HEIDEGGER, PHENOMENOLOGY AND INDIAN THOUGHT
– RELIGION, SCIENCE AND
THE SUBJECTIVE UNIVERSE
Language as such is ‘no-thing’ - for it is everywhere and nowhere. It is not reducible to a localisable textual object or spoken word but is the invisible non-local context of every word, text and act of speech. Subjective awareness - like language as such - or like activity or potentiality as such - is also ‘no-thing’. It is also everywhere and nowhere - a subjectivity irreducible to any localized object and not the property of any localised ‘subject’. All apparent ‘physical’ objects are but elements of subjective experience emerging (physein) within an infinite, non-local field of subjective awareness.
We dwell not in an objective but a subjective universe. ‘God’ is not some supreme ‘subject’ that ‘has’ awareness - ruling over a universe of objects. God is awareness or subjectivity as such – absolute and as all-pervasive as space and time, transcendent and immanent in all things. As pure
awareness or absolute subjectivity ‘God’ is the most fundamental reality of all and no ‘delusion’. Modern science on the other hand is a delusive religion resting on the central dogma of an objective universe ruled, if not created by human subjects or ‘observers’. Hence its ever more aggressive assault - not only on all religions that treat ‘God’ rather than Man as supreme ruling subject - but on any attempt to undermine the dogmatic identification of reality as such with a universe of objects and of truth with objectivity.
“Science is the new religion.”
Yet what is the central, unquestioned, unprovable and, as I shall argue, wholly untenable dogma of this religion? This fundamental dogma of science and the sciences is the identification of reality with a world of ‘objects’ and truth with ‘objectivity’. The dogma begins by forgetting that the very terms ‘object’ and ‘objectivity’ are, first and foremost words – linguistic constructs. Yet no physicist or philosopher bothers to consider in what way language as such can be considered to be an ‘object’ or to have ‘objective’ reality. We can identify a word on the printed page but cannot say ‘where’ language as such exists – it has no locality in the same way that a physical ‘object’ seems to have. Nor can we even say what language as such is - for it is not reducible to a finite set of sounds, alphabets, syntactic rules - or even ways of speaking. Even the spoken or written ‘word’ is only a word by virtue of being more than a mere ‘object’ – for what makes a set of ink marks on a page or sound waves in space into writing or speech is that we read or hear within them a totally invisible or inaudible meaning whose material form is but the manifestation. Though scientists constantly use language to articulate their own theories of a world of objects there is no ‘objective’ way of even proving the objective existence of that invisible, inaudible and immeasurable world of meaning that lies behind their language and language as such.
Moreover any way of thinking, speaking or writing about language assumes and makes use of language, which is not the private property of any thinker, speaker or writer and has a character innately transcending everyone who thinks about it and every thing that can be said about it. Thus though the terms ‘object’ and ‘objectivity’ are used as if they were self-evident, they themselves rest on a reality – language – which cannot itself be reduced to any object or set of objects. One of the main uses of language however, is precisely to objectify reality – for no sooner does a word or term become part of the common currency of language (including the word ‘language’ itself) then we assume that it to refer to some pre-given thing or ‘object’ that has existed for all time. We make this assumption despite the fact that the very word used to name this ‘objectively’ existing thing may be a neologism of the only the most recent historic coinage – emerging within a specific historic culture at a specific time, and belonging to the vocabulary of a specific science, religion, or academic discipline within that culture.
Thus the word ‘religion’ was coined only a few centuries ago in European culture and thought. Yet having become common currency we assume it refers to some ‘thing’ which has always existed in human culture and of which all specific ‘religions’ are but variations. Thus we speak casually of ‘Eastern religions’, we superimpose a European linguistic construct on Eastern cultures, completely ignoring the fact that in the language of these supposed ‘Eastern religions’ themselves, there is not a single word that corresponds to our recently coined and now globally superimposed term - ‘religion’. The word ‘religion’ then, far from being taken as a historically and culturally specific linguistic construct, is taken instead as some universal cultural thing - an ‘object’ which has existed universally and throughout history, and is differentiated only by its local, historical and culturally specific ‘varieties’. What can be said of the objectifying use of the word ‘religion’ can be said of the word ‘science’ too – and indeed of the terminologies of all the sciences. For their very terms are linguistic constructs – terms which linguistically construct the very ‘objects’ whose reality they assume as ‘given’. That the relation of scientific terminologies to their supposed objects of ‘exploration’ and ‘explanation’ is not even explored or examined as a question in science, shows how, in its own dogmatic self-understanding, modern science is an ideology that lags behind the most elementary of ‘post-modern’ understandings of the objectifying power of language, understandings which are not ‘pre-scientific’ but post-scientific - or rather post-scientistic – what we take as ‘science’ being a quasi-religious ideology or ‘-ism’.
