Search Results for: Love and hate
The title above is a phrase describing a position voiced by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). I find it somewhat puzzling. I am no theologian, but to my thinking there appears to be an implicit theology in their name. Unitarian obviously derives from unitary or one. Since this church began as a Christian church, I assume that, at least in its origins, it held a belief in God. Thus, Unitarian implies that God is One. I would also suggest that the One God would be all inclusive. If God is all inclusive, then everything that exists is a manifestation of God, which includes every living thing. All is in God. In other words, panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism) to use a religious term or to use more philosophic terms nondualism or monistic idealism. It is also possible that the position that God is One is simply a refutation of the Trinity commonly advocated in Christian theology.
I checked my interpretation with someone knowledgeable about UU theology, a professor of religion who is also a UU minister. I was assured that my nondual interpretation was correct. Further, my alternate hypothesis that one God was simply a refutation of the Trinity was also correct. I will now turn to the word Universalism. My take on this word’s contribution to the UUA’s historic theology is that it further reinforces the pervasive or all-encompassing nature of God. Everything is an expression of God and thus inclusive in the One. The concepts of Heaven and Hell, and God and Satan, clearly mark Christianity as dualistic and out of step with the One. It doesn’t matter if one is Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist or what have you. God is all inclusive and embraces all people everywhere. Thus, if Jesus was a God realized man through whom God was truly expressed, then it would be highly unlikely that Jesus would espouse any position contrary to the One. Clearly Christianity isn’t a nondual religion, which gives one pause.
So, back to the title. If all is One, how can there be sides in unity, or how can One be two? To be on the side of love implies that there is another side, which would appear to be hate or fear. This clearly suggests dualistic thinking. Its a position that we have seen enough of in religions. We’re the good guys on our way to Heaven and you’re the bad guys on your way to Hell. This divisive and dualistic approach serves only to stimulate contention. From a nondual perspective, supporting the duality of love and hate actually serves to strengthen it. I recall reading somewhere that “you cannot be in the light while holding another in darkness.” Isn’t this exactly what the UUA’s position is attempting to do? Might it better be served by taking a position grounded in non-dualistic thinking such as “Love reaching out to Love” or “All is Love” or “Love is the Source.” To quote the legendary philosophical group — the Beatles — love, love, love is all you need.
The discussion of this program is organized around different states of the “self.”
1. The starting point will be with the identity-self, which is the state in which one is fully identified with the body/mind. The “I” that thinks that it is the operative component of the body/mind is generally known as the ego or, as I call it in some of my writing, the fictive-self (see Automatic Programs in Chapter One beginning on page 21 of Self-agency and Beyond) or personal narrative (the “me” story). This is where most people undertaking a meditation program for the first time are coming from. Ego is the subject and everything else is perceived as a separate object. This is the dualistic perspective.
a. Initial meditation techniques usually have one sit quietly and erect, breathing deeply and slowly from the diaphragm. Let’s just call it “sitting meditation.” If the eyes are open, they will be oriented either toward the floor, a blank wall or possibly a mandala. If the eyes are shut, one may be instructed to imagine having the eyes focused on the area between the eyes, or no attention is given to the eyes at all when closed. Some instructions might suggest focusing on an object, e.g., candle, and some may suggest use of a mantra or chant, e.g., AUM. The technique used is less important than its “goodness of fit” for you.
b. This is the point where many meditators experience what is called “monkey mind.” The goal during this phase of sitting meditation is to simply learn to relax and observe the activity of the mind without getting seduced by it. As one gains some experience, the frenetic activity experienced by most new meditators will slow down. This more subdued stage might be called the “hummingbird mind.” The mind still flits about but not as energetically as in the beginning.
2. After things have settled down, one will recognize something of a perceptual shift developing that establishes a division. This shift is the identity-self morphing into an observer and an ego.
a. During this phase, one should “side” with the observer and allow some distancing from the ego to develop. One should be a somewhat disinterested observer of the activities of the ego. The goal is to begin identifying with the observer rather than with the ego and its body/mind.
b. As one establishes identification with the observer rather than the ego, it will become apparent that the observer is not to be found in the story that comprises the ego nor can it be found anywhere in the body. Many aspects of “the fictive-self” will come under observation. Some of these may have been buried and outside of conscious awareness. I have discussed these elsewhere as automatic programs or APs (see Automatic Programs in Chapter One beginning on page 21 of Self-agency and Beyond). Some of these APs you may recognize as being the basis for dysfunctional beliefs, emotions and behaviors. This is usually a good time to deconstruct such APs. Often just observing these arise and dissipate will lead to their undoing. However, if you think a more direct approach is needed, I have discussed such methods in Chapters Two, Three and Four in Part I of Self-agency and Beyond. Carl Jung said, “Whatever does not emerge as consciousness returns as Destiny.” That is, you are likely to keep repeating unconscious patterns until they become conscious, are examined and neutralized.
3. Let’s now think of the observer as the mindful-self. At this time, it is useful to begin what is called “mindful meditation.” Mindful meditation can of course be done as part of sitting meditation, but it is most effective when used to carry meditation into one’s daily life. Mindful meditation is simply paying attention, which most of us think is easy enough to do until we consciously begin observing our efforts to do so. Your attention will, by default, slip when it isn’t held captive by an engaging task. This is the way your brain is “wired” and is discussed elsewhere (see Chapter Six beginning on page 78 or Self-agency and Beyond) as the default mode network or relaxed attention network (RAN).
a. The objective here is to have the observer closely monitor what the body/mind is doing as it goes about its daily activities. In short, your meditation is literally on what you’re doing moment to moment. What you will observe is that many of the body’s routines are run by APs, and the default mode will try to kick in and begin to generate unrelated mental content whose purpose is to reinforce the fictive-self. If the mindful-self isn’t careful, it will get seduced by this content and lose focus on current activity.
b. Losing focus during mindfulness is especially likely when one isn’t engaged in doing something. During such times, the best tactic is to become present with anything that is available in the moment. Be present with or mindful of the sound of a breeze blowing through leaves, your dog, a ticking clock, sunlight streaming in through a window, a flower, a ceramic cup, the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe or whatever is available. Presence is the focus of Leonard Jacobson’s and Richard Moss’s teachings.
c. When one becomes well established in mindfulness meditation and can maintain focus on what one is doing from moment to moment or simply being present with something manifest in the moment, you are in what I call the “Teflon mind.” You are now ready for the emergence of the inquiring- self. The inquiring-self is named for the activity that establishes it, which is called “self-inquiry.” This method is often associated with the teachings of the Indian sage Sri Ramana Maharishi and is discussed in Self-agency and Beyond in Chapter Seven beginning on page 89.
