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Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Reification

Development of Ordinary Knowledge

At infancy the soul is coemergent with her true nature, but her discriminating and cognitive capacities are not developed enough for her to recognize her true nature. Such innate ignorance seems to necessitate some kind of development where the cognitive capacities can mature to the extent of being able to recognize the ground of the soul in a conscious and discriminating cognition. This development turns out to include the normal ego development of the soul, in which not only does the soul differentiate and dissociate from its essential ground, but such differentiation and dissociation also seems to be an integral part of the process of developing the cognitive and discriminating capacities of the soul. More specifically … the dissociation of soul from essence occurs primarily by, and parallel to, the development of normal representational knowledge, which is conceptual discrimination divorced from the ground of Being. Ordinary knowledge develops by the soul abstracting out the outlines of concepts from basic knowledge, and holding their reifications in the mind.

It is Actually Possible to not get Ensnared in Reification

When we recognize something, we usually encapsulate it, we make it into an object, reify it, remember it, and then project it onto the present—all of which excludes the immediacy of our experience. We are, as a result, perceiving our experience through the reifications. No longer are we recognizing reality freshly. When we first recognize something—before the reification happens—the recognition is immediate. It is a felt, full sense of experiential knowing of what is. This immediate discernment is alive and unmediated by past experience. Meeting reality in this way is necessary in order to be a full human being; without it, our potentialities will become limited. We will continue to perceive our experience based on a reified reality that cuts us off from the direct knowing of life. But it is actually possible not to get ensnared in reification and identification and all the things that go along with them, such as judgment, rejection, hatred, division, and attachment. What makes this possible? True Nature itself. Because True Nature is what is—it is reality and it is independent of the mind. Whether we reify it or not, True Nature is itself. We may reify it, and thereby distance ourselves from it, but nothing alters it from what it is. Nothing ever happens to it.

Mind's Tendency to Reify

As we look closer at these subtle ego activities, we discover the tendency to reify reification itself and make it a kind of object to reject. In our minds, we make it something from which we can push away and separate ourselves.
The same process can happen as we reify doing, making it something to reject or judge. Even more subtle than that—we can reify nondoing, such that nondoing becomes an object, a thing we can value or cultivate. The truth is that nondoing is really nothing. No such thing exists that is called nondoing. Nondoing is the nonexistence of doing, but we make it something to aspire to, which can become a subtle obstacle. Something similar can happen to those who work exclusively with a nondual perspective about reality: at some point, they begin to reify nonduality, and it becomes for them an objective to aspire to and reach. So, as you see, the tendency of the mind to reify in order to create stability, a fixed center, or a particular orientation is unlimited. The mind, then, is a mixed blessing, a double-edged sword. And that is the condition of humanity: Our intelligence, our mind, can liberate us but it can also ensnare us. Our learning, our maturation, and even our realization and enlightenment, require the capacity for discernment, for clear discrimination, of what is true and what is not true.

Ordinary Knowledge is a Collection of Reified Concepts

The process of turning the basic knowledge of an inseparable noetic form into a discrete object in the mind is referred to as reification. Ordinary knowledge cannot help but reify its experience, and this process of reification seems to be a natural stage in the soul’s cognitive development, necessary for the development of ordinary knowledge and discursive thinking. The normal mind reifies concepts, which originally are noetic forms inseparable from the oneness of existence. Therefore, ordinary knowledge is composed of a collection of reified concepts.

Reification Constitutes a Powerful Barrier to Our Capacity to Experience Reality with No Concepts

So noetic forms are independent of our personal orientation, independent of our history of learning to name and discriminate things. As we have discussed, the process of conceptualizing the elements of our experience and reifying the concepts in our minds creates a world made up of opaque and separate entities. This reification constitutes a powerful barrier to our capacity to experience reality with no concepts, to experience the dimension of the nonconceptual. It also prevents us from seeing the level of oneness. Two elements of perception must shift to make a transition from living in the world of mental objects to perceiving the world of actual noetic forms: First, the perception of forms as separated, discrete objects must shift, so that there is a perception of oneness where there are discriminated perceptions but without separating boundaries. In this level of perception, forms and concepts are seen as transparent. Second, the capacity to be conscious and aware of reality without any conceptualization at all is needed. This is perception in the nonconceptual realm—what some call the “ground of awareness.” These capacities do not necessarily develop in a particular order; they each have many issues and barriers associated with them, which we have begun to address in the past few meetings.

