A person who thinks all the time, has nothing to think about except thoughts. One can lose touch with reality while engaged in this practice and therefore lives in the world of illusions. Repetition of words and chatter in a mind that is actively reckoning and calculating is not bad if done in moderation, but if executed excessively, then we become lost to the true nature of our experience in the world. That is to say that we have forgotten on “how” to experience the world around us, and even within us! We confuse signs, numbers, words, symbols and ideas for the authentic world. We have become detached to the true relationship we once held with nature because we erroneously and mistakenly confuses our thoughts and ideas for the world itself. We miss the essential connection to nature by a contrivance of mind. We fabricate, construct, and make conclusions from logic that only serves to hide the true essence of our experiences. Our experience is convoluted and replaced with our mental representations of what we actually experience.
Reality is the sound of the gong, not our symbols or words that describe the sound it makes. We do not need to determine what key the pitch is in, if there is any major or minor harmonic resonance in the sound we hear. Whether any dissonant aspect of what we hear for our experience to be complete need be explained. We simply just listen without judgement. In analogous manner, our approach to solve human problems is precisely the activity we employ to overcome these problems that we want to resolve. so what exactly can we do? The ideals we create are all manifestations of these problems we are trying to escape from. In our attempt to solve our quandaries, we cannot help but create much of our paradox in that our attempt to get away from them is contingent on our ideas of them.
“I know that I ought not to be selfish, and I would very much like to be an unselfish person, but the reason I’d like to be an unselfish person is that I am very much a selfish person and would far more love myself and respect myself if I were unselfish.”
When you look into yourself, there is nothing you can really do. We cannot feel any other way than what we feel at the moment we feel it. We think if we come to a dead-end that we fail. The answer to finding the way is in our allowance of it to happen without interference. If we find that we cannot transform ourselves, one should not be discouraged since it is not be a gloomy announcement. Rather, we have discovered a very important communication. This is telling us that we cannot transform ourselves because the “you” that you “imagine”, that is capable of transforming ourselves, does not really exist.
An ego, or an “I” is separate from my emotions and thoughts, it is separate from my feelings and my experiences that we are supposed to be in control of. We cannot control them because it is not there. The “I” is our image of ourselves. It’s composed of what other people have told you about yourself, who you are and how they have reacted to you that gives you an impression of the sort of person you are. The image we usually have about ourselves, what our egos tell us, does not include our social contexts and all of our relationships within our self-image. What we conceive to be ourselves is simply the marriage of the illusion of the futility. As Alan Watts puts it….”We are the apertures of the universe exploring itself.”
The western schools of thought from antiquity to today often philosophize about the distinctions and nature of our being. They invent a vast lexicon that enables them to describe our reality, and have argued about it since the birth of the philosophical branches such as Ontology, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. But if we look to the east, we find alternative schools of thought that have a variation on the approach and recognize that we are both the preceptors of sensory perception and rationalistic logic. We use both methods to shape the world. As an empiricist, our perceptions create the world. But when we do not contemplate it, there is no need to label or name what we experience since it is what it is without our labels, words, or symbols. As a rationalist, we create, interpret, and experience the world by way of proxy through our minds, thoughts, and ideas.
It is when the mind is attuned properly, that we will see that there is no difference of being what you are as the knower and what you are as the known. In this state we are simply attuned to the ever-present now. Between ourselves and all that is in the world outside us becomes a unified happening. A oneness with the world.
If we see ourselves in a correct way, then we align with the rest of how nature functions. There is nothing wrong with us, but we needn’t feel guilty because we “feel guilty”! When we meditate, we simply watch what is going on without judgement, or analysis. When we hear music, we do not understand it though our words, but only through the musical vibration itself. We become aware of the vibrations that stimulate our being and go no further in analysis of this experience.
What is going on outside us that can be observed, is also the process for what goes on inside of us and that we can monitor this as well. All nervous system activity that is experienced outside of ourselves, (sights, sounds, tactile simulations, tastes) can likewise be experienced (via mental thoughts, ideas, concepts) from what is stimulating us on the inside. The notion of time is never of consequence in meditation. The focus is always on the ever-presence of nature.
Still the mind, become a friend and blend in with what is not in motion by listening to what is in motion. Do not let the mind take you to the past or the future, but remain in the present. Learn to listen to what is present. Hear the sounds that are all around you. The activity of observing our breath can be of great benefit to a mind that is awake. It is something that we do without our willing to do it since it is an autonomic function of our respiratory system. So to do we listen to the sounds that we hear from where we sit. We are only concerned with what is as it is. Simply just an eternal now to be experienced as it happens. Live in the moment and the mind will calm it’s echos of futile pondering. When we are happily absorbed with what we are doing, we have forgotten about “ourselves” and our egos. We can’t very well do that and worry or think anything serious.
