Recognizing and Transcending the 'Duality' Pitfall in 'Waking Up"

In the "waking up" teaching of The SuperHuman Operating System taught by Ken Wilber, et. al., four (or five) states of existence are taught:
  1. waking (gross body)
  2. dreaming (subtle body)
  3. deep sleep (formless causal/ground of being)
  4. Turiya ("the fourth")
  5. Turiyatita ("beyond the fourth")
The process of "waking up" involves a progressive awakening of individual consciousness in each of these states.

The description of these five states is actually five categories of conceptualization, five ways of conceptualizing experience -- of putting words to it. All conceptualization is dualistic in the sense that it indicates differences and implies states that are separate from each other; it also implies that someone or something makes the transition from one to the other. All duality is conceptual; there exists no duality in reality, but only conceptually.

There exists a little problem with this description. If these states are separate and distinct, how does individual consciousness make the transition from one to the other? Are there little bridges made of something else that connect the states? And what is it that makes the transition?

Allow me to de-dualize the description.

Let's start at deep sleep.

Ordinarily, we don't register deep sleep consciously. We are unconscious in deep sleep. Our attention no longer makes subject-object distinctions, but rests in its source; memory no longer records the content of experience, but rests, unformed, in its source; imagination no longer forms images, but rests in its source; intention no longer moves, but rests in its source. Identity formation no longer occurs, so there is neither experience nor experiencer.

Because that is all so, we have no recollection of the deep sleep state. We carry nothing from the deep sleep state into either the dream state or the waking state. So, we say, we were unconscious.

However, it is possible to get an intuition of the formless ground of being by approaching it from the waking state.

The procedure involves a progressive dissolution of the distractions of attention. Those distractions are like clouds that obscure the clear sky. As distractions settle, thoughts become fewer and farther between; images become fewer and farther between. In the space between thoughts and images, an ordinary, silent, imageless field is intuited. It is without content, without center, without size, and perfectly continuous with our existence or sense of being conscious. It is our own ground of being, our own nature.

It has, as its single property, a kind of scintillating radiance. "Scintillating" means, fizzy. It's like the white noise between radio stations or the "snow" on old-style television sets, between stations. Every point within that radiance comes into and goes out of existence faster than we can remember, and all points come into and go out of existence in an asynchronous fashion, so no form congeals within the formless field. It is "self" with no defined sense of self. Neutral. Faceless face. No subjectivity.

Within that field, forms may arise, gathering density. This is the beginning of dreaming, imagining. Those forms are made of the scintillating substance of the formless ("causal") field and are given apparent substance by the ability of attention to locate them by their persistence, by their activity, and by the direction of their changing. They are made of the formless field the way ocean waves are made of water molecules. The scintillations form locations of coherence. In fractal mathematics, it's called, "islands of order in a sea of chaos".

Dreaming exists in subjectivity. In terms of the AQAL matrix, we experience dreaming in the left-hand quadrants.

However, for every left-hand quadrant, there exists a right-hand quadrant; for every "inner" experience, there exists an "outer" experience that can be seen by others.

In dreaming, that "outer" experience can be measured with electronic instruments for brain activity (EEG) and muscular activity (EMG). The subtle body (left-hand quadrants) always has a correspondence in the gross body (right-hand quadrants).

Note that the waking state cannot be distinguished from the dreaming state; when dreaming, we are convinced we are awake -- the exception being when we have awakened within a dream and recognize we are dreaming! Then, the only difference between the dream state and the waking state is the content; more possibilities exist within the dream state. But the sense of consciousness in both is the same.

The waking state is made of the same "substance" as the dreaming state: it is the modification of the ground of being into coherent forms. The "causal" state, undergoing modification, is the dream state and is the waking state -- the way waves are the modification (or movements) of water. Waves of water are "something added" to the mere existence of water molecules, a higher level of organization. Waves are an "emergent" the way dreams and waking state experiences are emergents of The "causal" Ground of Being.

Thus, it is said, that Brahman (the "one true self") projects the Universe of all things and selves from "itself" and re-absorbs the Universe of all things and selves into "itself".

So much for the dualistic conceptualizations of "waking", "dreaming", and "deep sleep" -- or "gross", "subtle", and "causal".

With this way of conceptualizing, there exists no need for "little bridges" between states, nor need there exist "someone" who is transitioning between states. The "someone" is a modification of the "causal" substance; the self is "the imagined/remembered owner of memory". Feel that, for a moment.

When imagination is defeated by formlessness, when memory is defeated by formlessness, when attention can locate nothing in formlessness, when intention is at rest in formlessness, we say we have a tacit intuition of the Ground of Being of Reality.

That inclusive, tacit intuition, we call, Turiya. Turiya recognizes that gross, subtle, and causal are of one substance. Thus,

Whether a man dispassionately sees to the core
or passionately sees the surface,
core and surface are essentially the same --
words making them seem different
only to express appearance.

If words be needed,
"wonder" names them both.
From wonder into wonder
existence opens. 
~~ Lao Tzu, 
The Tao Teh Ching, Stanza 1
Witter Bynner translation

Turitytita is Turiya, beyond the attraction and distraction of conceptualization
and so, ordinary experience, non-dual, in the sense,
"not not-two"

One more thing:
The TetraSeed

is both the subtle body (left-hand quadrants)


and the gross body (right-hand quadrants)


arising mysteriously in the formless causal field.

Note the correspondence with:


Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

copyright 2017 Lawrence Gold

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