Beyond the Event Horizon of Thought

Definition: “Thought” – The energy used to form the contents of experience.

At this point in my life I find it harder to avoid feeling and thinking there can be only be one reality and one consciousness. How could you not? The answer is, by believing that Truth or Consciousness (or “innate health” as they talk about in some fields of spiritually-based psychology), or what is known, or knowable, is by Thought only, therefore one cannot know anything beyond the event horizon of one’s thinking – that world or reality formed by Thought.

I like that: “The Event Horizon of Thought” – it is a valuable insight (from psychology and skeptical philosophy) that all we can know are feelings, sensations, thoughts and perceptions formed of Thought. But – and this is a big “but” – it depends on what you mean by “know”. What if we expand from “what we can know” to “what can be experienced”? Then that would include pure awareness without content. Can that be experienced? We can put that aside as debatable for the moment and look at some other interesting observations. What is it that is knowing: thinking doesn’t know anything in itself, it’s just what’s used to form the content of what’s known – an instrument to play the music of knowingness on. So what is knowingness? Who or what is “knowing” – what is experiencing knowing? What are its limits? Does this knowingness experience always have the same limits as the thinking instrument it uses to form thoughts, perceptions, sensations – the contents of the mind in other words? What do we even mean by “knowingess”? To put it crudely, it’s the same is asking, “Who, or What is knowing?”

By using reason alone, there is no way to prove that consciousness or awareness is unlimited, universal, and not limited to this body. However, there is no way to prove it isn’t using reason alone.

But this all gets very ephemeral and “out there” – we can talk about ultimate matter or what can be known until we are blue in the face then feel like it’s just so much talk and grinding of gears. It just flows away and new thoughts come in, the car needs to be taken to the repairman and it’s time for lunch.

Like, “So fucking what?”
Because if you look closely at what you are actually believing, and at what is the basis for believing it, you might find something startling. And that startling revelation could change your entire life if you pursue it far enough. That which you held to be certain – that you are a material body in a material world, and consciousness is limited to and shares the limits of the body, and comes from the brain somehow, and that the body stops at the skin, and that there is a separate world of objects out there, and a person or self here, a human being “in here” (who is born, and is born with certain capacities such as innate health) – is not actually resting on certain knowledge at all, but on a belief that you were trained to hold and reinforced to adhere to and worship. It opens the door to the possibility that what you thought you knew is not actually a certainty at all, but an assumption held in place through repetition of habit.

We are still left with the not knowing though – reason tells us it could be unlimited – but we don’t know for certain either way.

This is where intuition and life experience come in. This is where one has to be honest about what one experiences and not try and change it to stay in line with one’s beliefs and assumption, not tow the line, not rationalize. You need to admit, “Yes, I am conscious right now” And “No I don’t ever actually remember being unconscious, only a lapse in memory” and “Yes, I’ve had a deep intuition of oneness”, no matter how fleeting, it was as real as day, and “Yes I see that it makes no sense to think there is more than one reality, because then there would have to be a higher reality encompassing both, thus always arriving at one reality.”

OK so then the one reality must be the same as the consciousness I am. I exist. Being is. I am, and I am conscious, that is Being right now. That is unquestionably real. This is a real experience. And if it’s real, and it must be the same reality as all that is real, which we have an intuition is one, therefore it is universal I AM, or universal consciousness.

However I can’t prove this except through my own life experience, since it depends on a self-proving. By experimenting with living “as if” consciousness were universal, I can see what happens. If it accords with reality, it will be a happier, more harmonious life.

The experience of oneness exists as a potential in everyone, even if they don’t remember having it. At minimum you will experience it when you die or in one of your reincarnations (if you don’t awaken in this lifetime). Since it is what we are, it is only an illusion that keeps a separate self in place, by effort of thinking.

