Sensing and Pure Experience

Sensing and Pure Experience

I’ve written before about our dominant sense. Are we visual, auditory, or more feeling? This often influences how we relate to unfolding spirituality. Someone more somatic, for example, will be more healing and diet conscious but less inclined to subtle sight at first. This will influence the style of their experiences, their language choices, and how they relate to the unfolding.

In a recent webinar, Dorothy Rowe clarified the difference between sensing and pure experience. Sensing is what I refer to above, how we process our experiences and put them into words.

saphiri cat
photo by zenera

But actual pure experience is consciousness itself. It is knowingness. It can come with various qualities and properties, depending on the physiology of the experiencer and the filters we have on experience. But it’s not bound by our sensory framework.

We often first come to pure experience through transcendence or samadhi in meditation. At first this may be a blank space, most noticeable for its emptiness.

But over time, as consciousness gradually wakes up to itself, we come to experience consciousness itself, then the process of experiencing itself. This is pure experience and is our essential nature. It is coming to know who we are within, much less filtered by the mind.

That brings with it a profound self-knowing. As our sense of Self comes to be inclusive of the inner and the outer, the knowing expands to include all things.

Then whatever we put our attention on becomes known or unfolds in awareness as knowingness. Our approach gains a quality of truth that is not possible through the senses alone.

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  1. Dr. Andreas Ullrich

    Namaste, David! Sensing/Feeling as such is the primordial mode of Ultimate Pure Awareness. The several other senses (smell, taste, sight, tactile feeling, hearing, proprioception, registering of thoughts) are only its expressions. So for example seeing is only a visual representation of this basic, primordial capacity of Ultimate Awareness. This is clearly expressed in the Shaivite tantras.

  2. Andreas

    I have to add that in this Sensing/Feeling there is an immediate Knowing of what is “touched”; Swami Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda’s guru, described “Cit” as “Omniscient Feeling” in his “The Holy Science”.

    1. Right. “Chit” is the better transliteration. As we move closer to pure experience, we know the qualities of that which is experienced without the interpretations of the mind. This is less about sensing and more knowing and feeling. Both the bliss body and intellect body are of that nature.

      Our language around feeling touch and feeling emotion are also similar as they’re associated with the heart, 4th kosha, and intellect.

    1. Yes – the koshas themselves all have their roots in consciousness and thus do all of their expressions and means of knowing/senses.

      I don’t use Chit much as a term because people have a wide range of understanding about what the word means – everything from universal consciousness ( a la sat chit ananda) to individual thoughts.

      More deeply, it all has its roots in Divinity and thats what drives the show too.

    1. Hi Andreas

      He opens with some good points. But it’s not traditions themselves that focus on going beyond senses but how they’ve devolved, along with over-emphasizing the renunciate approach.

      In the past, I’ve had extensive debate with someone who held this position – that the world isn’t real in itself but is just sensory qualia. Here, they take it a step further making feeling (touch) the fundamental sense. I take the position that vibration is the first expression which we sense as hearing. Touch comes next. I would suggest this essay is an example of someone somatic where touch is the dominant sense, amplifying the importance they place on it.

      They assume ones personal experience is the best indication of reality. Yet that requires writing off others experience as illusions. There is a much greater reality here not driven by sensory experience. The comments about Nonduality are nonsense.

      The fuller spiritual process is one that goes beyond all forms of experience into pure being, then brings that back into the field of experience. The paper suggests you can skip that step.

      I agree that dismissing sensory experience is a mistake but exalting it to be the goal misses the point. We’re not going to find out who we are beneath senses unless we can go beyond them first. Once we know the source, it all comes into context.

  3. Andreas

    Hi David, I think that Wilberg is quite clear in his other writings: Pure Awareness as such has intrinsic qualities, qualia, which are directly felt/sensed by Pure Awareness and are the basis for s e n s o r y qualities which can be heard, felt, seen and so on. So for example the “light” of Awareness is the source for visible light, the “spaciousness” of Awareness is the source for the space element.

    Isn’t it interesting that David Frawley describes “chitta” as having a great potential to feel (I think in “Ayurveda and the Mind”; he states that even thoughts are “felt”.) and that, as I have already stated, “Cit” is translatd as “Omiscient Feeling”?

    P.S.: currently it is not possible to edit posts, so please apologize possible mistakes 🙂 !