A restless mind is one that is not operating with receptivity. It has closed itself off to what can be experienced without the “self” involved. A well-trained mind does not disturb the presence of what is by forcing the experience. We simply just watch what is happening. Inside of ourselves, and outside of ourselves happening simultaneously can be allowed to just be.
I want to make one thing absolutely clear. I am not a Zen Buddhist, I am not advocating Zen Buddhism, I am not trying to convert anyone to it. I have nothing to sell. I’m an entertainer. That is to say, in the same sense, that when you go to a concert and you listen to someone play Mozart, he has nothing to sell except the sound of the music. He doesn’t want to convert you to anything. He doesn’t want you to join an organization in favor of Mozart’s music as opposed to, say, Beethoven’s. And I approach you in the same spirit as a musician with his piano or a violinist with his violin. I just want you to enjoy a point of view that I enjoy.
Experience the world as a child! We freely except vibrations of color, sound, and motion, but as we grow, we are taught to judge what is good, and what is bad in our encounter with the world. We accept our concepts and forms of our language and confuse them from what is actually going on. We engage the world through our intellect, and become lost in the words and reasons we attribute to the world, without experiencing that what is as it is!
Our psychological abstractions that makes us human, also alienates us from our being in the world. We have forgotten to be in the moment and can lose ourselves if we do not attend to the here and the now. There is the now and zen, both which are mutually inclusive. To be in the here and now is to be in the zen of a moment. Attending only to the sensory stimuli of the world, but not calculating it, measuring it, or labeling it, but rather to experience it without distraction; that for what it is as it is without human interventions of language and thoughts!
A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.
Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word “water” is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so to the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.
Allan Watts: Buddhism : The Religion of No-Religion
I am amazed that Congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for burning that for which the flag stands: the United States as a territory, as a people, and as a biological manifestation. That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.
Allan Watts: Audio lecture “Individual and Society”
The dimension of being that disrupts our ability to experience that which is in the world, is often a very popular approach to how we come to “know” the world. The way we divide and label things, the scientific approach can tell us many things, but they often confuse our world and our being in it.
I’d like to reflect on an earlier memory of mine when I was just a kid.
A pleasant memory of a peaceful moment that happens to all of us from one time or another if we choose to enjoy it or even notice it. The memory brings me to an earlier time in my life, a time when I did not have to drive or even have concernment about such matters. When I was the passenger in the backseat of the family car, with no other responsibilities or duties to perform in the family presence. One night after a long day of events, my family endured a lengthy drive home from either a social function that took us to another part of town, or some other endeavor that encompassed everyone in the family to be present. Not much was said between our family, we were not a family that talked much, as everyone seemed to be in their own thoughts. The remembrance occurs to me about my overall sentiment as I started to drift into a quasi sleep state as my head leaned against the glass window and the engine motor acted as a white noise that allowed me to shift into a meditative realm.
I’m sure I was reflecting on whatever happened to enter my mind at the time, but one observation came to me as I noticed something very comforting. An observance that whilst you are aware of your surroundings, you can be far off in another realm altogether. Despite my closed eyes, my not too diminished comfort level being in a small Volkswagen bug, a tired body and relaxed mind tends to drift, yet my being in a quasi-awake state, quasi-present and aware of the events happening in my environment- I was also somewhere else; in two places at once.
I do not speak of ekcancar, or an out of body experience, but simply that I had a sense of fulfillment, that I felt a sense of being safe, that I was relaxed in mind and body and my spirit was relieved of any worry. I did not have to have my guard up, I did not have to protect myself, I did not have to be cautious, but only just be!
Imagine being worry free, being relaxed and having a stress-free moment. I seemed to be tuned into a meditative state enjoying only good thoughts. A dream like state that incorporates the present moment without it being a fictional dream.
Letting go of barriers, letting go of ideas, thoughts, and perceptions about the world that closes us off from this experience is harder to do as one grows older. With age one can acquire more scars, more experiences, and more encounters with those who may try to subject you to their ignorance which only builds a history of possible offenses that can convolute the mind. I do not know if I as a child experienced a Zen-like moment, but I do know it has happened at times in my life, but in rare instances. I do know that I was in the company of people who were close to me, and allowed me to project myself out from underneath my mortal flaws if only for a moment. If only for a moment we must cherish them as they are the ones that can lead us to a more sane world.
Letting go of the ego is what I believe happens during those quasi moments of bliss. Not having an encroaching personality conflict, and opening one up for a pure moment of silence and not letting the malfeasance of the mind break you of this opportunity. Having those around you often can help though it is not a requirement of the experience in my point of view.