The essence of our ignorance of the facets of being can be explained by the 'foreground/background phenomenon' (see for example the picture above).
Put simply: if life is like watching a movie, we're so engrossed in the pictures that we've never actually noticed the screen. And it is the screen that is our deepest self.
We are so obsessed with (apparent) objects that we do not notice the context in which they appear: our own Awareness-in-Itself. This 'Transcendent Witness' lacks content itself but infuses all our existence, experiencing everything in the five senses and our 'conceptual energy' (thought) without being affected by any of it. Ever.
We also fail to notice a range of other realities: such as the fact that before the conceptual mind 'recognises' separate objects, the sense fields in their 'primordial', 'originary' nature are actually undifferentiated, unified masses of energy, not inherently divided into objects and making no comment about their meaning or significance, including whether or not they are 'good' or 'bad'.
There are many other aspects of our existence at the level of Being and Awareness-in-Itself that we simply fail to notice.
The preoccupation with objects begins in infancy when our parents start 'pointing out' (or more accurately: 'labelling') different things around us.
They also initiate the process of generating value-judgements of 'good' and 'bad', by teaching us that some objects are 'desirable' (and to be obtained) and others are 'undesirable' (and to be avoided).
Thus begins a lifetime project of desire and avoidance.
In order to fulfill this project, we (as individuals but also whole societies) attempt to understand how various objects interact with each other: to discover 'rules' about how 'the universe' works. Our theories range in predictive power from science to very outlandish views with very little relationship to manifestation. (No theory is ever perfectly predictive, because of the massive complexity produced by interdependent origination.)
The conceptual mind (or really: conceptual energy) is not 'bad': it has created science, technology, medicine, art and is what makes us capable of expressing love (though love itself is actually inherent in Being ). It is just that we need to understand its specific place and role within even greater aspects of being, which also reveals its limitations.
Whether the whole project of desire-and-avoidance should be abandoned is up for argument. (For example the path of Theravada Buddhism is based on this premise)
Regardless though, the conceptual energy's continual process of object-'recognition', value-judgements, the project of seeking/avoidance and the 'proliferated thought' that results from all this does deeply obscure the facets of being.
That is, those fundamental aspects of our existence that are nevertheless constantly 'in the background' or (more accurately) 'throughout' everything. Like the screen making it possible for us to view the movie we're engrossed in.
Failure to experience the Facets already deprives us of a plethora of positive qualities of existence which equate to power, love, openness, security, fullness, peace and contentment. (Benefits of Realisation)
However, without access to the facets that reveal the true place and limitations of conceptual 'knowledge', it's virtually inevitable we'll run into problems. It should already be obvious 'objectification' can only ever capture a part of the 'whole' that is being - so it is inherently limited.
Worse though, objectification naturally tends to lead to a range of false beliefs. Just one is the belief that you as an individual have a nature that is fixed, permanent or truly-definable in some way (that you have a solid self ). Another is that it's possible to produce one set of rules (an ideology or system) that will always work - for anything, from life as a whole to a single task. Both of these beliefs have caused untold suffering throughout history.
Gaining direct experiential understanding of the facets of being not only gives us access to all the positive qualities of the facets, but also dissolves many of our negative experiences, partly by dissolving these false assumptions.
The graph below shows how the various facets dissolve the assumptions that cause many of the negative experiences we face in life.
Realisations but also transformation and skills
To achieve their full spiritual potential the individual also needs to:
1) Attain greater mastery over their whole psycho-physical system by:
- developing certain skills
- transforming their conceptual and bodily energy so that it's lighter and more positive
This is done with specific practices for:
● transforming the conceptual energy in such a way that it produces a more positive (and ethical) way of being
● awareness and clarity, usually achieved through some kind of 'insight' meditation
● recognition-release-dissolution of distracting energies of body and mind
2) Live in a way that is 'aligned with' the existential reality of the facets of being - both before realisation and after. In essence this means maintaining an ethical intention to avoid harm and ideally to create benefit for all beings. This is because the very nature of the universe is connectedness / union infused with cause and effect.
Merely reading and 'understanding' these realisations intellectually in no way constitutes enlightenment. Only those in Division I can be attained by intellectual reflection alone (with the exception of 'The Great Silence'). The others can only be attained through direct meditative experience using Awareness-In-Itself. This is the deepest faculty beings possess and is far more fundamental and all-encompassing than conceptual thought.
Understanding of the real nature
of experiences and objects
● Interdependence (1.1): The interdependence, connectedness and 'inter-influence' of all form
● Insubstantiality (1.2): the lack of any solid form
● Undifferentiatedness (1.3): the fact that any realm of form is not inherently divided into separate objects but arises as one vast undifferentiated field. It is our 'conceptual energy' - the labelling, thinking mind, that picks out different parts of this field and labels them as separate 'things'.
● The Great Silence, or Raw Non-conceptual Experience (1.4): the lack of inherent significance of any form, including all values such as 'positive' or 'negative', 'good' or 'bad', 'beautiful or ugly', 'desirable or undesirable'. Form in itself says nothing about itself. It has no labels.
● Karma: the dynamics of cause and effect, 'internally' and 'externally'
One massive implication arising from the above is that nothing with form can be perfectly predicted or controlled. This means no rule we make to predict the outcome of anything (from small personal matters to the nature of matter) is absolute - all ideology is contingent. Even science admits its limitations, via 'the Problem of Induction'.