Yet there is an even deeper fault and fissure in the foundational dogma of science – the dogma of a world of pre-given ‘objects’ and of truth as ‘objectivity’. That fissure is to be found in the narrow concept of ‘subjectivity’ that it presents or implies as its ‘unscientific’ counterpart. In everyday language use we take the word ‘subjective’ to refer to things experienced ‘in here’ – in our minds or imagination, as feelings in our emotional life and imagination, as moods or as bodily sensations such as pleasure and pain. All these dimensions of experience are counterpoised to an external world of ‘objects’ assumed to exist ‘out there’ - independently of our experience of them. Not a single modern physicist and but a single modern philosopher – Edmund Husserl – has come to the elementary insight that all experiencing – including every element of our experience of a world ‘out there’ – is by nature subjective. The fundamental but still unacknowledged starting point of ‘science’ is therefore not what it takes it to be - the dogmatically assumed pre-existence of a world of objects ‘out there’. Instead the true foundation of all knowledge and all true ‘science’ is subjective experiencing. This is true whether or not any given elements of experience are thought of and experienced as ‘in here’ or ‘out there’, as purely personal or wholly impersonal, as relative or absolute.
It was Husserl’s great insight that by excluding our experience of the entire ‘external’ or ‘physical’ world from our understanding of the ‘psychical’, we reduce the ‘psyche’ to a purely internal world of private experiences - thus creating a wholly false dualism between the ‘physical’ and the ‘psychical’, the ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’. The result is a wholly false separation of the so-called ‘sciences’ of ‘physics’ and ‘psychology’ - both of which ignore the inherently subjective nature of all experiencing, ‘outer’ or ‘inner’. That is why ‘phenomenological’ science is deeper than both physics and psychology, for understood properly, it is an understanding of science that transcends the unquestioned dualism of ‘subject’ and ‘object’, the ‘subjective’ and the ‘objective’. Phenomenological science runs counter to the dogmatic identification of reality with objects and objectivity. Indeed in its ultimate form ‘phenomenological science’ denies ultimate reality to any ‘objects’ whatsoever, which in essence are nothing more than linguistic objectifications of ‘phenomena’ i.e. different elements or complexes of subjective experiencing.
The massive challenge posed by phenomenological science to our whole understanding of ‘science’ and the ‘sciences’, not least physics and psychology themselves, was understated even by Husserl, who failed to tackle the single most important fortress shared by both these sciences in defense of the dogma of objectivity. This is the highly Eurocentric but now ever more globalised dogma subjectivity is necessarily the private property of an individual ‘ego’ or ‘self’ – the so-called ‘subject’ - or that casually assumes that terms such ‘subjective’ or ‘subjectivity’ imply the existence of such a subject. As a result, the nature of subjectivity or consciousness as such is not even considered, but instead identified with the conscious experiencing of individual beings or ‘subjects’ - in particular human beings and subjects and individual human consciousness.
The identification of subjectivity, consciousness or awareness with a limited human ego or subject did not form any part of pre-modern Eastern ‘philosophical’, ‘religious’ and ‘scientific’ understandings of reality. Nor is it at all congruent with a new post-modern and post-scientific worldview. For the reduction of subjectivity as such to a property of an individual ‘subject’ is equivalent to reducing language as such to the private property of an individual speaker rather than the other way round – understanding speech as an individualised expression of language, one that shapes and reshapes the speaker’s very experience of themselves as an individual self or ‘subject’.
