The ephemerality of consciousness.
One of the most mysterious sciences beyond oceanography, astronomy and quantum mechanics is psychology. Indeed science has yet to truly identify what consciousness is and how it comes into existence. We are left to ask ourselves…what is existence? Indeed we can observe our own thoughts thus we are not our thoughts but something deeper. So thoughts are not a sign of consciousness. We still exist even if all of our senses are muted. So our eyes, ears and mouth are not signs of consciousness. Is our existence merely electrical synapses analogous to computers’ binary code mixed with neurochemicals of a laboratory? Or does existence transcend these mechanistic theories? That’s for you to decide…
People who have been pronounced dead but miraculously regain consciousness recall strikingly similar accounts of leaving and observing their bodies, of feeling overwhelming peace and contentment, and entering a light at the end of a tunnel. These are things to ponder in our quest to understand existence.
Metaphors for life and death.
The concept of life and death are such esoteric concepts which are best explained with our inept language through metaphor.
In this lifetime we are simply little drops of water who think they are separate and whom realize that that they all came from the same source when they reach the end of the waterfall.
We are waves in the ocean, building, cresting and falling back into the ocean where we came from. The waves witness tumultuous storms yet the ocean of which they emanate remains calm and stable in it’s unified state.
We are like little mushrooms upon the forest floor thinking we are separate and admiring our own unique coloring and gills and size. But alas we all come from the same underground mycelium of which we will soon once again join after our short life above ground (mycelium just so happens to look like the neuronal connections of our own brain and do in fact act as a conduit for trees to communicate with each other [reference: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet]).
New words for life and death.
The word death has many negative attachments and connotations. It is time to replace the word with a more apt name/phrase. “Dying” is simply entering the realm of the unmanifested. And being “dead” is being unmanifested. Being “alive” is simply being manifested. Regardless of either state, existence continues as a constant (a third catalytic element between two dichotomies) which is inconceivable except through experiential existence just as logically thinking of how infinitely small now is yet how expansive it is when you are truly within it.
What if the beings in the unmanifested world fear birth into this world as we fear death into their world? What if birth is death and death is birth?
We can look at our above-ground manifested world as a place ruled by duality. Ruled by the fact that everything exists as a result of it’s opposite. This is the source of great happiness and great pain. We see ourselves as separate from one another. In a sense, our consciousness can seem so isolated and alone. Why would the consciousnesses of the unmanifested realm want to enter a world of strife, of loosing omniscence/omnipresence and of forgetting interconnectedness?
Of course there is value to our existence in our manifested realm. First of all, the perfection of the unmanifested realm can kind of get boring and this realm is absolutely thrilling. You can see this reflected in people’s attraction to stories about drama in movies and books. But more importantly there are valuable lessons/purposes which can only be learned by living in the manifested realm. I believe every person’s experience is valuable in adding to the collective library of wisdom.
When we transition into the realm of the unmanifested we enter the unified river of life again. We loose our ego and all concepts of separation. We become the observers within everything and nothing.
We should honor and Love both realms.
Transmutation is the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form. To put it another way, it is the alchemy of converting lead into gold.
Pain is a given in our life. We all experience pain in some form or another. However pain can be toxic to our spiritual and physical selves. One of the best ways of relieving yourself of pain is to write…and then write some more. Writing often takes the pain literally out of you and onto paper. Often when we remove the parasite of pain through writing we can look at it for what it is and often find it so trivial that it vanishes.
However there are some pains that are so entrenched that even extensive writing is no remedy. I recently experienced pain in the form of grief, sadness and anger over the destruction of a natural area of which I considered a sacred place where I derived much wisdom at an early age and throughout my life. Hearing and seeing the daily bulldozers and rock-crushers literally demolish a sacred mountain of which I view as family was too much for me to handle. Overwhelming pain caused a negative change in my body which manifested in physical issues such as grinding the teeth to inflame wisdom teeth and having bad accidents while working.
What was my solution?
To channel this destructive energy into something productive. To make this bad thing in my life a catalyst for something good. One of the most influential and positive things in my life was the fact that I was unschooled and given freedom to explore the subjects that I wanted to learn. I remember this would have never happened if it wasn’t for a horrible fourth grade teacher which caused me to become so depressed my parent’s took me out of school.
Likewise for the pain of the destruction of wild-lands I channel this energy into being a catalyst to learn environmental law. I bought myself a stack of environmental law books and enrolled myself into an online course. Knowledge is power and every time I get a twinge of painful anger I direct it into learning environmental law. I went from being disempowered to becoming empowered. If you transmute pain well enough you even become grateful for the cause of your pain. Grateful that it acted as such a catalyst for positive change in your life.
