Chapter 9: The Western Way
My Analysis of Man
The typical esoteric analysis of human existence that is found in the classic mystical and yogic traditions of India is as follows: The soul (or essential self) is different from the body and exists independent of mental and physical states. Observe that no matter what arises as a state of body or mind, whether during waking, dreaming, or sleeping consciousness, you are the witness of it. Therefore, awaken to the presumption of existence as soul or essential self, free by virtue of being independent of body and mind. Likewise, just as the soul or essential self exists within the body-mind, the Infinite Transcendental Divine Reality exists within the soul. Enter into independence as the essential being, and worship or surrender to the Divine within it.
The problem with this analysis – which is a technique of salvation, or liberation of the soul from this world – is that it is a strategy, not merely or simply a direct intuition of the Truth. The entire consideration and process is an expression of an intention that, from the beginning, is primarily concerned with experience as a problem to be escaped-this rather than the expression of a mood that is awakened to the Reality or Truth that is obvious even in the moment of experience.
There is an awakening and a process that develops on the basis of simple and direct consideration of experience. That is the consideration that I have called the Way of Divine Ignorance, or the Western Way. It too is liberating, but it is not strategic in nature. Therefore, it is not to be identified with the analysis or technique that arises in the oriental mode. Nor is it a species of the preference for separation from the experience of body-mind or the effort of exclusive inversion toward inwardness.
The analysis of human existence that naturally arises in the consideration of this Western Way is quite the opposite of the classic oriental or Eastern analysis. In the oriental analysis, the soul or essential self is conceived to be within and separate from the body-mind. In my analysis, the body-mind is conceived to be within (or an inherent modification of) the soul or total self. Just so, in the oriental analysis, the Divine or Transcendental Reality is conceived to be within the soul or self. In my analysis, the total self is conceived to be within (or an inherent modification of) the Transcendental Divine Reality.
Of course, variations on the classic oriental analysis of human experience can be found in the many traditions of the East. Some seem to have a more positive view of psycho-physical experience, or at least a sense that such experience is not to be merely cut off. Others do not have a notion of the Divine within the soul or essential self, but they consider the essential self to be the Transcendental Reality (or Self). But all typically oriental paths are tied in one fashion or another to the preference for strategic inversion, or an orientation which is based in the prior sense of psycho-physical existence as a problem to be solved.
My analysis begins only after the problem or the problem consciousness is itself overcome in the direct understanding of our experiential position – which is not inherently one of knowledge, dilemma, or doubt, but one of Ignorance, always already and totally free of the binding power of experience in limitation. My analysis does not seek strategic separation of soul or essential self from its empirical conditions. Rather, my analysis proceeds from an understanding of the prior freedom of existence even under the conditions of the body-mind.
The Western Way is, therefore, not a conventional technique of salvation (or liberation from inherent bondage). The Western Way is simply the Way of Life, or the process of Man as Man is.
We exist in Ignorance under the conditions of a universal pattern of psycho-physical conditions, or spontaneous modifications of the Transcendental Reality (in which the total self inheres). Once this is understood, the process of human existence becomes one of equanimity and ecstasy, or self-transcendence within a progressive school or ordeal of Life-positive adaptation and growth.
Scientific Proof – Table of Contents