Pure consciousness not an experience

And here is ‘Sailor’ Bob Adamson, a direct disciple of Nisargadatta Maharaj:

“And when I say that pure consciousness is to be acknowledged rather than experienced, do not think that I am not extraordinarily content and thrilled beyond words in the periods when “the rubbish has been scraped away” and I am seeing clearly. Of course I am. The feeling is wonderful, and afterwards I even find myself labeling the occurrence an experience. But it is not an experience. The definition of “experience” is “the apprehension of an object, a thought, or an emotion through the senses or mind.”

Pure consciousness, or presence awareness, is not that; it is more like the absence of that. As I see it, it only appears to be an experience because of how dramatically the clarity contrasts with my normal activity where thoughts and feelings obstruct my true nature. “To call the clarity an experience is similar to referring to a ‘blue’ ocean and a ‘blue’ sky. Of course, they both appear blue and we experience them as such. But in reality they are not. If we want to know the truth, we must remember that they are not blue.

Likewise, if we want to know the truth of our existence, we must see that unboundedness, or presence awareness, is not an experience. It is who we are. During periods when thoughts and feelings have so receded that I know my unbounded Self, the feeling is as good as or better than anything I have ever felt. But under close scrutiny, it is clear there is no experience occurring. The unboundedness that I am is beyond experience. I am constant, with no beginning and no end.

“And when I say that unboundedness, or pure consciousness, is forever present but is sometimes seemingly obstructed by ‘clouds’ (thoughts and feelings, and so on), I say ‘seemingly’ because, again, this is our experience, but it is not reality. It may be our experience that a mirage appears to be water or, or a rope appears to be a snake, but that does not make it real. The clouds of thoughts and feelings can obstruct our view, but they cannot obstruct our true selves any more than the rope can bite us or the mirage can quench our thirst. This is why the ancients said, ‘I am That, thou art That, all of this is That.’ They understood. They understood that everything is an expression of consciousness, even thoughts, feelings and desires. In other words, even the ‘clouds’ are consciousness. And they understood this whether they felt unbounded and peaceful, or agitated and restless, whether they felt good, bad, or indifferent.”

[Living Reality: My Extraordinary Summer with “Sailor” Bob Adamson, James Braha, Hermetician Press, 2006. ISBN 0935895-10-8.


About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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