Session 57: Awareness of Awareness and More on Catatonia-Inducing Materialism

B. Alan Wallace, 18 Nov 2010

The point of awareness of awareness is NOT to prove that there’s no one who is aware because there is. Not finding any-specific-one who controls the attention and concluding that we don’t exist (and therefore no one else exists) is a nihilistic, not the Buddhist view. Unfortunately, it is exactly that close facsimile of the Madhyamika view that is most often picked up and allied with by the archetypical scientist materialist Alan likes to debate with. “We are just our brains. We are just the summary of our parts. We are our thoughts/cognition” are simple statements that come out of people’s observation to one particular part of the human experience, seeing there is no one there who’s in charge and concluding there’s no one at all. Their disastrous consequences come out of the implied refutation of free will and moral responsibility. Yet, we do make choices or else one couldn’t become a neuroscientist. And there IS a perceiver. The opposite statement begs the question of “who concludes I don’t exist?”
The practice of Dharma (and meditation in particular) is not to refute free will, and plunge us into an existential depression. We can get that, free of charge, by simply having “faith” the materialistic view. The practice of Shamatha (and especially awareness of awareness) is an invitation to investigate HOW we, our perceptions, and our awareness of them exist in relation to each other. So that’s what we did in the guided session that followed. Enjoy!

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