While on the topic of transmutation, we can also transmute sex energy. Sex energy is simply creative energy. This creative energy is one of the most powerful spiritual “compounds” that propels us through life. It is what can create the most beautiful and harmonious things as well as be the source for war and destruction. Too often this creative energy becomes stagnant, builds and causes issues if is repressed/suppressed. It is the equivalent of a pressure vessel full of steam with no outlet. It will cause destruction whereas if harnessed properly it can drive an entire locomotive. The key to a most fulfilling life is to not suppress this energy but to cultivate it and channel it into a variety of creative outlets. Often the act of being creative brings forth even more creative energy to use. Beyond making love with a loving partner using spiritually fulfilling ways, we can also channel this energy into other creative outlets:
Let it all out and “Die Empty”. At the end of life, will the unexpressed stories/ideas/art/dance within die with you? Or will you express all that is within you?
The more you flow and more you can.
The Inuit natives of the North have 50 words for snow to describe the nuances. Perhaps it’s time for us to have more words for the umbrella term of “love”.
Many years ago I went for an extensive wisdom searching hike at a young age to find the essence of existence. Indeed I set out on this hike with the question: what comes first?
Did logic or emotion come first into existence? That is an easy answer… emotion.
But of emotions and feelings, what came first here?
According to researchers there are only four primary emotions:
But none of these feel right as to what was/is the first and most primary form of existence.
Being alone out in Nature asking these questions, I was overwhelmed with the answer….
A term which cannot be described but what I believe gives rise to existence itself. Without the underlying indescribable energy of Love, reality is simply a random combination of elements from the periodic table. Love is the secret catalyst to give rise to life and consciousness.
The best way to describe this Love is “Compassionate Love”. But even this fails to describe what this core of essence is.
Everything we know has an opposite…
Night and day.
Up and down.
Right and wrong.
Death and life.
In and out.
Except one thing … Compassionate Foundational Essential Love.
I want to make a distinction between this foundational Love and many other feelings that we call “love”.
We have the love for our partner. The love for our new car. The love for our children. And while some of these forms of love are closer to foundational true love, they are more often than not superficial forms of love which contain the seeds of it’s opposite.
For many people who say they “love” their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/lover, this “love” can turn to hate and grief in an instant. All it takes is for the object of affection to not behave like you want or no longer be in your life. In the snap of a finger what was supposed “love” turns to hate or grief. The good feeling of love turns to pain. The same flipping of the coin of love/pain can be seen from the material things like crashing your new car to the emotionally deep things like loosing a loved one. True foundational Love knows no opposite. This love continues even if the object of affection hurts you or no longer exists in your life. It is a foundational concept of many spiritual people…From Buddha and Jesus to Walt Whitman.
Because Foundational Compassionate Love knows no opposite, it Loves everything. By accepting this Love, care, reverence and warmth in everything we tap into the power of pure existence and inter-connection.
The superficial levels of love are still valuable and can exist in unison with the Foundational Love, but we must distinguish the difference.
Let me tell you some of the best ways to experience a glimpse of Foundational Compassionate Love.
Look at a beautiful sunset across a rolling landscape. Do you feel the beauty? This is essential.
Listen to music without words which is so beautiful to cause tears in your eyes. Do feel it? This is essential.
Stand barefoot on grass, moss or sand upon the beach. Close your eyes. Feel your connection to the earth. You can feel it here too.
Observe how trees give fruit and bushes give berries. Acknowledge how nature has provided nourishment for us for our entire existence. The gratitude here is part of the essence.
Can you stand in awe at how a single cell of sperm and a single cell of egg can combine to create a chain reaction to create a whole new being? This awe-inspiring feeling is essential.
Can you feel the warmth of the sun even on a winter day? Know that plants love the sun as we do. The feeling of the sun is essential.
Do you admire the tenacity of weeds growing in cracks of concrete? This is essential.
Are you amazed by the fact that our skin heals even deep cuts? This is another example.
Can you sit and hear the birds singing as the gentle wind caresses your face, you hands touching the soft plants? Can you melt into nothing and everything for a moment? This is essential.
Love expresses itself in everything.
There is love…and there is Love.
In our modern age of robots, machines and computers taking over every task that humans have toiled, we must begin to to ask ourselves….what can humans do that machines cannot? What is the value of humanity?
Victor Frankl says our last human freedom is our ability to choose how we respond to external stimulus. This is something that no person or condition can take away. Not even a Nazi prison camp.
I also say that our last human VALUE is our ability to be creative. This is something that no external mechanism can replace.
