Thursday, May 26, 2011

Aldous Huxley: Annihilation of the Ego

What is the ultimate benefit of a contemplative practice? Is it not to come to a unitive state of consciousness and being, in which we realize that we, too, have broken the strong attachment chains of the ego and have become a conscious part of the divine, non-dualistic Ground of Being? Certainly, this is what the sages past and present seem to assure us.

John of Ruysbroeck
 The Flemish mystic, John of Ruysbroeck (1293-1381), observed:
"(In the Reality unitively known by the mystic), we can speak no more of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, nor of any creature, but only one Being, which is the very substance of the Divine Persons. There were we all one before our creation, for this is our super-essence. There the godhead is in simple essence without activity.
[Huxley, "The Perennial Philosophy," p. 31.]
Similarly,  in a description that is markedly similar to the Eastern process of negation, found in both Buddhist and Vedantist teachings, the renowned German mystic, Meister Eckhart, remarked:
"Thou must love God as not-God, not-Spirit, not-person, not image, but as He is, a sheer, pure absolute One, sundered from all two-ness, and in whom we must eternally sink from nothingness to nothingness."
[Ibid., p. 32.]
Sri Nisargadatta
"Our usual attitude is of 'I am this," the modern Indian sage, Sri Nisargadatta, observed. "Separate consistently and perserveringly the 'I am' from 'this' or 'that', and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being 'this' or 'that'. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of you search and realize your limitless being."
[Nisargadatta, "I Am That." pp. 59-60.]

Aldous Huxley
 "(T)here is a hierarchy of the real," Aldous Huxley observes. "The manifold world of our everyday experience is real with a relative reality that is, on its own level, unquestionable; but this relative reality has its being within and because of the absolute Reality, which, on account of the incommensurable otherness of its eternal nature, we can never hope to describe, even though it is possible for us directly to apprehend it."

"In the phrase used by Scotus Erigena," he notes, "God is not a what; He is a That. In other words, the Ground can be denoted as being there, but not defined as having qualities. This means that discursive knowledge about the Ground is not merely, like all inferential knowledge, a thing at one remove, or even at several removes, from the reality of immediate acquaintance; it is and, because of the very nature of our language and our standard pattern of thought, it must be paradoxical knowledge. Direct knowledge of the Ground cannot be had except by union, and union can be achieved only by the annihilation of the self-regarding ego, which is the barrier separating the 'thou' from the 'That'."
[Huxley, supra., pp. 33-35]

I am neither 'this' nor all attachments and forms; neither name, self-image, feelings or thoughts; nor the ego. "I am That" - the divine Ground of Being.

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