4. The purpose of self-inquiry is similar to mindfulness except that it is not focused specifically on what one is doing or something that is present but on being aware of being aware from moment to moment or being present in the spacious moment. A psychiatrist, Bessel van der Kolk, identifies the medial prefrontal cortex as the part of the brain responsible for experiencing the present moment. This is located behind the area of the face called the brow. No doubt, this is why Kriya Yoga emphasizes keeping attention gently focused on this area during meditation.
a. The basic idea in self-inquiry is to establish a conscious sense of being a field of awareness. Rupert Spira teaches a simple and direct method of finding that sense. He suggests that one ask oneself the question, “Am I aware?” To answer the question, one must note that one is aware of being aware. That is where you want to be. Once you are there, you should try to relax into that state of being and remain there. There is an exercise at the end of The Looking Glass that will help you experience a state of pristine awareness.
b. As the establishment of this state progresses, there will be a perceptual shift. When this happens, you will identify yourself with conscious awareness. You will experience yourself simply as a field of awareness that includes the body/mind. However, you will not identify yourself as being the body/mind.
1. With the shift described above, you have become an aware-self or what I have described as having a natural mind. This is a refined state of duality in which you are clear of most, if not all, dysfunctional APs and are free of making or, at least, taking seriously judgments, beliefs, opinions and expectations. It is a state that allows one to hold a dispassionate view of the world and its events. It is not, however, what some call Enlightenment or Self-realization, which is a non-dual state. Arriving at what some refer to as simply I AM, you have done about all you can do. The rest depends on Grace and what I’ve referred to as being Taken.
2. According to some teachers, Enlightenment has several progressive states. There appear to be at least three states once the condition referred to as Enlightenment or Self-realization is entered. The first of these is accompanied by experiences of what some call Void Consciousness, a state described as Pure Being. It is suggested that many think this is the end state, and thinking this constrains any further progress. This may be followed by experiences of what is called God (or Christ) Consciousness, a state described as sense of Divine-Love. Finally, there may be experiences of what is called Unity Consciousness, a state described as being Love-Bliss (see charts of states here)
This third state is one in which it is said that one comes to the full recognition that one is an integral aspect of an indivisible whole. There is a direct understanding that this whole is Source Consciousness – the ground of all being and unconditional love.
In a previous piece, I advocated a panentheistic conceptualization of reality that entails primacy of consciousness, human consciousness as a specialized manifestation within matter, which arises from the universal field of consciousness, recurring material manifestations as a necessary experience for spiritual development, egotism and selfishness as the antithesis of a spiritual life, and the necessity of free will and personal sovereignty for the perfection of consciousness and enlightenment. The present piece will discuss the role of spiritual practice in the evolution of consciousness.
It almost goes without saying that the goal of developing one’s consciousness will be for most people a task requiring some organized effort, which is generally thought of as a spiritual practice. Edgar Cayce (a.k.a. the Sleeping Prophet) frequently addressed the core and most important step in developing a spiritual practice. That step was setting a personal ideal or a purposeful and positive intent to be used to guide one in interactions with others. Cayce recommended that such an ideal should encompass such qualities as love, service, compassion and understanding. He further suggested that as an aid to focus, an historical or fictional exemplar of one’s personal ideal might be selected.
Simply setting an ideal is not enough because to be useful it must be put into practice. An ideal is applied by using it as a standard against which to evaluate one’s thoughts and actions on a daily basis. Bear in mind that evaluation is not a judgment about good or bad. It is simply a determination of to what degree your thoughts and actions were in harmony with your intentions. Cayce counseled that the evolution of your consciousness is not determined by spiritual knowledge but how well you apply that knowledge in your actions. Cayce emphasized both thought and behavior. Thought because of his repeated admonition that “mind is the builder.” What he means here is that consciousness is primary. Who and what you are ultimately derives from your thoughts and it is these thoughts that motivate behavior, including behaviors that resonate with one’s personal ideal. Behavior then must be motivated by positive intent if it is to contribute to one’s spiritual evolution. “Good” behavior motivated by ego, coerced by social opinion or by law is done for the wrong reason and contributes nothing to spiritual evolution. Setting and following a personal ideal then is spiritual practice in it most basic sense.
The Seth entity that channeled through the writer Jane Roberts also spoke of the importance of ideals and supported Cayce’s view that the primary way in which ideals need to be expressed is through interaction with others within the context of daily life. Seth cautions that we often set very broad and general ideals as a way of avoiding having to act upon them. Such ideals seem beyond the ability of a mere individual to significantly impact, so we fail to act or expect institutions to act on our behalf. Seth also warns that people “…often believe that any means is justified in the pursuit of the ideal.” But, “Each act that is not in keeping with the ideal begins to unravel that ideal at its very core.” Seth, like Cayce, suggests that “…in your job and in your associations, are the places where you intersect with the world.” It is in these very personal and daily relationships where you have the most power to affect the world. Personal ideals can only be realized through acting on them. Seth argues that it is the cumulative effect of this type of action that changes the world. Changing the world is a bottom-up process that begins with oneself.
The book The Spirituality of Imperfection takes as its starting point the recognition that all journeys down a spiritual path begin from a state of imperfection. The authors of this book discuss some of the defining characteristics often associated with spirituality.
The first characteristic that marks the journey down a spiritual path is the experience of release. Release frees one from the burden of doubt. Release is what allows one to have faith in the correctness of the journey begun. Here is a little story about release that you’ve probably heard before:
William has fallen over a cliff and as he fell he managed to grab hold of a bush growing from the side of the cliff. There hanging on for dear life he beseeches God to save him. To his great surprise he hears a voice speaking to him. But, he is panicked by the instructions he hears for the booming voice says, “William, let go, release the bush.” William shrieks in reply, “I can’t! I’m too far up!” Again the voice says, “Put aside your doubt. Release the bush.” William considers the instruction in silence for a few moments and then calls out, “Is there anyone else up there?”
The second characteristic is gratitude. Gratitude is the only possible response to something freely given. A true gift is spontaneous and inspired rather than occasioned. A spiritual person sees the same reality that everyone else sees but recognizes reality in all its aspects as a gift. Here is a story about gratitude:
A blind man begging in a park is approached by a stranger inquiring about how generous people had been. The blind man showed the stranger his collection cup with its meager contents. The stranger asked if he might write something on the blind man’s sign. The blind man agreed. Later the stranger returned and the blind man told him that people had been very generous and asked the stranger what he had written on his sign. The stranger replied that he had written “Today is a wondrous spring day and I am grateful.”
