Oneness Perceived: A Window Into Enlightenment

On illusion…





book cover

Jeffrey S. Eisen Ph.D.
Published by Paragon House
ISBN I-55778-826-X


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Duality and Illusion

The relationship between Oneness and duality is wholly a matter of perception. Whenever there is perception, Oneness divides into a perceiver and a perceived, a subject and an object. In other words, Oneness becomes dual. Oneness and duality are the same thing from different points of view; as are reality and illusion.

More precisely, duality and illusion arise from any and all points of view, whereas Oneness and reality exist only from no point of view, A point of view is a necessary condition for perception. Perception without a point of view is as contradictory and meaningless as perception without a perceiver.


All perception is illusory. Illusion is an inescapable consequence of the duality of perception, is the duality of perception. Illusion enters with the perceiver. The sheer existence of a point of consciousness in Oneness sensing another creates duality and illusion.

When one confronts oneself with this premise, one confronts the ultimate dilemma of the human condition: the impossibility of knowing reality. Throughout history, contemplative people have tried to find a way out of this limitation without fully appreciating why it is impossible. Alchemists and their successors, scientists, try to get around it by peering ever deeper into macrocosmic and microcosmic space, as if duality could be resolved just beyond the limits of resolution of our unaided senses. All sorts of experiential metaphysicians ranging from shamans to gurus to academic psychedelicians explore inner space through trance, meditation or drugs. All attempts, however, are destined to fail because of the intrinsic limitations of perception.

Primal and Qualitative Dualism

The very occasion of perception splits Oneness into perceiver and perceived. This is primal dualism. The sensorium then selects relevant modalities and sensory perceptions and dualizes them into experiential qualities by putting them on a subjective continuum of which the point of consciousness of the perceiver is the referent, zero point, or fulcrum of the duality. This is qualitative dualism.

The Second Realm





Qualities are the appearances or perceptions of things rather than their reality. Appearances are the terms in which an organism knows and thinks. Appearances are all that non-cognitive organisms are guided by. Cognitive organisms are guided by appearances as well as representations of appearances and manipulations of these representations.

Perceptual experience is not the same as the object of perception, but is an emergent phenomenon. By and large, it is all that we've got. The emergent reality of perceptual experience, if you choose to call it reality, I call the Second Realm of reality or just the Second Realm.


It is interesting that even admittedly mental constructs, ideas, emotions, and events are frequently called things. Most of us would readily agree that calling these things things is a metaphor for physical things, but it is more than that. It is evidence that we both perceive and conceive in terms of thingness.

So what is a thing? First and finally, it is a perceptual illusion, a category, sensory or cognitive. It is the perception of separateness, of something, anything, that can be distinguished in any way whatsoever from anything else, and in perception everything can.

On Reality…

The Problem with the Direct Perception of Reality

The problem with our quest to know reality is us. We want to know reality in the same sense that we know a perception; we want to know what it looks, smells, tastes, sounds and feels like, but it is not to be! The only qualitative fact about reality that we can be reasonably certain of is that it is not qualitative.

Quantum Physics

With all that it is discovering or positing, quantum physics still struggles to know all things in perceptual terms, to fix things, to determine indeterminacy, to find a level of description where things will be things again, or at least concepts, which we know are the same thing. Because things can be perceived but not known, all things and all theories are metaphors, everything is a metaphor for everything else! Because every metaphor is in perceptual terms, all metaphors, all theories of reality are perceptual-centric, that is, they start from the false center of human perception.

A Fundamental Fallacy?

First metaphysics and then physics have been looking for the fundamental stuff, the building blocks of the universe, for thousands of years. But perhaps the pursuit of fundamental stuff is a wild goose chase. The very concept of stuff feels suspiciously like an analog to physical matter, a cognitive perceptual illusion.

Perhaps the idea of fundamental stuff is a fundamental fallacy and the entire reductionist strategy a mistake. What if at bottom there is nothing, that is no material thing, and the universe consists of something like hierarchical gestalts of interrelationships of emergent phenomena that have no underlying, fixed identity or form. What if the universe consists of the appearances of existence, motion, change, form, creation and destruction, etc., without anything moving, changing, forming, creating and destroying except appearance itself?