    1. I would say awareness has those intrinsic qualities but pure awareness is absent them. It is just silent being. That silent being is Atman, the Self. Self Realization arises with the Self wakes up to itself through this form.

      That realization is not going to happen in the field of the senses as it is not a doing or a sensing. It is just in allowing that we find ourselves being.

      From that place, we can then discover the origins of the qualities directly.

      Yes, from the place of fine feelings, we feel thoughts and can notice how they arise, etc.

      Here, to describe Chit as omniscient feeling is a confusion of levels. Feeling is a more expressed level than pure chit. The issue there may be how it was translated. Or it it may be what he was trying to communicate. There are a few qualities that are deeper than feelings that may be recognized as feelings.

      Bliss, for example is more subtle than fine feelings. It is a way we may subjectively experience becoming, the fine vibrations in the space of awareness. Similarly, flow, the movement of Divinity through consciousness, may be subjectively described as love.

      Omniscience itself is a knowing that rises up into the feeling level to be experienced as intuition. It may be experienced on the bliss level as cognition, a style of knowing experience.

  4. Yes, apologies. There is a WordPress bug that is causing comments to not be acknowledged when posted and that also breaks the editing function.

    Theres a fix in the works. Hopefully it will be in the next update.

    If this doesn’t resolve itself, I may try a new comment plugin.

  5. Andreas

    David, “Feeling” is no sense but the primordial mode of Ultimate Awareness out of which come all the other. To be aware of “something” (every thing is only a shape, tone, etc. taken by Ultimate Awareness), Awareness has to “contact” it (Latin: tangere = to touch).

    Every vibration can be felt and is then represented as sound, tocuh, sight etc. I do not speak about that mode of “feeling” which is assiociated with the heart chakra and the air element, but a much deeper level associated with the core of Hridayam itself!

    Let me close with the words of Shri Yogeswaranand Parmahans in “Science of Divinity”, page410: “Question – How can the Brahma be perceived if it is formless? Ans. … Similarly you can feel and experience the formless “

    1. Hi Andreas
      Well – we’re getting into semantics here. I equate “fine feeling” with subtle emotions and the Intellect body. Thats 4 levels up from pure awareness so I don’t see it as primordial. Thats also associated with Hridayam, although that also relates a bit with the nearby bliss body.

      We also have to be alert to stages of development and the resulting perspective. From a Self Realization perspective, Awareness is ultimate. But from a Brahman perspective, awareness is fundamental to all expression but is not ultimate.

      When we see subject and object as a duality as in Self Realization, yes awareness has to contact it. But in Unity, the 2 merge into one wholeness in which consciousness is self-interacting within itself. There is no separation for contact to take place in.

      Brahma can be perceived with a form and as a formless principle. You can’t “feel and experience” the formless as it has no qualities to experience. If it can be experienced, something is being expressed and it’s not formless.

      However, the formless contains profound intelligence which can be known by being it/ knowing ourselves as it.

      There are a lot more philosophies out there that take a version of a Self Realization perspective than a post-consciousness perspective. And even there, some of the latter have since been incorrectly interpreted from the former.

      The reality here is post-consciousness so I don’t subscribe to an “Ultimate Awareness” model. From a pure Divinity perspective, infinite awareness is just a shadow, trying to mimic its profundity. This is not the Divinity the quoted author refers to.

    1. You don’t perceive Being just like we don’t perceive I Am. When there is clarity of awareness, we know we are. Still deeper, that knowing becomes infinite as awareness is infinite.

      We can say knowing being is fundamental to awareness. And this is quite deep.

      But theres a difference between primordial and ultimate. Awareness is primordial to creation. The bliss body is where the “primordial sound” arises. It is primordial to this universe.

      But neither of these are ultimate.

      Brahman is beyond both awareness and being. It is nether conscious nor not-conscious, being nor non-being. It is beyond these subtle dualities.

      ParaBrahman is beyond Brahman.

      I have a number of articles on these topics you can explore. See Key Posts.

    1. Well – as the old texts say Brahman knows itself. Same with ParaBrahman. Brahman is also called the devourer as it absorbs all experience into itself. Consciousness can’t know what is beyond itself. I’ve explored this in a few posts.

      We can note that Brahman is the source of consciousness. As such it has the qualities of alertness and liveliness that give rise to awareness. We can say Brahman is alert to itself and knows itself. But because it is beyond the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness, it is beyond the field of experience.

      After the Brahman shift, it can sometimes take time for this knowing to fully arise as it is a completely new.

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