Have you ever paid attention to your thoughts? Have you ever considered their source? Where do thoughts come from and where do they go? How big is the mind? Does it have a boundary? Simple questions with interesting answers? Within our vast minds there are typically three forms of contemplation. The first is thoughts rooted in the past: Experiences and memories for the most part. Then you have thoughts embedded in the future: Fantasy and daydreaming for example. Both elements of thought involve elements of fear, anger, sadness, pride, jealousy and some conviction – all integral fixtures of the ego. The third mode of thought is focused in the present. Being mindful of the present means we are not saddled down with fear and fantasy from the past and future, instead we are completely centered in the experience of life itself. Each moment in the present is fresh, acute and vivid. It is at this point we can reach a more spacious vision of life which is rooted in what I like to call our “true reality”. What is true reality? Well, only you can define that notion for yourself, for only you can determine why you were put on this Earth. To define your own true reality, you need to let your mind drop away from what you already perceive as reality. I know this sounds contradictory, but it is the only way to get beyond the constraints of the ego. This is not something that is going to happen immediately. It will be a gauged process of development. As you will soon realize, many of us lack a genuine level of self esteem. If we have any confidence it tends to be egocentric and a crude level of esteem. We tend to resemble a boutique of bad habits and addictions. We gain our confidence though money, materialism and self-gratification. We stumble through the day stressed and somewhat confused and empty. This reality is the chaotic existence many of us live – sometimes unknowingly.
The whole purpose in life is to achieve a personal level of enlightenment. I use the word “personal” because though the definition of enlightenment may have a common meaning, the true essence of enlightenment will be different for each person. Much like our finger prints which are unique to us as individuals, our own personal search for enlightenment is also unique and needs to fit our very own needs and desires. Like a hand print in the wet sand near the shore, your hand needs to fit the mold – thus being the perfect aesthetic match. The first problem that arises is that enlightenment, though defined, is not found in the “material world” we live in. In order to reach true illumination, we need to strip off the chains that shackle us to this ordinary world. We need to walk up hill even though most of society is walking down hill. Enlightenment is a blessed state in which the individual transcends desire and suffering and attains Nirvana. Nirvana is an enlightened state of being void of suffering. As you will find, the concept of suffering is the mainstay of this problematic “material world” we live in.
Maybe you have heard of Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” which describes an imaginary pyramid that begins with physiological needs at its base and aesthetic principles of self-directed growth at its apex. After the satiation of water, food and warmth comes love and safety issues. These needs are born from a more primitive human existence dating back millions of years. It was not until more recently – the last 3,000 to 5,000 years that humans began searching for self-actualization. Self-actualization is really just another term for enlightenment. This higher level of reasoning and understanding is really the last evolutionary step in human perception. We are now just entering into this new age of reason which includes asking the most pressing questions in life: Why do we suffer? What is God and how does the Universe function? These questions take us away from the dogmatic, close minded view of what religion has presented the last couple millennia and urges us to take a more dynamic approach. Deep down there is this almost primal hunger to know and understand. Religion was created by man to feed this hunger yet for many it is not enough. Our appetite is voracious and for many of us there is this peculiar feeling that the concept of God as it relates to the Universe is much more complex and magnificent. Somehow the concept of enlightenment figures into this cosmic puzzle that also includes feelings of bliss and love. Negative emotions like fear, anger and jealousy seem remote and gratuitous. This rift in emotions is explained by the two worlds I briefly mentioned earlier: The “material world” governed by ego and our “true reality”.
Humans relate to opposites in life: Man and woman, night and day, even heaven and hell. But what about ego and True Nature? The ego is part of our mental devices that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of our being and the demands of the social and physical environment. The ego has many shortcomings in how it interprets reality. The first thing to understand is that the ego is merely an attachment that feeds off of human emotions. Much like a mosquito feeds off the blood of a mammal; the ego feeds off of our fears, fantasy and regulates our self-esteem. Self esteem is a persons overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own self-worth. The ego for better or worst thrives on ideals, beliefs and laws that determine a perception of the world and life that is larger than the individual. It becomes the governing force from which we unknowingly base our daily actions. Somewhere on the road of life the ego took up management status in our minds and controls every step we take in some facet. Born at a premature age, the ego incorporates the various ideals and beliefs that make up our surroundings as it relates to what others think and project. It is a complex array of sources that creates and fuels an ego: the unattainable benchmark set by celebrities to the materialistic urges brought forth by our peers and the advertising we are inundated with daily. It deals with social acceptance in communal arenas and the moral and mainstream pressures of life. In the “material world” the ego unknowingly gains power from these sources and we as malleable creatures inherit control patterns which subconsciously dictate our actions and reactions in life. Control patterns are subliminal hard-wired urges and intentions that are controlled by the ego and facilitate and reinforce the emotions of fear, anger, jealousy and low self-worth, many times unknowingly.
The opposite of our ego is our True Nature. The concept of true nature is the intrinsic, immortal potential for reaching enlightenment in the mind of every sentient being. Its source and energy are born from the Cosmos. Quantum mechanics is the study of matter and energy, in particular the fact that energy is absorbed and released in minute quantities, and that all matter displays wave-like and particle like properties, especially when viewed at subatomic levels. Quantum mechanics suggests that the behavior of matter and energy is interconnected and that the effect of the observer on the physical system being observed must be considered part of that system. Further, this connection with humans and the Universe explains why Karma and an afterlife are possible (concepts we will discuss later). From a scientific standpoint, this energy is dependable and unwavering. Quantum energy can also be defined as a life source that connects to everything that exists in the Universe: From distant stars and galaxies to microscopic atoms within your body. As proven in quantum mechanics, everything has a quality of interconnected energy associated with it. All of this energy is indestructible as energy can not be destroyed, it just changes form. From a humanistic standpoint, this energy is positive in nature as it exhibits no fear, anger or negativity – these fore mentioned negative traits are of man’s making. This positive quantum energy can include our thoughts, actions and the basis for our existence. It is the common denominator for everything that exists – the true definition of God. The ego defines the “material world” we were born into and True Nature defines the alternate Universe that exhibits our “true reality”; everything pure and unadulterated. True Nature transcends all religion and even this world; again, its energy is constant and indestructible. Knowing this breeds clarity and a responsive quality to our minds. When our thoughts and perceptions are rooted in the present, the ego is powerless. This is why meditation is important because it is a process that trains the mind to reside in the present and not the past and future. Up next, we will discuss meditation and how to easily start your own meditative regiment.
John C. Bader
About the Book: www.responsiveuniverse.com