Friends, one way to become mobiused is to flip your usual sense of matter and consciousness inside/out. That is, most of us take the material world that we seem to perceive with our senses as the real world, or the only one worthy of our attention. Everything else – dreams, hopes, our very experience of awakening in the morning, in short, our subjective experience – is “just” in our heads, even though most of us spend our entire lives there, listening and responding to the chattering autobiographical self. A great and practically unknown sage, philosopher and mathematician, Franklin Merrell-Wolff, articulated the most compressed counter strategy to this imbalance of inside and outside that mobius has ever come across with the aphorism
What the frack did Wolff, the sage of Lone Pine California, mean by this?
In some sense, he didn’t “mean” anything, but was instead offering a recipe for us to experience a figure/ground reversal in our reality. Wolff, drawing on his mathematical training, seemed to be looking for the most axiomatic and heuristic way to summarize the “Five Realizations” he had. In the tradition of the Perennial Philosophy, Wolff used the language of “awakening” and “enlightenment” for his path, and the Five Fold Way he blazed also follows the “stairway to heaven” or “ladder” motif common across traditions, whereby one moves from realization to realization rather than – Shazam! – getting There all in one go, wherever “There” is and whatever “go” means. “Consciousness-without-an-object-is” asserts the reality of our subjective experience before it has any content whatsoever. That is, Wolff was urging us to engage what he called our faculty of “introception” – our ability to use our minds to focus on our minds – and, when we do so, we can see that beyond any particular thought or consciousness, we can perceive in stillness consciousness itself, “devoid” of any object or content. If we behold consciousness with consciousness, Wolff is teaching us, we will perceive that not only is consciousness part of reality, it is the very basis of reality, That from which All That Is emerges. Here Wolff was very close to the teaching of Ramana Maharshi, who taught the eloquence of silence, where Reality emerges in the silencing of egoic thought.
This practice of introception requires us to engage in acts of stillness and surrender. We crowd out the very real radiant layer of ourselves with our constant soundtrack of One Thing After Another, what the scholar of Tibetan Buddhism Alexander Berzin has translated as the “fleeting stains” that obscure our Buddha Nature. Luke 17:21 reminds us that “The Kingdom of Heaven is within”, and Wolff teaches us how to look for it in acts of introception by reminding us that said Kingdom very much IS. Wolff helps us counter act our cultural bias against accepting the existence and therefore reality of our consciousness by asserting its existence in a rather magic phrase akin to “I AM”. The philosopher J.L. Austin dubbed these self dubbing dubbings “performative utterances”, meaning that the action of saying or otherwise uttering them gives them an aspect of reality, as when the Book of Genesis begins “In the Beginning”, in the beginning.
And there has never been a better time to behold Consciousness-without-an-object than Now, for it is not accessible at any other time than the Present Moment. And this particular Present Moment, and all that follow from it in one continuous Now, is particularly graced for would-be introceptors because the Franklin Merrell Wolff Archives are now online and available here:
If you create a free account, pdfs and audio files aplenty are available from this remarkably lucid philosopher and teacher, a man so insightful that he was a teacher even to the great John Lilly. Get mobiused with FMW!