Sunday, May 31, 2015

Philosophical Notes and Reflections

Meditation is like giving a therapy session to yourself. Meditation, like psychotherapy, is a process and not just a state. The result of the meditational process is, like the result of a good therapy session – an important new life insight, intent or decision.  But if the meditational process, like the process of therapy, does not result in a new life insight or decision, then you have not actually been ‘meditating’ in the sense that I understand this term.  I define meditation as giving oneself time just to rest in feeling awareness of all that is or has been affecting or preoccupying us in our inner and outer life. If the result of this is not a new life insight or decision, then the meditational process is not complete – not enough time has been given to it or not enough awareness has given to just feeling yourself in a bodily way, and in this way feeling into the most important question that your body consciousness is there to help make you aware of - and give form to in thought.
A historical note: The term Principle of Consciousness is the only translation of ‘The Awareness Principle’ in many languages. The only time it has ever been used before - in the entire history of philosophy - was by the Austrian neo-Kantian philosopher Karl Leonhard Reinhold (26 October 1757 – 10 April 1823). But I look forward to a time in the future when some young philosophy student or scholar will write an article critically comparing and contrasting my ‘Principle of Consciousness’ (The Awareness Principle) with that of Reinhold – and the entire tradition of ‘German Idealism’.
Reinhold saw his Principle of Consciousness as a necessary, axiomatic principle of philosophy and saw philosophy as in need a single axiomatic foundation or ‘Principle’. In his own axiomatic principle, ‘consciousness is seen as fundamental because “in consciousness representation  is distinguished through the subject from the subject and object and related to both.”  This Principle was the object of much detailed critique, and assumes, without argument, that the principle function of consciousness is to ‘represent’ objects of consciousness for a subject of consciousness.
The Awareness Principle argues that Awareness itself is the ground of all things – of everything that is. It reverses the conventional idea that Being come first – that first of all things are, and only secondly is there an awareness or consciousness of them. As a relation to everything that ‘is’, The Awareness Principle presents itself also as a relation to Being - or what could be called ‘The Being Principle’. Yet even my own exposition of the relation of Awareness to  Being is still far from being exhaustive and complete. I have so far only hinted at ways in which we can answer the fundamental question of how and in what way Awareness itself can be said to ‘be’ or ‘not to be’. The question is important because to argue that Awareness is more basic ground or ‘principle’ of reality than Being will appear, to any clear-headed philosopher, as a contradiction for two reason. That is because simply to speak or write of Awareness implies that it too is something that ‘is’ – therefore effectively restoring Being to the status of primary ‘Principle’. In fact, the very German word for ‘consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ already contain the verb ‘to be’. ‘Consciousness’ translates in German as  Bewusstsein – which literally means to be conscious (Bewusst-sein).  Even translating ‘awareness’ using the unusual German word Gewahrsein does not eliminate this problem, for it also and already contains the verb ‘to be’ - and would translate as ‘to be aware’. Finally we must not forget also that in the history of philosophy the most important ‘principle’ to be asserted as a principle was Leibniz’s ‘Principle of Reason’.  Why is this important?  Because it could be said that simply  using reason and rational argument to argue for the superiority or greater truth of any ‘principle’ – including The Awareness Principle - would automatically imply that Reason itself, is in the end, the highest or most basic principle. So The Awareness Principle finds itself logically challenged, right from the start, by the very principles it seeks to transcend - the Principle of Reason and the ‘Principle of Being’. Even in the most basic arguments for The Awareness Principle, therefore, not one but three distinct understandings or principles regarding of the ultimate nature of reality are implicit – the principles Awareness, Being and Reason. The question the question of the relation of these three ultimate ‘Principles’  therefore becomes fundamental to the further refinement, deepening and exposition of ‘The Awareness Principle’ itself – making it surprising that no one has noticed or raised this question.  
We inhabit a time-space of awareness that embraces past, present and future, just as it is also a field of possibilities - a ‘potential space’ from within which we are constantly choosing our every next word or deed. At the same time we are constantly in a position ‘in-between’ past and future, in between different life possibilities – and also in between those possibilities and the different ways in which  they could be realised or actualised. Finally, the time-space we inhabit is also a ‘world between worlds’, embracing not only the self and world we know but other, parallel selves and worlds, worlds in which we chose to actualise different possibilities and in this way also became different selves.
With this in mind, what if the essence of life  - indeed of being itself - lies in what can be called betweenness? By this I mean betweenness in all its dimensions: as a betweenness of birth and death, a betweenness of past and future, a betweenness of moods and states of being, a betweenness of life possibilities, a betweenness of possibility and actuality, a betweenness of people and persons that make up our relational and  our social world, a betweenness of encounters with others, a betweenness of things and places  that we experience as space or as motion in space-time - and, last but not least, that betweenness of ‘times’ or moments in time which we experience as  ‘time’ per se. For whether we are aware of it or not, every moment of our day we occupy a time-space between places, just as we find ourselves between all the people in our lives, between different possible actions, between specific activities or between different events or occasions of encounter with others. Our world itself is in transition – it is a world situated between different historic eras, past and future, and also between different historical cultures that still surround us in the present.  

What if ‘the present’ itself – life itself - is, whether or not in an obvious way (for example when moving or travelling) a time-space of betweenness - one in which we temporarily dwell or ‘sojourn’, like wanderers, hovering in ‘The Between’ of lives, of times and places, activities, of event and encounters? On the other hand there are also times or moments in which time itself - as a ‘Being-in-the-Between’ - has a quite different character to it. These are times in which we find ourselves so deeply immersed in our relation to a specific activity, place or person -  a relation that itself has the character of a type of intimate and intense 'betweenness' - that we cease to be aware of time passing.  I call such times moments or occasions of betweeness. By 'moment' is not meant a mere point on a line in time, but a time-space that can expand in what Seth calls the 'insideness' of time. Occasions of Betweenness occur when the insideness or inner time-space of the moment itself expands. Outside such moments, time itself takes on a different character, becoming that which itself lies between specific occasions, events or ‘moments’ of between-ness. Within any such moment on the other hand, time is experienced as an expanded time-space that opens up in a way that allows many such moments to re-emerge or converge in awareness at the same time.

By giving ourselves ‘time to be aware’ we establish a new relation to both space and time - returning ourselves to that  larger time-space of awareness in which we are more fully aware of all that we find ourselves between. We expand the inner time-space of the moment to recollect or anticipate our feeling awareness of every dimension and every occasion of betweenness that we find ourselves between - and that touches us. In this way we come to truly feel and be where we most truly are, we come to Be-in-the Between in a more aware way, allowing the inner connections between all moments or occasions of betweenness to come to light, and allowing awareness itself to guide us in intending new ones.