Realization of the subtle, deep subject

There are a strong influence of Buddhist thought in the West, especially about Mindfulness, but there is also some acceptance of non-dualist currents based on Vedanta. Both Buddhism and Vedanta dilute the concept of individual, considering that ultimately there is only a luminous mind without content, a vacuum full of potentiality, or there is only consciousness, respectively. These are the two predominant Oriental tendencies in spiritual, non-religious thought, which is now more heavily weighted in the West. This is probably due to the intellectual rejection that has occurred with respect to traditional religions as an effect, since in this vision, ultimately, there is no personal subject, therefore there can be no God, no soul at all.

Yet, knowing that it is swimming against the current, I must defend here the real existence of a personal subject, more subtle than the psychological personality. And I’m doing it not following beliefs, but for personal experiences, supported by readings of diverse texts, many of them also oriental, in the line of Yoga.

I think evolution tends precisely to engender subjects, or individualities, more and more subtle. Thus, since the original explosion of the “Big Bang” that created the Universe, it went from a kind of “cosmic soup” of undifferentiated radiation, where time and space did not yet have a meaning, to the current complicated aspect, with galaxies , Stars, solar systems and planets, all defined physical entities, individual. After life was created from inanimate matter, undifferentiated, we have another step towards a more defined individuality: each living being is. Later in the history of evolution consciousness appears, when the living being acquires a nervous system sufficiently evolved for it. Consciousness allows the living being to be a subject that observes the exterior, separates it from the environment on a more subtle level, not only has a differentiated physical form, but also has a very simple cognition that separates it more subtly from the environment.


Evolution of life. From Wikipedia.

But that being does not yet “know” that he is somebody. As the nervous system evolves, the individual mind appears, with an enormous power of separation: the living being catalogs all that observes, sees everything as separate objects: a tree, a cloud, another animal, a prey, and so on. Finally, he comes to perceive himself as separate, with an existence of his own.

In the human species, the evolution of the individual subject continues, generating an increasingly subtle individuality: the individual thinks to himself, becomes a concept, a psychological self, a personality that inhabits a body. By practicing meditation, the subject learns to separate the observer from his thoughts, moving another step in the evolution of more and more subtle individuality: what or who is that “observer” beyond thoughts, and emotions? And when we arrive here is when we find the denial of the individual who defend Buddhism and Vedanta non-duality. The whole course of evolution, of creating a more and more subtle individuality, reaches a point where individuality is simply lost, so they say. But there is another point of view: individuality continues to evolve, it comes to such a subtlety that it may seem that it does not exist, since it has run out of attributes, you can not define it with concepts, because it has transcended them, but still exists. There is still “someone” who experiences, who lives events, but from a nonphysical level, extraordinarily subtle. But not because it is so subtle it is weak: on the contrary, when it is realized, it is extraordinarily stable, it does not affect any external event, it does not depend on anything to be, it is no object, no concept, it is pure subjectivity.

When the person meditates for many years, constantly practicing, but only in the line of development of consciousness itself, expanding it, its development tends to lead to a non-duality, not to identify itself as a being with separate existence, seeing only the whole, the total Being alone. So we become what we develop, and if you work only in this line, you advance only in it and not in others. In the same way, if we meditate on the ultimate nature of the mind, and only in that aspect, we can reach the bottom of the mind, which is pure clarity without objects, and thus we do not develop our subject consciousness.

But we can also work in the line of searching, reflecting and meditating on the subject of all experiences, on the central point of our field of consciousness. Instead of simply expanding our consciousness to the infinite, expanding it, we can also deepen it, bringing it to its center, beyond thoughts and concepts, asking: who is conscious? This is the path of realization of the ultimate subject. And it is not incompatible with others, but complementary: we can, and I think it is the best, to work our conscience in an expansive, broad way, and also to deepen, reaching the bottom, its origin, that punctual focus that is our individuality deeper. In this way our development is complete, and in addition follows the natural course of evolution, which we have already seen tends to create more and more subtle individualities. We will then know that there is only one total Being, but it is also true that we live it through our individuality, which is the natural product of evolution.


Delusions of separateness


In the Universe of delusions of our little individual mind there are one category that is specially harmful for ourselves: separateness. In the picture I illustrate it: in a vast Sea we can see countless contiguous waves, all of them forming part of the Sea. If any wave had a little individual mind, then it were possible situations like the one of the picture: a wave feeling alone, looking for friendship, maybe for love, and moreover, hoping a forever unchanged relationship. There are other delusions also originated from separateness, that are even more dangerous: see the others as different from ourselves, and fear or even reject such differences.

A wave of the Sea is unstable, fickle, and last for a short lapse of time, there are not any stable part in it, and of course is not alone at all, but surrounded by other waves of their same nature; analyzing with our mind any wave, we can see differences between them: there are tall and short waves, large and small, breaking and smooth ones, newborn and old ones, etc., but, all of them are waves. Also, human being is unstable, fickle, and last for a short lapse of time, and lives surrounded by billions of fellows. Why this sense of separateness?