Philosophers in the West have no concept whatsoever of ‘subjectivity without a subject’ – the Eastern notion of a ‘universal consciousness’ that is the absolute source not only of all individualised consciousness, but of all that is – pervading all things, human and non-human. Instead, with only one or two exceptions they continue to wrestle with the meaning of ‘subjectivity’ whilst failing to even question the notion of ‘objectivity’. I have spoken of the everyday use of the term ‘subjective’. For Western philosophers subjectivity is understood only as the property of pre-supposed ‘subjects’. As a result, subjectivity is also identified with what is seen as the key attributes of such ‘subjects’, namely perspectival relativity, ‘ipseity’ or self-awareness, and autonomous agency.
‘Subjectivity’ is associated in Western philosophy with perspectival relativity because each ‘subject’, by virtue of having a unique location or ‘position’ (whether physical and perceptual, mental or emotional, ethical or cultural) sees ‘objective’ reality from a unique and therefore irredeemably ‘biased’ point of view. There is a paradox here. For having reduced subjectivity to a ‘subject’, this subject is then thought of in the same way as a localised object - being positioned at some ‘point’ in space. In contrast, in the most sophisticated of Indian yogic philosophies, subjectivity was understood as an all-pervasive or ‘non-local’ field comparable to space as such rather than any ‘objects’ in it. Space itself was not experienced by the yogi as anything ‘objective’ or ‘physical’ but as identical with the ‘universal’ or ‘divine’ consciousness’ – the latter being a limitless, non-local field of ‘pure awareness’ or ‘absolute subjectivity’ - and as such both transcendent and immanent, both embracing and pervading all things and beings within it. The practical yogic path to experiencing the limitless non-local nature of subjectivity was precisely through identifying with the seeming void or emptiness of the spaces within and around things – in reality the all-surrounding and all-pervading ‘space’ or ‘aether’ (Akash) of pure awareness.
I call my own further explication and refinement of yogic metaphysics ‘The Awareness Principle’. By this I mean the understanding that subjectivity or awareness as such (‘pure awareness’) cannot - in principle - be either the property of a pre-given subject or reduced to the function of any object. For again, in essence all ‘objects’ and ‘subjects’ are but differentiated elements of subjective experience - all emerging from and embraced by a spacious field of absolute subjectivity or ‘pure awareness’. From this point of view the association in Western philosophy of subjectivity with the ‘ipseity’ (self-recognition or self-awareness) of an individual subject is also undermined by The Awareness Principle. For awareness of any experienced ‘self’ or ‘subject’ cannot - in principle – be the property of any self or subject we are aware of. For like every element of our subjective experience, our experience of self necessarily belongs to an experiencing awareness or subjectivity transcending that particular, experienced self – or any self or subject.
The Awareness Principle is a philosophy of absolute subjectivity transcending any subject. Behind the ‘Objectivity Principle’ of modern science on the other hand is the religious absolutisation of an abstract subject standing apart from, over and above a world of objects. Whether this absolute subject be conceived of – objectified - as human or divine makes no difference, for belief in its existence constitutes the central dogma shared by both modern science and theistic religions.
The absolutisation of the subject - as opposed to a subjectivity prior to all subjects – came to its fullest expression in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, where the subject as ‘observer’ is the principle agent responsible for determining what is observed. Whereas classical physics concealed the subject behind a world of objects in absolute space and time, Einstein’s General Relativity abolished the absolutivity of space and time, and Special Relativity made all motion relative to the observer – the subject. Quantum mechanics went yet further, ceasing to claim the existence of any objective world of particle-waves or wave-particles ‘behind’ instrumentally measurable data, and instead implicitly raising the scientist as such – the observing subject - to the status of a sole or absolute object. In place of God as a divine being or subject ruling over man and nature as its objects was placed the human being – but only in the form of the subject as posited by science - the observer. In this way we can see how theism, atheism, humanism and science all unite as one in sharing an identification of subjectivity with ‘the subject’ - whether it be conceived religiously, scientifically or humanistically.
