Several months ago, I had a meditation experience the likes of which I’d never had before. The instructor advised me to take note of the feeling of being a subject looking at an object. He then said, “look for the one who is looking. Turn awareness upon itself, and look for the subject who is perceiving the object.”
In less than a flicker, my feeling of being a self within my skull vanished, and I was the vast circle of consciousness itself which contained the entire river of experience. I was inseparable from the sounds, thoughts, physical sensations, and visual stimuli because I am the consciousness that generates all experience. I was no longer separate from the trees I could see outside my window because I am the consciousness that orchestrates the visual experience of trees in the first place.
Words fail to articulate this experience. It occurred for only a few seconds, but as I’ve continued to practice non-dual meditation since these moments of awakening are becoming clearer. They are like cracks in the tunnel through which I can see the clear, blue sky above. Seeing that clear blue sky of consciousness – pressing myself up against the fundamental mystery of being, again and again – is changing how I think about, well, everything.
Everything about me that is recognizably me: my memories, my personality quirks, my minority experience as a gay man, my traumas, and fears are all contained within the constant, unchanging, and brilliant sphere of consciousness. Consciousness, not its contents, is the most fundamental thing about me. More than that, I can’t shake this feeling – it might be an article of faith as much as it is a fact of experience – that other people, despite our differences, are just like me at the most basic level of the mind.
The heretical, mystical insight I’ve come to as a gay man is that there is no such thing as gay consciousness. Being gay has altered every part of how I live and experience the world, and yet such experience is still only contained within consciousness. Consciousness remains unchanged by whatever experience I might have – it is the unchangeable container for all that changes within me. It is undefined by what it generates.
Likewise, at the most fundamental level of the mind, there is no straight consciousness, trans consciousness, black consciousness, or white consciousness. There is only the vast, unchanging bedrock of human consciousness, which we all share despite our differences.
This fact of universal humanity strikes me as the only solid foundation for social activism. Diversity is only sustainable on the solid rock of fundamental sameness. And we are, truly, the same. There is only consciousness.
But that’s just me. What do you think? Please leave a comment below and share your thoghts. I love hearing back from my audience.
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2 thoughts on “There is Only Consciousness: On Minority Experience and Universal Humanity”
Fascinating, isn’t it? I like to say that consciousness is the hardware and lived experience is like the programming/software/OS. The revolution comes when consciousness realizes it can “hack” the programming.
It really is fascinating. And once you experience it, it changes everything.