Knowledge and Levels of Consciousness - SAND19 US

By Rick Archer

Do we have free will? Is there even a “we” or is there no personal self? Is everything perfect just as it is or is or are there problems to be solved? Or is the solution to all problems the realization that there are no problems? Are we all already enlightened or do we have to “attain” enlightenment through years of practice? And how about practice? Does it reinforce the sense of a practicer—a personal self—or can it lead to liberation from the confinement by that sense? Are gurus passé, or should they still play a role in contemporary spirituality? Does non-duality—Oneness—imply that there are no degrees of spiritual evolution? Are all forms of life equally valuable?

All of these questions have been raised in interviews I’ve conducted, and usually not as questions. Popular spiritual teachers have asserted one or another position to the exclusion of its alternatives. I have usually responded with “yes but”. Nisargadatta Maharaj and others have emphasized the importance of culturing the ability to appreciate paradox—to accommodate contradictory viewpoints within a broader perspective. After all, Nature does this. Water can be a solid, a liquid, or a gas. Its components, hydrogen and oxygen, are both completely unlike H2O. They, in turn, bear no resemblance to their subatomic components. And so on. More fundamental levels of nature do not invalidate the more manifest forms and properties to which they give rise. Reality is different at different levels of Nature’s functioning, and likewise, knowledge is different in different levels of consciousness.

Brahman or God are said to be all-consuming—the repository of all relative realities, no matter how dissimilar. If we aspire to Brahman Consciousness or God Realization, should our perspective evolve to follow suit?

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