If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
I always finish my meditation with some reflections: after 20 minutes of mental silence and peace, I present to such mind some difficult question, like “what is time?”, “what is ‘evolution’ “? “what is the relationship between our inner observer and the whole”? etc. and then I remain silent, trying to see, catch, receive some information about the question, without any intellectual activity, only listen, so to speak. Is a “reflective meditation“.
Sometimes, not always, acting in this way, I really receive some insights, and sometimes, then, I try to write it here, you know, is not easy transcript an insight in words. It has happened sometimes that when I look for some more information about an insight, I find it described in an old tradition, maybe the Upanishads, maybe the Kybalion, etc. In such times, of course, I feel excited, seeing a coincidence between my intuitions and the intuitions of writers occurred centuries ago.
One of the most lucid and powerful insights I have had was the existence of an Universal Mind pervading everything, in fact, all around us, even ourselves, are pure energy which it is given material form through Nature Laws (like gravity, nuclear forces, etc); such laws are information, like a program in a computer, and the execution of such program is the task of a Mind. Even our individual mind, hosted on our brain, is governed for laws executed by a Mind, as I explained in a mind inside a Mind. I know such statements can sound incredible, but partly are based on Physics science; Bernard d’Espagnat, a physicist who was very interested for the nature of reality, wrote is their book “In Search of Reality:
…the contributions of physics are essential to achieve a valid world view, not superficial and not arbitrary, overcoming excessively naive or animists representations. Bernard d’Espagnat
Espagnat proposes that “reality” is essentially non-physical, and physical phenomena we observe only be explained by assuming the existence of the Self. He won the Templeton Prize for religion, and in the nominating letter, we can read “Espagnat has constructed a coherent body of work which shows why it is credible that the human mind is capable of perceiving deeper realities.” So, why is not possible in our times a person reflecting daily were capable of find the same insights that thinkers of old times also found centuries ago?
Some days ago, I was reflecting on the nature of the “inner witness” that all the meditators, in all the world and all times, has detected; our inner witness has no dimensions, is not physic, but at the same time has potentialities: awareness, perfect pure loving-kindness-peace, and pure energy; why such high being is collapsed for layers of matter, becoming unaware of himself? That was my question. And the insight was:
like a seed is potentially a tree, but needs to be buried in the ground for become stimulated to grow, like the intimate contact of the seed with the soil awakes the potentialities of the seed for become a tree, so the soul needs to be buried in the mind and in the matter for become stimulated to grow as a radiant being who knows himself as He is.
Like all the authentic insights do, this one also shocked me with the realization of a truth, beyond any intellectual rumination. We are seeds growing in the soil of mind and matter … wow! Then, as I always do, I look for some information related to my insight. Then, I remembered have read long time ago, about twenty years ago, an old book about the creation and evolution of life belonging to the school of thought named Theosophy, such book is about the subtle bodies, I found it in the Internet for free downloading : The Causal Body & The Ego – by Arthur E Powell, Theosophical Press, 1928. And I found there some writing related to my insight:
… we must note the origination of the Monads, or units of consciousness, for whose evolution in matter the field of a universe is prepared. (…) The Monad of Theosophy, is the Jivatma of Indian Philosophy, the Purusha of the Samkya, the particularised Self of the Vedanta.
So there are “Units of consciousness” evolved thanks to be immersed in a material, physic Universe. More on that:
These units of Consciousness, (…) who have not yet been –”made perfect through suffering”. Each of them, is truly “equal to the Father as touching his Godhead, but inferior to the Father as touching his manhood”, in the words of the Athanasian Creed. Each of them is to go forth into matter in order “to render all things subject to himself” [ 1 Corinthians xv. 28]. He is to be “sown in weakness” that he may be “raised in power” [ibid.xv.43]. From a static condition unfolding all divine potentialities, he is to become dynamic, unfolding all divine powers.
At this point of my read, I became too shocked, too may coincidences with my insights, so I stopped and returned to my daily tasks, it was too strong for assimilate in so little lapse of time. But anyway I’m writing here about all. Next days I’ll continue reflecting about the topic, slowly, unhurried, because such high knowledge needs a calm, fresh and opened mind.
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:
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:
This post was inspired by the book “Conquest of Mind” by Eknath Easwaran, and also is based on personal experiences.