The third characteristic is humility. True humility conveys a mild and noncompetitive manner, modesty, patience and a willingness to remove oneself from the center of the universe. Humility is most of all honesty. It has been observed that those who have humility seldom realize it and those who think they have it seldom do. Here is story about seeking humility:
A man went in search of a sage and upon finding such a man asked the sage to teach him humility. The sage told the man that he could not because humility cannot be taught. It can be learned but is learned through practice. If you cannot practice it, you cannot learn it.
The fourth characteristic is tolerance. Most of us seek out and identify with those with whom we share strengths and enthusiasms. However, it is our shared weaknesses that truly make us alike while our strengths are what make us different. Tolerance arises out of the recognition that we all struggle with flaws, fears and sorrows. True tolerance based on shared weaknesses makes a sense of community possible. Here is story related to tolerance:
An old and religious black man applied for membership in an exclusive, white church. The pastor tried to persuade him that it was not an idea that should be pursued. The old black man said he would pray on it and maybe the Lord would tell him what to do. He returned a few weeks later and the pastor asked if the Lord had responded to his prayers. “Yes,” replied the old black man. “The Lord told me that it wasn’t any use, that He himself had been trying to get into this same church for years.”
The fifth characteristic is forgiveness. Forgiveness is possible only when will is replaced with willingness. It depends not upon effort but openness. It is not explanation nor is it forgetting. Forgiveness is simply letting go of resentment. Resentment is anger that clings to the past and revisits an old wrong, reliving over and over its pain, creating a vision of self as victim. Here is a story about forgiveness:
A former inmate at a Nazi concentration camp was visiting with a friend who had also been an inmate. The visitor asked his friend if he had forgiven the Nazis. The friend said that he had forgiven them. The visitor said that he hadn’t and hated them more than ever. “In that case,” commented the friend, “they still have you in prison.”
The last characteristic is being-at-home. Home is that place where we are comfortable with being ourselves. It requires being able to accept ourselves where we are in all of our imperfection. It means being grounded enough to forgive ourselves and others of imperfections and to be open to forgiveness from others. Here is a story about being-at-home:
A man had been looking for many months for a church to attend. One Sunday he visited a church and heard the congregation reading these lines from a prayer book: “Lord, we have all left undone many things that we ought to have done, and we’ve all done many things that we ought not to have done. The man collapsed into a pew and muttered under his breath, “Thank God, I’ve found my people at last.”
In addition to developing a personal ideal to guide one’s thoughts and behavior, there are recognized and established spiritual practices that have a long history in human culture as methods leading to the evolution of consciousness. The following list from the book How to Know God briefly describes four major yogas or paths for spiritual practice.
Bhakti Yoga: The path of devotion. This is the path followed by most of the world’s major religions and especially Christianity in the West. It is the simplest and easiest path with a focus on ritual worship and prayer. Its characteristics are well known to most people.
Karma Yoga: The path of God-dedicated action. This is a path often followed by those with a vigorous action-oriented temperament who feel a call to duty and service in the world of human affairs. The focus is on good works or seeking always to employ the right means toward the right ends.
Jnana Yoga: The path of intellectual discrimination. This is a difficult and solitary path only for those of considerable will and clarity of mind. Followers of this path attempt to intellectually discern between the transient and the divine in the events around them. It is a path that has produced many saints from people who would not otherwise have embraced religion in any form. The American mystic Franklin Merrill-Wolf is a possible example of someone who followed this path, as was Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Raja Yoga: The path of meditation. This is a path that combines aspects of the previous three paths. It is primarily for those of a contemplative nature. It also includes study of the body as a vehicle for spiritual energy with a focus on the function and nature of the seven psychic centers or centers of consciousness (a.k.a., chakras or lotuses).
According to Raja yoga, the minds of those who are fully attached to the world and not yet set upon a spiritual path are governed entirely by the three lower chakras. These chakras are centered on the organs of elimination, reproduction and digestion. The chakras involved in spiritual evolution are centered on the heart, throat, forehead and top of the head. The psychic Edgar Cayce often spoke about these chakras but reversed the order of the last two, explaining that the entire system conforms roughly to the shape of a cobra posed to strike so that the top of the head corresponds to the arched neck of the cobra and the forehead to the snout. Moving upward through the centers of consciousness is marked by diminishing ego and loosening of attachment to the material world or what the American mystic Franklin Merrill-Wolff called “the high indifference.”
In the practice of Raja yoga, one focuses the mind or the form of one’s chosen ideal in a chakra first by concentration, then by meditation, which is simply prolonged and unbroken concentration. Finally, absorption or direct intuitive knowledge of the chakra is achieved.
In conclusion, the decision to set upon a spiritual path is a decision to undertake a transformation of oneself. The psychologist George Kelly made the following observation about such tipping points:
“It is not so much what a person is that counts as it is what one ventures to make of oneself. To make the leap, one must do more than disclose oneself; one must risk a certain amount of confusion. Then, as soon as one does catch a glimpse of a different kind of life, one needs to find some way of over-coming the paralyzing moment of threat, for this is the instant when one wonders what one really is — whether one is what one just was or is what one’s about to be.” (gender neutered from original)
Addendum: In the end, it matters little if you agree with the panentheistic position. The merit to be found in articulating a statement of one’s personal ideals and then endeavoring to put them into daily practice can benefit anyone and depends upon no single philosophical or religious position.
One of my personal peeves is the regular substitution of the word “Gender” for “Sex” on forms and in conversation. While the choice “Sex: Male or Female” when strictly referring to biological or external morphological characteristics is not always accurate, the choice “Gender: Male or Female,” in my opinion, marginalizes, if not pathologizes everyone outside the normative range (statistically speaking). Below I will outline the understanding of these terms that leads me to see absurdity in the way that they are frequently used.
