I’m unsure whether to classify space and time as simply necessary categories of experience or objective dimensions that are intuited and schematized by the mind. I don’t have sufficient data to draw one conclusion or the other since I cannot “peer behind the curtain” of experience; everything I know, I know either directly through experience or through derivations from concepts acquired through experience (e.g. my mathematical knowledge).
I also have no way of determining whether pure awareness is reducible to the brain, and hence, that the physicalist thesis is correct, or whether the physical universe is reducible to a kind of nonlocal universal awareness (as Professor Stanley Sobottka argued). I have met people who are all too eager to take one position or the other; my sympathies lie with the latter, though my academic training has led me to similarly incline towards the former.
On the one hand, I am inclined to view nonlocal Awareness, pure being-aware as such, as the most fundamental nature of reality. On the other, I see nothing in the content of awareness that cannot be explained through reference to physical processes (ie. all of the concepts that can be traced back to sense perceptions, all of the sense perceptions themselves; reason itself might be an executive function of the areas of the brain associated with long term and short term memory, where the content of reasoning emerges at the intersection of memory and novel present experience). In this latter view, the mental life is far from impotent; it is a dynamic, active process oscillating between present perceptual experience and memory processed through the interpretive matrix of language and emerging as a stream of thought and meaning. What in the “Cartesian theatre” of daily life cannot be rooted in the brain and the physical universe? I’m unsure about final metaphysical nature of the content of occult experience (e.g. spiritual beings, planes, etc.), since these realities are only ever experienced–to my knowledge–in images and words that can be rooted in the physical world (I’m thinking of Hume here and his analysis of the content of experience into basic sensations and composite perceptions). Perhaps all of occult experience simply happens in the imagination and in the pĥysical world filtered through the imagination. Nearly all of the content of scrying sessions can be accounted for in this way; we achieve our images of the archangels by formulating them out of various physical sensations and images (e.g. wings, halo, flashing colours, caduceus wand, etc.).
Or maybe there are indeed other “spiritual planes” and “entities.” Perhaps these other spiritual planes or entities can only be experienced through the matrix of remembered basic sensations; perhaps these provide it a “form” and a “language” for manifesting in awareness. I don’t know. I’ll keep studying the Golden Dawn traditions and techniques on this subject and exploring them in practice before I come to a conclusion on this subject. In any case, I am uncertain of whether either position is the correct one and have not had sufficient experience or seen sufficiently strong arguments to accept one position or the other definitively. They remain equally possible to me. What matters, in terms of whether I continue to practice the Golden Dawn rituals and elemental magical theories, is not whether either of these aforementioned metaphysical theses is the correct one, but whether they work and positively enhance my life. This, I believe I experience every day, they do. Therefore, I continue to practice, for the rituals are either psychologically useful exercises in imagination, exercises in the real harnessing and directing of real magical forces, or both. And it is not terribly important, for daily living, whichever of these is the case.
However, with that said, were I to have to choose between dualism and a dual-aspect monism, I would prefer the latter, since it is far easier to account for the elements of the body-mind as different aspects of one single substance than to have to account for the existence of two completely non-overlapping and unrelated orders of being.
I used to draw a distinction between “consciousness” and “awareness,” where consciousness referred to the conditional relations of being conscious of the content of the physical body/universe through all of the senses and awareness referred to the unconditional being-aware as such. It seemed to me that the latter was the unconditional condition for the former and that the former was the extension of the latter into an experiential matrix, the 4-dimensional world. This was not solipsism since the awareness that experienced the fairly stable (though constantly changing) physical universe was one and the same in all beings; it was not the case that all of the universe is in “my mind,” but that the nonlocal awareness experiences itself through all observers of all species.
I arrived at this viewpoint as a result of my meditative work and contemplation. Currently, I neither reject nor fully embrace it. I view it as a fairly reasonable possibility that is able to allow for a common 4-dimensional universe that obeys stable laws of physics, chemistry, etc. while accounting for the reality of pure awareness, pure being-aware, which is present even when there is no content of consciousness whatsoever (e.g. in deep sleep, as yoga nidra is designed to experientially demonstrate to the yogi). Perhaps these are only conceptual lenses formulated through the human categories of perception and thouht and the real state of things is untranslateable into thought. I do not know, but I know that I do not know and am content to continue walking the path in that spirit.