Utter Absence as Us

Despite appearances to the contrary, nothing that is other than conceptual is done by a sentient being, for a sentient being objectively is only a phantom, a dream-figure, nor is anything done via a psycho-somatic apparatus, as such, other than the production of illusory images and interpretations, for that also has only an apparent, imagined or dreamed, existence. All phenomenal 'existence' is hypothetical. All the characteristics of sentient beings - form, perceiving, conceiving, willing, knowing (the skandha or aggregates) - are figments of mind which 'itself', i.e. as such, also is hypothetical only.

Each and every action, every movement of each, in the extension and duration imagined so that they may be sensorially perceptible (that is, in the framework of space and time) are dreamed or imagined by a dreamer which has no quality of selfhood, of objective being - that is to say, by hypothetical mind.

This hypothetical mind is the Perceiving, Discriminating Division of mind in its subjective aspect phenomenally conceived, and the Perceived, Discriminated Division in its objective aspect, but the perceived is the perceiver, the discriminated the discriminator, and the subjective and objective aspects only appear as dual in manifestation. We are the former: we appear to be the latter, but they are not two unmanifested.

All that is cognisable is part of the phantasy of living, all that we can think of as ourselves is an integral part of this hypothetical universe; sentient beings are totally therein and in no way or degree apart from it, as they often suppose when they imagine themselves as instruments whereby the objective universe is produced, for it is produced not by, but with them as one of its manifestations.

This is more readily perceived in the case of a dream, which we can consider when awake, whereas in the living dream we are still asleep; i.e., 'ourselves' are the dreamed figures, phenomenal objects of the dreaming subject in the dream of living.

Our dreamed 'selves', autonomous in appearance, as in life, can be seen in awakened retrospect to be puppets totally devoid of volitional possibilities of their own. Nor is the dream in any degree dependent on them except as elements therein. They, who seem to think that they are living and acting autonomously, are being dreamed in their totality, they are being activated as completely and absolutely as puppets are activated by their puppeteer. Such is our apparent life, on this apparent earth, in this apparent universe.

All this which is dreamed is the product of the dreaming mind, of the subject-object process called 'causation', within the consciousness in which it occurs; it is integral in consciousness, it is consciousness itself, and there is nothing else whatever that IS. But 'consciousness' is only a concept as such: it is no thing, no object, has no subject therefore. It can only be indicated as the Unmanifested, and even such indication can only be a manifestation of the unmanifested.

But these elements in the dream, in either dream, are not nothing in the sense of annihilation. Viewed 'noumenally' they are 'something' indeed. They are whatever their dreamer is, whatever This-Which-Dreams them is, indeed everything in the dream is the dreamer thereof, and that, as we have seen, is the subjective aspect of consciousness - for object is subject, the subject which in-forms it, which is subsistent to it. Therefore this 'something' which they are is 'everything': objectively, phenomenally everything, which, subjectively, noumenally, is 'nothing', but which as 'nothing' is still everything, total absence phenomenally, which is total presence noumenally. Everything is nothing, nothing is everything, for neither either is or is not, and only is-ness is by neither being nor not-being.

It is as the subjective aspect of consciousness (not as the objectivised aspect) which is all that they can be said to BE, that sentient beings dream the universe by objectivising it.

(© HKU Press, 1965)

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