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How can Reality be `One' when it is patently obvious that we are all separate beings? Can Reason entertain a reality different than that of the Materialism that pervades our thoughts?
Our belief in a world external to ourselves, filled with things and people that are not us, is an overwhelming fact of our existence. But similarly, our absolute certainty that there is more to reality than just this physical world is a spiritual fact that bears more truth than any other in our lives. We seek to explain this spiritual nature as some metaphysical reality, accepting the constraint of Science that will not allow for any usurpation of the actuality of the physical universe. And we flounder trying. Once we allow our thoughts to be forced into some metaphysical realm, we find ourselves stripped of that single most important validation of spiritual truth - the undeniable presence at the heart of our existence. This is the spiritual truth that we seek, and it is not to be found in the physical reality of Science. The physical reality of Science is to be found in it!
"An Introduction to Awareness" is a philosophical journey that takes the reader into the heart of this pure presence of nondual reality - a reality in which the spiritual is not metaphysical, but actual, in which physical reality is 'a machine in the ghost'. This pure presence that we cannot deny is the awareness that lies at the heart of our experiences and thoughts. This irrefutable truth can be used as a starting point in a processual analysis of awareness, and of our ideas about existence and self, leading to a clear understanding of the nondual nature of reality as the pure presence of non-individuated Awareness.
Awareness is not our consciousness of the world; instead, Awareness is the phenomenal world. This seems to be counterintuitive because of the way we presume awareness operates. We see it as being like seeing, or hearing, or any of our other senses, somehow mirrored by the organs within our bodies. We take it to be a kind of sensing or percipiency. Thus some thing must be aware, sensing the world, like a brain which somehow `sees' what the eyes see and `hears' what the ears hear. It is easier to place this 'something' in the physical body - even if we cannot locate it with any assurance, explain how it works, or why it arises - than it is to say that Awareness is the existence of the world. Deriving the world from Awareness is much harder for us to contemplate. Some try to get free of the idea of consciousness being locked-up in our heads by erroneously proposing that the universe itself is aware, as if the universe was an individual being. Others reduce awareness to some phantom-like add-on to our neurological processes. As you will discover reading through this book, Awareness is not a 'sensing' of anything, it is a 'doing' of everything. It is this activity of Awareness that we call "being" that gives rise to consciousness of ourselves and the phenomenal world.
Rather than leading to a solipsistic account of reality in which we are lost in our own inner idealistic world separate from each other, this book shows through its analysis of consciousness that it is an error on our part to conceive of Awareness as being individuated. The understanding of reality that is presented in this book is neither a materialist, nor an idealist understanding, as both things and thoughts are phenomenal in nature and arise spontaneously from non-individuated Awareness.
But this is only the beginning of the story. Moving beyond this basic depiction of reality, "An Introduction to Awareness" forges a link between the pure Presence within experience, which is our true essence, and the phenomenal world of being. Thus the scientific and spiritual realms are brought together, perfectly balanced, each supported in a way that respects its validity, without denying the other.
It is not an easy thing to change how one understands the world. It is, in fact, a very difficult thing to do. Conceptual thought is part of the nature of being human, yet we forget that concepts are merely models of reality and not real themselves. So we can be misled by concepts, as we are misled by the apparent independent reality of things in the world. But it is possible for each one of us to have the necessary insight to overcome these errors. This book shows how to change how you view the world and your thoughts about it in order to realize the wholeness of Reality, while still retaining the skillful means that the modern world has given us. It teaches you how to use concepts in a way that does not endanger true understanding so that individual spiritual practices can be freed of our erroneous conceptual ideas.
James M. Corrigan, MA, ABD, is an Educator, Philosopher, Author, Poet, and Environmentalist. After three decades as a software designer and consultant, he returned to university to pursue a doctorate in philosophy driven by his insights into the nature of consciousness and the source of human creativity that came to imbue his two decades of research into the problem of automating software development. He argues that our assumptions about consciousness being an emergent or supervenient phenomenon are wrong, and points to Awareness as the unifying nature of all physical manifestation that is free, spontaneously creative and which is the deeply affective wholeness of reality.