Hi Craig,

I do, however, have a lot of trouble wrapping my mind around some of the ideas you discuss here.

There are things I write about that are not understandable by the mind.

“The fundamental nature of reality is an indescribable absolute in which there is no separation, what some call non-duality.”

That strikes me as a claim rather than an established fact.

It’s a description of what is revealed when the illusory sense of self stops happening.

My concept of non-duality (and please correct me if I mischaracterize anything here) is the idea that all of reality is connected, that we are all just parts of a single metaphysical “organism” — and I put organism in quotes because I suppose I am using it in a metaphorical rather than a scientific sense.

That’s not how it is. There is only one no-thing and everything is that one no-thing. The fundamental nature of reality is indivisible. Even though it can appear as anything and everything, it is still one indivisible whole. This cannot be understood by the mind/self, which is the illusion of separation.

Perhaps an easier analogy is that all of existence is like a giant clock, and we are all cogs within it.

No. There is no “I” or “we.” There are no cogs, and it’s not a machine. Everything is literally the same no-thing.

What trips me up is this talk of illusions.


I can understand the claim that separateness is an illusion: the illusion is that there is no clock.

I don’t think that this correct. If by clock, you mean what seems to be happening (when you look around). What seems to be happening is non-duality appearing as what seems to be happening. It’s not an illusion. It’s the only no-thing there is. It’s both real and unreal.

It’s this idea of the self as an illusion that I struggle to get behind.

Yeah. That makes sense. The self, which is also separation, is the only thing that illusory. It’s not real in any sense.

Because, supposing I accept the premise of the clock’s existence, and I accept that I am just a cog within it — well, the cogs do still exist, don’t they?

This is because a cog sees a machine. There is no cog. What is left when it’s revealed that there is no cog is everything. What’s revealed is that the machine is non-duality. There’s no cog in it at all. The cog cannot comprehend what it would be like for there to be no cog, even though there actually is no cog at all.

And if I do exist as a cog, then we can easily see that my subjective experience of being a cog is different from that of other cogs.

Absolutely. The way that a cogs sees reality is to see a machine made of cogs. “I am a cog and I am part of a machine made of cogs.” When it’s seen that the cog is an illusion, what’s revealed is the truth of what everything else is: what the body is, the feelings, the thoughts, the seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching: it’s all the indivisible whole appearing as that.

And if that’s the case, then how is my sense of self an illusion?

There is nothing that actually experiencing anything or doing anything. There is only what appears to be happening and then there is a misperception that it’s about someone and for someone and by someone. There’s no one there. But as long as there is an illusion that there is someone there, it covers over the way reality really is. So then the illusion of self seeks wholeness, never being able to recognize that there is only wholeness.

How does the existence of the clock, and the fact of my role in it, preclude me, a cog, from being conscious, or from having legitimate awareness (as opposed to illusory awareness)?

Because there is no me. It seems like there’s a me, but all of it’s claims are false: I am here, I am real, I am doing this, I am experiencing this. When the self-illusion stops happening, all of that is seen to have never been real. There is only what seems to be happening.

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives | duncanriach.com

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