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The human mind is the root of humanity itself. It is indeed true that having opposable thumbs is a very valuable accommodation to our physical design as human beings, but it is our intellectual capacity of thought which creates the chasm that sets us apart from all other species of life known to us, including our genetic cousins, the Chimpanzees, and other primates.
The entire conceptualization of symbology, language, tribalism, culture, society, ethics, philosophy, the sciences, mathematics, music, art, every piece of technology, every story ever told in every book and around every campfire; is a reflection of the integral evolving intellect of the cognitive human mind. Our minds can be a powerful tool, or a potentially dangerous weapon. Our minds can be conceptualized as many things; indeed they are a processing center, the personal narrator and narrative of our lives, our lone companion in solitude, a tool functioning through logic and creativity. Our minds are like a mirror, whatever you place in front of them, is reflected within them. The mind is capable of becoming anything you want it to be, with the appropriate timing and leverage. What we see, what we experience, what we know; that is what we become. Not necessarily by choice, but the mind will mimic anything it is made consistently available to. We are constantly integrating information with our sense of "selves", and any repetition or ritual is always habit forming if pursued religiously in mind. But how much do we really know about the functionality and footprint of our own minds?
The many branches of science, medicine, and biology can teach us all about the nature of the physical brain, the heart, our neural core, and the correlation with our physical senses. A psychologist can read the psyche like a map, recognizing patterns in our speech and behavior and thus aid in the search for their causality. Despite this, how much do we really know and understand about our own personal "reality", and "self-identity"; how it is perceived through the windows of our five external senses and quite certainly construed by a conditioned mind?
If the hand holds a stone, then the mind becomes a stone. The mind is a machine, a tool, a processing center. An illusion involved in emotional conspiracy with the body. The mind is not "what" you are. The mind will attempt in every way to diagnose you, but alas, you are untouchable as all that is slips into the past. The mind may be the prison, the prisoner, the guard, and the key; beyond the mind, there is no prisoner left to free.
The basis and foundation for thought, as we generally conceive it, is through language. The correlation between words and things, actions, and descriptions. Thought is the voice in the mind, which may self-chatter all day. Given that language is not innate, but a learned ability; the manner of our thoughts themselves have also learned patterns and are equally limited by the range and the capacity of our knowledge of the language itself.
We are also capable of visualization in thought, "thinking in pictures". If I ask you to visualize a banana, an image, sensation, and color may automatically present itself somewhere within you. Even if I ask you not to think of a banana, the mind may compulsively create the image anyways. The vast majority of our mental projections are compulsory in nature, and deeply conditioned far down in our subconscious, driven by childhood memories which sometimes no longer even cross the radar of the individual involved.
Compulsion is what drives the unobserved mind. When we are in a stream of thought, even if those thoughts are unpleasant, many find it difficult to resist or steer clear of their own habitual thought patterns. This is a matter of intellectual conditioning at the cognitive level, which over time and repetition, integrates itself into our deeper subconscious layers. "Good" or "bad", how your mind is making you feel, and how you are perceiving the world; has far less to do with the world itself and how the world actually perceives you, than it does reflect how you are conditioned to perceive world.
In other words; if the world is an ugly place, then your experiences have created a narrative within you to support that claim, and they will identify with and cling to any evidence which supports that version of reality, forsaking all others. If the world is a beautiful place, then your experiences have created a narrative within you to support that claim, and they will identify with and cling to any evidence which supports that version of reality, forsaking all others.
Either claim can be logically supported by the mind frame of the individual engaged with it, despite the inherent contradiction of two logical outcomes in opposition of each other. "Reality" is a subjective experience, and though we share an objective world, under closer self-examination, we may find that many of the beliefs we hold about ourselves and about others are no more than a matter of conditioning, on all sides of the fence.
It is generally believed that our eyes and ears enable us to perceive "out" into the external world, and while this appears to be true at a surface glance; I'd like to take a brief moment to examine this possibility a little further.