Experiencing your own most fundamental, indivisible nature
● Awareness-in-itself: you are Awareness-In-Itself: your experiences of the five senses and your 'conceptual energy' merely appears within the vast space of awareness which you truly are
● The 'Self-Contained Sphere' (2.1): you are the 'divine beholder' - omniscient within your own realm. The dream-world and 'this world' (indeed all worlds) are equally merely experiences of The One. That you are. This is a rare realisation which the teacher of the Facets of Being has experienced first-hand. It provides unsurpassed independence, freedom, courage, and an unshakeable humble 'self-esteem' way beyond 'superior' and 'inferior'. If there was one enlightenment that could be called 'Supreme Enlightenment' - this would be it, because of the empowerment it provides; its capacity to more quickly lead to the others; and its capacity to make certainty in the veracity of the other enlightenments unshakeable. In fact, this enlightenment takes the other enlightenments to a whole new 'level' that would more properly be described as a different 'dimension' of being. A poetic description: before, you thought you were a small being in a vast, mysterious threatening universe. Now you realise the universe is within you. It is only your experience.
● Transcendence / Independence (2.2): Awareness-in-itself is capable of experiencing any form without its capacity to reflect form being affected in any way
● Emptiness (2.3) : this pure Awareness is utterly empty of content in itself. One result of this is that it - you - can never be truly sullied. This also reveals the Great Silence from the 'side' of consciousness. Awareness-in-itself experiences without imputing concepts or significance. It experiences everything in its silent, meaning-free primordial simplicity. This includes its experience of the very conceptual energy (labelling and thoughts) that does impute significance. This is also what makes it possible for one to experience life as a flow state free of heavy conceptualisation.
● Openness/Choicelessness (2.4) : Awareness is utterly open and choicelessly experiences all form that arises, without blocking
Ultimately we are pure, unstainable, independent, unassailable, immortal, all-pervading and self-contained. Yet paradoxically we are utterly open and vulnerable through our utterly non-dual union with all form encountered in each moment - including even our own flow of conceptuality.
Experiencing the true relationship between yourself and the universe
● The not-self of the person and phenomena: no aspect of your existence has any solid form, including that which you normally regard as 'you' and that which you normally regard as 'the universe' (We do not categorise this as a facet in itself but rather a summary of a few facets. We include it because it is useful)
● Subjectivity (3.1): the lack of any truly objective form(s)
● Non-duality (3.2): in every present moment you are utterly non-separate from all form that is arising, and this can be experienced as direct nondual union with that specific form when the conceptual energy we normally call 'object-recognition' and 'thought' relaxes
● Existentially non-separate but functionally independent: this very rare realisation resolves many paradoxes, and will be a powerful revelation for the 'advanced practitioner'. It reveals that you as Awareness-in-itself have absolute functional independence from all realms, while at the same time, existentially ('physically') you are utterly non-separate ('one') with any realm you are experiencing, and existence as a whole. Awareness's function of knowing-experiencing is self-existent, transcendent and beyond change, yet existentially it can never be separated from the rest of existence (all form). (We do not categorise this as a facet in itself but include it because it is useful)
Experiencing the nature of yourself and all realms as one indivisible whole: Being
● Wholeness (4.1): Ultimately you and any realm you are currently experiencing are one indivisible whole
● Fullness (4.2): this whole is utterly complete, effulgent with blissful energy. There is no greater satisfaction than this.
● Plasticity and Infinite Variety (4.3): Being - the indivisible union of Awareness and any (necessarily form-) realm is like a blazing fire. Awareness-in-itself is like the heat of the fire and form is like the shape of the fire. Like a fire, being can never be 'frozen' into one fixed shape. It is infinitely plastic; it manifests as an infinite variety of experiences/forms, whilst forever maintaining its unity. Indeed: even (the moment of) realisation is, in the end, just an experience.
● WYSIWYG / 'Suchness' (4.4): 'What You See Is What You Get'. The only thing you ever need to concern yourself with ultimately is the present moment. The ultimate truth that you can find about form, or about any form-realm, is only and simply your own present-moment raw experience of form. In the case of human beings, that is the currently-presenting colour-shape, sound, sensation, smell and the mere form of the conceptual energy (object-labelling and 'thought') currently presenting, not any 'truth' it proclaims within its contents. (Clearly, awareness-in-itself is the 'medium' of all this - but since it is utterly transparent and does not act, we do not need to 'deal' with it). The realisation of 'The Self-Contained Sphere' (see above) provides certainty that the only thing you can ever experience in any realm is what is appearing to you (as you) right now. There is nothing 'behind' or 'beyond' this. If there was, then that would only and simply become your present-moment in the future. This provides utter certainty about the most fundamental (indivisible) nature of all realms, profound relaxation and powerful immunity all non-organic mental illness arising from misperception of reality (e.g. psychosis)
● Isness (4.5): reality IS. Whatever is present cannot be denied or resisted because it already IS. You already live within reality. This IS reality - whether you label it as good or bad, desirable or undesirable. There is no other, you have never stepped out of it, you will always experience it directly. Ultimately meditation can know reality but not change its ultimate nature.
● The ocean of energy (4.6): you as Awareness-in-itself, and the field of energy of any realm (such as our 'physical world' experienced as the five senses) in any one moment merge and inter-penetrate each other indivisibly, in the same way the space of the sky inter-penetrates the clouds. There is not a jot of separation. This can be experienced as a vast ocean of blissful energy. One of the many results is a deep sense, understanding and feeling of being enfolded safely and lovingly in the bosom of 'The Great Mother'.