From an introduction and talk with Douwe Tiemersma, Gouda, May 22, 2002
You say to steadily turn your attention back to its source within. When I look at that flower there, then the impulse is only directed out towards it.
That’s the normal way of knowing.
And everything else that takes place inwardly distracts me from what’s out there.
Yes, that’s possible. The withdrawal is initially necessary in order to become detached from what’s out there. When the attention first really turns back to its source, it creates what I’ve often referred to as an inside-out inversion. Then everything comes back in a wonderful way. It happens very differently than with an internal-external separation. Namely, there’s no longer the old structure, “Me, here, the other things, there, and in between, the relation.” This latter means a concentration of the attention, a fixation, a limiting and frequently, also an obsession. It’s important that that becomes thoroughly broken through. You see that the old form of knowing is so terribly limited, because it always starts out from a particular ‘I’. And indeed, that whole structure can become inflated. What kind of knowing arises then when this flower actually comes totally within? The knowing then becomes more intimate it ever could have been with the distancing manner of knowing. With it there’s no separation any longer between inside and outside, so that you, in a certain sense, are that flower. Everything is present in the realm of Self-being. That’s a very different, intuitive kind of knowing. Traditionally, it’s said of the liberated that they see themselves in everything that’s visible. Which is impossible if you continue to maintain this distancing in your knowing. With this distance you can observe the other, you can also analyze the other, you can pick it apart. So then the other is an object, in contrast to yourself as subject, as the source of perception. But, if just once, all that objectivity were to actually revert to the source of light in yourself, then suddenly everything would prove to turn inside-out. Then there’s no limitation any more in the self-being or in its objects. Both completely merge into one another. Of course there is a thorough knowledge of this and that, but fundamentally, there’s no separation any longer. That’s advaita, non-separateness. It’s not a positive unity, but non-separateness, about which you can’t really say anything else. There is a direct knowing in your own realm. And that is unlimited.
When you start out from an ‘objective’ world and an ‘objective’ knowledge, you go around looking at and labeling everything, you actually want to rule out your subjectivity thereby. That is especially evident in the traditional sciences: if knowledge is to be objective, the subjectivity must be turned off through use of the scientific method. That this could be possible is a delusion. The subject always plays a role. Why? Because there is no aloof perceiving and no perceived external world without a subject which has its own starting point and method of perceiving. Therefore, knowledge is always conditioned. Truth remains a conditional truth.
But now, what is that subject? Traditionally, this is frequently asked in the texts of the ancient Upanishads: who is the actual perceiver? Now, just consider, not this, not that. When you actually realize something of the ultimate perceiver, then this whole structure of perceiver, perceived and perceiving turns out not to exist any longer. Then that perceiving proves to be a direct determination. Precisely because the phenomena are directly perceived phenomena, the perceiving of something is a given. The phenomena are there or they are not. When they are there, it turns out that they are there, as such. This is truth: the appearance of something.
When you begin to think and propose all kinds of intermediate processes of perceiving, you say that perception is indirect. That it makes use of different (sense) organs and all kinds of cognitive schemas. But when you start looking at perception just as it exists in yourself, then it is direct. Then you have nothing to do with eyes, brains and forms of knowing. There is a direct determination. Only when thinking jumps in, then you return to the disassembly, the indirectness. But, thinking is not perceiving.
Does your identifying with a person or a thing also come under that direct knowing?
Yes of course. You don’t have this direct experience only when you’re involved in the advaita approach, rather, it’s constantly there. You experience your identity directly with all kinds of people, especially the ones that are closer to you. When something happens to that other it also happens, more or less, to yourself. In communication, you often need only a word or two from the other in order to understand. Yes, that is a direct knowing. Recognize that everywhere, even in the ordinary seeing of things.
Where does the perceiving take place? Not, like the neurobiologists say, in the brain. That’s nonsense. When there is perception of a landscape, it has everything to do with the landscape, and your brain has nothing to do with it. In the perception itself there is no brain, and if it is there, it’s a brain, perceived as an object. Perception is direct: bam. Something appears here and now, in the light, and it’s there. Even if a little later, you look from the other side and see something different. Even then, there is a direct perception in the here and now. Again and again there is a direct determination or there is not.
Yes, then in principle, all is one. You can take any object …
Yes, every object in perception comes intrinsically linked together with the subject, because otherwise there is no perception. In every perception, there’s actually a timeless moment, pang, and there is something. And that is a process in which the subject and object coincide. As subject you perceive something, and you perceive it as true, even though you may later determine that it was an incorrect perception. Then, namely, there is a new direct determination in the individual sphere.
The determination and the appearance coincide in the immediacy, consciousness and being, subject and object. Prior to their actual coincidence, there is an intuitive, internal perception, a being-knowing, in which you aren’t any different from that which you perceive. When both poles completely coincidence there is nothing more. Still, of this an empty being-knowing is possible.
Reading in Dutch? See the book Satsang http://www.advaitauitgeverij.nl/component/content/article/1298-satsang