"(M)ainstream Western philosophy has generally taken as its starting point the center of memory and speculative thought . . . This kind of approach invested Western philosophy from the beginning with an assumption that consciousness is fundamentally different from the empirical realm of existence . . .
But China's ancient sages assumed that [the] immediate experience of empty awareness was the beginning place, that dwelling here in the beginning, free of thought and identity, is where we are most fundamentally ourselves, and also where deep insight into the nature of consciousness and reality logically begins . . .
eyes closed . . . emptying our minds completely, we turn to the empty darkness that is our own awareness in and of itself. We inhabit the expansive space of that darkness for a time, then open our eyes. We gaze out as if it were for the first time, gaze with no expectations at all about the nature of consciousness and reality, wanting to see them as they are in and of themselves, free of all our tenuous stories about them, our ideas and beliefs . . . we encounter a revelation altogether unexpected and unimaginable: existence! Existence miraculously and inexplicably here when there might just as well be nothing! The sheer presence of materiality—vast and deep, everything and everywhere!"
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