To keep this post relatively simple, I ask that you read an earlier post that while not exhaustive elaborates in some detail various terms that will be used below, especially as it pertains to bodily sex and gender identity. The discussion below leaves out the confounds of internal morphology, which includes internal sex organs, and genetic sex or what pair of chromosomes one carries in one’s cells. These two confounds are most clearly illustrated in cases of CAIS (complete androgen insensitivity syndrome). In this condition, an individual would be classified as female by the external morphological criterion above. This individual would most likely self-identify as female and would be almost universally seen by others as female. However, this individual will not have internal female organs and will have an XY genotype. A third confound is the growing evidence for the possibility of “sexed” brain functions, which can occur independently of the sexing of external morphology during gestation. This sexing of the brain is probably responsible for one’s subjective “sense” of sex or sexual identity. The sexing of the brain may also be related to sexual orientation independently of one’s bodily sex and sexual identity. Given the imposed limitation, there are three discernible possibilities: male, female and intersex.
Gender is a more complex term and has far more social, cultural and behavioral components to it than apparent bodily sex. Gender identity probably has an underlying biological component affecting one’s sense of sexuality. Gender is often used as if it had a one-to-one correspondence with apparent bodily sex, which is clearly not the case. The most common gender terms are masculine and feminine but these are not all-or-nothing categories and include a spectrum of possibilities.
While sex can be treated as categorical without grossly distorting reality, especially if three categories are used, gender is clearly dimensional. Gender can significantly vary along a somewhat normal (or bell shaped) distribution curve describing a dimension. Clearly, there are numerous potential positions all along this continuum that aren’t being given labels. If conventional classification of someone by gender is the goal one might do better to use a numeric scale where 1 is hyper masculine, 4 is neutral and 7 is hyper feminine.
There is one further complication to gender that must be introduced to make this discussion somewhat complete. The concept of transgender is important to this discussion as well. Presentation of transgenderism can be either overt, covert or both and along both behavioral (doing) and cognitive dimensions (imagining). Overt behavioral presentations can be either public or private. Some variations of transgenderism would not be observable and would only be known through self-identification.
The use of sex and gender as interchangeable terms implies that reality conforms to the following structure:
1. Sex: Male & Female &
2. Gender: Masculine Feminine
A more accurate, if incomplete, structure would include three categories for sex and three anchor positions on a dimension for transgender. For each combination of sex with gender, the latter will have multiple possible permutations. Please refer to the post linked in the beginning for some of the possible permutations.
What is being illustrated by the above discussion is that sex and gender and especially gender identity is a complex topic and one that is grossly over simplified in the ordinary use of language. Add to this an individual’s sense of sexuality and sexual orientation and the complexity grows exponentially.
In ordinary verbal or written reference to people by sex, I would favor using labels that conform to how they identify and present. Asking about bodily sex might be relevant under limited circumstances, e.g., for medical purposes. I would be opposed to asking about gender because the meaning of the term is far too complex to be easily queried and would seldom be relevant for most public purposes, including conversational use of the term. I would definitely favor disassociating the terms male and female from the concept of gender because it confuses two different concepts: bodily sex (biological) and gender identity (socio-cultural).
The equating of gender with sex in common language usage is in fact an example of how the modal majority “democratically” attempts to define a public, social reality and marginalize and at worst imply pathology in anyone not fitting the majority stereotype. As Milton Diamond founder of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society has said, “Nature loves variety. Unfortunately, society hates it.” Language is the primary tool for creating socio-cultural reality and how it is used has important implications that should not be taken lightly.
After facilitating a discussion of the book With Purpose and Principles, edited by Edward Frost, for a book group, and facilitating a series of discussions with the congregants at MLUUC, I have a few general thoughts that I want to share that I have taken from the above experiences.
Broadly speaking, it seems to me that problems in promoting and practicing many of the principles ultimately depends on judgment. Not judgment of the principles but judgment of self and others. By judgment I mean formulaic judgment not reflective judgment. Formulaic judgment is grounded in a set of beliefs or constructs through which experience is filtered, categorized and a conclusion drawn. Such judgments generally take place quickly and outside of awareness. I have written elsewhere about such processing, which I call automatic programs.
If you doubt such automatic programs are operative in you and bias your apperception, I recommend that you take some of the Implicit Attitude Tests for social attitudes developed at Harvard University. The IATs are available online and can be taken by anyone at no cost. Reflective judgment is a self conscious process that makes a realistic evaluation of a situation and leads to an appropriate response, if any response is warranted. To be non-judgmental then means to make use of reflective judgment not formulaic judgment.
Being non-judgmental of oneself and of others makes possible, for example, such things as recognition of inherent worth, compassion and acceptance, among other qualities. Non-judgment also is important for being able to encourage spiritual growth in self and others and a search for Truth and meaning in self and supporting the same in others. Being non-judgmental makes possible an act of identification, which is critical for being able to identify with the other and to feel a sense of unity with him or her.
Some recent research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy and counseling examined the problem of failure of these efforts to help some clients. What the study revealed was that many people who failed to benefit had a common self-judgment. The self-judgment identified in the participants was that they didn’t believe they deserved to get better. Prior to the study and the careful analysis of the participants’ thinking neither they or their therapists had recognized this self-judgment. Clearly, self-judgment can thwart the efforts even of someone who has sought help with their problems. Likewise, judgment of others can thwart efforts that you make to be accepting of, respectful of, compassionate toward or otherwise fully open and supportive of others. While facilitating discussions of the seven principles, I have heard people say or imply that they found them difficult or impossible to apply to some people.
Further, some of the principles promote values like democratic processes, world community and the interdependent web of existence. Acting on these and other similar values also cause some people difficulties. I would suggest that problems acting from these values are also related to judgment. To be non-judgmental in these instances requires feeling a sense of unity with the people voting, with people unknown to you and living in other cultures and about efforts to preserve the interdependent web of existence.
The ability to be non-judgmental largely comes down to one’s perspective. Western culture, in particular, tends to hold to perspectives that interfere with being non-judgmental. One such perspective is materialism. Adherents to a materialist perspective largely accept the scientific materialist hypothesis that the universe came into existence through an inexplicable cosmic accident (the so-called Big Bang). Further, the unfolding of that event through time and space progresses through an evolutionary process governed by random events that determine the direction that the unfolding takes. In this view, the universe and any life in it came about through a random process. Being a random process, the outcomes are accidental and imply no purpose, and lacking purpose has no enduring meaning. So it is a purely nihilistic view in which there is no reason to cultivate a non-judgmental perspective. Alternatively, there are traditional religious perspectives held by many people in the West, which are mostly dualistic views that see the world as a moral battle between good and evil, the dammed and the saved. Such a perspective is clearly built upon a foundation of judgment.
Christian Unitarianism held that God is One. I would also suggest that the One God would be all inclusive. If God is all inclusive, then everything that exists is a manifestation of God, which includes every living thing. All is in God, which is not the traditional Christian understanding of God. In other words, panentheism (all-in-God), which should not to be confused with pantheism (all-is-God), to use a religious term or to use more philosophic terms nondualism or monistic idealism.