Reification of Concepts

Experientially, the notions of good and bad are connected mostly to pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering, gain and loss, expansion and contraction, and so on. In the unutterable bliss of nonconceptuality, these dichotomies disappear. An important part of this process for the soul is the development of nonattachment. The understanding that arises with the help of the crystal vehicles is that attachment depends on the dichotomy of good and bad. These vehicles teach the soul that nonattachment is nothing but the effect of the nonconceptual presence on the consciousness of the soul. They teach her this wisdom by challenging this dichotomy, which she has adhered to as long as she can remember, and showing her how it is not a fundamental truth, not a timeless truth of Reality. The soul has the opportunity at this point to perceive the development of the attachment. Its starts with the differentiation of nonconceptual presence. As long as these stay simply as differentiations no attachment is possible, but the differentiations become discriminations, knowable concepts. As long as they remain simply knowable concepts, noetic forms, attachment is still not present. But the concepts become labeled and eventually reified. They become discrete forms, which obscures the unifying ground. The labeling and reification make it possible for the first time to compare the forms, resulting in judgment. This judgment is the beginning of the dichotomy of good and bad. This judgment leads to preference, generally of the good over the bad. Preference based on the entrenched belief in the ultimate truth of this dichotomy becomes a rigid and fixed preference. Such fixed preference easily becomes attachment, which is holding onto what one prefers, or rejecting what one does not

Reifying Experience is Ongoing and Constant

Extending the example of the spoon to the rest of our experience, we can see how our learned knowledge becomes an obstacle to being ourselves. Our entire experience is composed of reifications—abstracted concepts and impressions that have become mentally created objects. We keep imposing our belief in those entities on our experience. This is how we interfere with the moment, making it appear as though these entities were real, when it is really our mind that has made them into entities. This process of reifying our experience is ongoing and constant, and we are continually imposing old reifications from the past. We do not see the now; rather we experience a reified moment, which means that we are superimposing previously created reifications—images, representations, and mental constructs of what we think is the self, other people, and various objects, on the now.

Reifying Presence

But that is not the true meaning of True Nature, of presence. When we explore what presence feels like, when we experience its luminosity, we recognize that, though it can feel substantial, it has no substance; it is not solid at all.Even though, when we first encounter it, we know that presence is what truly exists, our mind mistakenly conceives of its existence in the same way that we think a rock exists. But in doing that, we reify it, we concretize it, and miss its very nature. So we take presence to be existence, but the existence of presence is not like the existence of the body, for example, because it is not an object. Even though we say that presence is our being, that it is the authentic ontological ground of our consciousness, neither being nor existence are what we are referring to when we speak of the existence of a rock or a chair. We need to be very subtle in our understanding of what “presence is being” means. We need to recognize the pitfall of the tendency to objectify.

The Essence of Reification

What we normally call the world is nothing but Reality seen with obscurations veiling its underlying ground and substance. The conventional world is nothing but Reality shorn of its true nature. Only the differentiating outlines of the forms of Reality are then left for our conventional perception. Since we perceive these outlines without the ground that manifests them we believe they are separate and autonomously existing objects. The ground that is their source of manifestation is what unifies them, and so without it in our experience we simply perceive objects in physical space. This is the essence of reification, taking a manifest and inseparable form and holding it in the mind as a separate self-existing object. In other words, what we call the world is nothing but the reification of the forms of Reality.

The Vicious Circle of Reification and Reactivity

In our work here one way we address this vicious circle of reification and reactivity is to work on the qualities of the soul, the essential aspects. So far we have talked about the noetic forms of manifestation on the level of physical reality. Another realm of discriminated manifestation which exists independent of personal concepts is the realm of noetic forms which we call essential aspects. The aspects are universal concepts in that their form of manifestation is independent of the personal mind of the person who experiences them. For example, when you experience essential compassion, and I experience essential compassion, we experience the same thing.

When We Reify and Identify with Something We Objectify It

We have seen how when we reify and identify with something, we objectify it. We make it exist as an object, we make it concrete. This habit of mind reveals our movement toward objectifying and solidifying our experience. It would be natural for the mind to try to know reality, but it goes further than that; it always tries to pin it down, to establish it, to see reality as a concrete, stable thing. So we see that all our mental operations imply the same tendency—to try to solidify reality, objectify it, make it as concrete as a physical object is.

Without Reification there is Poverty and Purity

We see here that the concepts of poverty and purity are connected to letting go of ego, leaving behind the self that believes in impure or pure. To be pure means not to believe anything. Not to believe anything does not mean you have beliefs that are suppressed. To be pure means to have no reified discriminations, but that does not mean that you have discriminations that are repressed. To be pure means that you have no preferences, but that does not mean that you have preferences that you are avoiding. The detached person who does not feel anything, who does not feel his preferences is not what we mean by pure. Such a person has many impurities, attachments, and discriminations, but is not willing to experience them.

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