Tag Archives: spirituality

The Overwhelmingness of Emptiness

The Overwhelmingness of Emptiness

Try to picture yourself floating in a dark, black room, with no sound, no smell, and no noticeable air friction. It is totally void of any substance that could trigger your senses. There is no background noise. That is hard enough as it is.

Then try to also get rid of everything you think, all your values, your desires, your fears, your plans, your expectations, your assumptions, your beliefs, and… well, you get the idea. Try to experience something like “true emptiness”.

 

This is so hard that Buddhist monks have to learn how to meditate on emptiness for years on end.

Our minds are busy organizers. They continuously shape our mental universe, our mindscape, into a meaningful whole.

You can see this in the way optical illusions work, and in the way the memory of witnesses of a crime lets itself be reshaped, making it susceptible to suggestion and prone to mistakes. You can see it in the way psychologists use varieties of the Rorschach Inkblot Test, where the minds of their clients see meaningful patterns into what in reality are just random patterns of inkblots on a piece of paper.

 

What does this suggest? Our minds want to create meaning. What psychology and other sciences reveal about this might just as well be the tip of the iceberg.

And natural sciences already  suggests a deeper level of reality where things are behaving counter-intuitively.

 

I would like to take it to another extreme: the “real” deeper level of reality is not in any way definite and is much more profound, non-dual and yet infinitely diverse, and unimaginably more fluid than we could ever perceive in our current state of mind. It is like an infinitely small and dense dot where timeless, spaceless reality is a coexistence of endless possibilities, that never take absolute form, but still are able to take meaningful forms and shape meaningful experiences.

Here in mindscape things are finite. We have limits, we die, things break apart, and time passes without ever repeating the same point on the grand scale of history. Here we see certain colors and discriminate them from a small set of others. We observe shapes and clearly recognize them as objective entities that are separate from others. But what if you really try to experience a greater depth in the things you see? If you see a place in nature with a lot of green colors, maybe your mind will notice a few shades, but that’s it. But what if you try to meditate on one shade of green, and then try to experience thousands if not millions of different shades and a kind of perception of “greenness” that connects them all in a kind of unlimited flow, like a never-ending rainbow?

This is just a first little step on the path to trying to understand and appreciate the overwhelming beauty of deeper reality.

 

And yet, it is empty. It is as empty as the dark black room I mentioned earlier, even emptier. That does not sound as beauty, does it? That does not sound like the overwhelming beauty of deeper reality.

The fault lies with your mind. By emptiness I mean the absence of substance of the mind. Absence of the mind is hardly possible, as we are still living in this current reality. But emptiness can be achieved. It requires us to surrender all our presumptions, beliefs, emotions, values, morals, ideas, shapes, percepts, knowledge, and our experience of space and time. It asks us to let go of everything that dictactes reality, everything that our mind tries to influence or control. And when surrendering this, at the same time we surrender ourselves to what lies beneath this “emptiness”, which is in reality overwhelming emptiness, as it is the very opposite of emptiness. Deeper reality is the fullness of emptiness, it is the screaming silence and the flashing darkness, it is shy humility that overpowers you with unimaginable force. It is the smiling diamond that is both fluid AND crystallized, it is every possible shape and percept AT THE SAME TIME, in a now, a present, that never ends. Of course, the words “time” and “end” do not apply, but such are the limitations of language, which is connected to the mind, being is bound to the same limits.

 

So, if surrendering to deeper reality is so wonderful, why is it so hard?

One word: EGO. Our mind is like an organism, it tries to survive and shape its environment. If fears the unknown, it fears chaos, it fears the unexpected and things it cannot comprehend. It fears this, because it means it cannot maintain its equilibrium, its order, its comfortable little universe that makes sense and gives meaning. But change IS inevitable, just as it is necessary. The comfortable mindscape is actually suffocating and it slowly dies, turning into a meaningless void, a psychological hell. Like in the theory of an expanding universe where the distance between stars will grow so vast, and the temperature and energy levels will decrease to such an extent, that it will become like a frozen void. Why is this? Why can’t the mind just create its own meaning? Because it is not FIT to create meaning. It gets its inspiration not from itself, but from deeper reality, which triggers the unconscious. The ego, the control center of the mind, does not want to acknowledge this, and so struggle and suffering are the logical consequences.

The more the ego resists, the more suffering it will cause, and the more rigid its little orderly universe will be in response. It will experience mental chaos as a result of fighting change, and at times it may give in and surrender, but without full-hearted surrender of the spiritual consciousness that actually falsely identifies itself with the mind, it is bound to return to its rigid state.

 

So, emptiness is beauty, and it requires our FULL surrender, which may take a lifetime to accomplish, but is fully and utterly worth it, because it is more than anything else in mindscape can ever be!

Teachers do not Teach

Dictionaries have clear, but not so useful definitions of what teaching and learning are, and academics offer many theories about how, when and where learning takes place. I want to propose my own view.

Whether or not teachers (in both the specific and general sense) use structural and formal methods to teach and assess students, one can raise questions about the extent to which teachers can influence learning.