Further, Christian Universalism held that every living being is, at root and in the eyes of God, divine whether or not they recognize this, are Christians or have even heard of Jesus. If every being is at root divine, then each is a part of God or Source, if you prefer. There is at root no separation between living entities. They all arise from the same Source and return to that Source when they transition from the material world. Think of waves arising from the ocean and collapsing back into the ocean.
I have argued in a critical post on my website (Standing on the Side of Love) that Unitarian Universalism, largely without realizing it, implies a nondual perspective. A perspective in my view that could more easily lead to non-judgment in the practice of the seven principles. I don’t think the UUA considers itself to be promoting such a perspective, and if it does, it hasn’t articulated it very well. The best articulations of a nondual perspective can be found in some Eastern religious philosophies, e.g., Tantra and in philosophical idealism in the West. To anyone interested, I would suggest the writings of Christopher Wallis on Tantra and those of Bernardo Kastrup on idealism. You will also find a number of posts on my website that address nondualism and idealism. You might begin with the brief posts Standing on the Side of Love and Love and Hate in Human Thought.
In both posts, I suggest that “evil” is essentially the face of ignorance. The ignorance is an ignorance about the divine nature of humanity and oneself. In a philosophical system arising from some forms of Eastern thought, the spiritual nature of people is viewed as being manifest along a bipolar dimension that runs from ignorant to enlightened with many points in between. Thus, one can forgive an ignorant person while at the same time rejecting “evil” actions that result from that ignorance. This is possible because at their core they are a manifestation of divinity, God or Source. In other words, you can’t stand in the light while holding another in darkness.
The prevalence of ignorance among human beings and the difficulties of overcoming it underlies the concept of reincarnation in some of the eastern philosophical systems. Reincarnation is the method by which the many lifetimes needed to overcome ignorance and achieve enlightenment is accomplished. All people evolve and grow spiritually, but it often isn’t apparent in the course of a single, brief human lifetime. Treating people who engage in “evil” actions, arising from ignorance, with respect, dignity and justice while resisting and preventing their behavior is viewed as more likely to facilitate their spiritual evolution than being vengeful toward them and imposing demeaning and cruel punishments.
There is one caveat on taking a nondual perspective. While conceptually learning about a nondual perspective can be useful, to truly embody it you need to experience it. Trying to understand nondualism purely through the intellect is a bit like trying to imagine what chocolate taste like having never experienced the taste before. It is fine to study nondualism enough to get the basic ideas involved in a nondual perspective. However, you should then spend your time on contemplation and meditation to open yourself to the experience. As the Kriya yoga master Sri Yogananda advised his students, “Read a little and meditate a lot.”
I have been meditating pretty much daily for over a dozen years now and have come to practice what I refer to as gestalt-field meditation as a way of being open to nondual experience. It is a method that I would be happy to teach to anyone interested. I can’t guarantee that this or any other method will definitely get you to an experience of nonduality. You just have to be open to it and be patient. In the meantime, one should go as far a possible with practicing the principles based on a purely conceptual understanding of non-judgment and a nondual perspective.
“The world is an illusion” is a statement that gets tossed about in some quarters. It is my intention in this essay to share my understanding of the statement. An illusion is defined as “something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.” Most people that I have talked to about the title statement take “illusion” to be equivalent to “mirage.” A mirage has no substance, function or meaning. There is a big difference between a distortion of or misleading impression of something and its total absence. I would include in the idea of illusion the revealing of an aspect or part of something rather than the whole. To take a simple example, think about what your impression might be if your first experience with a dog was only the tail. Your impression would surely result in a false or misleading perception of the actual nature of a dog. The word “world” in the title statement is probably better represented by the phrase, “your experience of and beliefs about reality.” Thus, we might translate the statement to read, “Your experience of reality provides a misleading impression,” while recognizing that “experience” begins as a perceptual phenomenon. This does not mean it has no substance, function or meaning. If someone uttering the title statement or someone hearing the title statement understands “illusion” as meaning “mirage,” I think the meaning of the statement is misunderstood. I think the original intent was to suggest that our perceived reality might seem to be true and correct but is in fact false or misleading. Hereafter, the word “illusion” is used to simply mean a distortion in our perception that results in a false or misleading impression of reality.
It is also likely that what you perceive is largely a cognitive construction. Neuroscientist Don DeGracia has pointed out that vision research shows that the visual cortex receives more input from the brain itself than from sensory input through the eyes. The eyes in turn are said to only take in about a fifth of the available sensory data. This appears to support the idea that we actually construct what we see. Persons who have been blind from birth and that medical science provides with an intact vision system still have to learn to see images that you take for granted. Some actually find the experience so confusing that they say they would prefer to be blind and wear dark glasses to block stimulus input. I will end this introduction with a quote from Albert Einstein that you might ponder, “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”
In the following, I will discuss the translated title statement relative to four perspectives, where the fourth is the likely source of the title statement.
The first perspective is biological. I will briefly describe here a way of looking at perception from an evolutionary perspective. There is only one person that I am familiar with who has developed and conducted research on this evolutionary perspective. If you’re interested in the details, I recommend you read Donald Hoffman’s book, The Case Against Reality.
The research done by Hoffman and the resulting scientific theory views what we perceive as “fitness icons.” Hoffman’s research and theory suggests that evolution has shaped our perceptions to be finely tuned to those aspects of the world that have fitness implications for us as biological organisms. Fitness refers directly or indirectly to things important for survival and reproduction. One way to look at this is that anything we perceive, including our body, is an “object” in a field of energies (note, what we call matter is just concentrations of energy) that go well beyond what we can sense. Evolution has shaped our sensory organs to only recognize those characteristics of the energy field that have fitness implications for humans. Further, what we perceive in a fitness icon is a representation of its critical features for us presented in a form that is most meaningful to us. There are many aspects of our environment that don’t have fitness implications for us and to which we are essentially blind. The limited amount that we do perceive seems to us to be reality. The belief that we see reality as it is, is an illusion. It is only a particular take on a segment of the sensory field. Your personal perception of reality is not reality as it is. It just seems that way.
