place that can occur is in the dream of self-other. What is happening is totally and utterly impersonal, meaningless, un-locatable, indivisible, ever-changing stillness.
There is nowhere left for a self of any kind. Outside the tiny dream of self, there is nothing that has any quality that even closely resembles the dream-concept we call consciousness.
I’m looking at a pen right now. What we call “seeing” is what is happening, and that’s all that’s happening. There’s no subject or object. There’s no me and no pen. There is just seeing, and it’s not locatable. I would not call what is happening consciousness or self, capitalized or not. It’s just what’s happening.
It’s not an experience, which is how we would normally conceptualize seeing. It’s more like being, except that there is no reference point, and it’s also emptiness. It’s unwitnessed being-non-being. So it’s not being in the way we think of being. In other words, it’s not Being either.
To find Consciousness or Self, I have to add concepts about me being over here and the pen being over there, or me being here and Something being somewhere else. I have to work really hard to separate what is into pieces so that I can dream that there is a self that is conscious. It’s very hard work, even though we seem to be doing it all the time.
Self and Consciousness seem to be a recasting of the same illusory self-concept that is the prison we spend so much effort trying to reinforce so that we can pretend that there is not simply wholeness.
When it comes down to it, what is the purpose of conceptualizing what is happening as Consciousness, Self, or Being? It’s the only thing that’s happening. It’s staring us in the face. It’s closer than we can imagine. The only reason to call this anything is to try to dream separation from it, to trap ourselves in an imaginary, unsatisfying loop of seeking Something.