Let Us See


Have you ever noticed how often the great Masters seemed unable to understand why their monks found it so difficult to apperceive, how often they said 'but look! It is just here!'? Let us try and see the meaning of this.

The teaching of all the greater Masters is simply to enable us to understand that objectivisation is what hinders us from apperceiving what in fact we are. What is translated as 'thinking' means conceptualising - fabricating objects in mind. As long as we do that we can only perceive 'that': we cannot apperceive 'This', and the apperceiving of 'This' is just awakening from the dream of an objective universe to the actuality of what is.

But what-is is nothing objective and cannot be objectified in any way, which means that it cannot be conceptualised. That is not some obscure mystery, as is supposed, but an absolutely obvious and logical inevitability. As has so often been pointed out here, it is merely because what is looking cannot see 'looking'; what is conceptualising, or functioning in any manner, cannot observe 'functioning', and 'it' cannot be observed because it is not any kind of object, being the subject of all objects. There is absolutely no mystery about it. All speculations end in the so-called 'Void', but there is no such thing: it is what is not there. It is 'here', if you like, metaphorically speaking, and, being 'here', being the looking, it cannot be seen by itself. Of course 'it' has no 'self', but if you have to say that it is a 'self', phenomenally inexistent, you are not far out. Phenomenally absent, absence as such, 'it' is noumenally present, presence as such. Words, fundamentally dualistic and phenomenal, cannot take us nearer.

Most of the 'methods' advocated comprise a cessation of 'thinking', but it has been widely observed - and anybody can verify it - that this demands an effort that cannot be long sustained. The inference seems to be that if such effort could be sustained, conceptualisation should cease and what is termed 'enlightenment' (awakening to what we are) would supervene. Few things could be more unlikely, however. What is operating here is positive, since it implies effort, and what is apparently functioning is a conceptual 'I' desperately trying to pull itself up by its own boot-straps. Awakening to what we are requires no phenomenal effort: it just happens, and all 'we' can do is to allow it to happen. Nor do we normally give it much opportunity. Why, because its opportunity is our absence as 'I'. The situation must be vacant. As long as 'we' are conceptualising, the situation is not vacant, for trying not to conceptualise is a precise and potent form of conceptualisation.

There is not, cannot be, any prescriptive method of not conceptualising: it can just - lapse. And it is more liable to lapse when 'we' have understood that conceptualising is not the only way of living and thing-we-can-do. Sitting down in a very uncomfortable position (for us), with our legs under our chin, and concentrating on not-thinking, or on some positive nonsense such as 'love' of someone or something, can only affirm our conceptual 'I'. One might, perhaps, say: the conceptual absence of what is conceived HERE - is what I am; or, the present absence which is what I am, is the absent presence of my appearance.

This may read like a cosy little chat, but it need not be regarded as such. If that is all it is, I am doing it very badly - which is by no means unlikely. But it is improbable that writing bombastically makes it any easier. All I am trying to point out is that as long as we are conceptualising we are 'out', and as soon as we cease to conceptualise we are 'in'. I suggest that it is as simple as that, and that people who say otherwise seem to be talking through their hats. The furthest we need go to meet them would be to say that the moment we cease our conditioned attitude of permanent and unremitting conceptualisation regarding all things whatsoever - we are comfortably seated in a bodhimandala, which is a metaphorical 'gazebo' or shrine in which awakening to the obvious, the so very very obvious, may supervene at any moment.

In short, our whole trouble - if trouble it seems to us - is our conditioned notion that nothing can be that is not a concept. This, of course, also happens to be true; in fact nothing whatever we regard as existing is other than as a concept in mind. But what we are is not any thing, of that kind or of any other kind, and we can never reintegrate what we are by means of our habitual conceptualising. This habit is so ingrained that we cannot normally imagine anything that is not conceptual, and we endeavour to imagine what we are in the same way, which, as has been stated, is forever impossible.

The flaw in the argument of most people is the notion that our conditioning is too great to allow us to understand anything otherwise than as an object. I am not able to believe that it is so, and go so far as to suggest that it is quite easy and that anyone can do it at any moment. Unfortunately most writers refuse to give us a chance, whereas I am writing this just to say 'try it and let it happen'. Did not Jesus Himself remark 'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you'? But there is knocking and knocking; if you knock hard the Porter may be annoyed; he may ask who is this egoistic individual, just the type we do not accept Here! In fact perhaps the 'knock' is no more than an availability to enter, which is no entry - since we are already within without knowing where we are.

Have I said it even now? Objectivisation is the only obstacle, but it does not need a substitute: a counter-force of equal strength is not what is required: we are what subsists when it is absent.


It is externalising instead of internalising. The phenomenal universe is perceived 'without' whereas it should be apperceived 'within' - as every sage and prophet, including Jesus, has pointed out, wherein it becomes 'the kingdom of Heaven'.

The noumenal reason is equally radical: phenomena are extended in 'space' and have duration in 'time', without which they could not be perceived, and without which there could be no perceiver: both must 'last' in order that any thing can be known at all. Such is the essential characteristic of phenomenality, whereas noumenality, having no characteristics whatever, knows no such limitations.

Concepts are extended in space-time, therefore, for they are phenomenal, and the concept of 'not-conceiving' is maintained, for as long as it can be maintained, in the degree of 'time' which clocks can measure. And it is maintained by an act of volition, which is the conceptual-I functioning; whereas only in the absence of a conceptual-I could it be possible for what-we-are to replace that concept.

Noumenality, quite evidently, cannot manifest itself directly in a time-context, since its manifestation as such is only possible subject to space-time, wherein it divides into apparent subject and object and operates via the mechanism of opposing interdependent counterparts - which operation results in the phenomenal universe. Space-time can only be phenomenal, noumenality knows it not, and nothing phenomenal can be directly noumenal for there is a solution of continuity between them. Noumenon is transcendent to phenomena, but it is immanent therein.

Thus every concept is subject to space-time, and every concept can only be true phenomenally, so that nothing 'we' can say conceptually could possibly be true noumenally: what we call 'truth' phenomenally, conceived by split-mind, must necessarily be nonsense noumenally to whole-mind. It then follows that neither conceptualising nor not-conceptualising, the positive and negative aspects of conceptuality, can open the way to noumenality. As long as 'we' tacitly accept the factors of 'space' and 'time', themselves interdependent as 'space-time', nothing we say or do can have noumenal validity. 'Space-time' it is that constitutes the 'insurmountable obstacle', and only in the absolute silence of the mind, which is conceptual absence, can 'we' cease even for an instant to seem to be what-we-are-not in order to find integration in what-we-are.

Note: Saying it simply: there is no phenomenal way out.

(© T.J. Gray, 1968)

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