The second perspective is psychological. Almost all normal people have what might be called a personality, self-concept or ego with which they identify. Whatever you wish to call it, this is what most people think they are. Bill, for example, has a lot of characteristics that he would ascribe to himself, such as hardworking, fair–minded, charitable, shy, a poor public speaker, apolitical, good with animals, a victim of an abusive father, and so on. All of these things and more are woven into a personal narrative, and this narrative is based in large part on memories of past experience. This narrative gives Bill a road map that tells him where he fits in. It also provides a ready explanation for things that he thinks, feels or does. It shapes his life by determining what he believes he can and can’t do, what he expects from life and how he goes about being in the world.
The thing about personal narratives is that they are to a great extent a fiction. To begin with, the narrative is comprised of selected memories from the pool of all the memories available. These selected memories, like all memories, are subject to editing and revision. Research shows that memories are not stable though we like to think they are. Memories change over time in both subtle and dramatic ways. Even two or more people having a similar experience will create different memories of it. This is often apparent in conversations with siblings about experiences shared in the home while growing up. In the course of weaving the memories into a narrative some license is taken in order to create a cohesive story, which is believed without question. The narrative seems like who you are but it is just a psychological construct that is mentally active whenever you aren’t focused on a task. You frequently review, update, edit and reinforce this narrative to the exclusion of many other possible variations on the narrative. The psychological construct posing as you is a constructed fiction, which does have elements of truth in it. I would say it can also be thought of as an illusion because it is a distortion of your complete body of perceived experience. Usually, those experiences that have a strong emotional component are the ones selected to weave a story around. Your construed personal reality is who you believe you are. It seems like it is your true “self,” but it is an illusion in the sense that it is to some degree a distortion of your fully lived experience. I have discussed this further in a post (among others) titled The Natural Mind on my website and in Chapter Four of my ebook, Self-Agency and Beyond.
The third perspective is cultural. This is a much larger narrative than your personal narrative but a narrative nonetheless. Every culture and sub-culture has a story that explains to members who they are, what they should believe and how they should act. This narrative is embedded in history, literature, media, myths (e.g., self-reliant individualism) and other means of conveying and reinforcing the story. Cultural narratives often overlap a nation so we can, for example, talk about the American culture or the American story — albeit with sub-plots. In some cases, the culture is broader than a nation and may, for example, be tied to an ethnic group (e.g., the Kurds) spread across several countries. What seems to be true to you is but one of many stories that could be woven about your culture by making different assumptions and emphasizing different events, different people and different interpretations. In fact, for anyone who takes the trouble, it is often much easier to see the revisions, editing and modifications of a cultural narrative across historical time than to see it in one’s personal narrative. This first became apparent to me when, as an undergraduate, I took a three-term course in constitutional law. I completed this course seeing the U.S. Constitution as providing a foundation more like shifting sand than a rock solid foundation. Identification with a cultural narrative is belief in just one of many potential constructions. While it may seem to you to be correct and true, it is an illusion in the sense that it is a distortion of the total cultural experience. If you would like to explore this dimension in greater detail, I recommend Jeremy Lent’s book, The Patterning Instinct and an analysis based in neuroscience by Iain McGilchrist titled, The Master and His Emissary:The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. It is also not hard to find explications of alternate stories about cultures, especially from groups diminished by the prevailing story.
To summarize the first three perspectives, you have biologically imposed limitations and restrictions on what aspects of reality that you can perceive and how you construe them. You create a fictive-self as a tool for negotiating your way through life and explaining your thoughts, emotions and actions. You adopt a belief in a constructed cultural narrative in which to embed your personal narrative and try to sync the two to work together. All of these, in their own way, distort the deeper reality from which they are extracted. In short, relative to the deeper reality they are illusions. In most cases useful and also true in a superficial sense.
The fourth perspective is the really deep dive in this essay. There are a number of labels that might be used for the fourth perspective. I will call it the spiritual perspective, because that is a term commonly used these days for some of the things that will be discussed. This is a perspective recognized by many traditions, including Christian, Buddhist, Moslem and the Vedantic and Tantrik traditions in India.
When talking about religious and theistic philosophical systems, it can be said that they often have two faces. The exoteric face, which is the public face and is most visible through its churches, temples and so forth and by its practices, ceremonies and rituals. The exoteric face is most often associated with systems of belief. Then there is the esoteric face, which may be associated with monasteries, ashrams, and even ascetics and hermits. The esoteric face is most often associated with systems of practice (see the Introduction and Part II of my ebook Self-Agency and Beyond) and personal experience of gnosis (intuitive knowledge of spiritual truth). The esoteric is a side of Christianity that has largely been absent for some time, but is currently seeing something of a revival. This segment will draw on the esoteric face and the teachings of individuals referred to as sages, awakened, realized and enlightened among other labels. The presentation will be somewhat generic rather than tradition specific.
The view from this perspective asserts, on the basis of phenomenological knowing or gnosis, that the material cosmos, including all life forms, are epiphenomena that arise from a universal primordial awareness/consciousness that has no beginning nor end. I make a distinction between awareness and consciousness in the Introduction to my eBook Self-Agency and Beyond but will hereafter stay with the term consciousness. This primordial consciousness contains the material cosmos but is not limited to the material cosmos. In another essay, I describe the cosmos as like a cosmic egg, characterized by locality*, floating in a sea of primordial consciousness (characterized by non-locality*). A sea of consciousness that is inherently intelligent, creative, inquisitive and unconditionally accepting of its own being and everything that arises from it, This type of conception can be found in either a theistic version called panentheism (see Part III of my eBook SelfAgency and Beyond or one of several essays such as this one) or a philosophical version called monistic idealism (see the works of Bernardo Kastrup and in particular The Idea of the World, which is for most readers not the book of his to begin with. I suggest starting with A Rationalist Spirituality). You can find a list of most of Kastrup’s books along with an audio interview about each book on a page on my website.
This view further asserts that particularized consciousness in each biological organisms is simply a contracted kernel of primordial consciousness that in its particularized form is unaware of its roots in primordial consciousness. The material cosmos was “imagined” into being by primordial consciousness to serve as a basis for the evolution of life. Life serves as the vehicle for kernels of particularized consciousness and in a self-conscious life form that might be called personal consciousness. The purpose of particularized consciousness is to provide primordial consciousness with the opportunity to explore its own infinite potential through experience. Experience arises out of the tension that is created through complimentary pairs, such as, satiety and hunger, hot and cold, life and death, love and hate, good and evil, male and female, health and disease, and so on. Once set in motion, this system is independent and autonomous, allowing full expression of whatever it generates.
