It seems that, due to the limitations and structures of language, the word Consciousness (being a noun) suggests that it, that is consciousness itself, is an object.
However, Consciousness cannot be an object simply because it is that which is aware of all objects, including such things as nouns.
Which would seem to suggest Consciousness is a subject.
However, even that cannot be true, because a subject is presumed distinct from its object, and would therefore also seem to be some mere “other” sort of object.
Therefore Consciousness (this that is referred to each time we say ‘I’) is truly beyond and prior to the whole subject-object realm, or may we say beyond all of this human-imagined and extremely prescribed and proscribed “world” we’ve artificially overlaid upon what is truly a living environment that humans have coevolved with.
An artificial (made of artifacts) overlay, so to speak, that we seem to be inextricably immersed and lost in. To the point that we are destroying both ourselves and “all our relations,” to use an indigenous term. In other words all of this interconnected and interdependent life we’ve been coming ever deeper and deeper into form both through and with.
The thinking, relative, and extremely abstracted ego-mind simply cannot reach into these sorts of places. Or we could perhaps say, cannot reach Here.
Nor can the ego-mind adequately express or perceive or even hear what I am attempting to point towards now, because this ego-mind (including the one through which I am using this computer to write these words) is itself just another imagined and seemingly separate object, and has, on its own, no possibility of accessing what is always infinitely prior to and greater than all seeming subject-object experiences.
Yet, if we are able to set this ego-mind aside, even if only momentarily, then two alternatives will become open to us:
The first of course is to remain silent in regards to this whole terrain, and simply live one’s experiential understandings from moment to moment, expressing through and by simply being This, with all one’s thoughts, sensations (sense perceptions), feelings and actions.
To “know” existence in the biblical sense in other words, through a full immersion in and connection with all of our experiential environment, in each and every eternal moment, consciously.
And/or second, to keep trying to use all these rather clumsy, abstract concepts and symbols of language as sensitively and creatively as possible, in an attempt to express that which can never be truly expressed in words, and yet is, strangely and paradoxically, the only true, constant, unchanging reality there is and we are.
Beyond even our most profound metaphors, such as one I like a lot, paradox.
What is also unique about the word Consciousness and any of its synonyms (such as Peace, Happiness, Love, Truth, God, Christ, Allah, Buddha-mind, Brahman, etc.) is that AS a symbol it tries to point towards that which is neither noun nor object nor subject nor quality, and also not any sort of dimension, level, degree, process or activity.
But instead towards what truly and simply is, all the while as it is also appearing as all of This (and that and others and things), including even now these very words that are coming into (and sometimes out of) existence, right here and now on my screen, as I type.
All of THIS.
Words such as ‘tree,’ ‘body,’ ‘sensation,’ ‘concept,’ ‘blueberry,’ etc., all point towards seeming objects that no one ever actually truly experiences as they are until we become able to see through the very tenuous nature of all our ways of naming, labeling, describing, grasping and conceptualizing. A tenuousness that some humans are willing to defend to the death. So to speak.
To let go of that defense even if only for a few moments at a time. Until eventually we realize language, imagery and concepts can be used whenever and for as much as they are helpful, all the while as we are also knowing that none of it is actually what we are, or what the world actually is.
Here is where language might become like writings on water, moment to moment, every moment new. Not a “next” moment new, but THIS very same eternal moment always new. New and new and new. No matter how many times I read something truly profound. Always this moment.
Or perhaps like the Hebrew written language, 3000 years old and without any verbs, so that the meanings and subtleties are able change, evolve and deepen both over time as well as with every generation, and even each time it is read and the verbs are freshly added through our very own immediate and direct here and now experiences of what is actually reaching through the words.
We might say that the word Consciousness is the only true noun, because it indicates that which is real rather than that which is imagined. In other words, it is indicating something that is neither other, nor separate.
All words now just one of so many ways we humans, who are where Consciousness seems to be becoming aware of itself here on our planet Earth right now, try to point to the very nature of reality, which we, as consciousness, also are.
In other words, point to that which is prior to, the source of, and at the same time beyond all these words.
Perhaps a legitimate effort would be to try to use a verb rather than a noun?
We could say something like aware-ing, know-ing (NOT conceptually), table-ing, chair-ing, laptop-ing, sky-ing. But even these will still be labels, and therefore not accurate. They would still not be this true, here and now direct experience of what actually and simply IS, and which is always, merely and simply experiencing itself without any other, through all these myriad and infinitely relative forms, relationships and ways that we, this collective experience of life on earth, is.
As a metaphor, one might say that bodies and form and living processes are all for the purpose of being able to dance this journey of life with each other, all the while as we learn more and more, and ever more deeply, that we actually are the Dance itself, discovering and rediscovering itself through dance, over and over and over. Through all of us, and through each of us.
A different facet of the same metaphor is that all this language, and all this engagement through words, permeable (living) meanings and ever changing metaphor, is just another form and dimension of that Dance, or Discovery.
And at the same time, paradoxically, simultaneously (not either/or), sooner or later we must fall silent! Fall into this Silence. There is no other way.
This silence may then sometimes choose to speak through us, all in its own time and ways, always to itself, and yet always and also to each ever-seeming unique other that we altogether also are.
THIS silence is why Lao Tzu eventually left China, for the Wilderness.
~ John Fridinger
Rewritten early spring 2023