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Basic/Original Concepts

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Basic/Original Concepts

Being is the Original Concept, the Root of Mind and Knowing

Recalling our discussion in chapter 3, it would seem that pure presence is nonconceptual awareness, the ground of experience and perception. This conclusion is true but partial. Pure presence is undifferentiated, so it has no discriminated conceptual categories. However, one discrimination remains: nondifferentiated presence is conceptualized as presence. Thus this dimension of true nature retains one concept, the concept of being. The fact that we experience it as presence means we recognize it as beingness. It has no other recognition, but still the recognition of being is a recognition. Being free from all determinations, and hence from all existents and beings, it is true nature with the self-recognition of its own presence. True nature knows one thing here, only one thing. It knows it is. And it knows it is by being. More precisely, nondifferentiated Being is true nature with one concept, the concept of being. This lack of differentiation in pure presence divulges that Being is the original concept, the root of mind and knowing. The first thing that true nature knows is its being, its presence. This knowing is knowing of its being, a knowing not differentiated from its being. Being, in this dimension, is knowing of being. In other words, in this dimension, manifest true nature is being, which is knowing of being. More accurately, in this dimension of true nature, knowing is being and being is knowing. Being and knowing are both present in pure presence, but undifferentiated. We can say that being is the original knowing, before which there is no knowing. 

Childhood Absorption of Our Basic Conceptual Framework

At some point in our childhood, we found ourselves thinking and speaking, using and reacting to concepts. Of course, we didn’t know that’s what we were doing. We were excited that we were learning about reality. We didn’t know we were creating it. From parents, friends, and the other influences in our complex social conditioning, we absorbed our basic conceptual framework. As infants, we were fascinated by moving forms and patterns of light and shadow; we learned to recognize our parents, as well as to distinguish objects. We were already making associations between what we saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and sensed through our bodies. We may have developed a sense that our associations had significance, but we had no words to express their meaning. Listening to the spoken sounds around us, we learned to name the forms and qualities of our world. This process unfolded by trial and error; the words we first linked to the objects around us may not have always matched the words used by others. Two objects completely different in size and color were both named ‘dog’; two others, nearly identical, were ‘dog’ and ‘cat’. For a kid, that’s what the kid was presented with, it takes a while before he could tell what’s a dog, you see. Corrected and recorrected many times, we shaped our early impressions to fit adult concepts and began to associate forms and sounds ‘correctly’. So, the reality we came to know is basically inherited from our parents. The concepts we formed were learned mostly from other people. 

Every Basic Concept Appears as a Pair, as a Dichotomy

One may argue that the original concept is not being, but emptiness. But emptiness is nonbeing, which is the other side of being, and is nonsensical without the concept of being. In actuality, being and nonbeing, being and emptiness, is the first dichotomy. They arise together, for every basic concept appears as a pair, as a dichotomy. (See Diamond Heart, Book 4, chapter 14, for a discussion of concepts and conceptualization in relation to knowing.) We will see in the next chapter how the transcendence of the conceptual dichotomy of being and nonbeing takes us to true nonconceptuality. This will be a simpler dimension of true nature than pure presence, and more fundamental, but we are discussing here pure presence, and its characteristics, among which an important one is that it is the beginning of concepts. 

The Basic Concepts that Form Our Experience are Physical

Reified concepts are the main barrier to penetrating to what is, and the basic concepts that form our experience are physical. You are more convinced, for instance, in the existence of your body than in the existence of inner freedom, because while your body is a physical thing, freedom is not a physical thing. It is particularly these physical concepts that we have to penetrate in order to perceive what is. The ground of the personal mind is constituted by physical concepts. Our perception of relationships between things are based on that ground of personal mind. We perceive that this object is round and this one is square; this object is distant from that one, and this object is near that one. This object is free from that one, this object likes that one and doesn’t like this other one. These relationships develop as a superstructure on a fundamental ground which consists of physical concepts, the concepts of what we call physical objects. 

With Pure Basic Knowledge Cognition is Simply the Presence of a Basic Concept Clothing Presence

In this dimension of pure basic knowledge, knowing and concept are the same; cognition is simply the presence of a basic concept clothing presence. This concept is nothing but the expression of a cognitive dimension that structures the manifold of true nature, in parallel to the other dimensions, those of color, texture, affect, and so on. It is the differentiation of the cognitive dimension, while the simple knowingness of Being is the nondifferentiated cognitive dimension. 

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