The Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience
by Rupert Spira
On the Lamppost of Consciousness
a review by Jerry Katz
Rupert Spira pole dances on the lamppost of consciousness. This book is smart and sensuous in equal measure.
Some of Rupert’s moves are basic:
“All we have is experience. The mind is simply the experience of the mind. The body is simply the experience of the body. The world is simply the experience of the world.”
Some are intermediate:
“We conceptualize a mind, a body and a world that exist outside, separate and independent of experience, that are considered to exist when they are not being experienced. However, such a mind, body and world have never been experienced. Nor would it be possible to have such an experience because, as soon as it is experienced, it would, by definition, fall within experience and would therefore no longer be outside, separate from or independent of it.”
Some moves are advanced and wondrous:
“Experiencing is the essential ingredient of the mind, the body and the world, and Consciousness is the essential ingredient of experiencing.
“What would the mind, the body and the world look like if experiencing were removed from them?
“And what would experiencing look like if Consciousness was removed from it?”
Rupert breaks down the advanced and wondrous moves into its basic parts, thus clearing and widening the path to self-realization.
Rupert suggests looking “more and more deeply into the nature of ourselves….” He gives experiments for looking into experience, sense perceptions, and consciousness. Throughout certain chapters are peppered questions, some of which are addressed in detail and others which stand as inquiries for the reader’s consideration.
“…take a sound that would normally be conceptualised as taking place at a distance. Refuse any story that the mind tells us about the nature and whereabouts of that sound. Does it not occur in the same place as the thoughts and sensations? Does it not arise within consciousness? Are the sound and Consciousness not one seamless experience? Is the sound at a distance from Consciousness, separated from it? Is there a border or interface between the sound and Consciousness?”
The themes of life are considered:
Deep sleep: “Deep sleep takes the shape of the dreaming and waking states and is their substance….”
Ego: “It is Consciousness pretending that its essential nature has the same characteristics as the body/mind in which it seems to appear, and which in fact appears in it.”
Happiness and Desire: “Desire is the form of Happiness. It is the shape that Happiness itself takes when it overlooks its own presence and begins to search for itself elsewhere.”
Experience itself: “We experience ‘one thing,’ a multifaceted object comprising mind, body and world, and this ‘one thing’ refers to the totality of our experience at any moment.”
Art: “[Cezanne] felt that art should lead us to Reality, indicate that which is real, evoke that which is substantial. It should lead us from appearance to Reality.”
Ethics: “…if we truly feel that everything and everyone is an expression of the same one Reality that we ourselves are, we will act accordingly and will quite literally behave towards others as we would behave towards ourselves.”
Practice: “It would be disingenuous to believe that there is nothing to do, that Consciousness is all there is, there is no separate entity, simply because we have heard or read it so many times. Such a belief leaves us worse off than we were in the first place.”
Love, suffering, seeking, memory are other themes addressed.
Spira acknowledges his “friend and teacher” Francis Lucille. Lucille’s teacher was Sri Atmananda (Sri Krishna Menon), who authored two volumes, Atma Darshan and Atma Nirvriti. The works of both teachers are recommended along with Rupert Spira’s as they are intimately interconnected. The Transparency of Things is a significant contribution to the small body of Direct Path literature.
I also note that the publisher, Non-Duality Press, is now no longer publishing books solely in the genre of (so-called) neo-advaita. They still are, and in addition they are publishing Direct Path books. The difference is noted by Dennis Waite: “[Direct path] differs from neo-advaita in that all of its teachings begin from the present evidence of one’s experience, and its statements are backed by rigorous logic. Whereas a neo-advaita teacher might state that ‘This is it’ and expect the seeker to understand what is meant, the direct-path teacher will begin with a simple observation or statement that everyone can agree with.”
Further excerpts may be read at
or through the publisher, Non-Duality Press, in the U.K.