Consciousness does not die.
What we truly are is not mortal. It is identification with the mortal body mind that gets in the way of our celebration of the full splendor of peace, love and happiness of our true nature.
Questioner: Magdi, can you say more about this? Experientially, mustn’t the body/mind form die in order for one to actually know this (that consciousness does not die)? Who can say this while still embodied? I hear this all the time, but I just wonder how does a living, breathing being know this experientially if the body has not dropped? Yes, it “feels” true even to me. But how does that make it “actually” true? Is it simply a belief based on a “felt” sense? It is my experience that I am (consciousness) “prior” to the body/mind. But it is not my experience that I am (consciousness) “absent” the body/mind. Wouldn’t the body/mind have to die for me to know that (experientially)? I have always been curious about this statement and it is written everywhere in spiritual books but no one explains it. It seems to be a “flowery” description of a “felt” sense, rather than an actual experience… Thank you in advance…
The body mind appears to you and disappears to you. It appears as sensation, thought, perception and it is ever changing. The body is not what you are and is not what is living. Only consciousness is consciousness and only life is living. You could say that life (consciousness) is living through the body mind.
The body mind is a display that is not a continuous. It is an intermittent display of thoughts, perceptions, sensations.
Consider the following: There are gaps between thought A and thought B. Without this gap, thought A and thought B would be one thought. Similarly there is a gap between sensation A and sensation B. If there was no gap, sensation A and sensation B would be one sensation. Same applies to perceptions, There is a gap between perception A and B or else, they would be one perception.
This gap is not nothing. It is the screen between images, between thoughts, between perceptions. The screen is not nothing, The images come and go and change, but the screen is constant. The metaphor of the screen refers to consciousness, the ‘screen’ of consciousness that is aware presence.
Presence refers to I AM, since you know beyond doubt that YOU ARE.
Awareness refers to KNOWING, since you KNOW you are aware, perceiving a tree, a thought, a sensation.
Now, this gap, does not depend on the images on either side of it. The images can vary, the gap does not care the shape or size of the images.
Once you take a closer look at this gap (consciousness between 2 thoughts) you will come to realize that this gap, is not really a gap. It is full of presence, still aware presence. Like when you close your eyes and still the mind or when you drop in deep sleep, there is pure presence, awareness, consciousness.
Upon closer contemplation, you will come to realize that this gap actually is not only between thoughts A and B, but it permeates thoughts A and B. Thought A and B are permeated with the knowingness, with awareness. Without awareness thoughts A and B would not even be. There is no part of your perception that is not permeated with the awareness that knows it. It is all made out of knowingness.
Which brings us to your question: How do I know that consciousness is not mortal? How do I know that consciousness does not depend on the body mind?
Well, you cannot know via the mind. You cannot demonstrate scientifically that consciousness is independent of the body mind since consciousness cannot be physically observed and thus cannot be studied scientifically. Consciousness is what is observing.
You can ask yourself: this very moment, I know I am conscious and I know I am consciousness and I know this via consciousness. Now, does this consciousness (that I know I am and that is asking this question right now and that is perceiving this perception right now) have any size or any shape? Does it have any starting and ending point? Does it have any density or viscosity? Does it have any direction?
Your answer to these questions will be a no. No, consciousness does not have any physical attributes.
The body mind does, but not consciousness that is the knowingness that permeates the body mind, through and through.
Then you can ask yourself: ‘how can consciousness that has no physical attributes be dependent on the body mind that has physical attributes?’ Can a non attribute be dependent on an attribute? No. It is the attribute that depends on the non attribute and not the other way around.
Also ask yourself: Have I ever experienced the absence (death) of consciousness? If you have never experienced the absence of consciousness and yet you know the body mind are temporary events that are constantly dying, how could you conclude that consciousness whose absence you have never experienced, depends on a form that will become extinct in a few years?
This is food for thought for you to contemplate.
If you can, join my next hangout and we can explore this important question together live. Or Skype me. Best to you.
Also, consider that the body dies every no-moment by no-moment but the mind is absent during these no-moments and thus does not witness this death.
Once you believe that you are embodied, meaning once you believe that you (consciousness) is inside a body, is limited to the body mind, you become limited to the mind and you cannot comprehend your independence from the body mind.
Friend’s reply: Yes, Magdi, the body/mind and its thoughts/perceptions/sensations appear and disappear to me. I understand the gap and that this gap is the substratum background (so to speak) of all phenomenal experience. Or, as you describe, the screen of consciousness. And yes, I also experience it as the single unbroken thread of constancy in relationship to the impermanence of this body/mind and this apparent “world”.
I agree with your statement that one cannot know “via the mind’. And I also agree that consciousness doesn’t have any physical attributes and that the body/mind does.
In a sense, you are confirming my experience – which is that once the joseph character was seen through, the apparent “personal will” ceased (almost entirely except for basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc). This left a void of sorts because there was no desire to “do” anything except “be”. During this period, what I call the “universal intelligence” and “universal flow” (just my expressions for the Absolute, etc) started filling the void created by the collapsing of the joseph character. I describe this as having ceased being informed from “above the neck” and began being informed from “below the neck” (again, just words I use – not to be taken literally). There is a sort of wordless, ancient, eternal wisdom which informs from a depth which is not of the physical body/mind, but which paradoxically, has a “felt-sense” in the physical body/mind. This is an unconditioned informing. It is not of the five senses. It is not of thought. It does not inform “anyone”. It is self-evident and arises as a “knowing” without a knower. There is an intelligence to this informing, which starting to direct movement of this body/mind in this apparent “world”. This is the same universal intelligence and universal flow in which all of nature i.e., animals, vegetation, precise movement of ocean tides and planetary movement are all “aligned” with (note that none of these have egos and yet effortlessly exist).
Phenomenally, I agree, consciousness is not an object and can never be known by the body/mind.
So what I am saying is that there is an informed “knowing” here that consciousness is all and eternal. It is a knowing which arises from this wordless, ancient, eternal, wisdom in the silence that I am. Therefore, in the same way that I know “I Am”, I can say that I know that I Am “forever and eternal”… it is this same knowing which informs…
Thank you for helping me to explore and deepen my understanding of where I am on this journeyless journey. If I am deceiving myself with this understanding please feel free to point it out to me. Thanks Magdi…
Magdi: Nothing to add.
Friend’s reply: Thank you Magdi…