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Excerpts about Sensing

Consciousness Directly Sensing Itself

In addition to the property of being a field, the other fundamental property of consciousness is that it can be conscious of itself. In other words, we do not need to be conscious of something to be conscious. We can be conscious of consciousness itself; that is, not the property of being conscious but of the field or medium that is consciousness. The experience of pure consciousness is the experience of consciousness without an object. It is simply consciousness directly sensing itself. It is consciousness aware of itself as a field, a field characterized basically by the fact that it is conscious of itself.

Discriminating Between Physical Sensation and the Sensation of Essential Substance

The capacity to sense oneself must become so refined that the individual can discriminate between physical sensation and the sensation of essential substance. It is not enough that the mind be quiet. It is also necessary for the body to be sensitive. The mind can be quiet while the body is deadened. The body has to be awakened so that the center of sensing, the belly center, can be activated. The belly center, or what Gurdjieff called the physical center, is the center of sensing for all parts of the body. Its deepest function is the subtle sensing, the sensing of essential presence, that the Sufis call the organ for touch. Touch is, in a sense, the most intimate of the physical senses. The skin must be directly against an object to touch it. There is no intermediary medium, like sound for hearing or light for seeing. So this subtle capacity is a very intimate one. Accurately speaking, it is sensing essence by being essence. It is the most direct way of perception. This capacity of touch, connected with the belly center, is very intimately connected with the embodiment of essence. It is the body center; its mode of perception is embodiment. Here, perception as touch, and being, are the same act. So this capacity is the most important one.

Sensing the Body is Essential to Inquiry

When you are inquiring, it is important to keep sensing your body – to stay in direct touch with its movements and sensations. This includes the numbness, the dullness, or the tensions you may feel. To ground your awareness in your bodily experience is important because your essential qualities are going to arise in the same place where you experience your feelings, emotions, and reactions. They are not going to appear above your head, they are going to arise within you. So your body is actually your entry into the mystery.

Staying with Sensations

Logically it's easy to see, but experientially it's a little difficult. Whatever sensation or whatever feeling you're experiencing, just realize that is what is here at this very second. Forget what it has to do with, in terms of causes and time and all that. Just perceive it as it is. If you're uncomfortable, there is discomfort. That's it. There's a sensation of sorts that feels like discomfort. It doesn’t matter why there’s discomfort. If there is discomfort, just stay with the
discomfort. Let your mind go. Don't listen to the sounds in your mind telling you it's because of this and that, urging you to react. No, just stay with it. If it's discomfort, it's discomfort. If it's ease, it's ease. And you could go even beyond the discomfort and notice the actual sensation that you call discomfort, or you call ease, or you call one thing or another. Stay with the bare consciousness, the bare sensation of whatever it is you're experiencing without reflecting on it. Whatever you think, however you feel emerges as instantaneously as the bare sensation. So don't get trapped by the thought or emotion or sensation. And if you realize that you get trapped by it, you realize that too emerges as spontaneously as everything else.

The Sense of Self Depends on Sensation

In the inner journey of the soul, we learn that the presence of consciousness is the basis of all experience. It is the basis of the experience of both ego and essence. In other words, the experience of ego is not possible without the presence of sensation. Since ego development produces the ego-self, with a sense of self and identity, we realize that the sense of self depends on sensation. Without sensation there is no inner content for the soul to have a sense of self or identity. How can the soul recognize herself when she cannot sense her inside? Even the experience of true identity, the point of existence and light, is presence, and hence dependent upon sensation.

Total Loss of Sensation in Apprehending the Absolute

In the process of dissolution of the conscious presence of the soul into the absolute, or in any experience of inquiring into the nature of the absolute, we discover that the last vestige of consciousness is a multimodal sensory one. As we see and feel the mysterious darkness of nonbeing we feel our presence as a kind of sensation. Our presence becomes simply the presence of simple sensation, sensing itself and the nonbeing of the absolute. As it apprehends the absolute it sees and senses it. The seeing becomes a seeing of darkness, which culminates in the total cessation of perception. The sensing becomes a sensing of absence of being, which culminates in the total cessation of sensation. As we learn to acclimate to the reality of the absolute, and experience it as our truth, we experience ourselves as its vast emptiness, as the infinity of the luminous night. We are then the absolute nonbeing witnessing the emergence of the forms of experience. When we look within we see nothing, just a darkness; and if the darkness dominates, there results either cessation or the extroversion of awareness to the witnessing of phenomena. Also, when we sense ourselves we find nothing, but this finding of nothing is the finding of no sensation. The absolute is so empty that it is empty of the sensation of
anything, including the sensation of nothing. This is quite an unusual state, for we are accustomed to having sensations. But here we are completely ourselves, totally in touch with our depths, absolutely intimate with our subjective experience, but experience no sensation. We are aware only of the absence of sensation, which is possible only because there is some remnant of sensation in parts of the body that creates a contrast.

Variations in Sensing Capacities Between Individuals

As we see, all of these familiar ego states have textures, tastes, and smells just like external physical objects do. And different people have developed different capacities for sensing these states. Some people use mostly the inner touch. Some people can perceive taste easily but haven’t developed their sense of smell much; others develop smell to an unusual degree. But the development of a given subtle capacity has a direct relation to the corresponding physical capacity. For example, people who develop a fine appreciation for different kinds of food and a discrimination of their subtle differences can develop the inner capacity of taste more easily than the other subtle capacities, and more readily than individuals who are not so attuned to their taste buds. The same is true with smell and with touch. But this is not so in every case. Some people who are great connoisseurs of food and wine, for example, never develop the capacity for inner taste. The subtle capacity of inner seeing is centered in the forehead, and it has many varieties and degrees. When it expresses the level of development of the Diamond Guidance, you realize what I call the diamond eye—objective sight. Just as our physical capacity to see has an extensive range, so does our inner seeing. The range of inner seeing can be so wide that you can see your own inner state or the inner state of somebody else. So for example, you feel the
strength of the Red Essence, and you can also see fiery red, or a flame, or liquid fire, or lava. When the Green latifa is present, you can see emerald green or an actual emerald—a shaped, faceted, beautiful emerald of consciousness.

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