The delusions of separateness and his by-products are originated,  created by our individual mind. Indeed, is the main function of the so-named psychological ego, a mental construct that feels separated from all the environment, and feels threatened for anything that challenges their sense of separateness … but at the same time such separateness make him very weak, so the ego is always looking for protection, for security, for a stable environment, for people who help him to survive. In this complicated two directions movement, towards separateness for survive as an individual ego, and also towards the others for have help, human being lives. Is a very  complicated balance, producing schizophrenic behavior: people walking on the street, coinciding on a elevator, or in a train car, avoiding eye contact, for fear to be damaged in some way; neighbors in apartments, living side-by-side for decades, without almost any human contact,  family living  people wanting to live home, maybe divorcing, maybe emancipating prematurely due to hard disputes with parents, etc etc.

Just imagine we stop “looking at the navel” and instead we start to look at reality without mental filters, what we can see then? Is easy: a Sea of billions of fellows, with out same characteristics, exactly the same, the ones of the human specie. Also, we can see our little mind is no more than a product of Nature, and also has the same characteristics in all our fellows. We are strongly focused on the differences, and don’t realize the similitudes, the oneness that embraces all the individuals.


If those penguins had Ego, many of them were lonely there, others would fell threatened by others, and some of them will attack others

Indeed, we have here an enigma: there is a Natural force named the evolution of species, and also other force named conservation of the species; both acting coordinately. The former are dedicated to “tuning” the species for improve their adaptation, but also is able to create new species; the last is the conservative one, dedicated to exactly reply the DNA from individual to individual, and also to defense against eternal attacks. It happens that evolution, the first force, has given us human beings a so developed nervous system (originally created for help the second Natural force, conservation of the individual) that creates a virtual psychological ego, so worried for survive that is able to involve himself in armed conflicts … killing other members of their own specie for political, or religious, or other reasons (that is, psychological invented reasons)… so attacking directly the Natural force of conservation of species!  Maybe human being is an error of the evolution? Then, our future will be become extinct for our own hand. Maybe is an intermediate product toward a new specie? I think so, also Eckhart Tolle, the well known writer and speaker, think in this way, see for example The Ego, the Now, Evolution and Madness: An Interview with Eckhart Tolle.

Spiritual Psychology

Classical Indian mysticism compares the mind to a lake, there are strong winds called emotions blowing on the surface; as a result, the water is moving constantly, sometimes slightly, sometimes making a storm. There are two paths for overcome such storms: one is calming the mind, which become peaceful like a high mountain lake; the other is learning to dive into the depths of mind. The former can be achieved through meditation and also through other disciplines, like emotional management, positive psychology, relaxation, and others. The last, a more direct approach, as far as I know can only be achieved through meditation; what we will find under the surface of mind? The description we will give here could be named the one of  a “Spiritual Psychology”.

Just below the surface there are a small level named individual consciousness; being so near to the surface, such level is still easily stirred by the winds of emotions and sense impressions. In this level we live the duality: we identify us with our thoughts, and we believe we are separated from the world.

Underlying this level we can find the depths of collective unconscious, named “alaya-vijnana” for the Buddha. This level is non-dual: there are only one alaya-vijnana, when we reach it, our consciousness expands embracing the whole. If we learn to dive into such deep level of mind, we become free from the influence of any storm at the surface; there are no need to calm the winds, simply we are not affected by them. Is easy to find people training themselves for achieve very difficult aims,  like run a Marathon, climb the Himalayas, swim kilometers in the sea, … but of what real use is all of it? With similar amount of effort we learn to dive in our deep mind, achieving the peace which overcome any description, named “Shanti” in the Hindu tradition, or “the peace of the Lord” in the Christian one.

There are a lot of disciplines and methods that study the mind from the same point of view  also used for study the physical environment; being the mind so subtil, seems clear that such methods are too rude for really dive deep in the nature of mind. Moreover, being ourselves identified with our mind, we become unable for to be objective, living only in the surface of the mind. When we dive the mind through meditation, we discover our identity is beyond our individual mind; in such peaceful state we experience the bliss of the unified life; in such moments we live as, we are the soul, or the higher self, or the Atman, there are many names for label it, but names are not important, is a lived experience, we must live it for ourselves.

Nature evolution has given us with a so sophisticated nervous system that it be able to connect, through appropriate training and tuning, with subtil, higher orders of existence, beyond the physical world. Ancient sages of India and also of Egypt was, maybe, the first divers of the mind, about two or three thousand years ago; now a days there are hundreds of thousand of meditators, following any of the many self development disciplines. Knowing the first human beings appeared on the Earth about two millions years ago, the time between the first meditators and us seems very short:

temps humanitat

Using a scale of 100.000 years, the time between us and the first known meditators appears as a point (in the figure, the red point) in the last section of human being existence on Earth. 

From this point of view, seems we are the first of a new human species, the meditators one, and we live in a transition epoch, at the doors of a new gold age:

Tao evolución

The next step of human evolution? Image from the book “Buddha’s Nature – Wes Nisker

This post was inspired by the book “Conquest of Mind” by Eknath Easwaran, and also is based on personal experiences.