Copyright © 1995 A-Hameed Ali ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The universe is a luminosity,
A robe for you.
I am in a teaching situation with a small group of students. The discussion concerns the nonconceptuality of essential truth. I am talking from the state of clear crystalline presence. As is usual, the state expands as I present its perspective; this allows my teaching to be more direct and accurate. As the solid, empty clear presence expands, it loses all confining boundaries. It manifests now as the underlying ground of all existence, a boundless and totally transparent medium of consciousness.
At the moment it dissolves all partitioning and spatial boundaries, it reveals itself in a surprising new way. For several months, I have known it as a colorless transparent crystalline consciousness that is simultaneously clear presence and emptiness. Yet at this moment, when it expands to the maximum, it appears totally dark.
More precisely, the new perception is that when the colorless nonconceptual presence expands, manifesting as the nature and substance of all appearance, this presence moves to the surface. The clear, empty but solid presence is now exterior to me, and a deeper truth is revealed. I recognize myself now as this new, now black, presence, and I see the world becoming my surface. In other words, as all appearance manifests as my exteriority, the clear crystalline medium loses its depth and becomes only the clear surface of the newly arising blackness. The final effect is that the clear nonconceptual presence has transformed into a black nonconceptual presence. The blackness is not exactly a color, but rather the absence of color, like one would imagine intergalactic space before there were stars.
I now experience my identity, which is the nature of everything, as a crystal black absence. I feel myself, my existence, as the immensity of presence, absolutely dense and infinitely deep. Yet this immensity and density feels totally light and weightless, completely devoid of any sensation. It is so empty it is total absence. It is nothing, but at the same time it is dense presence. To describe it exactly, it is radiant black crystalline dense absence.
How can absence, which is not existence, have qualities like radiance and density? This is absolutely paradoxical, but this is my experience.
How does this absence feel?
Like the absence of everything. But this absence of everything is simultaneously the solid ground and nature of everything. The sense of this truth is that it is neither presence nor absence but, at the same time, it combines presence and absence. It feels absolute in its truth and certainty. The sense of truth and certainty are not conceptual; they are totally beyond mind and thought.
I do not discuss this newly arising dimension of Being with the group I am working with. I discuss with students only knowledge I have worked with and studied for some time. The work in the group focuses on the process of one of the students, as my inner experience unfolds to depths I have never envisioned.
All phenomena, all that perception beholds, including the teaching situation in the room, manifest as appearance on the surface of blackness. The visual effect is similar to the glimmering reflections on the surface of a clear pool of water, but an infinitely deep pool.
Phenomena are perceived somewhat differently from how they appear in the dimension of the clear nonconceptual presence. I, the person teaching the group, and everything else in awareness, seem real and three dimensional, and at the same time only an appearance in the blackness. As the state continues, I become more distant from the appearance, as if receding backward or inward from the surface. After a while I see phenomena as an image floating in me, the crystal black absolute. I am blackness, vastness, depth and mystery, and everything is a luminous image floating on the surface.
Insights arise, as the characteristics of this new state of awareness become apparent:
I am more distant from phenomena than in the experience of the colorless and transparent crystalline presence. I am as distant from phenomena as in the experience of the universal witness. However, there is a difference: phenomena appear not only as images in me, but as my own radiance.
I am neither absence nor the universal witness. I am like the clear crystalline presence, a crystal black reality. The blackness is total, absolute. This gives the experience a sense of mystery and magic, a majestic beauty and splendor. The sense of depth is stupendous, and inseparable from a magnificent peacefulness. The peace is itself the presence, which is complete stillness of mind and consciousness. Total transparency, complete purity, and absolute absence of obstruction. The feeling is an indescribable intimacy.
Phenomena are the same thing as the perceiving of phenomena, because of the total absence of time. There is no separate perceiver, no separate act of perceiving. The appearance of phenomena is totally inseparable from the act of perceiving the phenomena. Appearance and perception are the same in this experience. Also, the absolute blackness is where all phenomena appear.