Notes on Prophets, Mystics, Sages, Philosophers and All That Good Stuff

Last night I watched an entertaining musical from the 70’s, Jesus Christ Superstar. I saw it when I was a kid. Very enjoyable music and great lyrics.
Then for something less dramatic and more meditative before bed, I read some of The Gospel of Thomas until I got sleepy. (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html)

My reflections this morning:

In those densest of times, such as when the Buddha appeared – heavy civilizations full of complex organizations, thinking, rituals, ideas, political structures, social patterns; heavy with unconscious patterns, the past (held thoughts form sense-mind)
come these prophets
Jesus in Roman times, certainly full of politics and strife, tension, materialism, organization, culture, intricacy of thinking, language
Mohamad into tribal dirt and chaos?
Heavy with beliefs, superstitions, presumptions and assumptions

How is a prophet or a sage different from a philosopher? A philosopher examines the current thinking, looks at what other philosophers have said, and reshapes it as best he can, getting insights and new thoughts along the way to clarify and possibly enlighten, creating new shapes, like new pottery
Whereas what does a sage do? Does he break the pot? A sage reveals the light and the clay that is making all pots, now, in timeless Reality. And takes no credit for it since he and the light and clay-maker are the same, whereas the philosopher has his object and himself and the potter, and ponders where it all came from and where it is going.

Perhaps this is the esoteric meaning behind these lines from The Gospel of Thomas:

(16) Jesus said, “Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary.”

(http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html)

But now, today, isn’t a time in history when a singular prophet would be accepted. They would be drowned out in the noise, and considered crazy. It’s a worldwide culture, interconnected with media and networks and subtle ideas. It’s more a time when the sages sprout like mushrooms in fields where countless shapes emerge, part of an overall pattern. We are now billions of people, spread over a planet, with rapid communication, not local tribes where word spreads slowly, by mouth or by clay or papyrus carried by hand or oxcart or horse or boat.
Today the world brain can be easily fed, a vast pool at its fingertips at any time, keeping the mind distracted, worried, preoccupied, fulfilling needs, desires, greed and fear. Always thinking of the future (or the past – the future thinking built from images, thoughts from the past) which never arrives, trying to secure a material condition in order to free the present, continuity is attempted by effort. The same movement of energy that’s always been, in a different form.

But in this world, whose nature is duality, there are always two sides to a situation. While there is more to pull the mind into distraction and preoccupation and not being present (speed and quantity of thinking added to), there is also the possibility of worldwide communion – video conferences and email at the speed of light – a richness of ideas (pointing to truth if one is seeking and open), and metaphors and analogies of virtual realities and game worlds that point to the nature of this field of seeming reality, and free the soul from the mind. Larger worldly ambitions are balanced by larger spiritual ambitions. The more the spiritual or metaphysical seems like they are remnants of the past, delusions, old ways of thinking, seen by the cynical, the skeptical and the scientific materialism and consumerism as laughable, contemptuous, silly, voodoo, “woowoo”; the more thinking swings one way, deeper into a dream, that which is real and awake becomes an interest intensified somewhere else, like a string being stretched on a bow, where tension is created in the distance between where the arrow pushes it out and the point of attachment at the bow end. When the arrow is released, it goes even farther. The fractal just is bigger and more elaborate, but it’s ultimate nature overall never changes. The hologram has more points and deeper circles, but is the same hologram.

“Nothing ever changes” can be read either as a sad commentary on the state of affairs of the world, or as a statement of truth about the happy fact that what Is, never dies.

The Reality of Universal Consciousness

Jesus said, “I shall give you what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind.” – The Gospel of Thomas

The hard thing to grasp about Universal Consciousness is that it is not something that can be sensed by the senses, has no form, cannot be thought about or conceptualized or imagined, as it is the “light of awareness” itself. So how does one know it exists? It starts to sound more like a belief or an item of faith, or nonsense… like no thing. Nothing.

I will do my best to lay out an inexorable logic of experience that can show, to those receptive, how it is true. In other words, it presents a possibility that you can either embrace or reject. Whether you see it or not, is up to your willingness, readiness, and grace.