This is a complex perspective with many variations that all point to much the same conclusions. The paragraphs above hardly do justice to the perspective but that was not their intent. If you want to explore the fourth perspective further there are a number of reference links above. You might also read Part I of Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Wallis for the philosophical foundation for the yoga tradition based in Tantra. You can also find additional essays on my website by employing the search engine or looking at the titles page. Finally, you might get some idea of this from the poem Conundrum that I recently wrote and that can be found on this page.
Many persons who have realized their true nature as vehicles for primordial consciousness and have opened to consciously embodying primordial consciousness have made statements such as the title statement for this essay. Their intent seems to be to convey that there is a deeper reality beneath what seems to be reality to most humans. From their perspective, what most of humanity calls reality is in fact closer to a lucid dream in primordial consciousness. This does not make it any less real or meaningful to participants in the “dream” but what the “dreamers” perceive as reality is a false or misleading perception of the deeper reality underlying it and therefore can be called an illusion. A similar statement that is associated with this perspective is that “There Is No Doer” about which I have also written an essay titled Are We Merely Divine Puppets?.
* locality and non-locality are physics terms that essentially mean within space/time and beyond space/time respectively.
Below is an alphabetical list of narrative titles that I have posted to this site. The titles are hot links and you can open them by double clicking on them. The most recent posts are listed in the window below the search engine on the right. Revised and updated titles are so marked: A Brief Comment on Paradigms A Libertarian Philosophy of Education A Libertarian's Perspective on Abortion A Personal Odyssey Precept versus Practice A Proposed Classification System for Sexual Variation A Quantum Metaphor for Enlightenment Aesthetic Perception and Beauty Culture An Eclectic Program of Meditation and Self-Inquiry Are We Merely Divine Puppets? Authenticity Beyond Gun Control Bioethics and Life Extension* Bohm, Pribram and the Holographic Model Brain Networks and Meditation Choice Climate Change and Global Warming (Revised) Comment on a Klan Rally David Bohm's Reformulation of Quantum Physics Discernment and Acting in the World Ego Is the Mask God Wears While Pretending To Be You Entangled in Duality Free Will and the Evolution of Consciousness Further Ruminations Gamma Waves and Advanced Meditators Goswami’s Quantum Philosophy I Goswami’s Quantum Philosophy II Goswami's Brain-Mind Model Immigration Policy Infinite Universe Institutionalization as a Factor in Educational Under Performance Is Economic Growth a Viable Long-Term Goal? Lost in Politics Love and Hate in Human Thought My Most Challenging Unitarian Universalist Principle Night Owl Interviews Jessie Christenson on Shamanic Energy Fields #1 Night Owl Interviews Teresa Gentry on Phenomenological Psychology #2 Noetic Events On Buber and Bohm On Nonduality On the Nature of Food On Women as Female Impersonators Personal Reflections on the 7 UUA Principles Reality Appears to Arise from Mysterious Foundations (Revised, Aug 2018) Research Update on the Default Mode Network Salvation Will Not Be Found in Politics Sex, Gender and Language Sex, Sexuality and Philosophy Speculation About Transgender Conditions Spiritual Practice and the Evolution of Consciousness Spirituality and Religion Standing On the Side of Love States of Mind: An Overview for Meditators Taken The Great Illusion The Looking Glass The Monetary Factor in the 2008-09 Economic Downturn The Natural Mind The Nature of Evil The Problem with Belief The Purpose of Meditation (Conclusion added Dec 2018) The Richest Nation in the World? The Role of Belief in the Evolution of Consciousness The Role of Hate and Evil in Human Thought The Several Selves The World is an Illusion? Thoughts on School Reform What Is in the National Interest? What is Science? What is the Nature of Reality? Why I Am a Philosophical Libertarian Why I Am an Agnostic Why We Believe
The following are brief quotes loosely organized into the categories: Education, Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Science and Spiritual.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
[Government] education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another.
John Stuart Mill
To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society!
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.
Freedom’s only true defense is sound money…
No one ever lost money by taking a profit.
The purpose of business is not to make money but to serve its customers so well that it is profitable.
The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.
In a free market without government privilege, people seeking profit are led as if by an invisible hand to create general benefits that may be unintended.
It is [an] underlying confusion between wealth and debt which has made such a tragedy of the [current] era.
If printing money made you rich, Zimbabwe would be the richest county on the planet.
…economists are most economical about ideas. They make the ones they learned in graduate school last a lifetime.
Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it is just the opposite.
Words are like bullets in truth’s bandoleer, and poets are truth’s snipers.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
The supreme sloth consists in failing to long madly for immortality.
Optimism is a duty!
What do you care what other people think?
The attempt to make heaven on earth invariably produces hell.
Evil is the complete absence of empathy.
The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true.
Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never came to pass.
History doesn’t repeat — but sometimes it rhymes.
Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith.
Preparation is temporary, regret is forever.
We are blindest to precisely whatever might be most illuminating
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony
Those who fear Hell follow a religious path, those who have already been there follow a spiritual path.
I feel much better now that I’ve given up hope.
Your point of power is always in the present.
As long as you believe in some Truth, you do not believe in yourself.
We are not physical beings who have temporary spiritual experiences but rather spiritual beings who have temporary physical experiences.
Trying to be compassionate is like trying to be spontaneous.
Worrying is praying for something that you don’t want.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true, the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.
Skeptic: Someone who doubts everything including his own skepticism.
Pseudo-Skeptic: Someone who exercises a set of prejudgments against anything that varies from the conventionally accepted, especially in the face of data to the contrary.
Dialogue: A free flow of meaning between people in communication.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.
The recipe for perpetual ignorance is to be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.
Being free is being able to accept people for what they are.
Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.
When we use dehumanizing language, it says much more about us than the people that we’re railing against and it chips away at our soul.
Legislation… is the chief instrument of oppression.
No government can in any way expand its powers over people but to limit freedom…
If government cannot be limited, freedom is lost…
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force…It is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
The tragic flaw in political parties is that they attract politicians.
Political correctness is to religious orthodoxy as insensitivity is to heresy.
Bureaucrats are individuals adept at aggregating small solvable problems into large unsolvable problems.
A constitution is to…government, what law is to individuals.
Democrats tax and spend, Republicans borrow and spend, libertarians are frugal.
The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal.
There is nothing so bad that government can’t make it worse.
Opinion polls are a symptom of mobocracy.
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Freedom is the length of the chain between your imagination and reality.
The Christian religion is not an implicit part of the American government.
A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit,
Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
Those who control history have leverage on the future.
You can never be certain that something will happen until the government denies it.