All phenomena and functioning appear to perception. I am not involved in what appears. In other words, I am the silent vast black presence, and all phenomena merely appear in me. They appear in me as the arising of perception. Perception is appearance, which is my luminosity.
The inseparability of perception and appearance relates to a specific characteristic of this new manifestation of Being, different from all previous manifestations. There is absolutely no sense of self-consciousness in this experience of presence. In other words, even though I experience myself as an infinite black depth, when I try to sense the texture or quality of the presence, I find nothing. In all other manifestations of the presence of Being, even the clear nonconceptual manifestation, there is always a texture of consciousness, a sensation of the presence of a medium. Sometimes, as in the clear nonconceptual presence, the medium is a total sense of nothingness, an openness that is so open it is absence. In the black depth, there is not even a sensation of absence. It is as if the essence of this black presence is absence without the sensation of absence. More accurately, consciousness ceases when it tries to plumb its essence. Therefore, since the essence of this presence is absolute annihilation of consciousness, there is no sense of self-consciousness. There is no looking toward the depth, no seeing inward, no possibility of self reflection.
This also means that when there is no perception there is no consciousness. This black mystery is an awareness so absolute that it possesses no ground to look back at and be aware of. It cannot be an object of perception, for it is the absolute subject. It is absolutely nothing, so there is nothing for it to be aware of when it is aware of itself. It is absolutely being the awareness. This is why the word “absolute” seems to fit it. It has no back. It is the ground of all grounds, the final background. To look backwards only leads awareness back to more superficial dimensions, usually back to appearance.
The world is my front,
And my back is the mystery.
There is identification with the absolute, just as with the clear crystalline presence. I experience it as my very identity, as the very substance of me. Yet there is no feeling of identity. I am identified with the absolute, without the concept or feeling of identity or self. There is no feeling of I, or identity, just the apperception of the absolute, and recognizing I am none other than that.
It seems that the black pebble at the left side that I spoke about in Chapter Four was the beginning of the manifestation of the absolute. I remember seeing its connection to the death of the world. That was before the discovery of the dimensions of pure Being and the nonconceptual presence as the underlying nature of the world. I understood the question of annihilation when the black pebble became a faceted diamond. Now I see that the absolute is crystalline annihilation, which is the absolute ground of everything.
A few days later…
As Being continues to manifest as its absolute nature, I begin to understand how functioning and doing happen. Whatever I do, I do with total lack of self consciousness. There is absolutely no premeditation. The action and the awareness of the action happen simultaneously, inseparably. Taking the action and the perception of taking the action are the same experience. I recognize this as spontaneous functioning. When functioning occurs without self-consciousness it is completely spontaneous.
The feeling is that the spontaneity is the self, which is the vast blackness. The functioning spontaneously arises out of me, with no self-consciousness, without it ever becoming other than me. I am the source, the black crystalline source of spontaneous action. This is difficult to describe. I am not only the source, but also the spontaneous and non-self-conscious functioning. The universe is the spontaneous arising in me, without becoming other than me.
The sense of spontaneity in action brings such freedom and release that it generates both exhilaration and fear. Inquiry into the subtle fear reveals an unconscious need for self-control, and a fear of making mistakes, of making a fool of myself or being inappropriate. I recognize that my action has always been reserved, even when I thought I was spontaneous. Until now, I have never felt that I could be totally and unreservedly spontaneous, not knowing what I am doing except through the doing of it. The fear arises because I feel I cannot have self-control, for I have no self-consciousness. I do not have self-consciousness not because I feel I do not need it, but because there is no feeling of self to be conscious of.
As the understanding unfolds and reveals the previous experiences that lead me to believe I need to control myself to be appropriate, I recognize how I had learned not to trust myself completely. I learned to believe that my nature is not totally trustworthy. Now I see that the absolute depth of my nature is totally immaculate, and is the purest source of action.
The realization that I am both the pure source of functioning and the functioning itself, results in the recognition that I am both the pearlescent personal essence and the crystal blackness. When functioning arises in appearance, the crystal blackness is imbued with a pearly sheen. The radiance of the absolute glimmers with pearlescent beauty.
The universe is personal,
And you are its majesty.