Understanding itself as a mere set of operational practices with no claims to truth, science has, as Heidegger saw, become a mere handmaiden for technology - offering global capitalism an abundance of operational technologies to profit from by enframing exploiting the earth and converting it into a ‘standing reserve’ of human and natural resources. This exploitation is made possible, not in the first instance, through the machines and mechanics of industrial technologies, old and new - but rather through an unthinking mechanisation of thought itself. This is the transformation of thinking as such into a mere instrumental or operational tool for the enframing and objectification of every qualitative dimensions of earthly experiencing, into a specifically calculative mode of thinking which subjects them all to its own objectifying and purely quantitative or ‘quantised’ terms of reference. Such a mode of thinking is now being aggressively employed in an attempt to attack and wipe out any remaining experience or conceptions of a universal awareness or subjectivity – one that transcends both absolutised ‘subjects’, human or divine, and their worlds of operationally manufacturable and manipulable objects. Heisenberg’s recognition of the intrinsic relation or ‘relativity’ of observer and observed in the observations possible in quantum physics could be seen as transcending the whole subject-object metaphysics of Western thought. Heidegger however, did not see Heisenberg’s ‘relativity’ as a return to a type of ‘holism’ in physics - but rather as its very opposite - a theoretical mirror image of Hiroshima.
“The objectness of material nature shows in modern atomic physics fundamental characteristics completely different from those that is shows in classical physics … And yet – modern nuclear and field physics also still remains physics, i.e., science, i.e., theory, which entraps objects, in order to secure them in the unity of their objectness …"
… the way in which in the most recent
phase of atomic physics even the object vanishes also, and the way in
which above all, the subject-object relation as pure relation takes
precedence over the object … the subject-object relation thus
reaches, for the first time, its pure ‘relational’, i.e., ordering
character, in which both subject and object are sucked up … That does not
mean that the subject-object relation vanishes, but rather now the opposite;
it now attains its most extreme dominance …” Science and Reflection
No longer is it Newton’s God that is seen as supreme subject ruling over the earth but the human subject - a subject for whom, scientifically, objects, and even human beings themselves, no longer even exist except in so far as they ‘count’ as instrumental measurements or statistics. Such a delusive and deluded ‘subject’ is intrinsically destructive and self-destructive - for in submitting science to the service of commercial calculation and the technological-industrial depletion of the earth it quite literally removes the very ground from under its own feet. This is capitalist industry abolishing what Marx called its own ‘natural condition of production’ – whether in the form of forests and trees, soil, oil, water - or the exploited and polluted body of the human being.
The growth of a tree is not the activity of an agent or subject, human or divine. The tree is not grown at all, nor can the natural growth of trees be speeded up to keep pace with industrial demands for wood and paper. Trees are not grown. They emerge from the deeper soil and larger field of their environment, serving, like speech, as their living expression. Yet where can be found ‘physicists’ who remembers that the Greek physis – ‘emergence’ - is the true root and root truth of the term ‘physics’? Where are the philosophers who recall that the Greek logos - ‘speech’ - is the true root and root truth of ‘logic’? Where, above all, are the true thinkers who, as yogis, can once again experience space as the aether or ‘Akash’ of pure awareness, and who can once again experience the physical world as emergent word - as one experiential language or expression of pure awareness among others - not our language but that of a ‘God’ which does not ‘have’ but is awareness or subjectivity, universal and absolute?
Another attribute attached to the ‘subject’ and ‘subjectivity’ by Western philosophers is ‘titularity’ – its sense of owning its actions and experiences. As ‘subjects’ one aspect of our ‘subjectivity’ is defined - from this Western point of view - as the sense of an action or experience being ‘mine’. Eastern thought too has long recognized a close connection between what it understood as the limited self or ‘subject’ and this sense of ownership or ‘mine-ness’. Yet in contrast to Western thought yogic philosophy sees this ‘titular’ subject as the biggest obstacle in the way of realizing a higher and vastly expanded sense of self - a self identical with pure awareness or absolute subjectivity as such. That is why the basic principle of yogic philosophy and principal aim of yogic practice is to overcome ‘Anavamala’ - the basic ‘stain’ or ‘impurity’ of awareness that comes from ignorant identification of ourselves and of subjectivity as such with the finite ‘ego’ or ‘subject’ - the same ‘ego’ or ‘subject’ which Western thought takes, in its own ignorance, as something ‘possessing’ awareness or subjectivity as its ‘own’ titular private property.
