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12. Space, Time, Matter and Consciousness


Consciousness and matter come into appearance simultaneously, along with the concepts of time and space, with time giving the illusion of duration to matter, and with space giving the illusion of extension to matter; all of these come together and go together. For consciousness to arise there must be matter, since consciousness is a reflection of the absolute Awareness against the surface of matter. And matter itself is but a manifestation, a limitation of consciousness. The objective universe is in continuous flux, constantly projecting and dissolving innumerable forms, all appearing within consciousness. Whenever a form is created and is infused with life (Prana), consciousness identifies itself with that form and gives rise to the illusion of duality.

Consciousness is time-bound and disappears as soon as the physical construct it inhabits comes to an end. In the absence of the physical form it cannot survive. In the case of a physical body, consciousness is sustained by the food material made up of the five elements, which comprise that body. As distinguished from the temporal character of consciousness dependent on matter for its existence, the Absolute is pure Awareness without beginning and end, and without the need of any support other than itself. This absolute Awareness becomes conscious of itself as the 'I am' when it has an object to reflect against. Between pure Awareness and its reflection as consciousness there is an unbridgeable gap which the mind cannot cross; mind itself is the obstacle to Awareness. When mind is extinguished Awareness is.

In deep sleep consciousness retires into a state of repose. When consciousness is absent, the concept of 'I' is also absent, and there is no sense of one's existence or the existence of a world. In the dream state a speck of consciousness begins to stir, and then in a split-second, an entire world is created, including the dream 'I', all fabricated out of memory and imagination by that single movement in the speck of consciousness. When one first wakes up, there is the immediate sense of presence; then the mind takes over and creates the individual 'I' concept and awareness of the body.

We think of ourselves as bodies having consciousness, but the real position is that consciousness has manifested itself as body. It is consciousness that is born; it gives itself an apparent existence as an organism with a separate sense of 'I'. Birth and death are nothing but the beginning and end of a stream of movements in consciousness, per­ceived as events in time-space. Obviously, the one who is perceiving this cannot be the object of perception; but, neither is he the subject opposed to the object, or the perceiver opposed to the perceived. He is the perceiving itself, he is the witnessing, the seeing. In our original state, we are pure being-awareness-bliss; when we come in touch with consciousness we are the witnessing of the various movements in consciousness.

The person that one falsely thinks one is, is only a product of the imagination. The consciousness which has projected all this has become a victim of its own illusion. Mistakenly identifying itself with its own projection, it comes to believe that there is an individual person there. But, this person that you imagine yourself to be, is just one of the shadow parts being played out in a dream world, which appears in consciousness. The truth is that you are timeless, spaceless, unaffected by any experience; you are the observer of time and space at the point of the now and here, witnessing all that is happening from the outside, as one looks at a play on the screen, admiring and enjoying and perhaps even suffering, but deep down remaining unaffected.

We speak of three 'I's'. There is the absolute, unmanifested, impersonal 'I', pure Awareness, beyond all sensory perception, aware of itself only when manifestation arises. There is the super-personal, manifested 'I', the conscious presence which is the reflection of the Absolute appearing as 'I am'. And there is the individual, personal 'I', appearing to be separate, the apparent doer and enjoyer and sufferer of actions, but which really is just an imaginary construct of the psychosomatic apparatus into which consciousness has manifested itself, and with which it has mistakenly identified itself. This third 'I' is totally false; it has no existence except in the imagination, in ignorance. And the second 'I' , the manifested, in actuality is one with and indistinguishable from the first 'I', the unmanifested, in which it is but an appearance, a reflection. The first 'I' is the Reality, the one basis on which the manifested 'I' appears as a movement.

Consciousness arises in pure Being for no particular cause or reason other than that it is its nature to do so - like waves on the surface of the sea. Simultaneous with its appearance the world appears within it, and when it disappears the world also disappears. But, before all beginnings and after all endings, the 'I' (the first 'I'... the real 'I') is there to witness all that happens. All is 'I'... in truth, there are no objects, there is only this pure subjectivity. The first 'I', the absolute Awareness, prevails when the other two 'I's' disappear... when the mind becomes absolutely motionless and all conceptualization ceases. Then only the Reality remains. When the mind fasts, Reality enters; when the mind feasts, Reality disappears.

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