Questions and Replies
Question #23: Total Solipsism and Absolute Solitude
Your assertion is only a "frightening possibility" if consciousness is confused with Awareness, and then is defined in individual terms, as in "my (individual) awareness".
In all of this, it is important to recognize that "solipsism" (a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications, and that the self is the only existent thing) is predicated upon defining identity (self) in strictly individual terms -- which I do not. I believe our individual identities are only a relative and limited aspect of our fundamental and essential Identity, which is ultimately indivisible and inseparable from That which is Real.
To clarify further: I prefer to use the terms "Awareness" and "consciousness" as reference points for two different, but related dimensions of experience.
[Please remember that for me now, this distinction is primarily a semantic one -- solely for the purpose of clarifying meaning. At other times, and in other contexts, other people may, quite legitimately, use one or both of these words very differently....]
In my experience, consciousness (the activities of mind and emotion) is limited by individual identity, while Awareness is not.
Awareness is an infinitely vast spaciousness that contains all our experiences of being human -- including the experience of being conscious. It is the Perceptual Center of human experience, but it is not limited by this experience.
Another way of looking at this is to see Awareness as unbounded light shining through a bounded window (i.e., the individual identity and consciousness). Problems arise for us only when we confuse Awareness and consciousness -- when we confuse our transitory, individual identity (the window/consciousness) with the innate and inherent Reality (the light/Awareness) shining through it.
The sense/experience of "absolute solitude" to which you refer is actually a very powerful experiential key to breaking through into the Recognition of your own innate nature. Because we attach an individual identification to this sense of solitude, we experience it a loneliness -- instead of as Wholeness.
Once the individual identification is stripped away, or at least recognized as a limited manifestation of That which is ultimately limitless, the vastness of this "total, absolute solitude" is actually recognized as our innate nature, which is described in various traditions as:
Initially, this Void is terrifying because it pushes us beyond every limited aspect of individuality within which we tend to identify, and yet, as Franklin Merrell-Wolff has so wisely explained, eventually we come to realize that the Void which we had once so feared ultimately is our Home and refuge -- when we abandon ourselves to it completely.
So, do not shrink back from this feeling of absolute solitude. Allow it to haunt you -- stay with it -- enter into it -- and discover what remains when you pass through it.....
"Figures in a dream"? Yes, we are, to the extent that everything which is finite will fade and pass away. No, we are not, to the extent that Reality manifests, here and now, both in and through the finite....
With appreciation of your valuable and thoughtful inquiry,