End of the World
Copyright © 1995 A-Hameed Ali ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The world is but a dream.
A bird on a tree,
That is absolute reality.
Four days later…
Awareness is gradually attending to a particular vague feeling that has appeared occasionally for the past few weeks, arising as if out of nowhere. I have not given it much attention, since it does not make sense to my mind. The feeling is combined with a thought. It is as if it is an idea that I feel, instead of think. The feeling-thought is that the world is coming to an end. I have heard many stories of spiritual teachers and psychics predicting the end of the world; my usual reaction is a shrug, not knowing how to make sense of it. If I respect the teacher, I interpret the prediction as a misinterpretation of some inner perception.
I am with a small group, at night, discussing certain aspects of the teaching. I begin feeling the sense of the world coming to an end. I continue teaching, with a small part of my attention on the feeling. The feeling-thought transforms to a perception, an inner vision that now commands most of my attention. I see the whole universe, on all levels, getting smaller and smaller, until it becomes a point. Then, puff, the point is gone. Everything disappears, and only the silent witness remains.
This vision is transposed on the immediate scene of the small group of students in a relatively large room, engaged in heated discussion. It occurs while I am talking and responding. When the vision is over, it leaves me as the empty vastness of witnessing, a pure awareness of the immediate situation, including a dispassionate awareness of the individual me. The experience is more a perception than a vision, for it ends with me actually becoming its finale, the universal witness. It is a very fleeting experience, but leaves a deep mark on the mind.
It occurs to me that this experience is somehow connected to the completely black diamond, but this is an obscure intuition, not a clear insight. What is certain, however, is the feeling-understanding that the total experience of the universal witness is revealing further implications. I understand, experiencing myself as the silent vastness at the end of the vision, that realizing this dimension of identity involves not only going beyond the personal life and history, but also experiencing oneself as beyond all of existence.
What does this mean, however? Is existence something I need to or can go beyond?
As the inquiry takes this direction I remember a small detail of the experience: As I saw the whole universe shrinking to a point, I simultaneously felt a network of subtle physical tensions, mostly on the left side of the body, including the ego-line, concentrating into a point at the mobius. At the instant the universe became a point in my vision, the subtle tension network collapses into a point at the mobius. The collapsed center of tension totally dissolves as the point disappears. At this instant I find myself as the vast silence of awareness, boundless and centerless.
Does this mean that the world that has disappeared is only the universe of the ego-self? What does it mean when the experience is comprised only of the silent witness, with the sense that the world is not? In the fleeting experience, the silent witness experiences the world as not. The experience-vision is definitely that the world is ending. The awareness witnesses an “event” of universal annihilation.
At this point of the contemplation, I become aware that the mind assumes that this disappearance of the world is only the experience of the witness, and that at other levels the world still exists objectively. This makes rational sense, since I continue to perceive the immediate manifestations of the universe. The universe has not actually disappeared, although a sheer luminous awareness now suffuses it. Nevertheless, the inner vision is an actual experience that means something significant, for I feel my mind very deeply affected. Something has annihilated, which is clearly related to the total structure of the personality. But how does this relate to my experience of the actual universe?
This silent inquiry proceeds in tandem with the teaching situation in the room. The state is the sheer emptiness of witnessing awareness, with the nous glimmering intensely, luminating with various bright colors. The forehead tingles deliciously, sending ripples throughout the whole head. The inquiry combines the contemplation of the present state, the memory of the recent vision, and insights gained in previous experiences, in a process that utilizes both direct perception and the thinking activity. The nous expands as the inquiry intensifies, its faceted clarity merging into the vast centerless awareness of the witness.
The question now takes another twist: When I, as the silent witness, see the world of space-time as within my vastness, is it the real world that I am witnessing, or is it the mind’s image of the world? Or are both the same? The inquiry arrives at a silence, in the realization that I do not have enough objective information—direct knowledge from personal insight—to answer this question. Silence pervades the room.
A few weeks later…
The answer arrives through a greater appreciation of the completely black diamond presence. One day the diamond-like presence reemerges as completely black, but now its inner emptiness is utterly complete, revealing itself as total annihilation. Sensing the hardness of the presence, I experience it as a sharply faceted diamond-like density. Feeling its emptiness, consciousness totally disappears, with no awareness left. In other words, contemplating the sense of emptiness coemergent with the presence, consciousness ceases.
When consciousness returns it has the fresh and precise clarity of the faceted form. The understanding which manifests does not feel separate from the sharp, faceted presence. The precise faceted form of presence discloses itself as the precise understanding of cessation, the annihilation of consciousness.
The identity with the personality, or ego-self, is annihilated when I realize myself as the silent witness, or any essential manifestation of Being. However, the identity of the personality does not completely annihilate without the world itself annihilating. This is because the personality and the world are inseparable; they constitute one general object relation. More precisely, the ego-self, with its identity, is a psychic structure that is always in a relation to another psychic structure. The latter is a mental image of the universe, the world view that the mind constructed and developed simultaneously with the ego-self. The ego-self not only swims in an inner social atmosphere of object relations with other people; it also lives constantly in its own world, which is indistinguishable from the way it perceives the “real world.” Thus what I usually think of as the real world is not the actual objective world, but the world as I see it through the filter of my inner mental construct.
It is clear now what was occurring in the experience-vision a few weeks ago: what was annihilated was the mental construct of the world. It collapsed to its center, which is the identity of the personality, which then annihilated. This indicates that the ego identity is at the center of the mental construct of the world.
What was annihilated is not only a mental representation of the universe; it is the world as I had known it. I had never before known the world directly, perceiving it without the representations developed during my personal history. This world that the ego-self knows and inhabits is truly a mental world, a dream.
As this understanding arises, the black diamond presence expands, filling the house with a magnificent peace.
I have subtle glimpses of the real world, but it appears shrouded in mystery.