Materialism assumes all experience ultimately has its basis in matter—physical brain, body, things, and world are made up of atoms existing objectively. Correlate to this paradigm is the denial of the existence of a creator God standing outside the cosmos. At the core, we are fundamentally material atoms (or quarks or strings, depending on one’s model of physical reality). At risk of oversimplification, this can be seen as the dominant received paradigm of westernized global modernity.
Consciousness theory of non-duality assumes all experience ultimately has its basis in consciousness—brain, body, things, and world are made up of consciousness existing objectively. Correlate to this paradigm is the affirming of the existence of a creator God that is none other than infinite consciousness alone. At the core, we are fundamentally consciousness that is one with infinite consciousness or God. Deriving largely from Asian spiritual philosophical systems, this paradigm is finding some vocal support in global postmodernity.
Premature conclusions —
Either way, each paradigm falls into the error of premature conclusion. A materialist paradigm prematurely concludes that reality is material and no God exists outside material reality. There is no way of ultimately proving or falsifying this claim. A consciousness paradigm prematurely concludes that reality including God is nothing but consciousness. Both defer to experience as ‘proof’ of their ontological claims. A materialist might use a super-powerful microscope (if such exists) to perceive fundamental particles of material reality while inferring that mind or consciousness emerges or derives from such material particles—without any means of proving or falsifying this claim.
A consciousness advocate might use contemplative methods to realize an experience of infinite consciousness while observing that all mental and physical realities derive from such consciousness. Also, this experience of infinite consciousness is inferred to be the creator God nondual from individual consciousness. The reality of an experience of infinite creative consciousness is no issue—but to conclude from that experience the ontological truth of God as none other than consciousness disregards the very real option of God standing ontologically outside that experience itself. This option is plausible however extraordinary or novel the experience of infinite consciousness might be.
Both paradigms thus make inferences in absence of the capacity for proof or falsification. Both have committed the fallacy of premature determination. Of the two, the consciousness paradigm is more persuasive and definitely more amenable to empirical verification than materialism for me.
What is assumed to be material reality is known and instantiated to be real by consciousness alone. Whatever is known of the body, mind, and world are only thoughts, sensations, and perceptions. Whatever is known about thought, sensations, perceptions are only thinking, sensing, perceiving. Whatever is known about thinking, sensing, and perceiving is only the knowing of them. All that is ever known is knowing. And it is this knowing that alone knows itself (borrowing these lines from Rupert Spira). Thus, experientially, this consciousness or knowing becomes all that is known, and all that is known is knowing alone.
That said, it is entirely possible that something objective stands outside knowing, be it atoms or God. It is also possible that nothing does. Either way, we cannot ascertain indubitably and solely from our own side, on the basis of our experience alone.
Encountering self-revealing grace —
Be that as it may, another possibility exists in relation to God regardless of materialist and consciousness views: that a Creator standing outside the created cosmos and consciousness can exist—not to be known as an object of mind or content of consciousness but through his self-revealing of himself, his very being.
So, it is entirely possible for God existing outside our knowing to speak into our knowing. By grace, he intrudes into and disrupts our consciousness such that (1) we can know his enfleshed existence in history as an object of our minds and as subject of our existence; and (2) he knows us as objects of his mind, content of his consciousness, beloved ones of his heart.
In this second case, I can only sense myself being known, drawn close to, embraced by, and loved in pure intimacy and acceptance by one who transcends my consciousness, however infinite in magnitude this consciousness may seem; but I cannot know him as the object of my mind. For he hovers at the unseen margins of my (who is merely imputed) consciousness. In this oblique sense, God impresses upon consciousness his wholly other existence and activity. Through this self-revelation of the wholly other God, by his initiative and grace alone, we can come to a different knowing that is permeated and saturated by God’s presence.
This tangential knowing of God is not controllable by thought, meditation, or any other means coming from oneself. We cannot say with certainty when, where, or how it will occur. But that fact alone does not deny the reality of revelatory moments like these.
In conclusion, we can follow as far as consciousness teachings go and simply wait in open receptivity for revelatory moments of insight, whenever and wherever they might occur. Restfully awake and receptive consciousness—nondual knowing of knowing, naturally empty and luminous and blissful—then becomes of great and lasting importance in our journey of inquiry and meditation melting into love. This possibility is imminently open to us: tangential realization of a wholly-other Creator outside the cosmos and the unseen margins of consciousness; a wholly-other grace that is paralogically (i.e. both/and logic) embodied and transcendent, who interrupts our existence and melts all preconceptions in the white fire of love. Within this nondually mutual dance of love is found a supernatural naturalness and effortlessness to meditation. It is the pathless path of 'non-meditation.'