From No Thing, Something Comes

The most fundamental cosmological question of all, the one that has to eventually be answered for man to have a sense that he really understands, is how did something come out of nothing. I do not pretend to have the answer. Perhaps, the whole answer, like Oneness itself, will never be known in human terms, will in the final analysis prove to be unknowable. But I do know that the key to the riddle, as in most riddles, lies in how we are asking the question.

How did something come out of nothing? Let us reexamine the question. Something and nothing, like beginning and end, are dualities, perceptual illusions, while thingness itself is only a perceptual category. It's obviously a trick question. Perhaps the question, indeed the very problem, is an illusion.

The Eternal Present

In two dimensional time, the past is a memory or inference, the future a projection, both constructs, belonging to the conjectural world of cognitive perception, two illusions.

What then is the reality of time, time unperceived? It is the eternal present. The present is all there is. In illusory time, the present is a point between future and past. But in real time the present is infinite, always here, an infinitely long time.

Big Deal

If Oneness contains death

And everything in Oneness is one

Then everything is dead.

If Oneness contains life

And everything in Oneness is one

Then everything is alive.

DEAD ... ALIVE ... What's the difference?

You think you know it when you're alive

And it's a big deal.

You won't know it when you're dead

And you won't care!

On God…

The Two Faces of God

Oneness, the God within, voidness, Isness, Self, Buddha nature, is one face of God.

Oneness perceived, duality, illusion, appearance, manifestation, thingness, is the other face of God.

Oneness is the invisible face of God, that which can never be known. It is the potential from which all things spring, to which all things return, which all things eternally are.

Duality, oneness perceived, illusion, is the visible face of God, the face that takes on an infinity of appearances. It is the organism living in the illusory world of its perception, living in a cosmos that exists only from its point of view, and living in it as if its survival is paramount.

Evolution of Oneness: The God Process

The people who protest evolutionary theory and believe only God could create life are not entirely mistaken, more misled. Their error is to anthropomorphize the God principle.

On the other hand, evolutionists may make the mistake of seeing a mechanistic universe at work instead of the God principle at play. Everything that works has to work somehow, but that does not mean it is a machine.

God must be the evolutionary principle. All other roles are beneath it.

The Mind of God

God knows everything because he is everywhere… is everywhere… is all aspects of all things. He is not outside but inside, not separate but One. He knows through being, not through perceiving. He does not perceive but rather he is. Therefore, he is not limited by subject-object duality. The limitation of God, on the other hand, is that he can't perceive. He can know but he cannot know that he knows. He knows but there is no "he" to know.

In this sense, all sentient creatures are the "he's" of God. All sentient creatures are the means by which God knows [in the perceptual sense]. They are the eyes of God, also his ears, nose, tongue and fingers. Mankind, however, is more; not only are we the eyes of God, we are also his mind!

We do not provide just another set of senses for him, but with our exquisitely developed powers of cognition and cognitive perception, we lend him our capacity to question and understand, to reflect. For we, not God, for better or worse, are Homo sapiens sapiens, the creatures that do know that they know!

On Self…

Thingness and Self

The self perceived is also a thing, that is, a perceptual category. It is anything that can be perceptually distinguished from anything else. Only it has to meet one additional criterion: we have to identify it in some way with "ourself", or a projection of it.

There is one significant difference between the perceptual category that is a thing, and the perceptual category that is a self. You can only perceive a thing, but you can perceive from or at least through the thing that is a self! This fact is so extraordinary that it provides an auxiliary definition of a self. A self is a thing that provides a perspective for perception.

At this point we have to make the distinction between the perceived self as an object of perception and the Self, which is the perceiver itSelf.

Original Perception

Self-concept perceiving self-concept is fundamental to the dynamic by which illusion, further self-concepts and ultimately personality, evolve. The first act of perception, wherein a gestalt in Oneness perceives itself as self in a field of non-self, rending itself dual and illusory, is original perception. The self pole of this duality becomes the seed of self-concept. That is, it develops into self-concept through successive acts of perception. The other pole, non-self, becomes the world or world concept. This act of original perception has been committed countless times and will be committed countless more until life extinguishes. It is repeated every time a life is organized in Oneness.

The Way the Universe Knows Itself

But what is the medium that this experience of consciousness exists in, you quite rightly ask. Isn't it consciousness as well? Well yes, but upon examination that is not as contradictory as it seems at first. The problem of studying consciousness was elegantly summarized by the futurist Peter Russell as trying to use a flashlight to try to find the source of its own light. That is truly the limitation… but what if you use two flashlights? Then, you can shine the light of one on the other. After all, it's the same light, the same consciousness, no matter where you find it, or which source it's emanating from.

