Recently, I watched a video by Shinzen Young in which he discussed several perspectives on the "witness" and related that to the "absolute" or the "nondual" or the "source" in Buddhist (and other contemplative) thought.

You can view the video here (it doesn't allow embedding).

In relation to this video, there is a "practice-oriented" document by Young that might be worth checking out, which I have attached to this thread.  (It was shared with me by C4Chaos on Facebook).

I am posting these items here because I think it might be interesting to explore these ideas (and the related practices) in relation to some of our recent discussions (of Levin, of context-transcendent meaning or experience, of Derrida's khora vs. Wilber's emptiness, etc).

I'm very busy today and can't comment more now, but will return with a few thoughts in the next day or two.

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Much thanks for the link, Bruce.
He describes my understanding and experience very closely.
I'll give the pdf a read later.
To be honest this sounds much more like Wilber's nondual definition as the union of cessation-nothingness and relative form. Correction: it actually sounds more like cessation is the sole definition of his nondual, in that the separation of the unattached witness still participates in relativity, whereas in cessation there is no object or subject so hence nondual. Which of course takes us back to the two truths debate of Gorampa and Tsongkhapa, the former maintaining this exact assertion. And Gorampa retaining this from Hindu "yoga," as Young admits this influence.

I do not question the experience of cessation, myself along with the rest of humanity, as he said, experiencing it several times a day. The obsessive practice though of focusing on the conscious (not an accurate word) "state" experience of cessation because it is interpreted as the "absolute" witnesss of "nondual enlightenment" fully participates in what we describe as metaphysics.
Yogacara maintains the relative world as illusion, a point that was retained by Gorampa and all Tibetan Buddhist sects (and Zen I might add) except the Gelug. In that sense Wilber's version restores the relative back into the nondual, to give it back its necessary relation to the absolute, a step in the right (postmetaphysical) direction. Nevertheless he still also retains the absolute-relative dichotomy and still describes nirodha as the absolute pole.
Yes, I shared this in part because Shinzen's account mirrors Wilber's, including W's metaphysical seeming interpretations. Did you read the attached "practice" instructions and discussion? What I was thinking was that we could possibly take his instructions, and the perhaps the experiences and "states" they are meant to enact, and see if we might understand them or interpret them postmetaphysically. I'm on my way to a full day of work this Sunday, so I'll have to wait till later to put down any thoughts.
I have not read the text. Are his practice instructions "traditional?" If so you know what I think about old wineskins enacting old wine, despite the best of intentions or recontextualizations.
His instructions are fairly pragmatic and not traditional in their presentation, but the practices themselves can be found in several traditional practice contexts (attending to the "ending" of thoughts and experiences). I see a parallel in what he's doing to some of Levin's listening practice suggestions, so I will return to that soon.
While Young's descriptions match Wilber's fairly closely in a number of areas, including some of those we have critiqued as metaphysical, I wanted to highlight his talk (and his practice instructions for "experiencing" and "doing" nothing) for a couple reasons: 1) I think he makes a good distinction between the witness, which might be similar to the observing ego, and which may correlate with the ego of Levin's stages II and (in more refined form) III, and the Witness, which appears to be quite a distinct experience from inhabiting the role of "observing ego" and which appears (in my opinion) to correlate more closely with what Levin is describing in Stage IV; and 2) I also see some possible interesting correlations that can be drawn between Young's instructions on doing and experiencing nothing and Levin's discussion of Gelassenheit and the hermeneutic retrieval of the "primal" openness of Zugehorigkeit in Stage IV work (of the Practice of the Self).

To start, I'll just post a (rather lengthy) discussion by Levin of the meaning of Zugehorigkeit and how that relates to stage IV work. I want to highlight the similarity between Levin's discussion of the alternative modalities of figure-ground relation or experience and Young's discussion of figure-ground reversal (as he does work in the realm of thinking that I think parallels what Levin is doing in / for the realm of our listening).

Here's the passage from The Listening Self:

"Zugehorigkeit, a word meaning, basically, 'belongingness,' comes from Heidegger's discourse. Because of its root, horig, which pertains to hearing, it is particularly fitting as a word to describe the primordial nature of our listening. In the context of our study, it refers to our inherence in, belonging to, and attunement by the sonorous field as a whole.