1. Experience: I Exist.
I am having an experience, and even though it may be a dream, or a hallucination, or created by Descartes’ demon, or a digital simulation in an alien’s computer, or a thought-form of some type, its still a *real experience*. Even if this experience of a body and a world is just an avatar and a scene in some insanely complex and detailed game simulation, it’s still a *real* experience. So *something* somewhere is experience-ing. There is consciousness-ing going on. In other words, I am Be-ing. Being is. I exist. So to start, we at least know that much for certain. And so even if you insist that I am not conscious and/or do not exist, I can know for certain that is just your idea or theory or belief. I have a rock solid basis from which to build, for me.

2. Reality.
But what about the question of what is real, and what is reality? A fruitful way of approaching this question in the context of ultimate or absolute reality is by asking, “how many realities can there be”? We have established that there is at least one (I Am, Being). Could such a thing as more than one reality be possible? Well let’s look at that notion: if there were two realities, how would one know about it? It implies that there would be a *third* reality encompassing both realities that knows of both realities. So that would be the one reality. If there were yet another reality at alongside that higher encompassing reality, then how would that be known? By yet another higher reality that knows *those*. So no matter how many levels, or how many realities, there is still only one reality.

Notice that it can be tempting, according to one’s assumptions, to say that maybe there is another reality out there – the proverbial tree that falls in the forest and no one hears it – that one doesn’t know about, or that no one knows about. But the assumption is that “reality” is thing-like, is like an object: it has borders, it can be distinguished, it can be perceived, or conceptualized (“discrimination” in Buddhist terminology), that is, as perhaps out there somewhere somehow, perhaps as another dimension, could be known, at least *theoretically* – otherwise why are we talking about it? The assumption is that it could be known at minimum as a theory or concept or something imagined, as a separate reality. But again, it is known by whom or by what? You’ve already brought in awareness, consciousness, knowingness, by the back door, whether you admit it or not. It’s either part of awareness or not. Something is either real or not. You can’t be half pregnant. This is not a conceptual or word game we are playing. We are waning to know what *must* be true, not what *might be true*.

It is meaningless to say “separate reality” unless we are talking about psychological, mind-based or personal reality: in other words, a thought-created “reality”, a perceptual reality. And this is valid in a psychological context (just see how two people can watch the same movie and have a completely different experience!). But what we are investigating are philosophical or spiritual questions, or ultimate questions, however you want to say it. Questions about life and the nature of life. Personal “separate realities are useful for understanding human behavior and relationships, and how to live, but even there, we want to put it in context, and not fall into relativism, and grant ultimate reality to whatever arbitrary thinking beings can fall into. Truth is truth.

So you can see it would be as meaningless to claim there is ultimately more than one reality as it would be to claim there is a little invisible man named Yehude in my pocket, and because he’s invisible and I can’t disprove it, therefore he exists. You would be seen as crazy, or at least a little looney. And it’s just as crazy to say there is more than one ultimate reality. Just because one can *say* something or *think* something doesn’t mean it exists or makes logical or intuitive sense. I can say “One plus one equals three, to me”. And that’s fine, you are free to say that, but who cares? It’s meaningless and not intelligent.

Therefore, using intelligence, we see that this encompassing reality would be the one reality: the totality. And this accords with our deep intuition that indeed there is only One reality, one infinite totality, without limits or borders. (I remember lying in bed as a child and thinking, “if there is a border to the universe, what is beyond that border? It would have to go on forever…” which is the imaginative insight about infinity that is the same as the spiritual perception I am pointing to here). If you don’t have that intuition then I kindly suggest you have been fooled by thinking and a fascination with form. There is still hope for you however: it is available to anyone. (If you insist on this way of looking at reality you will be at minimum unhappy and at maximum end up in an institution for the mentally imbalanced, whose prime characteristic is mistaking thinking for reality. I’m only half joking here … I truly think such syndromes as depression are the result of not knowing who, or rather what one is, and being fooled by thought. Such lostness can be and have been, cured by spiritual insight into one’s true nature).

