An inspiring conversation in the comments of a recent Facebook post.
"If experiencer and experienced can't be separated in a non-dual point of view, does this mean consciousness IS matter and matter IS consciousness? Why then is consciousness often regarded as the ultimate reality, and not matter?"
When we say ‘experience needs an experiencer,’ I would say that in and of itself that sentence implies inseparability of the two, therefore ‘oneness’ or ‘not-twoness’.
It seems like we speak of two (and it can be misunderstood like that), but it’s just semantics and the limitation of language.
So yes, you could say indeed that consciousness = matter, and vice versa.
However, these semantics can actually become an obstacle for some time when it leads to misunderstanding and here begins the answer to the question, ‘why consciousness is regarded as ultimate reality and not matter’.
What happens is that the seeker at some stage begin to subconsciously associate the concept of consciousness with some kind of particular form or experience again, usually an experience of void or nothingness. And who could blame them, when in teachings so often is spoken of the formless?
The seeker begins to believe that they need to experience nothingness or void to be free or know the truth.
They think that to be present means to experience some kind of transcendental haze.
Now, the spiritual bypassing and self-denial has begun.
But how could one ever be aware of awareness?
How can an eye look at itself, or an ear hear itself?
How can we be free at all times if we need to alter our experience into a hazy bliss - that we have began to associate with enlightenment?
If we think non-duality and enlightenment are about this, we have lost the plot for a little while - it’s a stepping stone on the path - yet we have to continue exploring.
First by remembering the initial reason for exploring non-duality; it was not to end up in philosophical studies, or have a concept of reality - it was because we we’re driven by our desire to end suffering and desire to be happy, because we believed that this is possible by realizing the ultimate reality.
So, to do this, we need to indeed know consciousness as the ultimate reality, but not as a formless void, not even as a particular experience;
We get to know it by recognizing our true self as an all or nothing-experience; something much vaster than what we thought we were (mind-body), impossible to catch, not bound by anything.
So as an experiential recognition, we see and feel how we are not limited to the body and mind that we have been solely identifying with our entire lives. We are the ocean of experience around it too.
That all-encompassing ocean of experience is the ultimate reality of consciousness.
It is not a transcendent haze; it is the inescapable and greater ground of our being. We can either be stuck in our head and identification, or be one with it all, without resistance.
And to the question ‘does matter happen inside of consciousness’… I would say it is not incorrect - but - it could imply a dualism or some kind of seperability, which again could lead to confusion.
Maybe it’s safer to say: experience of matter happens as a portion of consciousness.