Excerpts About Universal Concept
The spiritual dimension of discriminating wisdom is the direct perception of the self-existing and real discrimination in the actual premises of experience. It is free from the influences of the past, uncreated by the individual mind. The discrimination is not of abstract ideas, like the ideas of democracy or achievement, but of the concrete givens of experience. It is like the perception of the wetness of water. We can experience the wetness, know precisely what it feels like, although we might not conceptualize it with a word. The quality of wetness exists in perception, whether we have a mental concept of it or not. This is clearly the case in infancy, before the development of conceptualization. To stay with this example, the discriminating perception of wetness does not disappear in self-realization; in fact, we experience it with a much greater vividness and precision than in the conventional dimension of experience, because of the complete intimacy and immediacy of the nondual consciousness. We can then give such discriminated perception a label, like “wetness” or any other word, and this label refers to an experiential or experience-near concept. It is the same with water itself, which is not a concept constructed by mind, but something that exists independent of our minds, already present and ready to be isolated by mind, although the word itself exists only in our minds and our speech. In this book, we will call such a perceived discriminated reality, like wetness or water, a “universal concept.”
The Point of Existence, p. 471 • discuss »
Our usual notion of a concept of chair, for example, is the idea of a chair. But an image of the chair is not the same thing as the chair. In this dimension, when I say, “This is a concept,” I mean the chair itself is a concept. The pattern exists in reality; I’m not creating it in my mind. This is the realm of what we call “universal concepts” or “noetic forms.” A universal concept is not my concept, not a mental concept. Mental concepts are personal, and their content depends upon the person. The fact that there is a chair here, however, does not depend upon the person. Any person who comes here can see this form, although it might not be recognized as a chair. So what we call a noetic form is what we call a discriminated something that truly exists, that truly appears to perception. Physical reality is discriminated in universal concepts—a rock, or the hill over there, are universal concepts. It’s not just that I personally see it as a hill. Someone else cannot validly say, “That’s not a hill; that’s an ocean.” The discrimination doesn’t depend upon my personal experience. It is actually what truly exists, what exists as a differentiated existence. This is a noetic form. We also call this kind of discriminated form a universal concept, in that it can be universally perceived. We call these forms concepts because from the perspective of the nonconceptual, the forms in which Being manifests actually appear as ideas. This is the perception that some traditions call the “Divine Mind.” Those aware of this perception might be heard to say such things as “We are all just ideas in God’s mind.” When you are perceiving the existence or manifestation of noetic forms from beyond these forms, they appear as a kind of ideas.
Diamond Heart Book IV, p. 325 • discuss »
Water is a universal concept, a noetic form. But when I’m talking about noetic form here, I mean anything that exists on its own, any perception that exists without your subjective mind distorting it. There is a discernible perception, right? Now where you put the boundaries does not make a difference. You could put a line at the rug. You could put the line at the table. You could make it smaller. But the perception is the same. You don’t have to put the boundary on the rug; you could put it on the outside of the house. But the fact is that there is a perception of different colors and forms. You can differentiate the color of the table from the color of the rug. You can tell there is a difference. You might not think of them as two different things. Here I am referring to the level of discriminated perception before you give things a name. It is difficult to understand this realm, because we are not used to discriminating the forms of things separately from naming them. And only when there is some capacity to see the forms from the dimension beyond forms is it possible to perceive forms or “divine ideas” which are not influenced or determined by personal mind. When you look at what exists from the level of the nonconceptual, you do not give things names, you do not separate one thing from another. There is just one existence. You do see variations; you just do not recognize or mentally conceptualize what the variation is. If you look at things from the perspective of noetic forms, then it is possible to articulate the differentiation. The idea here is that the existence of the table is different from the idea of a table.
Diamond Heart Book IV, p. 327 • discuss »
In our work here one way we address this vicious circle of reification and reactivity is to work on the qualities of the soul, the essential aspects. So far we have talked about the noetic forms of manifestation on the level of physical reality. Another realm of discriminated manifestation which exists independent of personal concepts is the realm of noetic forms which we call essential aspects. The aspects are universal concepts in that their form of manifestation is independent of the personal mind of the person who experiences them. For example, when you experience essential Compassion, and I experience essential Compassion, we experience the same thing. To say that the form is the same is not to say that you and I might not call it something different. But the quality itself is the same thing. It is not dependent on what I know from the past. It is not dependent on my personal mind. Compassion truly, objectively exists, independent of my personal historical mind. That is what Essence is.
Diamond Heart Book IV, p. 330 • discuss »
So far today we have seen that as manifestation goes from the nonconceptual level to the conceptual, what first arises is what is called the realm of noetic forms, or universal concepts—knowable differentiations in reality. We can have differentiated perceptions without naming them, without separating one thing from another. If I am the nonconceptual perceiving the differentiated world, I won’t say, “This is a chair, this is an arm.” I just see the variations in differences without separating things out. At the next level we discriminate things out so we can deal with them functionally, and also communicate about them.
Diamond Heart Book IV, p. 331 • discuss »