God As Consciousness Without An Object
From Simulations of God, 1975
Within the last two years I have come to know a man and his work who run counter to my own simulations and by whom I am influenced beyond previous influences. In 1936, Franklin Merrell-Wolff wrote a journal that was later published as Pathways Through to Space. In 1970 he wrote another book called The Philosophy of Consciousness-Without-an-Object.1In studying his works and the chronicle of his personal experience I arrived at some places new for me.
Wolff had been through the Vedanta training, through the philosophy of Shankara; he knew the philosophy of Kant and others of the Western world; and he spent twenty-five years working to achieve a state of Nirvana, Enlightenment, Samadhi, and so forth. In 1936 he succeeded in this transformation and with varying success maintained it over the subsequent years. He is an amazingly peaceful man now in his eighties. Meeting him, I felt the influence of his transformation, of his recognitions, of some sort of current flowing through me. I felt a peace which I have not felt in my own searchings; a certain peculiar kind of highly indifferent contentment took place, and yet the state was beyond contentment, beyond the usual human happiness, beyond bliss, beyond pleasure. This is the state that he calls the state of “High Indifference.” He experienced this as his third level of recognition, beyond Nirvana, beyond Bliss. His perceptions in this state are recounted in The Philosophy of Consciousness-Without-an-Object.
In his chapter “Aphorisms on Consciousness-Without-an-Object” Merrell-Wolff expresses his discoveries in a series of sutra-like sentences. The first one is: “Consciousness-without-an-object is.” The culmination of the series is that Consciousness-without-an-object is SPACE. This is probably the most abstract and yet the most satisfying way of looking at the universe which I have come across anywhere. If one pursues this type of thinking and feeling and gets into the introceptive spaces, the universe originates on a ground, a substrate of Consciousness-Without-an-Object: the basic fabric of the universe beyond space, beyond time, beyond topology, beyond matter, beyond energy, is Consciousness. Consciousness without any form, without any reification, without any realization.
In a sense, Merrell-Wolff is saying that the Star Maker is Consciousness-Without-an-Object. He does not give hints to how objects are created out of Consciousness-Without-an-Object. He does not give hints to how an individual consciousness is formed out of Consciousness-Without-an-Object. The details of these processes were not his primary interest. His primary interest apparently was in arriving at a basic set of assumptions upon which all else can be built. In this sense he is like Einstein, bringing the relativity factor into the universe out of Newton’s absolutes.
If we are a manifestation of Consciousness-Without-an-Object, and if, as Wolff says, we can go back into Consciousness-Without-an-Object, then my rather pessimistic view that we are merely noisy animals is wrong. If there is some way that we can work our origins out of the basic ground of the universe, bypassing our ideas that the evolutionary process generates us by generating our brains—if there is some contact, some connection between us and Consciousness-Without-an-Object and the Void, and if we can make that contact, that connection known to ourselves individually, as Wolff claims, then there is possible far more hope and optimism than I ever believed in the past. If what he says is true, we have potential far beyond what I have imagined we could possibly have. If what he says is true, we can be and realize our being as part of the Star Maker.
It may be that Wolff, like all the rest of us, is doing an overvaluation of his own abstractions. It may be that he is generating, i.e., self-metaprogramming, states of his own mind and those of others in which the ideals of the race are reified as thought objects, as programs, as realities, as states of consciousness. It may be that this is all we can do. If this is all we can do, maybe we had better do it—and see if there is anything beyond this by doing it.
If by getting into a state of High Indifference, of Nirvana, Samadhi, or Satori, then one can function as a teaching example to others and it may be that if a sufficiently large number of us share this particular set of metaprograms we may be able to survive our own alternative dichotomous spaces of righteous wrath. If righteous wrath must go as a nonsurviving program for the human species, then it may be that High Indifference is a reasonable alternative.
Setting up a hierarchy of states of consciousness with High Indifference at the top, Nirvana next, Satori next, Samadhi next, and Ananda at the bottom is an interesting game, especially when one becomes capable of moving through all these spaces and staying a sufficient time in each to know it.
This may be a better game than killing our neighbors because they do not believe in our simulations of God. At least those who espouse these states claim that these states are above any other human aspiration; that once one has experienced them, he is almost unfit for wrath, for pride, for arrogance, for power over others, for group pressure exerted either upon oneself or upon others. One becomes fit only for teaching these states to those who are ready to learn them. The bodhisattva vow is no longer necessary for those who have had direct experience. One becomes the bodhisattva without the vow. One becomes Buddha without being Buddha.
One becomes content with the minimum necessities for survival on the planetside trip; one cuts back on his use of unnecessary articles—machines, gadgets, and devices. He no longer needs motion pictures, television, dishwashers, or other luxuries. One no longer needs much of what most people value above all else. One no longer needs the excitement of war. One no longer needs to be a slave to destructive thoughts or deeds. One no longer needs to organize.
Krishnamurti’s story of the Devil is pertinent here. Laura Huxley furnished me with a copy of it. The Devil was walking down the street with a friend, and they saw a man pick something up, look at it carefully and put it in his pocket. The friend said to the Devil, “What’s that?” The Devil said, “He has found a bit of the truth.” The friend said, “Isn’t that bad for your business?” The Devil said, “No, I am going arrange to have him organize it.”
So it behooves us not to organize either the methods or the states which Wolff describes so well. It is better not to try to devise groups, techniques, churches, places, or other forms of human organization to encourage, foster, or force upon others these states. If these states are going to do anything with humanity, they must “creep by contagion,” as it were, from one individual to the next.
God as Consciousness-Without-an-Object, if real, will be ap-perceived and introcepted by more and more of us as we turn toward the inner realities within each of us. If God as Consciousness-Without-an-Object inhabits each of us, we eventually will see this. We will become universally aware. We will realize consciousness as being everywhere and eternal. We will realize that Consciousness-Without-an-Object in each of us is prejudiced and biased because it has linked up with a human brain.
Merrell-Wolff, Franklin, Pathways Through to Space, and The Philosophy of Consciousness-Without-an-Object, both New York: Julian Press, 1973-