Category Archives: Consciousness-Without-An-Object
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Now friends, if you have been following along with this extraordinary, One time opportunity to access your very own transhuman cephscope in compelling acts of introception Once Upon a Time Called “Right Now!”, you might be wondering just what It is that can be glimpsed through said cephscope. After all, even early users of the telescope had a hard time convincing their brethren that by pointing the thing at the cosmos, anything, like the Galiean moons, could be glimpsed. So you can be forgiven, even encouraged, in your skepticism. Franklin Merrell Wolff, whose terminological technology of “introception” functions as the very software of the cephscope, offers the already mentioned and highly compressed answer: “Consciousness-without-an-object-is.”
Now this is a definition that is at once operating through negation and affirmation. If we behold the cephscope and introcept, FMW tells us, “we” behold no objects whatsoever. Now, to those of us moving freely about the world of matter, this may seem like nada at all. But this Nothing, FMW insists, is hardly lacking: objects are the very interruption of consciousness-without -an-object, like that pesky country station that keeps crowding out the songs you try to stream from your Ipod over your car radio. Here FMW is close to another relatively unknown American sage, Alfred Pulyan, who remarks that the ego, on the prowl for objects, is the “penny that blots out the sun.” Tiny, insignificant, not worth much, and in the fracking way. Like a penny, the ego can be eminently useful, but it is by no means all-that-is, and often blocks our view of reality.
But recall the affirmation that goes along with the negation of being “without-object”: For “Consciousness-without-an-object”, despite being without objects, and blocked by our ordinary consciousness-with-objects, most definitely IS. This Isness can be encountered only by focusing consciousness away from the world of objects. We might, for example, look beyond the planets, the stars, the galaxies, parasecs and light years of stuff, back to the Big Bang, if we find such a model useful. Beyond the cosmos of objects and its 13.7 million year drama, we just might glimpse consciousness-without-an-object. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word as of yet had no object.”
But in mobius’s limited experience, the cephscope works better when the mind focuses back onto the mind rather than the world of objects. Indeed the cephscope can be part of a way of realizing there is an “inner” landscape as well as an “outer” one in this here mobiused world. And what one beholds is not this or that, but That, the condition of the appearance of any objects whatsoever. It is appropriate that FMW refers to this historically “divine” thought with the Greek term noos. FMW tells us that if we introcept, we get our noesis on:
“Now for terms, the word which best fits this type of knowledge is a term derived from Greek sources; it is the word „noetic‟. We‟ll proceed now to a consideration of the meaning of this term. The word noetic is derived from the substantive form noos—a highly important and perhaps the most important philosophic term in Greek usage. It is to be found employed by the pre-Socratic Greek thinkers as well as by Plato and Aristotle themselves, and by the post-Platonic thinkers such as Plotinus.” (FMW, An Abstract of the Philosophy Part 13 of 14)
Why believe FMW? You’re just going to have to take a look through the cephscope yourself, because if “consciousness-without-an-object-is”, it IS a consciousness-without-words, beheld in the eloquence of silence. Very quietly now, in stillness and surrrender, just say yes to the noösphere!
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!