The first-person perspective and beyond: Comment on Almaas
Journal of Consciousness Studies: controversies in science and the humanities
Reason for embargo
The target papers of this special issue make a variety of interesting claims about the nature of consciousness and self. A persistent theme in many of these contributions is the description of various “selfless” states: modes of experience in which one’s sense of selfhood erodes or disappears entirely, and one is left with bare consciousness and a unifying sense that “all is one”. While phenomenologically intriguing, these descriptions can be somewhat difficult to parse for those of us who’ve not personally realized these experiences. Nevertheless, they are important to consider for a number of reasons—including the different ways they appear to challenge some taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature of consciousness and self. In this commentary, we engage primarily with Almaas’ contribution. We attempt to clarify what we take his claims about selfless experience to amount to, exactly, and then—working from within the phenomenological tradition—we attempt to show how his descriptions of selfless experience and “pure consciousness” might be reconciled with phenomenological approaches to consciousness and self. We conclude by briefly indicating some of the ways a comparative analysis of this sort is mutually beneficial.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Imprint Academic.
Vol.23 (1/2), pp. 158-178