In his Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke speaks of 'an ear of the earth,' ein Ohr der Erde, an ear that is of the earth in that it comes from the earth, and is made open to the earth's song.

Our hearing is a gift of nature. Enfolded, encoded within it, there is an ontological gift -- and, inseparable from it, a claim, an assignment, a task: a Seinsgeschick. By grace of our primordial situation, our Zugehorigkeit, we always enjoy a pre-ontological experience with, and a pre-ontological understanding of, Being as a whole. For it is as an auditory field, a field of sonorous energies, a 'tremendous ocean of energy' (to borrow a phrase from David Bohm), that the Being of (sonorous) beings initially and primordially manifests in relation to our listening organs.

By grace of this Zugehorigkeit, we begin our lives in infancy already attuned to Being, already attuned by its tonality. Zugehorigkeit thus constitutes an organismic a priori, the receiving of a primordial, initial disclosure of Being: an opening up of the auditory field and a primal articulation (legein, logos) of the ontological difference. Merleau-Ponty observed that 'when I perceive, I belong to the world as a whole.' By grace of this originary belonging, a bodily felt inherence and attunement, everyone not born physically deaf begins life already bearing the response-ability implicit in a pre-ontological relationship to the Being of beings. (Heidegger asserts, in Being and Time, that the Dasein is 'always and already' gifted with an 'implicity pre-understanding' of Being. But he does not give thought to the body's sensorimotor capacities and their channels of perception to learn more about how this 'pre-understanding' is borne and carried.) Because the Zugehorigkeit relationship to Being is primal, an 'implicate order' encoded in the flesh, Heidegger's phrase, 'always and already,' must be qualified: the gift of understanding is already inscribed, but this gift is not yet understanding. The experience with the Being of beings that we inhabit by grace of our Zugehorigkeit, our bodily felt belonging to the sonorous field as a whole, is not yet an ontological understanding. That understanding does not come naturally; nor does it come easily. A good deal of experiential work with our listening -- work I have called a 'practice of the Self' -- must first take place. But it is one of the weaknesses of Heidegger's thinking -- a deficiency he shares with the metaphysical tradition he wants to 'destroy' -- that it totally separates itself from questions of practice, questions concerned with our experiencing of the processes of self-development...

In Being and Time, Heidegger attempts an existential 'analytic of Dasein,' boldly breaking away from traditional accounts of 'human being' by thinking through what he calls our 'moodedness' (Stimmung): the primordial condition (Befindlichkeit) in which we find ourselves. This moodedness constitutes the most fundamental structure of our being-in-the-world. This structure is our ek-stasis, an opening openness that attunes us to Being as a whole. This primordial experience of the openness and its wholeness is not only a necessary condition of the very possibility of hearing in the first place; it is also a crucial experience for our psychological development.

John Welwood hears psychopathology in our losing touch with 'a holistic mode of organizing experience, a mode of relationship which transcends the normal workings of focal attention by grasping multiple connections as a whole without serial differentiations'. We all suffer the pressures of everyday life: the restriction of experience. According to Welwood, what are suppressed and unconscious are, as he puts it,

the holistic ways in which the organism structures situations, without havin to articulate them in discrete focal units. These unconscious modes of relationship always occur as the background of an experiential field whose foreground consists of discrete objects or figures of focal attention.

Judging by our everyday comportment, it would seem that we are fragmented souls, inevitably torn between holistic experiencing, without any figure-ground differentiation, and entitative experiencing, with a total suppression of background awareness. But the truth is that these are not the only perceptual modalities open to us. We do not need to empty the background of all meaning and value in order to attend to objects; nor do we need to think of maintaining an awareness of the background by taking entitative experiencing -- the modes of our attention to objects -- as our paradigm of intentionality (perceptual directedness) in general. We do not need to suppress entitative intentionality in order to enjoy an awareness of the background, the field as a whole, the open dimensionality. There is another possibility, which we can work to develop, namely an awareness of the ground that lets it be ground. Instead of suffering between unconsciousness (suppression of the ground) and entitative intentionality (reduction of ground to figure), we are capable of developing this other modality" (Levin, 1989, pp. 67-69)
Get rid of the eternalistic sounding Absolute Witness, Source, True Witness, etc. and it sounds good to me. :-)

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