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#2804 - Tuesday, May 1, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz   

The Nondual Highlights -    

A back-of-the-book index for One: Essential Writings on Nonduality is now available online and may be downloaded for printing:      

An Introduction to Awareness  

by James M. Corrigan  

Corrigan uses the language and thought structure of philosophy, yet is clear enough so that people not usually drawn to philosophical writings can understand. Corrigan is a doctoral student in philosophy at Stony Brook University in New York. He sounds like the kind of teacher you wish you had. Listen to one of his podcasts:  

Corrigan's book may be ordered through Amazon at the following link:  

Here is an excerpt from his website, which is at Also at the website are essays and more podcasts.  

“An Introduction to Awareness” presents a non-dualistic philosophical view of Reality that asserts
that only Awareness is real and that the whole of Reality can be conceptually thought of in terms
of immanent and transcendent aspects of Awareness. In this system Awareness is not equivalent to
consciousness; rather it is the immanent aspect of Awareness that is the presence for
consciousness, and the transcendent aspect of Reality – the existents of the world all around us –
is what consciousness is of.

In this system what is real is distinguished from that which exists by showing that everything that
we are conscious of exists but is not real since it is contingent upon the presence of awareness
for its existence. Yet this is not what it immediately seems to be, as this is not an idealism in
which the existents of the world are merely figments in our minds; rather, the existents of the
world are the pure activity of Awareness. And this includes our thoughts.

In contrast to those who hold that only the physical is real, this book shows that it is
transcendent Awareness that is the physical – the physical structures of the brain, the neurons and
the chemical and electrical signaling between synapses, the nerve impulses that accompany the
physical brushing of a hand across a surface, that hand and that surface, all of which Awareness
is. Awareness is not only the tree that bows in the wind, it is the wind, and it is the bowing. It
is the Sun pouring its heart out. Awareness is the source of its own energetic display – its
omneity. It is all these things, and the form of all of these can be perceived and described by us,
yet possibly never understood, because Awareness is beyond description – only its display, which we
can perceive and comprehend directly, is.

Rather than leading to a solipsistic account of reality in which we are each lost in our own inner
world separate from each other, it is shown through an analysis of consciousness that it is an
error on our part to conceive of Awareness as being individuated. We make that error because we
conflate the objects of consciousness – what we are conscious of – with the presumed subject of
consciousness – that which has the consciousness – within a pre-cognitive view of a materialist
form of reality consisting of separate physical things. This pre-cognitive view already shapes our
experiences, forming a world filled with separate things, including ourselves.

Proceeding from the one necessarily true and undeniable fact – that we are present to our
experiences – a new understanding of reality is developed that is neither a materialistic nor an
idealistic conceptualization.

One of the strongest arguments against the inclusion of anything other than material substance as a
fundamental aspect of Reality is that Science is so effective in bending the world to human desires
and it seems to require Reality to be completely mechanistic and material. Yet, among the many
problems that Science has not been able to explain is how it is that we are present as an awareness
of all that which we perceive, feel, and think. It is even at a loss to explain how the intuitive
insights that drive scientific discovery arise.

Those that seek answers find themselves surrounded by the wisdom of the ages, whether mystical in
origin, insightful in nature, or blissful in practice; written down in innumerable books that are
cherished by many different traditions who argue nuances between themselves. Yet, they all tell us
the same thing: Reality is a non-dual wholeness that encompasses both awareness and being as one.
Yet, it is hard for us to see how this can be so given how we understand reality today. Today, we
see the world as science sees it, and thus the wisdom of these books remains trapped in another
time and in other cultures, and we struggle to find our own understanding of a non-dualistic
Reality that we can hardly even comprehend anymore.

Whatever helps us to find that understanding, whatever makes us fertile ground for insight,
benefits us. This book has a single purpose: to expediently loosen the hold that the Physicalist
view of a reality of separate things hanging in a void like Christmas ornaments, absent any
affective presence such as you and I are, has on our thoughts – blocking our ability to realize
Reality as it truly is. This book does this by showing how the view of Physicalism arises, pointing
out the specific errors that are made when we judge Reality to be dualistic. It shows the
perniciousness of Physicalism and how it undermines those who seek both spiritual and intellectual
insight – even those that hold to a non-dualistic conceptualization of reality, yet who, because of
the overwhelming power of our pre-cognitive worldview of a physical reality filled with separate
things, still cannot see how it is that they are not separate beings, cut-off from everything else.
Then it points to what Reality truly is, confirming the perennial wisdom of our ancestors, but in
terms that we can understand today. And it shows how science and mystical experience are both
equally possible when we have a direct insight of that true nature. How the physical and the
spiritual are not two things, as we see them today.

It is not an easy thing to change how one views the world. It is, in fact, a very difficult thing
to do – we cannot just think about it – yet each of us can accomplish the necessary insight if we
till the ground of both our heart and our mind together, ignoring neither, making our whole being
fertile for understanding to arise. This book shows how to change how we view the world and each
other in order to realize the wholeness of Reality, while still retaining the skillful means – our
technology – that the modern world has given us.

  ~ ~ ~  

An Introduction to Awareness, by James M. Corrigan, may be ordered through Amazon at the following link:

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