Difficult to talk about, but not because it is an unusual experience

I am reading Alberto Villoldo’s book The Four Winds, and was surprised to see this in the preface:

Every mystic tradition, from the Jewish cabala to the Upanishads of the Hindus, recognizes the existence of things that can be known but not told. There are certain qualities of sense experience that seem to defy description.

There are of course experiences it is difficult for us to describe, but that has little to do with what the mystics talk about. To make that connection is misleading.

What the mystics talk about is not within the realm of content of experience, it is simply a realization that there is no I with an Other. And this realization is independent of the content of experience. The content can be mundane, everyday experiences. It can be pain. Joy. Bliss. Dullness. Extraordinary visions. It doesn’t matter.

And that is exactly why it is difficult, not to say impossible, to talk about. Not because it is an unusual or ephemeral or fuzzy experience. But because it is free from any particular content of experience, so also free from what words can describe. Words differentiate and split the world, and this realization is all of it awakening to itself, free from all differentiation yet also containing all differentiation.

(The realization itself may be independent, in certain ways, of the content of experiences. At the same time, the content of experience can appear to lead up to a shift into this realization. And the realization is also reflected in the content of experience: the thoughts creating a sense of I and Other are seen as just thoughts, and there is a reorganization of the human self that typically follows such a realization, even if it is just a taste or glimpse.)

4 thoughts to “Difficult to talk about, but not because it is an unusual experience”

  1. Not only is there no “I with an other”, there is no ‘I’. What the mystics talk about is “experience” with no content, thus no ‘I’ and, yes it cannot be ‘talked about’ though we must point to it nonetheless.
    I like how you talk about it.

  2. The experience of the present moment can be explained without the need of referring to “I”. When we are in the present moment, released from the self imposed boundaries of the mind, we may awaken to a state that has come about through the surrendering of our identification. When we do this and immerse ourselves further, we find that all existence is one; the only identification we continue to relate to is the relationship with love, truth, stillness, truth, simplicity and fullness of being.

    There is no”I” for WE ARE ALL ONE.

  3. Ah, now there’s the ‘gotcha’ that we have to get around.
    When “all existence is one” you say that the only “identification we continue to relate to is love, truth, simplicity and fullness of being.”
    I certainly am all for that, however, if we identify with any specific quality (love, truth, simplicity, etc) are we not thus reinforcing the very existence of the opposite quality. Essentially, to identify with love means that there is something other than love or simplicity or truth that can be “identified” with. Simply by my identifying with love, I immediately reinforce that there is something other than love.
    Now the response might be “no because as nondual you will BE love which is the foundation of nondual.” (in other words as nondual you are God and God is love). OK, Good to Go! But that is not the “identification” with love.
    The moment you ‘identify’ with any quality or substance, good or bad, we then gotta say bye, bye to the nondual, because that means that there is a contrary substance just waiting for you to slip up and experience IT!
    Just my humble opinion
    Mike S

  4. Thanks for your comments! It is important to remember that this is something we each have to explore for ourselves, and it is easy to get lost in the words – however accurate they may be.

    >> “Not only is there no “I with an other”, there is no ‘I’. ”

    Yes, without an Other, no I. But the other way to say it is that there is an I without an Other. It is just a slightly different emphasis, one pointing to the emptiness aspect and the other the fullness aspect.

    To play with words: The first is the void finding itself also as form. The other is the form finding itself also as void.

    Or we could say: Finding ourselves as awakeness, we realize that there is no separate I anywhere, only an I without an Other, or a “transcendent I”.

    >> “we find that all existence is one”

    Yes. Although do you see what is happening there? First, you point out that there is no need to refer to an I, which is accurate. Without Other, no I. Yet you then use the word “one”, which also is not needed, and for the same reason.

    I do the same all the time, and it is just inherent in the problems of using words for these things. Apparent inconsistencies are inevitable, and for myself, I only wish to find a fluidity within it and to be able to appreciate the limited truth in each statement and its reversals.

    >> “There is no”I” for WE ARE ALL ONE.”

    Same thing here. Where are the “we” and the “all”? Without an I, there is also no we or all. This is not just a play with words, it is a very real realization. There is no I anywhere, so no oneness, no we, no all. Yet at the same time, it is good to not be stuck here and also have the freedom to play with appearances and conventional views, where there indeed are many of us.

    >> “The moment you ‘identify’ with any quality or substance, good or bad, we then gotta say bye, bye to the nondual”

    Sounds good to me. There is a release of exclusive identification with anything within form, which allows Big Mind or whatever we want to call it to notice itself… as this field of awakeness and form inherently absent of I and Other.

    Just an additional point: At our human level, we still may have disowned aspects. There are some qualities we are familiar with and know how to shift into a live from in our daily life, yet other qualities that are more foreign to us in terms of living them.

    As awakeness itself, there is no separation to any of these qualities. Yet this human self is more familiar with some than others.

    So here, it can be helpful to “identify” with some, to shift into them, bring them to life through this human self, to expand the repertoire of this human self. This is of course a quite different form of identification, one that is more of a shifting into it, and is more fluid and temporary.

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