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De-Reification

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about De-Reification

De-Reification is Impossible Without the Support and Guidance of Essence

Inquiry reveals the barriers to liberation and realization in various degrees of subtlety. It reveals them as the effect of the past on the present, as the process of identification with the content of experience, as the limiting structures of the soul, or as the reactivity that dissociates the soul from presence, and so on. The way we understand the nature of the barriers changes and evolves depending on the deepening of our understanding of Reality. At some point this understanding matures to the understanding of reification, and then becomes even subtler. We find that even though it might be tempting to guide the student from the beginning of the inner journey to view the situation from the perspective of reification, this endeavor will most likely become intellectual. A student may understand the meaning of reification and its process intellectually, but this is a far cry from actually and experientially understanding it. Furthermore, the process of de-reification is impossible without the support and guidance of essence. We are aware of many who talk of destructuring and de-reification, but our observation is that the largest majority of these individuals are engaged in a clever intellectual exercise. The soul, or the mind, cannot truly de-reify without standing on the real ground of true nature. When this supportive ground is not available the soul is bound, mostly unconsciously, to rely on a subtle reified ground. If this were not the case, then many of the very intelligent individuals who intellectually understand reification would be liberated.

De-Reification Seen as a Destructuring Process

The process of de-reification can be seen as a destructuring process for it is a matter of destructuring the reified concepts of the mind. However, this is an incomplete understanding of this process. De-reification can also be misinterpreted and abused when understood exclusively as destructuring. Because the penetration of reified concepts leads not simply to chaos or annihilation of experience, but to the ground of basic knowledge, the process is more accurately understood as that of restructuring. The structuring of experience by ordinary knowledge dissolves and is replaced by the authentic and spontaneous structure of basic knowledge. 

It is Not Possible for the Thinking Mind Alone to Dissolve Reification

We have learned in earlier chapters that our practice is to see the truth about what is happening in our experience in each moment, to recognize what it is and understand it. Now that you have some understanding of how reification operates, you can appreciate how important it is to feel our way through that process, to approach it experientially. Because if we only work with it mentally, we are still operating within our reifications and will remain trapped by them. That is why it is not possible for the thinking mind alone to dissolve reification, despite the claims of some postmodern philosophers. In contrast, observing our experience with awareness and with presence challenges the reifications by revealing them as reifications. It is our belief in them that keeps them in place. We hold on to them, we preserve them by believing that they are real. But once we recognize them as mental constructs, they become transparent, and that makes it possible for us to stop going along with them. 

The Process of De-Reification of Structures and Essences Leads to an Appreciation of the Primordial Emptiness

Spiritual traditions, as well as certain philosophical and psychological bodies of inquiry, have developed substantial bodies of understanding regarding the logical, phenomenological and experiential categories of emptiness and nothingness, as well as of presence and Being. The present work on narcissism begins with the phenomenon of the human being, or soul, as presence, but also passes through a process of de-reification of structures and essences, leading to an appreciation of the primordial emptiness which is a component of Eastern teachings such as Buddhism. Some aspects of the Western philosophical tradition (particularly continental philosophy) have developed an understanding and appreciation of emptiness, but generally without the techniques to actually integrate the awareness of emptiness into our ongoing experience. The understanding of the relationship between narcissism and emptiness in The Point of Existence brings new possibilities for embodiment of this aspect of human wisdom. 

The Process of the Path is an Inquiry that Attempts to Penetrate the Boundaries of Reified Concepts

Inquiry as a Path of De-reification:  We now come full circle to the barrier of separateness, the ego principle. We see that the ground of this barrier is reification, for the separate individual self is a reification of the soul.18 The ego principle is basically the principle of reification. From our discussion in this chapter we see that the general barrier to the experience and realization of the boundless dimension of pure presence is reification. Adhering to the view of the reified world we cannot see the real world of oneness and unity, and cannot experience the pure presence of our true nature. It also becomes obvious that a potentially powerful path toward the realization of true nature is one that can penetrate the reifications of the mind and reverse the process of reification. Many wisdom teachings, including our approach, are based on this insight. In our approach we begin with what the soul normally experiences. These are mostly reifications and the products of reification. The soul, however, is not aware of this at the beginning of her inner journey, and will generally not take it to heart if told directly. The process of the path is an inquiry that attempts to penetrate the boundaries of reified concepts. The inquiry is an exploration to understand the truth of experience, which initially amounts to the truth of reified experience: that is, the understanding of how it is a reified concept, how this reification affects experience and obscures the basic truth Inquiry leads to the discovery of truth, which unfolds as an ever-deepening understanding of the forms of our experience. This understanding is fundamentally a matter of seeing through the products of reification, allowing them to shed their reifying boundaries, and hence regaining the directness of basic knowledge.

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