Human being has two dimensions. In one dimension, as a part of the whole, he is Nature, he is Universe, their personality is a creation of the Universe, and is in constant interchange, intercommunication with their environment; their body is matter, and their individual mind is also a product of the evolution, a product of the Nature. But besides that, human being also has an identity, an individuality; even with the constant interchange with all their environment, even continuously changing, something in him keeps him self-aware. The evolution of the identity of human being involves both dimensions, both directions: connecting with the environment and also developing the sense of be somebody beyond the environment.
The former aspect is the phenomenological, the existencial one; the person lives it as if it were two different things: the objective world, outside them, and the subjective world, within them. Indeed, both things are subjective, because the person only can experience the contents of their individual consciousness; their mind divide their field of consciousness into separated zones, one zone is labelled as “I and my“, other zone is labelled as “not I, not mine“, but indeed all the stuff is in the same field, their own field of consciousness. We are not claiming here “there are not an objective external reality”, we are only saying that people only knows the objects into their consciousness, and such objects are made of all of their experiences and knowledge, but very often people don’t realize this fact, thinking about their own consciousness objects like they were external ones.
There are a possible evolution here: expanding the field of individual consciousness, integrating all their objects, searching relationships between them, and realizing the unity in the diversity of objects: all of them are contents of one unique field. This manifests itself as a progressive control of the outside world, as well as the need to organize that knowledge of the world within itself. Science is one of the ways of do it, trying to learn the way of being and working of things. We, as a human specie, are involved in such evolution.
In the same way, but going beyond, when the individual mind relax their classification of the objects of consciousness in categories “external” and “internal”, then all the objects of knowledge are seen in one unique field without added separations; as a result, the identity of the person, so far it identified with some of these consciousness objects (like my thoughts, ideas, body, etc.) experiences an expansion: the person now feels he is, in some way, all their objects of consciousness, without exclusions, he is in all, and all is in him. Indeed, in such state, the person identifies with their consciousness as a whole, not with any particular object; is a non-dual state of being: the subject and the object are the same.
There comes a time when the person realize he, as an identity, is not any thing, but a pure subject beyond any object or name. He is not their ideas, even he’s not their personality. Their ultimate identity is nothing, but a “nothing” that is pure power, potential energy. In their field of consciousness their ultimate identity appears like a non dimension point. Living from this deep point he feel the sensorial world as very far.
When the person develops such punctual awareness, realizing the ultimate subject, all the things become external to him, all are external objects, except himself who is subject. At the same time he realizes all he experiences is part of their own consciousness, so in some way, all the “external” objects are himself. So there are a motion: an expansion in which he recognises himself being all, and a contraction in which he lets go all and simply he is, no more. Usually the person lives in some point between such two extremes; the reality covers all, from one point to the whole. The personal reality, or field of personal consciousness, is like a flat Galaxy: there are a lot of matter, of things; we can live and even identify with some of them, or with other of them. In the middle of the field there are the nucleus of the Galaxy, our true identity. From this center we have perspective of all the field.
Numerous testimonies from various places, traditions and times, testify is possible to expand our identity/awareness in other dimension, we can say a “vertical” dimension, in contrast to the “horizontal” one, of which we have spoken before. When the person is used to live as a “self” independently of the environment, including their emotions and thoughts, which now are lived like “external” to him, may spontaneously open to the Universal Self which is inside of all. He himself is like a little Universe, a Galaxy, surrounded by the whole Universe. And this Universe also has two facets: the objects and the subject; who is the ultimate subject? the Self, who is unique, existing in all, and at the same time transcending all. Then, he discover there are only one Self, expressing in some way as many.
Last week was not a good one for my wife, so also not for me: after two years of disease, she became worst. Slepless nights, worries, go to work with headache, and a sense of frustration , also negative thoughts, like “I can’t do anything more, I abandon, I can’t … etc”. I realized one thing is to be able for contact, for touch, our inner peace, which lives within us, always stable, always peaceful, and other thing is to be able of act and think positively in front of a storm. I can “visit” the peace, for rest, but the world still are a hard, dangerous site.
Family gathered for dinner, we usually watch TV, bad habit, I know it, but we do it. Watching a documentary about a filipino woman, married, poor, who went to Saudi Arabia for work as a cook in a house, the owner threatened her with a knife, rape her, she became pregant, then she had to escape from the country like a criminal due to the laws there, which condemn with jail any pregnant unmarried woman without further consideration … not a good documentary for improve mood.
