We are not prohibited from making observations about experience. Obviously it lends itself to that phenomenon – talking about what shows up, judging it, interacting with it, ignoring it, et cetera.
But this is not the same as being outside experience in order to evaluate it as a whole.
Imagine I am on the dance floor dancing. I can talk about the swirl of bodies, the mirror ball overhead, the pulsating music but I cannot simultaneously be floating high above the dance floor perceiving it as a whole.
When I am in the experience, I am ipso facto perceiving only a fragment of it.
Experience is local. We can say a lot about our localized experience, and doing so can be fun, interesting and even helpful, but we are by definition precluded from standing apart from that experience and offering a global or absolute analysis of it.
It seems like we can do this, because experience is whole unto itself. The fragment always appears as if it is all there is. But no matter how convincing, it is always only partial.
It’s important not to conflate the sense of allness that the fragment implies with “oneness” itself. It’s true that when we give attention to experience it is seamless and vivid and its boundaries cannot be reached. It has no apparent edges. In that sense, it is everything. There is nothing else.
But in another sense, it is the ultimate trap because we can’t get outside it in order to say what it is or where it comes from. It’s impossible to be on the outside of experience – if we are experiencing something, then we are by definition “in” experience.
So what is the source of experience? Of beingness? What is it in truth?
We can’t say. Maybe it’s just consciousness. Maybe it’s God. Maybe it’s just the way the human brain works. Maybe it seems mysterious but it’s actually not.
If we can’t say, then what we are left with is uncertainty. And we don’t really like that. We resist uncertainty. But does it really help to pretend that what is uncertain is certain? We can tell ourselves it is certain – and be very convincing and persuasive – but underneath we’ll know we’re lying.
So there is this experience – this sense of being – and it’s undeniable (because you would have to be in order to deny being) – but what it is we can’t say in a definitive final way. Maybe it’s oneness but maybe it’s just what life is: a bunch of bodies temporarily sharing space, trying to be kind and patient, succeeding and failing, and so forth.
The point is to give attention to direct experience, not to our ideas and opinions about that experience. For the moment, those are distractions. What is interesting is examining being/experience as it is given to us, as it appears to us right here, right now.
The suggestion is that to the extent we can reach some conclusion – via rigorous philosophical inquiry, poetic musings along the lines of Barks’ bastardized Rumi, spiritual platitudes culled from popular texts like the bible or A Course in Miracles – then we are not present to what is given.
Instead, we are present to a translative substitute of our own making because the reality is too terrifying to behold on its own merits. It’s not so terrifying actually, but it does seem to be, and seems is still what makes the ongoing drama go.