Paperback 5 3/8 x 8 3/8
The intimate contemporary account of one mans quest is a valuable step-by-step approach that anyone can follow on the path of self-knowledge. During an interview with J. Krishnamurti in 1944 the author underwent a radical inner transformation, a turning about at the deepest seat of consciousness. The result: Now Consciousness, the perception of reality moment-to-moment, free of time and discrimination. This awareness leads to an inner clarity that enables the individual to objectively watch the intricacies of the thought process and explore the secrets of consciousness.
Albert Blackburns straightforward accounting of his own experiences make this work ideal for anyone interested in the dynamics of consciousness and the psychology of transpersonal experiencing. The author disputes the necessity of a linear approach to enlightenment; instead he suggests the possibility of a vertical, instantaneous breakthrough, free of time.
Now Consciousness: Exploring the World Beyond Thought is a stimulating and perceptive account of Albert Blackburns/the authors experience in transpersonal realms. The personal account of his time with Krishnamurti is especially interesting, and his treatment of the process of self-realization is to use a word the author may regard as inappropriate thoughtful.
Author of "Frontiers of Consciousness"
Albert Blackburn was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1910. He began a career in aviation in 1928 after graduating from the first approved flying school in the U.S. This led to barnstorming, flight instruction, and eventually to airport ownership and flight school operations from 1938 to 1950. Wishing to give all of his time to his inward exploration of consciousness, he gave up his airport business and moved to Ojai, California. Mr. Blackburn was a member of the Theosophical Society from 1934 to 1944, was associated with the Happy Valley School from 1948 to 1958, and Krishnamurti Writings Inc. from 1946 to 1966; he was also briefly associated with the Krishnamurti Foundation of America. Since 1974 he has been teaching, writing, and giving talks in various places in the U.S. and Canada, utilizing his own experiences and understanding of life.
Exploring the World Beyond Thought
Albert Blackburn was born in Cincinatti, Ohio in 1910 and died in 1987. He had a career in aviation as a pilot and owner of a flight school. He trained World War II pilots. Blackburn’s real interest, however, was exploring consciousness.
Blackburn was a member of the Theosophical Society from 1934 to 1944 and immersed himself in the study of auras, spiritual evolution, reincarnation, karma, kundalini. However, a conversation with Jiddhu Krishnamurti led to the falling apart of Blackburn’s psychological world and his entrance into the world of nonduality or Now-Consciousness. The conversation is recounted early in the book, the turning point being Krishnamurti’s questioning of whether Blackburn’s beliefs were true.
The rest of the book develops the teaching of Now-Consciousness, about which Blackburn writes, “[Now-Consciousness] is a nondualistic state in which the idea of the I and not-I does not exist.” He says it is the process of the mind coming to know itself.
The book consists of five essays written between 1944 and 1982. Each essay addresses Now-Consciousness from its own angle: from initiation into Now-Consciousness, from the psychology of Now-Consciousness, from a practical approach involving attention to thoughts, and through bold confessions.
Besides Now-Consciousness, here are the other major themes, each treated in different ways throughout the book:
Intelligence. Also known as awareness, consciousness, the Tao, or truth. Blackburn says, “Because intelligence is real, it can only be found through the negative approach. In discovering what is not, truth is perceived.”
Not-knowing. He writes, “Be in the moment of questioning, so awake, so aware that you realize you don’t know.”
Time. “This idea of time gives rise to the false ideas of postponement, spiritual growth, progress, a Savior, Gurus, the Path, and reincarnation as the ultimate postponement. These are given as excuses for our own inadequacy, in not being able to follow one thing directly to the end.”
The I-process. The I is the ego, the world we’ve created about ourselves that causes us suffering. It’s that way we are that we know isn’t our true self. Blackburn identifies several steps in this process of generating and sustaining the false self and shows how we cut ourselves off from intelligence or truth.
The Cycle of Perception. In watching the I-process we find that there is a magic moment before associating a perception with habits, memories, and conditioning. The ability to access this magic moment is now-consciousness and it unfolds in stages that Blackburn calls the Cycle of Perception.
Blackburn says, “The first thing is to become aware of what the mind is occupied with, its patterned thoughts, habits, and reactions. ... Slowly you come into the cycle of perception or Now-Consciousness. And the oftener this state is experienced, the more you realize it is true life.”