 

Communication is not digitalised in human beings, information is processed consciously and unconsciously. Signals from the environment trigger the senses which in turn trigger the brain. In the mind information bits are transformed into constructs and are incorporated into the concept of self. It has to make sense, understable in our own language and frame of reference, and has to provide meaning. The physical process is much more complex, but the point is, whether one sees it from a physical, a spiritual, or just a simplistic point of view, we do not simply receive, store and retrieve data like a computer.

 

Learning theories and common sense tell us that learning is highly influenced by motivation, attitude, curiosity, openness to experience, and previous learning experience. I think this is even more profound on a deeper level, where processing is related to the true self in the more definite reality where information and consciousness seem to be interconnected. More profound learning might take place on this level deeper than conscious experience.

 

Constructs inside the mind will help de learner find the necessary information to communicate and therewith reflect what is being taught. But if learning takes place on a deeper level, then there is no easy way to tell what the mind, in its unique mindverse (or mindscape, the thinking mind’s universe of perception) is actually experiencing when learning or retrieving these concepts.

 

Many teaching methods and conditions seem to make it more likely for the student to be triggered into learning, but it all depends on the readiness and processing mode of the mind. It is like deeper level (sub and/or un)consciousness has to be aroused into a certain state of readiness for meaningful learning to actually take place.

 

I honestly believe that on the deepest level of consciousness-accessible reality all information that may ever possibly exist is already there, undifferentiated, like a fluid flowing without taking a solid, finite state. And I think that this information is accessible if the true self is no longer hidden by the fabrications of the mind.

 

So that, to me, means that learning is just a form of remembering and re-connecting, rather than the acquiring of novelties, of new information.

 

All this, in my view, seems to support the notion that the mind teaches itself (and more notably, if applicable, the true self connects and becomes aware, at a deeper level), rather than that the person is being taught by an external agent. Teachers have little influence on the deeper personal learning experience and more specifically with regards to the forms it takes in the mind and self.

But teachers do have influence on the circumstances that trigger the self to “open up” for learning and that allow for the availability of information that can easily be processed. The mindverse will process consciously, but the true self will just become aware, if it is ready.

 

I think the best way to stimulate a positive learning environment is to let the teacher connect to the students’ mindverse and if possible, to the students’ deeper unconscious perception, that takes place at the level of the true self.

But the teacher can only make this connection by becoming aware of, and expressing his or her own true self and deeper experience.

A teacher who is blind to the true self’s experience or whose consciousness is distorted by emotions, desires, conceptions and other fabrications of the thinking mind, will have to deal with a classroom of students who are also less able to connect to the ideal vibe for learning and growing.

A teacher who is aware, unhindered by the thinking mind, and in a state of acceptance, peace and love, will connect and will allow the students to also more easily open up to learning – depending on the willingness of their own thinking mind and deeper self.

Is charity really selfless?

Generosity is to expand the prison of the selfish self to the free wide world of interconnected humanity, it is the gateway to the higher realm of the true self that is ONE with everything, with love in its purest form.

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Likewise, gratefulness transforms the inevitable disappointment of short term gratification and avoidance of change into the unlimited satisfaction of all-encompassing peace and love – where hunger and pain dissolve into harmless dust particles.
This makes charity a much broader concept, which includes things like:
A smile;
Deciding not to say something hurtful or sarcastic;
Being honest in saying “no” to something, but doing so in the most friendly, respectful way;
Giving your seat to someone else who is in higher need of it;
Giving a compliment;
Understanding others;
Taking into account other people’s feelings whenever you do or say something;
Stopping to try changing people who are not yet ready for it;
Refraining from forcing your opinion;
Submitting to life events rather than complaining about them to others.
Who knows? Your simple act of charity could just be the one thing that convinces someone to change despair into hope. Not doing a small good deed might might just be the last negative trigger for someone who is already standing on the horrifying edge of a suicidal cliff.
Even your kind words might change hell into heaven and storms into a summer breeze. How much do we really know about other people’s struggles and the reasons for their behavior – annoying or not?
And in the end, the biggest profit goes to you, freeing you from your imprisoning “thinking self”.

Is self-confidence important?

Self-confidence is like a rock: sturdy, proud, noticeable, capable of breaking threatening waves of insecurity.

Self-acceptance is like water: subtle, underestimated, but when it seeps into the cracks of a rock and freezes overnight, it causes the rock to break, whereas the water endures, because the water just IS, fluid, without a static conception of self.
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Self-confidence is relative to how you value yourself and how you value the context to which the confidence applies. Self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are based on the belief that the “self” has a value that can be compared to other values – like “good” versus “bad”. It labels the self.
But if the context changes, the conditions on which the value depends, the confidence will be affected.
The root of this problem is the fact that we use labels and values at all.

As I tried to demonstrate in this earlier post, values, labels and thoughts are the business of the “thinking self”, a way of perceiving the world that is not true to the “true self”.

Self-acceptance is therefore more important than self-confidence.