The very terms ‘subject’ and ‘object’ are effectively separate, linguistically constructed ‘objects’ of Western philosophical discourse. It is because these linguistic constructs are then taken as ‘objectively’ real that the false assumption arises that consciousness and cognition are based on a sort of external relation between separable ‘subjects’ and ‘objects’ - in reality a relation of linguistically constructed objects. In an attempt to give some sort of ‘objective’ reality to this linguistically constructed relation, the commonly accepted neuro-scientific account of perception reduces the ‘subject’ itself to a single observable object - the brain. In doing so however, it also reduces the external ‘objects’ we think we perceive ‘out there’ into mere subjective hallucinations ‘projected’ outward by the brain in response to sensory data. The philosophical and logical nonsensicality of this ‘scientific’ model of cognition is revealed as soon as we ask what sort of external ‘objects’ the brain and sense organs are supposed to derive their initial sensory ‘data’ or ‘information’ from - given that what we perceive as such ‘objects’, are according to neuroscience itself, nothing but subjective images manufactured by the brain! According to this attempt to solve the riddle of the subject-object relation therefore, the brain – itself but one perceptible object among others - is supposed to give us a perception of other objects by interpreting sensory data coming from its own subjective hallucinations of such objects!
Another unresolvable riddle and paradox arising from the subject-object model of consciousness is its inability to explain so-called ‘qualia’ – our subjective experience of sensory qualities such as colour. Here physics and our everyday experience of the world set themselves on a collision course. That is because, for the physicist, colours are ultimately nothing but ‘objectively’ measurable quantities - wavelengths of light. How then however, does our everyday qualitative perception of colours arise? How are we to explain our experience of a quale such as ‘redness’? Is it something ‘purely’ subjective, is it the subjective figment of a biological object – the brain - or is there some truly objective sensory quality – and no mere quantity – corresponding to it?
The assumption here is that subjectivity has no innately sensual qualities of its own - an assumption questioned by both everyday language and everyday experience. We both experience and describe ‘moods’ for example, in terms of sensual qualities such as light (being in a ‘bright’ or ‘radiant’ mood or being in a ‘dark’ mood), colour (being in a ‘blue’ or ‘black mood’), gravity or weight (being in a ‘heavy’ or ‘grave’ mood or one of ‘levity’ and ‘lightness’), spatiality (feeling ‘high’ or ‘low’, ‘up’ or ‘down’, ‘exposed’ to or ‘closed off’, ‘distanced’ or ‘close’), heat (feeling ‘warm’ or ‘cool’, ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ towards something or someone), texture (feeling ‘solid’ or ‘empty’, ‘knotted up’ or ‘strung out’), time and motion (feeling ‘speedy’ or ‘slowed down’, ‘in a whirl’ or ‘going round in circles’) etc. etc. Is it any surprise that given the existence of such innately sensual qualities of feeling awareness or subjectivity, they should find expression in our dreams as experienced sensory qualities of dream objects - a dark cloud in our dreams for example expressing a felt darkness of mood, for example? Indeed, the whole riddle of sensory perception and of the subjective vs. objective nature of experienced qualities or qualia are resolved for us every night - through our experience of dreaming. For in contrast to scientists, with their dogma of a world of objects and their identification of truth with objectivity, our experience of dreaming is something we recognize as wholly subjective. We do not take dream objects as ‘objects’ in the way that the physical sciences and Western philosophy consider them – as entities existing independently of consciousness or subjectivity. Instead we experience them ‘physically’ in the root sense, as phenomena emerging (physein) from within the overall field of our subjective dreaming awareness, whilst at the same time giving expression to that field - constituting animate portions of that awareness. We would not think of attempting to find the ‘objective’ cause of a particular dream, let alone an explanation for the experience of dreaming as such - in one particular ‘object’ we happen to dream of.
Yet this is precisely what neuroscience seeks to do in explaining the nature of our waking experience of phenomena - by taking one single object of perception (the brain itself) – as the foundation for our waking experience of all other objects. Indeed neuroscience even attempts to explain dreaming experience as a function of our brains. This is a further oddity or paradox - given that neuroscience maintains, in effect, that our perceptions of waking world objects are themselves dreamt up by the brain. The only object excluded from this whole brain-based explanation of our perception of objects is the brain itself - our perception of which is treated, unlike all other objects, as immediate and ‘real’. Neuroscience cannot, in principle, explain this contradiction in its account of perception. For even to recognise this contradiction would be to admit the absurdity of its claims that consciousness and perception are functions of the brain. For the logical consequence or reductio ad absurdum of this claim is that the brain too cannot be considered as a scientific ‘object’ existing independently ‘out there’ - but is rather a figment of its own subjective imaginings, an object dreamt up by itself!
