A follow-up question to my post about contradictions came in:
Q: Could we simply say that there are two aspects of the same one awareness--one aspect which is always affected by experiences and one which never is?
And if so, then it seems that even if complete, abiding realization of one's true nature occurs within a particular body/mind instrument, that as soon as that vessel 'dies' (stops functioning), then suffering would simply continue in another body despite the 'enlightenment' since there's no separate individual self to become liberated from suffering. It seems that suffering would also be eternal with or without realization of one's true nature as the unaffected aware space, although you say below that the imprinting (suffering?) gets dissolved eventually. So...do you have any particular insights to share about the 'eventually' part, since our true nature is said to be beyond/without any relationship to time altogether?
A: You ask such good questions! My own sense of the "eventually" part of the story is that since our true nature is not harmed by "suffering", the eternal aspect of our being just keeps on trucking in and out of all kinds of identifications, attachments, imprintings, and yes sufferings, before and after any kind of spiritual realization. Eternity is a lot of time to fill up, and so it gets very creative at generating new and unexplored dimensions of experience to try on for size.
Suffering is just a particular movement of our consciousness and is not really a problem, or a mistake. It is just a part of the game to make it seem like a problem. Suffering is just the movement of desire or avoidance, but this can become very subtle. Is it suffering if you are enjoying desire itself? I find the closer I get to fully experiencing my own suffering, the less suffering there is. I am not sure exactly where the line is between suffering and not suffering, but lots of activity that continues after a spiritual realization may look like suffering on the outside, but not really be experienced that way on the inside.
This is a very dynamic and fluctuating experience. To me the ideal is not to reach some place of ultimate expansion and dis-identification that is completely free of all suffering and creating. Instead the ideal is a complete flexibility to identify and dis-identify, to desire and to release desires, to suffer and then to also discover the joy in suffering itself, without getting stuck anywhere. And just looking around it seems that Being as a whole is not in any rush to be completely done with anything. Given the incredible variety of experience, it seems to be enjoying its inherent flexibility to the max!
Since eternity has no beginning and no end, maybe we can see this moment, just as it is, as the fullest expression of existence possible. Maybe "eventually" does not really matter because in eternity we are always already there! This experience and this moment are just as valuable to our deepest Being as every other moment and every other experience to come. Yes, spiritual realization and shifts in our degree of suffering are different experiences, but maybe they are not really any better...just different. To a completely invlunerable Being living in an eternal universe, the only thing that matters is differences. Since nothing matters really, awareness makes it "matter" by uncovering differences. And the most dramatic differences are created by identification and dis-identification, and the desires at the root of our suffering. If you change who you experience your self as, you change everything. If you change what you want, you change almost everything. So Being plays with desiring and creating and striving and seeking and all of the infinite ways it can "suffer" and then "not suffer". Again, with so much time on its hands, why wouldn't Being try it every which way.
If the ultimate is the complete flexibility to have any identity and any possible experience, then everyone is already experiencing some aspect of this ultimate reality. Even getting stuck in some identity or place of suffering is one of the aspects our true nature is free to explore. And again since we are speaking about eternity, no one is ever "stuck" forever.
Ultimate freedom is not somewhere we get to, it is a place we have always been exploring and are never done exploring. Ultimate freedom is dancing as the experience you are having right now.