It’s meaningless to talk about more than one reality. It’s not logical, and does not accord with one’s experience.

3. Evidence.
Can you find a limit to your consciousness? Have you ever and can you now find a border? All that you have ever known, or know now, or will know, is experienced within your consciousness. And I don’t mean your mind. Your mind – any and all thoughts, sensations and perceptions – is something known *by* consciousness. The content of your mind appear by to that which is experiencing: the same reality that is reading these words right now.

It is a very common mistake to equate consciousness with mind, to think consciousness is mind-like. This is one of the reasons behind much confusion in the fields of spirituality, spiritual psychology and psychology, not to mention philosophy. So it’s important to be clear on this: Anyone who meditates for example, will be told or be familiar with how, once you relax and open your attention, you can become more aware of how thoughts or mental images, or the sound of self-talk, are passing, how they come and go. They arise. The same with bodily sensations and perceptions. Nothing stays the same but is in constant flux. What is observing this play of form, the flow of thoughts and sensations, perceptions? Can a thought see a thought? Can a perception observe a perception?

And what have you ever known of yourself or the world except this passing play of thoughts, imaginings, perceptions and sensations? Your assumption has been that there is some solid thing out there behind it all. And, we may believe some day science will get to the bottom of it all and find out what it’s all made out of, and how it works, beyond just the appearances and the workings of the mind. Well, you’ve got a long wait my friend. Meantime, it’s time to live.

Through the use of reason and examining beliefs, we come to see there is a total lack of evidence for consciousness being limited and personal. But does this prove it is not? No, it is a negative conclusion. So we are left with a 50/50 proposition: there is a 50% chance that consciousness is limited; there’s a 50/50 chance, according to reason, that consciousness is not universal. We must go on to experimentation in our lives: living it.

(The mind doesn’t experience anything, nor do anything in it’s own).

4. The Logic of Experience.
Combining these insights, one comes to an incredible, startling, mind-blowing conclusion:
If there is only one consciousness, and one reality, they must be the *same* reality! This One Consciousness is the same consciousness I am experiencing right now. There cannot be any other. And, there are no “others” *in reality*. This, despite what my beliefs tell me, what my experience seems to tell me, and the society tells me. What is reading these words right now is what is creating this entire universe and this body and mind right now.

If you have followed the logic of this article, you can also begin to se why many sages have pointed out, or tried to, the fact that our experience is a projection of the mind.

What is reading these words right now is what is creating this entire universe and this body and mind right now.

Notice this is not the same as solipsism: the belief or position that my mind is all there is. Nor is it idealism, which says that the mind is all (the opposite of saying matter stuff is all: materialism, which is the religion of the modern world). What I am outlining is the view that *consciousness is all*. Consciousness encompasses, and *is*, both mind and matter.

This understanding is encapsulated in the statement “Being Is, and Non-being isn’t”, which reflects the fact that both consciousness is, and universal reality is, and they are the same reality. This Being is not personal or limited.
This truth is reflected in the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides writing, the Upanishads, The Course in Miracles, and other places:

“Now then, I will instruct you; hear what I say:
Two paths are open to investigation.
The first says: being is and non­being is not.
It is the path of certainty, because it follows the truth.
The other says: being is not, therefore non­being is.
This misdirected path, I tell you, cannot lead to a sound conviction
For, if this statement were true, it would not be possible for you to conceive of non­being, nor to name it.”
– Parmenides (read the entire poem fragment translation here)

“In the unreal there is no duration and in the real there is no cessation; indeed the conclusion between both the two has been analyzed by knowers of the truth.”
– The Bhagavad Gita

“Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”
– A Course In Miracles

5. Living It.
Try this experiment: Endeavor to perceive, think, decide, act, and relate, as if Consciousness were Universal – that what you are is absolutely the same as everyone else and everything else – one Mind, one Consciousness, and all is a projection of mind. See what happens. You will be amazed.