Our subjective experience of dreaming offers us vital clues to a wholly different understanding of the fundamental nature of waking consciousness and cognition to that which is proffered by the logically confused and self-contradictory constructs and explanations of modern science – all of which are rooted in the dogmatic identification of reality with objects, of truth with objectivity, and of cognition and consciousness with a relation of separable ‘objects’ and ‘subjects’. Indeed the experience of dreaming offers us a wholly new understanding of the fundamental nature of reality as such, allowing us to acknowledge the fundamentally subjective nature of all supposedly objective realities. In waking life, as in dreams, we inhabit a subjective universe. This is not a universe composed of separable subjects but of multi-dimensional fields of awareness - all rooted in a universal and absolute subjectivity of which we, and all things, are individualised portions and expressions. This absolute subjectivity is not the private property of a supreme subject or ‘being’. Quite simply it is subjectivity or awareness as such - without a prior or pre-given subject as its ‘owner’.
‘The Awareness Principle’ undermines not only the objectivity dogma of science but the philosophical and religious dogma that awareness or subjectivity is necessarily the property of a pre-given subject or ‘being’, human or divine. It understands ‘God’ neither as a supreme being or subject, nor even as Being - but as that absolute subjectivity or unbounded awareness of which all beings and all bodies in space-time are portions and expressions. Modern science itself, by virtue of its own untiring attempts to sustain the notion of an objective universe and an objective ‘explanation’ of subjectivity or awareness, has brought itself - through the contradictions inherent in both quantum mechanics and brain science - to the furthermost boundaries of its most religiously cherished assumptions and beliefs. In doing so it has also brought humanity to the threshold of a wholly new understanding of the universe and of ‘science’ itself. Crossing this threshold marks our entry – or rather return – into the subjective universe from which we and all things hail. This is a universe that can only be explored through subjective sciences based on directly subjective and experiential modes of scientific research. Yet no amount of research will allow this threshold to be experimentally or even experientially crossed unless it is first crossed in thought. This means questioning and letting go of the long-standing prejudice that still governs human thinking - the prejudice that grants more ‘reality’ to the objective than the subjective, that reduces subjectivity to subjects, subjects to objects, and that ultimately reduces both to nothing at all. That is the threshold - for subjectivity, like language, is indeed ‘no-thing’ and no ‘being’ – but the source of all things and all beings.
Crossing the threshold to the subjective universe is not a return to ‘religion’ as it is currently practiced and understood. Instead it is a return from the new religion that ‘science’ has become back to the eternal inner truth of religion as such, re-linking us with that ‘God’ which is not a being ‘with’ awareness but simply is awareness - absolute and unbounded. This is not some ‘New Age’ God but the oldest, most primordial God of all; one that has never ceased to re-gather and re-plant the knowledge-seeds of its scientist-priests, both during times of war and of peace.
The fact that the very term ‘subjective universe’ is taken today as connoting a type of private, solipsistic universe of the individual subject - comparable to a purely private and fantastic world of our dreams or imagination - shows how dramatically the meaning of the terms ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ has altered over recent centuries. For as Owen Barfield has pointed out, the single most important attribute used or assumed by contemporary philosophers to define the basic concept of an ‘object’ – its nature as something independently real or self-subsistent in its own right – belonged originally to the word ‘subject’.