Oneness is one flashlight, unexperienced consciousness. But when Oneness individuates, to the extent that the individuated parts perceive themselves as apart, the parts act as separate flashlights and they can shine their light on one another. This is the way consciousness experiences consciousness! This is the way the Universe knows itself!

Isn't this what nature does? Isn't this the universal solution of all creation, the two flashlight solution, polarity, division, perception and duality? Before the flashlight divides, there is just consciousness without experiencer or experience, unexperienced consciousness. After the flashlight divides, you have experienced consciousness, knowing that you know. You have an experiencer and therefore you can have an experience.

On Oneness…

Self and Other

To know Oneness tangibly is the longing of the soul. The yearning for tangible knowledge of Oneness is the yearning for escape from that condition of separation, from the inherent limitations of our individual existence.

This yearning, however, misdirects us. Real wisdom and understanding come not from trying to know Oneness qualitatively, as if it has qualities like "blue" and "warm", but from knowing from Oneness.

Oneness As God

Oneness is not a mystical principle of any sort, at least not if mystical principles are thought of as beyond the ordinary. If the spiritual dimension is real, I suppose Oneness encompasses it, since it encompasses everything that is real, but it is not the spiritual dimension as people ordinarily conceive of it. Indeed, I suspect nothing is. Neither is Oneness God in any of the usual senses of the word. It is a broader concept than God and a less personal one. It doesn't hold any secret for man, and it doesn't care a fig what he does or what happens to him. Oneness is simply what is, and it is a mistake to reify or deify it. However, if we ask the question what does Oneness have to do with God and spirituality, the answer is everything. …

One of the main contentions of Oneness Perceived is that there always will remain a mystery, an unknowable. Off the edge of the perceptual map, beyond the flatland of knowledge, into the unknowable, will forever lie that space that the cartographers of science will be able to do no better than indicate with the legend "Here there be dragons".

Oneness and Consciousness

That which knows existence

Is identical to the existence it knows.

This is the underlying unity. How do we describe Oneness? Not by what it is, but by what it is not. Not a perceptual category, it is no thing. Devoid of physical characteristics, it is the void. Without qualities, it lacks dimension, materiality, space, location, velocity. Without past or future, it is eternally now. Neither here nor there, it is everywhere. It is only an inference, insubstantial, void and unknowable. Yet, beyond argument it exists, because without it, there would be no existence to perceive. To indicate that though void it exists, pervasive and omnipresent, we have to call it something. Another good name for it is presence.Oneness cannot be known in its reality; it can only be perceived. Perception gives Oneness its appearances, solidifies the ghost. Oneness takes on its substance by colliding with the substance of our senses and the cunning of our minds. Oneness cannot be known in its reality because there is no thing to be known.

The Ultimate Tautology

In some way "why existence exists" is a non-question, traceable to an implicit assumption of duality between existence and nonexistence. This non-question is the ground of all illusion, all religion and all natural philosophy. Simply and unequivocally, existence exists because nonexistence cannot exist. Nonexistence is a contradiction in terms and the statement "nonexistence cannot exist" is the ultimate tautology.

When you get to the ultimate tautology, you have come to the end of the line. If you take it seriously, it ends duality, ends thought. It is the master koan. Hold it in meditation and you will be plunged into the void of non-duality.

There's nowhere else to go

Beyond words, behind thought

Dropping out of time

Hurling out of space

The instantaneous journey without end

To where you always were.


Can you know Oneness?

Only as the void.

Can you perceive from Oneness? That's the whole point.

Is Perception from Oneness being God? If you choose to call it that.

Why is the void de-void, what is it and why go into it? The void is void because it is devoid of perceptual and cognitive qualities… nothing more and nothing less. That does not mean there is no existence there, just that there is no thing there [thing as a perceptual category].

So what is the void?

The void is Oneness, or more accurately the experience of Oneness. Why? Because in one sense Oneness is all there really is! Perception and cognition, the tools of the mind, dualize. They create a spectacle of qualities, things to enchant and entrance, color and form, time and space. But these things are illusions. All that is real, prior to perceptual dualization, is Oneness.

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Excerpts from the book