Rene Descartes was a French mathematician and philosopher who is considered as one of the founding fathers of modern philosophy. His quote ‘I think, therefore I am” (‘cogito ergo sum’ in Latin) is misunderstood and misinterpreted widely. Initially, this quote was written in French (Je pense, donc je suis); it is found in Discourse on the Method (1637). Then it appeared in Latin in his book ‘Principles of Philosophy’ (1644).
Even Eckhart Tolle seems to have misunderstood the true meaning of the quote. In ‘The Power of Now’, he wrote “The philosopher Descartes believed he had found the most fundamental truth when he made his famous statement: “I think, therefore I am.” He had, in fact, given expression to the most basic error: to equate thinking with Being and identity with thinking. The compulsive thinker, which means almost everyone, lives in a state of apparent separateness, in an insanely complex world of continuous problems and conflict, a world that reflects the ever-increasing fragmentation of the mind.”
Rene Descartes was not spiritually awake, as the word ‘awakening’ is used by Tolle and modern spiritual community. But certainly Descartes did not equate the thinking self with being as it has been claimed. His logic is more deeper and closer to the theme of Eckhart Tolle’s own book; it is the same logic that Advaita Vedanta uses to question the reliability of senses and the existence of external reality. I have given more details in this video.
I recently finished reading Dr. Jeffery Martin’s book ‘The Finders’, which is about finders, or the people who have access to what he calls as ‘fundamental well being’. Those finders also include the category of people who have found what I often write about – the spiritual enlightenment. The academic name for fundamental well being is ‘persistent non-symbolic experience (PSNE)’.
The book is based on the research and interviews conducted on nearly a thousand people who claim to be finders – or experiencing the states which are often referred to using words like Nondual awareness, Plateau experiences, Unity consciousness, Deautomatization, Enlightenment, Samadhi, Transcendental experiences, Flow experience, Mystical experiences, Satori Cosmic Consciousness, The peace of God, Peak experiences, Silence beyond sound, Numinous experiences, Shamanic ecstasy etc. (This list of words is taken from the website for his own research project : nonsymbolic.org).
Regardless of the quality of the research and the accuracy of his conclusions, this book is extremely useful for people who have reached these states of consciousness. Most importantly, it is pretty interesting and useful for people like me who have gone beyond the sense of agency or sense of experiencing oneself as the ‘doer’. Because, this book has documented many things based on the inputs shared by many people who are awake (and possibly many people who have glimpses and have non-abiding awakening).
I liked the articulation and simplicity where he has explained the features of narrative self and challenges that a finder faces, especially in relationships. I have gone through a divorce after becoming a ‘finder’ and I can relate to it a lot. The book is overall wonderful but many facts that are presented can be challenged. As the author himself says, the findings need a lot of refinement and I would consider the research as being in an initial stage. We need input from other researchers and further experiments of similar nature from others to take this forward.
From my perspective, I find the concept of continuum a little problematic. May be it makes certain things easier from an academic point of view. But it is misleading to a seeker, in my opinion. I am also skeptical about many other things said in the book, like the possibility of losing one’s fundamental wellbeing.
I have discussed more in this video:
He also had a ‘Finder’s course’ to help people reach the fundamental well being and I heard that the cost was about $3000, which is a lot of money. And the claim that majority of the attendees reached fundamental well being is indeed extra-ordinary. Currently he has a program called ’45 Days to Awakening Challenge’ which costs about $500. Because of the huge claim that is being made and a very high cost, many people ask if it is a scam. If you have completed any of the above mentioned programs, comment your experiences below.
Every one has a hole inside them; the hole is made up of a sense of lack that causes the feeling that things are not still good enough. This hole is huge and enormous; it exists even for people who appear more happy than others…
Spiritual enlightenment makes your sense of lack to disappear not by filling the hole but making you to realize that this hole is an illusion. This hole was created by your conceptual or narrative self that always creates a story out of what is happening.
After enlightenment, you not only realize that the hole is an illusion but you also realize that the narrative self itself is an illusion; the one who wanted to get enlightened didn’t even exist in the first place….
The greatest irony of enlightenment is to realize that it was never absent.. You were trying to attain something that you already have.
What is spiritual awakening? If you are new to this whole thing, than I am going to offer you a fuzzy guide. The reason why I call it as ‘fuzzy’ is because that is how any real guide for spiritual awakening for a ‘beginner’ is supposed to be…
Imagine that you are walking in complete darkness in an area where sun light cannot enter (may be an extra-ordinarily thick forest) ; you have been walking for ages and you have adapted yourself to it. Sometimes you see fireflies and you call it as ‘happiness’. I am telling you that there is something beyond this where you can get much more of what those occasional glimpse of fireflies offer.
I have to tell you that there is a way out of forest where you can open yourself to bright sunlight; but you have forgotten what sunlight means. So I have to use firefly as an example until I take you to a place where I make you see a ray of sunlight. Once you see that ray you can trace the path yourself and find your way out.
A complete spiritual awakening or spiritual enlightenment is that place where you are completely open to sunlight. A glimpse of a single ray while being in the forest is the moment of your first spiritual awakening. And your existing human condition is the condition of a person who is walking in absolute darkness. Those fireflies are the fleeting moments of true peace and fullness that you experience when you get what you want in life.
I am not going to write it all out here. I am going to present an animated explainer video to you that gives some idea. Exploring more of my work through my Youtube channel, my blog here and my book will help you getting a direction after that.