Later, I scanned the channels looking for something better for my mood, and found a cartoon movie, “Prince of Egypt”, I have watched it yet, but I decided to stay for a while. The main character, Moses, is hosted in a desert tribe; he’s is discouraged, he feels his life is worthless, and the life has no sense. An old tribe sage noticed it, and started to sing:
A single thread in a tapestry
though its color brightly shines
can never see its purpose
in the pattern of the grand design
At this point I started to pay attention, because something resonates within me, my mind state was similar to Moses …
And the stone that sits up on the very top
of the mountain’s mighty face
doesn’t think it’s more important
than the stones that forms the base
Yeah , I think so, each of us has a role in this play that is life, and all are important …
So how can you see what your life is worth
or where your value lies
you can never see through the eyes of man
you must look at your life
look at your life through heaven’s eyes
Aha … but, what is “heaven’s eyes”? for me, is a look from an open, clean, illuminated mind. A little mind is always a closed one, watching only a little bit of the whole, but, in their ignorance, judging the whole based only on a small part. It was like a breath of fresh air for me. I “only” can love and support my wife, I can’t do any more, but is not a little value act at all, even seeing she are still bad.
Should a man lose everything he owns
has he truly lost his worth
or is it the beginning
of a new and brighter birth
Indeed, all the brutality of this world, the unfair laws, the oppression, brutality, wars, violence, etc, etc, are the expression of Natural laws through the human mind. Why on earth the mantis devours her consort? In Nature, the weak perish, nobody help the sick, nobody care the wounded, the hungry. Violence is a natural instinct. As a specie we already are rational animals: the instinct of the jungle lives within us, moving our thoughts; that’s why all the violence in our world, is the natural one but rationalized through our intellect. But also we have the ability of transcend our instincts, so our advanced societies offer protection for the weak, for the ill. Our potential is unlimited, because we have not only an intellect, but also a spiritual facet. Even now a days we the humankind have coined a new concept: spiritual intelligence, did you have heard it before? I think is really great that exist such concept, because it means our higher spiritual possibilities are no longer ill-defined, or just religious stuff, but clear concepts and, more important, skills we can develop.
No life can escape being blown about
by the winds of change and chance
and though you never know all the steps
you must learn to join the dance
you must learn to join the dance
Yeah, let’s dance, the dance of life, even unknowing all the steps, is the only way for learn to dance.
So how do you judge what a man is worth
By what he builds or buys
You can never see with your eyes on earth
Look through Heaven’s eyes, look at your life
Look at your life
Look at your life through Heaven’s eyes
In this post I transcribe some quotes uttered by the Zen master Berta Meneses in a lecture, including a personal brief comment.
An antidote for desire is freedom.
Since desire binds us to the objects of desire, making us dependent on them, so not free.
We don’t need solve our problems, we need dissolve them.
The “problems” really are generated in our mind in response to events that we do not like, so we oppose to the reality; relaxing mind these problems-ideas become dissolved, as a block of salt in water.
Let it be, let it go.
Let the One who dwells within us to express, let it be, and at the same time, let the existence elapses, flow, let it pass in front of us, watching.
It is necessary to conduct a “drain” of the unconscious.
The unconscious mind is accumulating experiences that have not been fully lived, have not been assimilated, either by conscious rejection, either by inability to grasp their meaning. We need to drop things, clearing all this accumulation we have in the back room.
Be centered in action: between the external stimulus and our response to the stimulus we must insert a brief space, and fill that space of awareness, presence.
For our responses to stimuli from the outside world no longer be automatic, for we do not behave like automatons, we must train in notice the short space of time between the stimulus and response, and once there, be present at that moment. Thus, the answer will be given progressively more and more aware, will be more authentic, less conditioned.
Let’s talk, say things from the depths, from our center.
This is an example of be centered in action: action in this case is talking. Before speaking, in the earlier time, we are fully present, then our speech will arise from our center and be inspired, energized. Our speech is often uprooted, far from our being.
The teacher-student dialogue is a dialogue heart to heart, no one is” superior “to another.
A true spiritual teacher does not purport to be superior to anyone, because this attitude is typical of the ego, which the teacher is free. What the teacher really wants in the dialogue with the disciple is to help him raise consciousness to more subtle levels, trying to convey an experience, something the teacher is already living.