I believe that creativity is that last human asset. Creativity in it’s many forms … visual art, dancing, music, theorizing, poetry … is something that transcends logic, linear thinking, and potentially even the localized self. No computer can ever create the same way as humans.
Many politicians talk about how we need more jobs; however the jobs of the old days are not coming back. Over a hundred years ago we had the career of the “lamplighters” who lit the kerosene street lamps. But with the advent of new electric lights, this job was quickly made irrelevant. We are seeing the story of the lamplighters being played out across industries today.
This is ultimately a good thing (once again “bad” things being a blessing in disguise) because it forces us to shift towards the last remaining thing that can never be taken away…creativity.
As a successful large-scale steel sculptor, I have learned tools and methods to cultivate creativity. This also includes how to enter the “flow state” which is the present state-of-mind of which insight is spawned.
With the remaining time, I want to cover two broad subjects: How to cultivate creativity and how to be effective in it:
We are all given the paradigms of what the world is and who we are at an early age. We can spend our entire lives trying to overcome these paradigms. Some things people have heard are criticisms of their own creativity which therefore shut down any further expression as well as phrases like the “starving artist” or “you only make money as an artist when you’re dead”. This are toxic concepts which create failure. How do we address these belief systems?
Self-awareness is the flashlight in the darkness of unquestioned paradigms. Prioritizing time throughout the day to become present and observe our reactions to external stimulus as well as watch our own thoughts is key to realizing where these belief systems came from. Once we have identified self-limiting programming we are able to dissolve it with the following…
The power of visualization.
Visualization which is the ability to sense things in our minds…the ability to daydream…to recall a musical composition, choreograph dance, see colors on canvas, feel softness of a pet all in the mind…is the stem cell of creativity. Powerful people from Olympic athletes to CEOs use visualization to see their goals before actually manifesting it in reality. But the kings of visualization are those who use it for creative endeavors. Let me explain one of the most powerful times you can use visualization…
Hypnagogia is the transitory state between wakefulness and sleep. This is a powerful time of visualization because disparate parts of your brain begin talking with each other. Your normal logical mind full of paradigms of what “should be” begins to quiet but is still active enough to consciously guide the other parts of the brain in constructive visualizing. One thing about this hynagogic quasi-dream state is you often forget by the next morning which leads me to the next tool…
The importance of writing.
How many times have you had such a good idea that you didn’t need to write it down because you thought you would remember…..and then forgot…?
This happens to me all the time and I have learned my lesson… Write down everything.
Let me give a metaphor, your brain is like a small desk which can only have three pieces of paper visible at anytime. If you need to look at anything else, you need to file away one of the papers in order to make room for the other information. When you write, you expand your desk so that you are able to look at dozens of papers. In essence writing is an extension of the brain. Writing does two things. First our minds often are filled with worries, tasks, and thought-loops which bog down our brains and disable us from entering the flow state of creativity. Writing allows our minds to relax from thinking about it by putting these things outside of ourselves onto paper. Secondly, writing coalesces the nebulous, an important element of being effective.
Many creative people have trouble getting past the state of day-dreaming and actually manifesting their dreams in reality. This is where coherence comes in. A 60w lightbulb only dimly lights a room whereas collecting all of those photons into a single laser beam gives enough power to cut through steel. This is what I call “coalescing the nebulous” and is the single most important aspect to becoming effective at turning creative visualizations into reality. Besides writing, we must focus our efforts with perseverance and organization to manifest our creations.
Living a balanced life.
The effective creative individual must learn how to balance themselves. The past is what we evolve from, the present is where we create and the future is what we plan. Many of us tend to focus on one of these more than the other. Having an imbalance here leads to stagnation and spinning one’s wheels. Likewise it is important to balance productivity versus production capability. In other words, taking time from work to sharpen the saw… but also not perpetually “sharpening the saw” either.
Ritual and routine.
One of the ways to actually bring these diverse tools practically in our life is to create daily rituals preferable in the morning and at night. For example writing three pages of anything and everything that comes to mind first thing in the morning will go a long way to resulting a more focused day. Taking time to intentionally visualize right before sleep can result in the answers you have been looking for. Going for a daily walk as a form of meditation is another way of which to derive creative sustenance and self-awareness.
Meaning and authenticity.
Your creative endeavors should come a place of authenticity. Not so much thinking of what is commercially viable but rather what feels right to you. Remove all restrictions from creative endeavors and that is how you find new solutions, genres, and concepts to make a better world.
There are two kinds of spiritual people in the world…
What I call “Repeaters” and “Originators”.