In this article I have attempted to lay out The Reality of Universal Consciousness and The Logic of Experience.

I have proved it for myself. It’s up to you to explore, investigate, if you are willing and open…

The Simplicity of Truth: A User Guide

One of interesting things about what we call spiritual truth, is how once you see a truth, how self-evident, obvious and simple it seems. “Duh, why didn’t I see it before?” You can then not not see it. And it can be puzzling why others don’t see it when you point out the seemingly obvious to them. Why is this?

The simple answer is that the mind loves complexity.

(20) The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.”
He said to them, “It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.” – The Gospel of Thomas

Here’s where analogies or metaphors are useful: they use images to help the mind orient to an entire situation. At some point that image can help one have an insight. So for this situation let’s use the analogy of a mountain. Let’s say you are hiking up a mountain on a new planet. No one has ever been on this planet before, so no one knows what’s up on the higher slopes. But you’ve hiked up ahead of the rest of the party. You’ve seen new sights. But then you want to walk back down to refill your supplies, to check on your friends. You hike back down, and naturally they ask you about where you’ve been and what have you seen? You tell them of the wonders and try to explain the amazing, incredible beauty of a sparkling emerald forest and the moving, glowing trees that talk to each other, and the astounding beauty, but they don’t believe you, think you’ve made it up, or even if they believe you, you know they don’t really have a sense of what you’ve seen. They say, oh, it’s like the forest I saw in Maui, I know what that’s like!” and you say “No! It’s nothing like that, it s a whole new thing, like you’ve never seen!”
How can you explain it?

You realize they just need to see it for themselves. You see there are two options: do you just keep quiet, or do you try and inspire them to see it? You love them so you point them in that direction, knowing that they have to have the motivation to get up and move their feet and walk up the slope. You can’t do that for them.

Of course, a mountain with levels is just a metaphor, and does not imply any judgement of superiority and inferiority; but it does help capture the idea that one sees more at higher “levels”. Here’s another metaphor that’s commonly used helps too: a keyhole, or the aperture of a lens. Normally, most of us are looking at reality through a keyhole, a tiny aperture. Our minds only allow us to see a tiny slice of reality. We are busy with a focus on a small portion, a small view on the totality. The mind is like the iris of a camera, allowing a certain amount of light in. When you open the attention, open the lens’s iris up, it takes in more of the scene, and suddenly a bigger context is understood. We’ve all had the experience of the “Aha!” reaction when a problem suddenly becomes clear to us, or a clear path of action pops into our head. We know what to do. It can come as a very quiet insight – perhaps we were wondering what to do, what to say to a friend who asked for help with a personal problem, and like the proverbial little bird whispering in our ear, it becomes suddenly and quietly obvious, self-evident.

Spiritual truth is like that. Since it has to do with what is already the case, what is always true, there is a sense of obviousness about it, a sense of humility before a great mountain compared to which our tiny bodies stand. But in this case it is our tiny minds, our comprehension of truth which is limited by the human mind. The mind however, is not consciousness: it’s just a word, a concept for thoughts, sensations and perceptions that appear in consciousness. It’s tempting to say that we are like babies with blank minds, but the truth is, we are in reality quite mindless.

(22) Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, “These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom.”
They said to him, “Shall we then, as children, enter the kingdom?”
Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter the kingdom.”

This is where images break down: we cannot use the mind to picture consciousness. Since consciousness is the context, the playground, or the screen – pick your metaphor – in which all content appears; since it is the “Perceiver in Chief” reading these words and perceiving images, then it is that which is doing the seeing, ultimately, and not any object that appears in it (object meaning content of the mind: sensation, perception, thoughts). Another way to say this very difficult to grasp notion is that consciousness is “non-objective”. You can follow a perception, a thought or a sensation all the way back and never find a thing at its source, only an observer, this observer, now, always present. This simple truth is what reams have been written and spoken about (Zen and Advaita writers, mystics, etc.), and ironically its simplicity is what makes it hard to see.

