two - we understand that everything is universal; and
three - we experience that everything is universal.
Everything is universal means nothing is personal – ‘nothing personal.’ Nothing is personal means separation is not real. There is no separate entity in the cosmos. If you prefer, what it ultimately means, and that’s the most important, is that that which is hearing these words (I’m now saying), in this moment, is not a separate individual, but is a universal consciousness. That is, for all practical purposes, what it boils down to.
And most of us are not ready to accept this possibility that that which is hearing these words, in this moment, is not separate, personal, mortal.
So we have first, to be ready to accept this possibility; then, to understand (or glimpse, or have the insight) that it is true; and then, to live, experience, feel, perceive that it is true at every moment. These are the three stages I was referring to.
Because of the culture we live in, we believe that there is strong evidence that consciousness is separate, that it is personal. We feel that it is an outlandish type of concept to claim that it is universal, because most people believe otherwise. So the first step is to find out where is the evidence that substantiates our beliefs that consciousness is separate, and what is the value of that evidence. And it is not until we have investigated this evidence and recognized that although before the investigation we believed that we had strong evidence, after the investigation it turns out that the evidence was bogus. Then we are open, you see? This being open to the possibility requires an investigation. We believe that that which in us perceives, because that which we call ‘I’ or ‘me’ is really that which perceives, that which thinks, that which decides, that which acts, as a result of those decisions. That’s what we call ‘I’. But basically, this ‘I’ is first of all, that which perceives. The rest comes after – the decider, the doer. The perceiver comes first. Because in order to have a decision, or to have an action, I need to perceive right? So what ‘I’ am is truly the perceiver – which means the consciousness, which I define as whatever it is which is perceiving these words, in this very moment. And that’s what we call ‘I’. We say ‘I’ perceive, right? We believe that there is a different perceiver in each body or in each mind. So as a starting point, we could as ourselves ‘What evidence do we have that there are as many consciousnesses as there are minds or as there are bodies or body-minds?
Questioner : The evidence is that each person experiences different experiences.
Francis Lucille : Well, let’s take the analogy of a circular tower with all kinds of windows looking at the landscape, and there is only room for one observer in the tower. The landscape that appears in each window is different. Does the fact that the six landscapes that appear in the six windows imply that there are six observers in the tower? Does the multiplicity of the windows imply multiplicity of observers? No – right? So in this metaphor, each body-mind is a window, and consciousness is the observer. The fact that that which is observed in various windows, differs from one window to the other, does not imply that that which observes, differs from one window to another. When we seem to have evidence that there are many consciousnesses, do we have facts to back it up? So if this mind and that mind have different contents, implies that they are two consciousnesses? The questioner retracts his assertion.
In our culture we have not investigated this, we have zero interest in investigating this. There are no courses in consciousness; there are no courses in ‘What am I?’, in kindergarten, primary school, in high school or in college. I’ve never seen a ‘What am I?’ course, which means that there is zero interest for that. In other words, all the interest goes towards that which is perceived, but there is zero interest in investigating that which perceives. So because of this lack of interest, there is a lack of knowledge that goes with it, and (as a result) there are all kinds of childish and simplistic assumptions.
So the first thing is to investigate thoroughly whatever evidence comes up in support of the multiple consciousnesses theory, and to realize, to convince oneself, that there is zero evidence. So evidence can be concepts, arguments ‘there are several consciousnesses because …’, but there are also other types of candidates for evidence which are more irrational – they are feelings in the body. And these could come up in the form of ‘Well, theoretically speaking, that’s well said, and I agree, but, at the gut-feeling level, that’s not true.’ So then we also have to investigate the validity of the gut-feeling level evidence. At a some point we also become convinced that the gut-feeling level evidence is also bogus. And then we are left in the situation where we don’t know. But then we are open! That’s a big difference. We are completely open. When I don’t know, I am open to all possibilities.
And then there is a moment when we see it – the moment of understanding. Because the moment of understanding is an insight. In the beginning this insight takes place in a timeless moment, in a split second, in a timeless moment. But then, in this split second, we move beyond not knowing. Before we are in not knowing, we say ‘OK, it’s possible.’ But then, there is a kind of reversal of perspective that takes place – a shift that takes place – and then, after that we say ‘Oh, that’s the other way around! It has always been the other way around!’ That’s what I call the understanding or the glimpse. That’s really the entry on the path. Before, we are on the path to the path, on our way to the path, but we are not on the path. Then we really enter the path as we let go of the belief that we are a separate entity. And we let go of the belief that we are a separate entity the moment we have an insight of what we truly are, which is something universal.
Universal is a word that doesn’t refer to this physical universe – universal is bigger than that – whatever there is in all realms, the totality. And at that point of course, deep inside, a shift has taken place in us, which is irreversible.
But all the consequences of this shift have not yet trickled down to all realms of our experience. So the path is this trickling down of this understanding, which was just in a split moment, in a split second, and to allow for this understanding to transform everything in our life. In other words, to cooperate with this understanding – to allow for this understanding to change, to transform the way we live. And in order to transform the way we live, we have to allow for it first to transform the way we think, the way we perceive the world, and the way we feel – the body. As a result of that, it will also change the way we act in the world, and the way we relate to the world, and that’s all.
This final stage, if you will, is a process of stabilization of our experience, to reach a true equanimity. And by the way, equanimity, in my book, doesn’t mean necessarily that we don’t get angry, or upset, because there might be things that are worth getting upset for. But equanimity means that there is no distinction between self and non-self; there is no distinction between inside and outside. It’s all equal. And it is this absence of distinction between the inside and outside that, as a result, also changes our behavior and the way we relate to our surroundings and to the people we interact with. Francis Lucille