The top 5% pay 59% of income taxes and the bottom 50% pay 2.7% of income taxes.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens who, reading newspapers, live and die in belief that they have known something of what has been passing in their times.
The United States of America have only one permanent criminal class, members of the U.S. Congress.
Never assumes the rules are what you think they are just because they are written down, if someone else can change them.
Ideology is the science of idiots.
Watching Republicans and the Democrats bickering over the U.S. debt is like watching two drunks argue over a bar tab on the Titanic.
I speak the truth not so much as I would, but as much as I dare and I dare a little more as I grow older.
American politics has clearly demonstrated that you can indeed fool most of the people most of the time.
Bipartisanship is alive and well as evidenced by the cooperative effort to bankrupt the country.
Politics is not the art of the possible. It is choosing between the unpalatable and the disastrous.
An election is the advance auction of stolen goods.
Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian.
Libertarianism: A conspiracy to take over the government and leave you alone.
Mandatory health insurance is older people mandating that younger people pay for their health care.
Changing the politician occupying an office is analogous to changing the font on a menu.
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.
America is slowly discovering that the land of the free and home of the brave has become a corporate, fascist nightmare.
There’s no question that this is a time when corporations have taken over the basic process of governing.
Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.
When masses are raised above the individual,individuals suffer en masse.
Freedom consists of the distribution of power and despotism consists in its concentration.
Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) cultures.
The political establishment — proven wrong time and time again — thinks it know what its doing.
I think that the federal government — just as an entertainment medium — is pretty good.
It is not so much what a man is that counts as it is what he ventures to make of himself.
Behavior can be understood only by identifying the goals to which it is addressed.
There is no reason to expect anyone to think better of you than you think of yourself.
Intelligence: The extent to which one can learn from experience.
Maturity: The extent to which one can learn from other people’s experience.
The true test of character is power.
Life is a task. You either cope with it or it gets you.
True personal power is not the ability to cause change but the ability to inspire
Nature loves variety. Unfortunately, society hates it.
When we have knowledge, space grants us unbounded opportunity, and time presents us with infinite possibilities for change.
[People] try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds.
People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them.
Only insight can change the workings of a disordered mind.
You create your own illusion and become entangled in it.
Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
Our judgments of any person [including self], event, thing, or set of circumstances are cloaked self-judgments.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
We can well believe that we will first understand how simple the universe is when we recognize how strange it is.
Specialization is for insects.
Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.
Our sole responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any problems beyond that are not ours to solve.
The most important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.
Involuntary death is a cornerstone of biological evolution, but that fact does not make it a good thing.
Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that people don’t have to experience it.
What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
If it s obvious, it s obviously wrong.
Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.
Mainstream medicine isn’t about healing but about enabling patients to continue dysfunctional life styles.
The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.
Sir James Jeans
Extraordinary breakthroughs in science always involve giving up a significant prejudice.
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
At it’s best, it [science] is completely open and excludes nothing. It has no entrance requirements.
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.
You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.
There is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.
Through modern physics materialism has transcended itself.
Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.
I refuse to commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.
All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force…we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.
Fear is a mirror reminding you of where ego is still present.
Words are unnecessary stains on silence and emptiness.
Your purpose is to be Present with as much compassion, wisdom and skillfulness as is possible.
…the intellect (consciousness) and matter are correlatives…they are in fact really one and the same thing, considered from two opposite points of view.
Enlightenment is an awareness, through direct experience, of one’s unity with All That Is.
Enlightenment is a direct experience of the superposition of all dualistic systems thereby revealing their undifferentiated origin.
God will not drive flies away from a tailless cow.
Fulani tribe saying
Your way of being in the world determines the reality you experience.
If you don’t create your own reality someone else will
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one.
So long as it “feels” like there are choices, its important for us to make skillful ones.
Mind cannot bring you to the direct knowledge of Self.
Ultimately, your greatest teacher is to live with an open heart.
Thought is a tool to take you to the gate. Then you must leave your tools behind.
Trust that nothing good that you offer into the universe is ever wasted.
Prayer is extroverted and seeks to humble the ego,
Meditation is introverted and seeks to transcend the ego.
Language conceals the Self.
Read a little, meditate more and think of God all the time.
The ego is like a black bug on a black rock on a moonless night.
The way we live ordinary life is [our] spiritual practice.
[Once] you experience something, you do not have to believe in it any longer. It is not a matter of belief but a matter of experience.
The trap is to believe enlightenment is an experience.
For the religious person God excites the mind; for the mystic God stops it.
Don’t believe everything you think.
Forgiveness means forgiveness of one’s self for insisting on replacing Reality with your version of it.
You must allow the world to be as the world is.
Experience is fundamentally an emotional attachment to physicality that exists to be transcended.
Ego’s resistance to Being blocks Self-realization.
Unconditional Love dissolves the attachment of ego to judgment.
Therapy attempts to modify the ego, the natural mind transcends the ego.
Presence and kindness are the tools with which we find freedom.
Awareness precedes memory, memory precedes thought, thought precedes language and language precedes narration — peel the onion.
Belief in God is the greatest obstacle to knowing God.
Religions must fail simply because mind cannot practice the truth of Being.
Don’t mistake knowledge for knowing.
If you believe in an entity that you call God, chances are God is just a character in the script you “wrote” to articulate your life.
Abide in Presence.
A change in meaning is a change in being.
Beliefs, opinions and judgments are three of the many flavors of mental chewing gum — kick the habit.
No path can take you to your true Self because you already are your true Self.
Ignorance is grounded in beliefs.
Meditation — Presence on training wheels.
Not mindfulness but mindlessness.
Compulsive thinking is cognitive avoidance of being Present.
Ego is the mask God wears while pretending to be you.
Awakening is the realization that one is merely a character in a cosmic soap opera.
Idle thoughts arising in awareness have the same status as tactile sensations, sounds, smells or images arising in awareness — endless flux.
To be Present focus attention on awareness.
You are Love’s body.
Pursuit of experience is avoidance of Presence.
Seeking enlightenment is a spiritual snipe hunt.
Cosmic Love is absolutely Ruthless and Highly Indifferent: it teaches its lessons whether you like/dislike them or not.
ALL That Is emanates from Divine Love, Surrender to love and be one with ALL That Is.
Is this enlightenment we are promising you? As long as you are seeking it, no. When you are being it, it is done.
You cannot be the light and hold another in darkness.
Being trumps doing.
In the long run it is far more dangerous to adhere to illusion than to face what the actual fact is.