A koan is nor a riddle, nor a paradox; It is an approach that uses opposites we have to transcend, looking at them from a higher level of consciousness, seeing, feeling that “nothing” that is the matrix of all that exists. The koan is not answered, the koan creates an experience.
It is common in the West go wrong with the concept of koan, interpreting it as a riddle for which must be found answer. Is not that. It is an invitation to transcend our conventional mind.
Zen aims to embody the essence, the Self, in the world.
Zen is not a means to “escape” from this phenomenal world going to a more subtle, but on the contrary, connects the two worlds, allowing higher levels of consciousness manifest here and now.
This is an issue of great importance because ignorance is the mechanism responsible for all our misfortunes and is something that is constantly running.
The error occurs when we identify ourselves with the things that we live, the things that happen, and what we feel and think. The relationship with the world causes us a continuous series of internal movements (psychic) and each has its importance, but we do not live only its importance but we live as if we were the movements. Although I can identify with many things, all identifications are based on an original identification: identification with the idea I have of myself.
It is necessary to step back and see what little sense that you pass from one identification to another. It imposes the deal with the problem and said: “If I think at one point being that idea, that situation, that success, I’m representing that character, and then this happens, and I see that I play to be something else … does not it make all this an artificial, false character? What is my true identity? Who am I, really? For, while I don’t discover who I really am, I’ll keep believing to be another thing, and I will keep heeding what will happen to that other thing which I’m confounding”.
The body is something of mine; it’s not me. It’s something that I possess, through which I express myself physically and act, but I am not the body. The body is subject to a number of changes over the years and is changing all its cellular condition, all his “tissue” and yet, I’m still me. My body now has no material element of which was 10 or 15 years ago.
The entire range which is my emotions, states of euphoria, sadness, affection, rejection, resentment, illusions, etc., all that vast emotional range, are also things I feel, that I have, that I live, but I, as a subject, I’m not any of those things where I live, are things that happen through me. Because I stay and things are going, I‘m still the same before and after. So, the things that happen, the things I feel, whether pleasant or unpleasant, high or low, does not add or take away anything to my depth, the deep subject that I am.
If I learn to discover my deep identity and to live anchored in such I, then I would live all my feelings but would not be deeply affected by them. Feelings still exist because it would be natural that they exist, but the confusion between me are vanished, so I’m able to maintain a serenity and management capacity and control over situations. I’ll enjoy more the positive eliminating the negative by the absence of identification, but also I would live more authentically, more in line with the reality of my own deep identity.
I am none of the movements of my mind. My mind is constantly thinking, handles images and ideas and made judgements; but I’m who handled the mind. Before, during and after thinking process, I am always the same. I am the subject who is behind, and just because I am not none the thoughts, so I keep thinking and thinking and can leave remain the same.
When thoughts have a link with the basic thought of myself (the I–idea), then I confuse me with my thoughts. But a thought is just a representation of something, there is nothing in itself, is like a picture of something, is not the thing, just as the image of a person is not the person. And such representation is mine, is like an internal object within my mind.
Both my body and my affection and my mind are all important, but they are instruments, are not myself. I am none of the things I can see or feel or think. I can not be anything that is an object for my consciousness, because I‘m on the other end of consciousness. I’m the subject who sees. I am the living subject.
Only when I see clearly that I am constantly making mistakes in my attitude, taking myself for my things, only then I will be motivated to try to discover who I really am. Unless I see the problem, I do not seek your solution. If I don’t find that I am living in error, I do not seek the truth. Therefore it is necessary to reflect and realize what happens when you live wrong, see what hurts and why, to discover on our own experience what are happening; rather than complain, protest or flee, look. Adopt an intelligent attitude to things that you are negatively living, and discover that what is pain or concern for me, it is because I am confused with something that I’m really not.
My conscience often live only the outer half of my experience and let forgotten (closed) the inner end of the experience. We must be attentive to the notion that one‘s self as a subject while living everything. Is an extension of my current consciousness to include the subject rather than just the object of experience.
What I am never can be described in intellectual way, because what I am is no object. What I am is something that seems intangible. That’s why do not we pay attention. Seems nothing. Yet it is the source of all experience arises; is the source of all my energy, all my ability of insight and understanding, all my capacity for affection and happiness arises all from this core that I am.
We can not describe what this such “I”, because any description would describe it as giving a limited content, objective, what is essentially subject, which would be a contradiction. But we can guess that this is the most important of our lives.