Blackburn fits right into the current world of nonduality. He stood alone and encouraged others to do so. Although he acknowledges his teacher Jiddhu Krishnamurti, Blackburn claimed that his teachings were his own. As his own authority in these teachings, he was straightforward and eschewed the guru role and even the teacher role. He went where he was invited and held dialogues. He didn’t give talks, as such. These travels took him and his wife through the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Blackburn is also the author of Worlds Beyond Thought: Conversations on Now-Consciousness, which is also available as a series audio cassette tapes. Though his books and audios are not widely distributed or known in the Internet era of the last 15 years, they are still in print and distributed by his wife Gabriele through IdylWildBooks.com.
The Table of Contents is spare, however the topic and themes of each section and chapter are stated clearly. There is no index which would have been very useful in a book such as this where each main theme is scattered throughout the book, bearing on the meta-theme Now-Consciousness, and other themes, in different ways with each appearance. A proper index would gather and make thematic sense of all those appearances.
I highly recommend this book for anyone exploring nondual spirituality or nondual psychotherapy. It is clear, simple, and straightforward enough to enhance your understanding of how we get lost in our beliefs, memories, thoughts, our words, and conditionings. He points to the “magic moment” when, instead of getting lost in imaginings of how we think things are, we turn instead to Now-Consciousness and get directly to the point and through to the end of whatever we are considering. That is, we learn to deal directly and fully with stressful situations and move on.
* * *
When I read Now Consciousness in manuscript, I told the author, Albert Blackburn, that it was "stimulating, perceptive, thoughtful. The personal account of (your) time with Krishnamurti is especially interesting," Since then, the book has been revised and enlarged, and my comment applies more than ever. Blackburn, now 75, has summed up his lifes experience in the exploration of higher consciousness, which began for him in 1944 during an interview with the renowned spiritual figure, Krishnamurti.
Now Consciousness, the author tells us, is a compilation of five essays written at different times over the past four decades. The first one is an account of the extraordinary transformation of consciousness that occurred in him during his first interview with Krishnamurti. From there Blackburn writes more generally about "the state that others have variously termed, awareness, self-recollectedness, objective consciousness, satori in the Zen tradition and samadhi in Hindu literature." Then he offers his thoughts on perception, awareness, enlightenment, the religious life and living intelligently. He concludes the book with short aphorisms intended to express various insights he has had into "the eternal verities of life," such as these:
"Truth cannot be given to another."
"Fear and desire are faces of the same coin."
"Reincarnation is the ultimate postponement."
"Now-Consciousness is the perception of reality moment by moment."
Echoing Krishnamurti, but on the basis of his personal realization, Blackburn shows that Truth is a pathless land and that to enter it, one must transcend thought and mental condition altogether, for that is the root of ego.
* * *
A fascinating account of a man who experienced self-realization in the presence of the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti. He writes about how this experience profoundly altered his life over the next 38 years. "The thought process is the loom used by the ego to weave the pairs of opposites into the fabric of its own existence. When the weaver awakes, the process stops, and in the stillness Reality is." He discovered through trial and error what it is like just to be still in the present moment. Blackburn is an ordinary man who through perseverance, discipline and the guidance of a teacher came to know his true nature. An encouraging guidebook for those who desire self-knowledge.
THE BOOK READER
* * *
This book is an important addition to the library of anybody interested in self-exploration. Its tone is set at the very beginning when the author writes "This book is dedicated to Life, the only real teacher, whose forms are as varied as the grains of sand, each containing a potential jewel, if we but have the insight to perceive its value."
The bibliography tells us that in 1944, during an interview with J. Krishnamurti, the author went through a radical inner transformation. Although Albert Blackburn remained a close friend of Krishnamurti, the book is refreshing in that it is full of his own experience and understanding of life. In the first chapter he writes "I have found that it is all too easy to reach conclusions about anything. Any conclusion or definite answer is a blockage to the ceaseless flow of life which gathers around itself other mental debris. This effectively brings to an end further insight into that particular subject. Therefore, what I happen to be now observing is only my individual point of view. My findings may be of interest to others who are also seeking the true meaning of life".
The Human Condition, Balance, Death, Consciousness, The I Process, The Religious Life, Meditation and Living Intelligently are just some of the issues on which the author shares his view.
The end of the book comprises a list of insights which concern verities of life as perceived by Albert Blackburn at various times over the years. "The thought process is the loom used by the ego to weave the pairs of opposites into the fabric of its own existence, when the weaver awakens the process stops, and in the stillness Reality is" and "The idea of progression towards truth is one of the stumbling blocks in finding it" are just two of these.
I found reading "Now Consciousness" helped deepen my own understandings and it is a book that certainly deserves very high recommendation.
*Albert Blackburn died in June of last year (1987) aged 77. His second book "Worlds Beyond Thought" which includes revised and expanded dialogues between his wife Gabriele and himself is now also available.
Eddie OBrien, San Francisco