Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience

By Leo Gura - February 14, 2017

A few months ago I heard doctor Jeffery Martin of the Finder’s Course — who’s doing great research on enlightenment in an academic setting — referring to enlightenment as “persistent non-symbolic experience”.

At first I thought: what an awkward way to phrase it.

But the more I meditate and self-inquire, the more I see the power of this phrasing. Because it captures the essence of what we’re aiming for.

What are we REALLY trying to do when we meditate or self-inquire?

We’re trying to escape symbolic experience! Monkey mind is symbolic experience. Rationalization is symbolic experience. Traditional learning is symbolic experience. Talking is symbolic experience. Western philosophy is symbolic experience. Science is symbolic experience.


To escape all that and to see reality AS-IT-IS you have to drop symbolizing. Because symbols, by definition, are NOT the things they represent. People really overlook this simple point: to symbolize a thing is to immediately misrepresent it. Because you have to substitute the thing itself with a second thing, while forgetting the second thing’s being! This is the core of how illusion happens. Symbols cannot get at the BEING-level of anything. All symbols are metaphorical, which means they aren’t the bottom-most level.

Mindfulness = the opposite of symbolism. Mindfulness is the untying of the knot of being wrapped up in language, to return back to a non-linguistic, non-symbolic mode of being.

First-order reality is non-symbolic. Second-order reality is symbolic, but this entire second order is by virtue of the first. It’s eye opening to pause throughout the day and realize, “Oh, hey! I’ve been lost in symbolic reality all day. That’s not primary! Let me get back to what’s primary by letting go of all this symbolizing.”

Symbols are a very powerful tool. Just think of how much it has allowed mankind to achieve. But like all powerful tools, when used unconsciously, it’s a source of great suffering and danger. Symbols creates the possibility for delusion.

This insight is MASSIVE in it’s scope and significance. It will take you years of mindfulness practice to grasp what I’m saying. But that’s okay, it will be worth it.

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