This is only one reason however for the difficulty faced by both physicists and philosophers in affirming the innate reality and validity of subjective experience and of subjectivity as such. The other reason is their own habitual defensive use of language as a way of intellectually distancing themselves from the realm of immediate subjective experience. In contrast, the yogis of the past took direct subjective experience as the phenomenological starting point for the development of a refined subjective science and of philosophies that affirmed the absolute character of subjectivity or awareness. What is called ‘yoga’ did not suddenly come into being a fully-fledged philosophy or set of practices but arose from centuries of phenomenological or subjective-scientific experimentation with awareness, aimed at exploring and experiencing its many dimensions and qualities – the subjective universe. Out of such experimentation precise yogic practices were evolved and developed as phenomenological practices - not as mathematically calculated, operational acts performed on ‘objects’ – but rather as ways of letting presence and bringing forth new experiential aspects and dimension of that universe. Such practices made use of religious rather than mathematical symbols, and gave pride of place to the experienced body of the yogi - and not any technical instruments - as principal instrument of research. What passes as ‘yoga’ today however, is a pale and stale shadow of these practices, now adopted second-hand and without any memory of the original, experimental purposes they served - and through which they were evolved and refined, both in principle and in practice. These purposes were both scientific and spiritual - ‘spiritual-scientific’ – though the term itself is redundant so long as the original and essential meaning of the term ‘spirit’ itself remains unquestioned and clouded in holy smoke. What is ‘spirit’? In essence, it is nothing more or less than the immaterial yet foundational reality that is subjectivity or awareness as such - a reality that is the source of all in-spiration and indeed the ultimate foundation of breathing or ‘re-spiration’. Hence the yogic practice of using awareness of breathing to experiencing breathing itself as an in-spiration and ex-spiration of the life-breath or innate vitality (Greek psyche/Sanskrit prana) of awareness as such - that ‘higher air’ or Aether which permeates the spacious field of pure awareness that we perceive as empty space. Neither the subsumption and setting in stone of strict yogic practices within dogmatic religious sects, nor the secularisation or yoga as a mere means to physical well-being, do justice to its true significance as a primordial expression of subjective science - aimed at expanding the awareness of the practitioner to a degree that enables them to experience and explore ever-new and larger dimensions of the subjective universe of awareness.
In the subjective universe, there can be nothing ‘outside’ awareness as there can be nothing ‘outside’ space or ‘before’ time (the plain logical idiocy of ‘Big Bang’ theory). The basic principle of subjective science therefore, is that awareness is everything. Conversely however, everything is an awareness. A word, thought or feeling for example, is not simple some ‘thing’ we are aware of but is an awareness of some other thing. This other ‘thing’ however, is no mere object for a subject but itself an awareness of something else. ‘Things’ such as atoms, molecules and cells for example, are expressions of atomic, molecular and cellular awareness – each such ‘thing’ is an awareness. This is the deeper truth expressed in the words of Utpaladeva, one of the great sages of Indian thought:
“… things that have fallen to the level of objects of cognition are essentially awareness.” (my emphasis)
For just as ‘a thing’ is not merely a phenomenon within a larger field of awareness, but is also a portion of that awareness field and thus itself an awareness, so it is, in this sense also a ‘being’ - an individualised world of awareness. The subjective universe is made up not of objects and subjects but of countless awareness worlds. Einstein once wrote of how quantum physics "… reminds me of the system of delusions of an exceedingly intelligent paranoiac, concocted of incoherent elements of thought ... If correct, it signifies the end of physics as a science." (letter to D. Liplein, July 5, 1952).
Quantum physics indeed is 'the end of physics' as the foundation of ‘objective’ science. Yet the subjective and meta-physical truth of quantum physics lies in the ‘many worlds’ theory that is one of its variants – this being a metaphorical recognition of the multiple worlds of awareness concealed within each and every element of our subjective experience, each and every ‘thing’ or ‘being’ we are aware of within the subjective universe of awareness.
Diagram 1: the standard model of subjectivity locating it within the ‘objective universe’. This posits a localised individual ‘subject’ (the black circle) as centre of a universe of phenomena perceived as ‘objects’ separate and apart from each other and from the perceiving subject itself (the white circles).
Diagram 2: a field model of subjectivity within the ‘subjective universe’. Individualised subjectivity or ‘consciousness’ (the bounded area of the shaded field) is seen as one portion of an unbounded, non-local and all-pervasive space or field of pure awareness (the shaded area as such). Within this unbounded field, the circles do not represent separate objects or subjects, but are all phenomenal elements of subjective experience – each both emerging from and forming part of the field of subjective awareness. Each such element is itself an awareness - bounding a distinctive field or world of awareness.
Heidegger, Martin The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays Harper and Row 1977
Heidegger, Martin What is called Thinking? Harper and Row, 1968
de Sousa, Ronald Twelve Varieties of Subjectivity: Dividing in Hopes of Conquest
Wilberg, Peter The Awareness Principle, a radical new philosophy of life, science and religion New Yoga Publications, Exposure Publishing 2007