Excerpt About Suchness

What it Means to Experience Ourselves as Being

Suchness: This way of speaking of our existence is unusual in the modern way of thought. Presence and Being seem to be philosophers’ concepts, concepts perhaps used in the same way that theistic traditions speak of God. what is Being? How can we use this concept to describe a very personal, yet universally available, experience? We do not need to solve the philosophical conundrums of the ages definitively in order to say what we mean: In simple terms, to experience ourselves as Being is to experience our existence as such, to experience our own presence, our own “suchness” directly. It is the simplest, most obvious, most taken-for-granted perception that we exist. But this existence is usually inferred, mediated through mind, as in Descartes’s “Cogito ergo sum”—“I think, therefore I am.” Existence is background, not foreground, for our ordinary experience. To penetrate into this background, to question our assumptions about reality and ourselves, allows us to encounter directly the immense mystery of the arising of our consciousness and of the world. When viewed from the perspective of the ordinary experience of the self, the direct awareness of oneself as Being is a very mysterious category of experience. However, for the self-realized individual, it is an ordinary, common experience. In time it becomes the everyday experience of simply being ourselves. Being, here, is not a philosophical notion; it is the concrete experience and recognition of ourselves, before any mediation, conceptualization or labeling.

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