Question: One question not asked by Anyone but which has always niggled me is where deep sleep figures in all of this. Is it Pure Awareness or is it a relative dualistic truth forming part of the duality of awake/asleep?
Response: Deep sleep holds no special place. Pure Awareness is direct Knowledge—i.e., pure perception, Objectless Awareness. It is immediate. Sleep (deep or otherwise) as well as waking, are mental constructs—i.e., pure conception—and neither immediate, nor direct.
Question: Throughout The Grand Delusion I think your “case” about the utility of science / belief within a limited sphere (Chapter 34) is fairly clear. At the same time, (Appendix B) you point out myriad problems (e.g. unwarranted assumptions like those contained in the hard problem) with the current status quo in branches of neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. Collectively, your “case” seems to at least approach a generalized skepticism about their inherent projects (i.e. given so much of their entire endeavor is predicated on “flat earth” perspectives, we may do more to perpetuate confusion rather than clarify).
Do you have any thought on what salvaging the metaphoric “baby” from the bathwater would look like for these branches of science / research? To put it another way, in Appendix B, Part 1, you say, “A radically different understanding of what is actually going on is needed.” Concretely applied, do you have thoughts on what that could / would that look like?
Response to Q1: Salvaging what baby? To continue with your metaphor, all such “babies” (I assume you mean “hypotheses”) are necessarily made of clays (concepts) which inevitably dissolve in the bathwater of silent, astute observation.
Response to Q2: Rather than formulating yet another hypothesis, what’s required is a response much like what I’ve laid out in this book. That is, one that encourages us to abandon searches for solutions solely within the conceptual but instead directs us to rely on perceptual experience alone—i.e., on pure Awareness, with no thought or mental construction (i.e., concepts) whatsoever.
Question: I’ve read and re-read TGD and have gained more intellectual understanding but it hasn’t helped much with the deep ache of the heart.
In these times of uncertainty and insanity more intellectual understanding doesn’t really help. People are suffering and telling them that seeing through non-substantiality will clear everything up doesn’t make sense as how are they to do that when they don’t “see” it. Telling them to drop substantiality (in chapter 9) and not how to drop it except suggesting meditation which too is no guarantee, just makes the situation quite hopeless. It seems as if there is no way out of this despair. Either there is “seeing” which happens of its own accord or there isn’t and there is nothing that can be done to make it happen.
Response: You are correct. More intellectual understanding doesn’t help. It only increases the deep ache of the heart—if only because, in and of itself, intellectual understanding can never be brought to completion. So, I did not write The Grand Delusion to assist ANYONE in expanding their intellectual understanding of anything—even though, as you indicated, it can’t be helped. Intellectual understanding mostly accumulates. As I state in the book, though, I’m only trying to help people wake up. I don’t want to give people more ideas. Mainly I’m just pointing out the faultiness of all beliefs—particularly our unexamined and unwavering belief in substantiality. Forming radically new ideas is not going to help us here. For this, we have to just see. You ask me how. The entire book points to it. Just notice. Please turn to chapter 37 where ANYONE asks: “Notice what, though?” Then, very slowly, reread what follows. I reiterate just a few echoes of what the dialogue was all about.
Question: My assumption is that when the quantum field collapses into a point, that this is when the awakened are experiencing NOW. Because the endless possibilities must crystallize into an “actuality” of sorts when examined by awareness. Is that the right way to look at this? All possibilities are there, but when we are looking at the NOW, the reality, there is only what is happening NOW so the possibilities collapse.
Response: I would loosen my grip on everything you are assuming here. Just consider this: Awakened or not, all we ever experience is now.
Question: In your book, “Mind” seems rather impersonal. There is no God, there is awareness. Buddhists do have compassion. Do you think that there are forces that connect us all, that really, we ARE that force? There is no separate “you” and “me” deep down, in reality. Is that a valid way of picturing it?
Response: I do not argue that there is no God in The Grand Delusion. I do not argue that there is. Compassion comes with not losing sight of the Whole. And while at first blush this may seem impersonal, in actuality this is thoroughgoing warmheartedness. There is no need to connect what cannot be separated.
Question: You mention that there are forces that hold “things” together. There is impermeability. There are no hard edges or boundaries. At one point, for example, you state there are no surfaces to atoms, it’s all pushes and pulls. Not trying to sound too mystical, but would you expect that as we awaken we would be more aware of the bigger picture and these forces and energies that interconnect us? That everything is just part of the stream? Just wanted to see if I’m understanding this correctly.
Response: Just for the record, the term “impermeability” is not in The Grand Delusion.
With full Awakening, there’d be Awareness of Totality—but at this point I would not refer to Awareness as though it came in degrees. Nor would I characterize what is going on as “forces and energies that interconnect us.” (The problem here has to do with the idea “interconnect us.”) As for, “part of the stream,” in view of Totality, it would be obvious that there is only what appears as stream, not “things.” Blue sky, for example, is scattering light. A process, not a thing.
Question: In meditation we are often told to watch our mind. If reality is non-dualistic, then isn’t the act of watching still a division? Who is the watcher? And who watches the watcher and so on? If we are JUST doing something wholeheartedly won’t there be no room for a watcher? No one there to experience and KNOW awareness?
Response to Q1: Not if we’re referring to perception.
Response to Q4: More or less, yes. Please reread Chapter 26, particularly the last four exchanges between ANYONE and myself at the end of the chapter.
Question: How do I go beyond my resistance to letting go of my deepest and most enduring delusion, which is my resolute belief in substantiality, especially when I can somewhat sense that it only serves to promote suffering?
Response: You can’t force yourself to let go of the impressions you have about yourself and the World. They only drop away by seeing through them. As is shown throughout the book, we make countless unquestioned assumptions about Reality that don’t hold up to scrutiny. Examples appear everywhere, whenever we assume substantiality. You only need to spot the common thread that runs through everything you hold to be True.
Question: I was struck by the term “subliminal ideas” on page 24. I think that means any thought, belief or concept that we aren’t aware of having (like “I exist” or “inertia is a scientific fact”) and that keeps us from seeing Reality. If many underlying ideas are “subliminal,” how do we become aware of them enough to let them go?
Response: You do not need to be aware of them conceptually to let them go. You only need to be Aware of a leaning mind.
Question: On the one hand enlightenment is nothing more than the direct and effectively unwilled realization that no concept ever fully encapsulates Truth and in this sense enlightenment is very simple and almost nothing special; on the other hand: without this basic understanding life makes no sense. Is this conceptual description of enlightenment and its significance to sentient beings accurate?
Response: Notice what you are doing. You are seeking a conceptual description of objectless Awareness. Just see.