By Wes Annac, The Culture of Awareness
I’d like to pick up from our discussion yesterday and examine more material from Franklin Merrell-Wolff about relative and non-relative consciousness.
As we learned yesterday, relative consciousness is our surface awareness and non-relative consciousness is our deeper spiritual awareness, which we can find in a number of ways.
No matter how we transcend the physical senses and explore our non-relative awareness, we’ll want to stay consistent with our practice if we want to make any progress. Some spiritual teachers discourage ambition or consistency, but I think both qualities are helpful on the spiritual path.
They’re discouraged when it comes to our external reality, because they tend to reinforce the already cloudy barrier between us and a higher state of consciousness. If we use them for our spiritual exploration, however, I think they could help us permanently raise our vibration.
We have to be committed to our spiritual exploration if we want to do or perceive anything significant, and here, we’ll learn more from Wolff about non-relative consciousness and, interestingly enough, the state that exists even beyond it.
First, we’re told that the physical universe is a projection of the greater spiritual reality we have yet to fully unveil.
“Relative consciousness deals with phenomena alone and can never reach beyond phenomena. But the phenomenal world rests upon the Real or Noumenal World. Thus it is that the Consciousness of the SELF or ‘pure apperceptive consciousness’ sustains the whole universe or cosmos. But the latter is an outward projection.” (1)
Relative (surface) consciousness, we’re told, exists within the measureable cosmos, which is sustained by non-relative consciousness.
“Behind the cosmos is the formless or Transcendental World. Within the cosmos is the domain of relative consciousness.
“From the latter standpoint the SELF appears as formless. Hence the approach – for from the relative point of view it seems like an approach – to the SELF from consciousness posited within the cosmos takes on the form of progressive negation of all identity with form until finally Identity in the Formless breaks forth as Recognition.” (2)
There’s a state that exists beyond Formlessness, but for now, our relative consciousness identifies with our non-relative consciousness as Formless. There’s a greater reality even beyond Formlessness, but Formlessness might be all we can strive to attain until we understand that there are deeper layers and dimensions beyond our current goal.
“At this stage Recognition may well take the form of ‘I am Formlessness.’ But this is really an incomplete Recognition, as Shankara has shown by his acute logic. The final Recognition is ‘I am not form and I am not formless.’
“This standpoint is neutral with respect to the cosmos and the truly Transcendental or Formless. What this really means is that beyond Nirvana there is a Paranirvana which is a state of metaphysical indifference with respect to the states of manifestation or non-manifestation.” (3)
I’d imagine a lot of ‘time’ (energy) is spent in the advanced state of Formlessness before we realize that true transcendence comes when we don’t perceive ourselves as formed or Formless. While it can get confusing, it makes sense if you slowly examine the philosophy without trying too hard to comprehend it.
Formlessness is the next stage in our spiritual evolution (it might be the fifth dimension; I don’t know), but there’s a state of existence beyond even it, which we’ll grow into once we realize it exists and pursue it.
We might only want to aim for Formlessness or material transcendence from our current limited perspective, and once we reach it, we’ll realize that there are even more dimensions to strive for.
There’s probably even a level beyond the level that’s beyond Formlessness (does your head hurt?), and if there is, we’ll find out when the time comes. I’m sure we’ll be excited to explore every non-dual state of consciousness that waits for us, but for now, maybe we can focus on Formlessness before we focus on what comes next.
The idea that there’s a state beyond Formlessness, Wolff tells us, presents somewhat of a problem in the study of mysticism and enlightenment.
“This study constitutes a real clarification of the problem of the relationship between ordinary consciousness and the kind of consciousness commonly called mystical.” (4)
Some spiritual teachers might disagree, but I think the physical (form) and spiritual (Formless) are merging. I don’t know when Franklin Merrell-Wolff was in his prime, but I do know that the veil is thinning at an incredible rate and we can touch upon the outer layers of Formlessness with relative ease.
We’ll have to be dedicated if we want to get the most out of the thinning veil, but I think the dimensions are compressing in on each other (the third, fourth and fifth, at least) and we can use things like meditation and creativity to drastically elevate our consciousness.
During some of Wolff’s higher-vibrational experiences, he tells us that his ego-driven self was present as an observer in a vast ocean of all-encompassing spirituality.
“Throughout this whole experience [which he called the ‘High Satisfaction’] and the following more profound state [the ‘High Indifference’], the egoistic or subject-object consciousness was actively present. It was present, however, as a witness on the sidelines, while all about and through and through there was an immeasurably vaster Consciousness.” (5)
So it seems that our relative consciousness is still capable of existing in the blissful higher-dimensionality we’re headed for, but its influence will be severely diminished and we’ll be too busy enjoying the expansive higher-vibrational landscape to pay much attention to it.
We’ll apparently know it’s there, however (Wolff did, at least), and I wonder what kind of role it’d play in our attainment of non-relative consciousness. The relative will still exist along with the much greater non-relative, but it won’t have anywhere near the influence it currently does.
I notice that when I write, meditate or play music, what I know as the ‘ego’ isn’t as present as usual.
Like Wolff realized during his exploration of a much higher state of consciousness than I’ve reached, the ego self is still there but it’s quiet, like a child who was throwing a tantrum but has since calmed down and fell asleep.
It’s still there and it might offer little things that help, but for the most part, it’s a pacified aspect of our being that doesn’t really make itself known. I’m surprised to learn that the ego self exists at all in non-relative consciousness, and it gives credence to the term ‘you learn something new every day’.
I was especially interested to learn that there’s another level beyond Formlessness, which I already knew but never really thought about, and it goes to show that there’s more to strive for beyond ascension.
We’ll travel deeper and deeper within from here on out, and as we do, we’ll discover purer states of consciousness that transcend the previous. It’ll be a wild evolutionary ride, and while it might be difficult at times, I’d imagine we’ll be enthusiastic enough to embrace it nonetheless.
- Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Pathways Through to Space. A Personal Record of Transformation in Consciousness. New York: Julian Press, 1973, 13.
- Loc. cit.
- Loc. cit.
- Ibid., 12.
- Ibid., 117.
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I’m a twenty-one year old writer, blogger, musician and channel for the creative expression of the inner universe, and I created The Culture of Awareness daily news site.
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