Book: Sceptical Spirituality
What is this?
If you have the answer to the question, then you are ‘enlightened’, as there is nothing further that can be asked of anything, and everything is illumined. (This is meant to be an opening gambit and a provocation, though by the time we have defined our terms, you might decide that the situation is not quite what you thought it was.)
What does ‘what is this?’ mean, in strictly metaphysical, spiritual, Buddhistic and gnostic terms? It means to question what the ‘ultimate meaning, purpose and value’ of the ‘experience of experience’ is supposed to be. Now we’ve combined together the concepts of ‘ultimate meaning, purpose and value’ into a single entity to represent the idea that, having somehow discovered that ‘what’ of ‘what is this?’ any question whatsoever relating to ‘ultimate meaning, purpose and value’ would (or could) be answered intellectually, existentially and metaphysically such that nothing whatsoever would remain hidden, or unanswered, or uncertain. And the reason for coining this multisyllabic conceptual combination is because we don’t have a vocabulary which in any way adequately identifies and labels the ‘that’ which could answer the ultimate question. In many instances, we don’t even know how to frame an ‘ultimate question’ — we usually reach for such amazingly pedestrian formulations (indicative of a total lack of metaphysical self-exploration) — such as ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’, or ‘how did the universe come about?’
Now what exactly is the ‘what’ of the ‘what is this?’ What is the ‘what’ identifying and pointing to, such that it questions this ‘what’ as to its ‘ultimate meaning, purpose and value’? Basically it is the ‘experience of experience’ in all its layers and dimensions, including the physical, mental and intellectual. The experience of experience — in other words, the experience of life as it is both ordinarily and extraordinarily lived — in its totality, is the ‘what’ which is in question.
And this totality, in all its layers and dimensions, including all its shortcomings and lack of apprehensive (meaning perceptual) clarity, is what is grasped (or apprehended) when we ask ‘what on earth is this experience of experience supposed to be…