It doesn’t help that seemingly scary words to the ego like “emptiness” (it can feel like that) or “nothingness” have been used. Thoughts of crazy nihilists and ascetic monks in huts, denying the pleasures of the world come to mind. Words and language break down when trying to describe Being-ness that is both that in which everything appears and yet a no-thing in itself. But we carry on, shooting arrows into the sky… (Is it any help to point out that non-being is a logical impossibility, since the notion is appearing to Being? Apparently not! Perhaps so many are heavily invested in the idea of death and drama. Fear must have a purchase in this investment. But why stop there and concern ourselves with how far so-called “others” are doing in their hike up the mountain, or become complacent with our current view. We recognize how far our feet have brought us, feel grateful for a better view, inspiring us to hike farther, and point ourselves bravely upwards).

Furthermore, to this writer, it also is self-evident that it must be the case that if there is no object “back here” (nowhere) perceiving, then there is by implication no object “out there” being perceived. And in this dissolving, clearly both the supposedly objective and subjective, observer and observed, are being two sides of the same non-existent coin! In any case we won’t go further here… hopefully you get a glimpse of what’s suggested. The point is, this direct knowing can’t be grasped by the mind. It’s simply an experienced given, and what is self-evident is also inherently simple and without form.

One of the apparent obstacles is that the human mind seems to love complexity. Think of an engineer and his toy, a complicated computer he’s made. He doesn’t want to give up his toy: this is understandable. Or think of an artist with a complex tapestry she’s made – an intricate weave they’ve worked on for years. There is an attachment to these creations. But built-in to this is also boredom: the mind will naturally tire of playing with the same thing, will want to turn to something else, then get bored with the new thing, and either go back to the old one and try and get some fun from it, maybe add more complexity, or find a new toy. This cycle goes on endlessly.

This also explains why oddly enough, we love problems. On the surface it doesn’t seem to make any sense to say someone likes problems, but if you observe it will become apparent that we are very attached and don’t want to be separated from our problems, will argue for them. A depressed person for example, just “won’t see reason” and will fight you tooth and nail for the truth of their situation, even though their friends see a brighter view. So what are they giving up if they give up the problem, the complexity? To them it feels like they are giving up who they are, their identity, their reality; they cling to a cherished sense of who they are, like a snake holding onto old skin that’s been comfortable for years. It chaffs, but what else do they know as this well-worn, smelly old blanket?

It’s a funny thing that happiness would appear unsafe to the mind. Why is this? Because it means more freedom, it inherently is more free and open, and like a small animal peeking from a burrow at a big world out there, it instinctively wants to retreat to it’s safe and familiar burrow. It’s a funny thing that peace would be threatening, would appear as a menace somehow.

Think of it like learning to ride a bike; or rather, unlearning, forgetting that it’s unsafe to ride a bike. As you see that you can go farther and farther, you forget your fear that you were going to fall: you learn to trust the stability of the bike and enjoy more and more the ability to move swiftly and feel the world flying past and the wind in your face. It’s much more direct and fun than walking. So it is with truth. One learns to trust that indeed there is true safety, that the universe is not out to get you, and that a tense and contracted self doesn’t actually work well in the long run. You learn to surf reality instead of forcing your way through, like a man with a pick axe trying to make headway on icy ground, or a jungle explorer having to chop his way through thick entangled vegetation. The ice will melt and the jungle will clear on it’s own accord, once the possibility is realized it’s not a separate icy, solid world, and not a scary jungle attacking a fragile tiny body.

All these images are to help turn the imagination towards “higher” possibilities. They are higher yet they were already there, under your feet, the whole time. IT can be hard to image that there’s nothing wrong, when there appears to be some thing wrong. But that is the whole point: it is only appearance. What “you” is, is stronger higher and freer than what appears to a small, frightened mind. If you can see it…