Both of these people have inspiration and influence from the teachers and masters of past/future; but the Repeaters regurgitate information whereas the Originators digest wisdom.
Most “spiritual people” you meet are Repeaters. The definition is simple, they repeat wisdom they have heard without fully digesting it and making it their own. This can be seen most obviously when they post non-original social-media memes. This is often also seen with repeated, persistent and myopic focus on one master/teacher/guru/path/religion/philosophy/group. Another sign of repeaters is the use of buzz-words specific to their narrow focus in one group. These are words only people “in the know” are familiar with; they are essentially calling cards to other people of similar philosophy. Repeaters recite verbatim what they were taught. Repeaters trust everything their identified group says as truth, in other words are dogmatic…though they would deny this claim.
The more rare and deep spiritual person is what I call Originators. These people also refer to teachers or philosophies but pursue the wisdom of diverse paths. Not one path such as Buddhism, Christianity, Paganism, Atheism, Islam, or Contemporary Ways …. but respect all paths. The Originator knows that there are many paths which lead to the same source of truth. Some paths are more direct whereas others meander more. Some more opaque and some more transparent.
While the Originators consume diverse spiritual teachings like some Repeaters, the Originators fully digest the wisdom. Originators are not taught, they are reminded of what they already know.
Originators ask themselves what their wisdom and intuition is before consulting another person, book or philosophy.
Repeaters are important because they amplify certain important teachings. But Originators are more potent because they deeply embody the truth. This creates a stronger amplitude in the waves of positive influence towards consciousness evolution. Their understanding and embodiment transcends verbiage and text.
A synonym for Originators is Leader; and for Repeaters is Follower. However the word “leader” suggests having people follow you. This is not necessarily the case, a true leader can be completely isolated and still be a leader.
As always, metaphor is the often the best way to point towards the deepest truths…
Originators pull from their own deep well of wisdom, not from others’ wells. Originators were reminded by themselves and from teachers how to dig their own well. Repeaters drink from the teacher’s well, but have not learned to dig their own.
If it weren’t for the originators, people would be mightily thirsty.
To put it more simply. Water is the wisdom. Originators are the well. Repeaters are the bucket.
In another analogy…
Originators have roots that grow deep. They can weather the storms of external influence; droughts, disease and wind. Repeaters have shallow roots, where they can easily be toppled.
I believe anyone and everyone can become an Originator. In order to do so, they must limit their external influence and look within for answers. To be alone in nature and enter a state of presence. To feel themselves and dissolve into nothing and everything. To live between pre-determinism and freewill in a state of flow. True understanding comes from personal experience of these universal realities.
In reading “The Power of Now”, I am reminded that we are not our minds. We are not our thoughts, though we often think we are our thoughts. We are not our ego. We are not “I”.
We are existence. We are sensory experiential tendrils of “source”. I often relate consciousness to mushrooms and the miccohizzhal system beneath the soil. This fungal matrix beneath the ground looks very much like the connections in our brain. It is a place of connectedness, peace and all-knowing. A place analagous to what people have experienced after death. Then when the conditions are right, little mushrooms sprout up. These mushrooms could be seen as separate entities but alas they where derived from and are integrally connected to their unified source… Of which they will rejoin again soon.
A Buddhist monk also said it it very eloquently. We are little rain drops in a waterfall who think of themselves as separate. But they were born from the same source and ultimately rejoin each other in the same whole river of life.
Or we could look at our physical bodies as waves upon the deeper ocean.
Really the only way to explain consciousness is through metaphor.
My interpretation of the phrase “Evolution of Consciousness” is this….We stem from a place of all-knowing expansive interconnectedness and when we are born into this dimension we loose the awareness of this. I believe evolution of consciousness is remembrance of this essential state. When we remember that the foundational energy of our existence is compassion and that we are all inter-connected, I believe that the atrocities such as environmental destruction, lashing out at other beings, and non-aware-states will begin to fade. Evolution of consciousness is simply remembering what we already know at a deep level. The truths of our existence.
Multi-Dimensionalism is fascinating and incomprehensible. One of those things of which words can only serve as sign posts to the true reality. I believe our consciousness can access and live in other dimensions than the one we usually operate in physically. I believe that the “spirit world” exists in these other dimensions. Sometimes, when we drop our paradigms and programming of how our reality “should” be, the other dimensions reveal themselves.
I think other dimensions are analogous to our different levels of consciousness. Where normal consciousness is the three dimensional physical reality. Subconscious is a dimension deeper. And unconscious is a dimension even deeper. I believe that dimensions are not black and white. I think there is a spectrum. Dimensions do not have hard edges.