imagine the Sanskrit letters in these honey-filled foci of awareness,
first as letters, then more subtle as sounds, then as most subtle feeling.
Then, leaving them aside, be free. (From the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra,
Lord Shiva's 112 methods of meditation). If we strip the religious, the
occult, and the paranormal from mysticism then we are left with an endeavour
that has to do with pure consciousness itself. In India there have developed
two basic paths towards pure consciousness: bhakti yoga and jnani yoga,
the first relating principally to devotion and the second to awareness,
which shall be the concern of this paper.
The quote above from the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra outlines very briefly
one of countless techniques developed in India for apprehending pure consciousness.
It is also significant for mentioning the `honey-filled foci of awareness'.
While the Buddha was reluctant to comment on the blissfulness of consciousness
itself, the association of bliss with consciousness is deep-rooted in
Indian religious thought, and is raised here to emphasise an important
sub-text in the current Western investigation into consciousness: we have
an instinct that it is a rewarding endeavour in its own right. What the
Indian techniques have attempted for some three thousand years is to encourage
an enquiry into what happens when we reverse the normal direction of our
senses, that is when we suspend for a period our investment in the objects
of our sense organs and place an emphasis on the subject. This is described
metaphorically as a reversal of the arrow of awareness, or the creation
of a double-headed arrow that simultaneously makes the observer aware
of the manifest world revealed through the sense and the consciousness
into which these manifestations enter.
The Western evolution of Studies in Consciousness can be symbolised by
the Schroedinger's Cat Paradox: we can extrapolate from it a range of
issues that turn Western science from a purely 3rd person science to a
partly 1st person science. The Krishnamurti's Dog Problem is an invention
of the author and bridges the gap between the current Western change of
orientation and the rescuing of Eastern mysticism from its simultaneous
obscurity and gee-whiz popularism. Krishnamurti was one of the greatest
20th century exponents of jnani yoga, teaching the reversal of the arrow
of awareness through choiceless awareness and a silence of the mind. He
commented once that for the duration of an hour's walk not a single thought
entered his mind -- this raises for us the problem of his dog for whom
we can assume the same state for the period of their walk. What then is
the difference in consciousness between these two beings? Krishnamurti
taught for over 50 years, but rejected the techniques of his religious
inheritance, thus leaving us with no methodology for the exploration of
consciousness. However another great 20th century mystic, Douglas Harding
(author of On Having No Head), has provided us with precisely that. This
paper will explore Harding's toolkit of 1st person techniques for the
investigation of consciousness, and will relate them and mysticism more
generally to the current questions raised in Studies in Consciousness.