Our eyes, ears, skin, nose, and tongue make up our five external senses as human beings. These five, are indeed windows for the body and mind to perceive and conceive of an external world; however, we do not look "out" into the world, it is the light which travels to the eye and enters the retina that is perceived within. We perceive what comes in.. Not what is outside... The image we attain from sight is not what is actually "out there", but rather the information gathered by the eye at its surface and is then interpreted by the brain. Ultimately an image is then projected within the brain which is encased completely in the darkened recess of the skull, where no true visible light actually penetrates. Everything you see around you in this moment right now, is not outside of you, but rather is an internal projection. When you close your eyes, the world disappears, because without the light pouring in, no assessment of the space around you can be interpreted or construed within you. You do not, in fact, see a tree "over there," what you see is no further than the surface of your eye and what light falls upon it. As it is, our eyes are limited to only a very small sliver of light which is in itself a wave frequency known as the "visible light spectrum". The vast majority of wave frequencies we know of, in a scientific sense as "light," are invisible to the human eye.
It is the same with the ears. We do not hear things, "over there." What we hear, has traveled its way to us. We don't hear things "over there." because where it is heard is, and has always been right here, within the framework of your skull and brain as an interpretation. Just as the majority of light is beyond our ability to recognize, so is the majority of sound frequency. Our bodies are surrounded by frequencies, which we are simply not tuned in to properly, in order for them to be perceived, in accordance with the nature of our own specific external senses.
Consider the owl for instance, a nocturnal creature whose eyes are designed to perceive the world clearly in what we know as darkness. But our darkness is not darkness to the owl. It is not simply a matter of perceiving heat in darkness like the snake does, an owl can maneuver quickly between branches in pitch darkness. Although, let's consider the senses of the snake, whose eyes are designed to perceive a reality where heat has a visible aura. The snake's tongue is used to sense it's surroundings at a distance, similar to our sense of smell, but we're talking flavors not scents. Imagine a sense of taste so delicate, that you could literally stick your tongue out and know who or what may be nearby. In these obvious cases of contrasting external senses, I'm simply trying point at the fact that just because we perceive and then conceive of the world in this way as human beings, does not mean that this is the way the world actually is. The world is only the way that it is, to us, and us alone as a species. Especially intellectually. We must remember this when we consider the fact that we share this objective world subjectively. To be consciously perceptive is to be aware of your senses and the "space" in which you reside in order to become "aware."
Awareness; to become attentively aware of your surroundings and senses, in terms of mental perception, is the fastest way to silence the mind.
I have heard many say that silencing the mind is not possible. I am telling you right now, that is a belief and an illusion. The only quality one must embody in order to silence the mind immediately, in any given moment, is the ability to LISTEN.
When you are listening, the mind is quiet, in order to make SPACE for sound.
To listen in a sense is to be meditative.
There are two words that matter most in this read, if you take nothing else from this, remember these two words.
LISTEN - SILENCE
Listening is "perceiving." The thoughts that follow listening are "conceived." When we listen, we are giving authority to our external senses of perception. That which we think of, is a conception of our own creation, be it of a subconscious compulsion or a decision of conscious intellect. The duration with which an individual is capable of listening, paying attention, watching, perceiving, that is their capacity for a quiet mind. Reading is another form of listening. As you read, your mind is forced empty to make "space" for the words to arise. Every word I write, is a direct movement of thought, from my mind, into yours. Left symbolically, across any given measure of time, these letters and their arrangement is only made meaningful in the eyes of a reader. For a brief moment, before your own thoughts interrupt to determine if what I am saying is true or not, my thoughts are becoming yours as instantaneously as you can perceive them.
Why do we say things like, "listen for the Silence" in terms of being meditative or in practices like meditation?
Silence is the one thing you can't hear. Silence is not a "thing" at all. Listening for silence, means you are attentive to the act of perceiving, not conceiving. This is similar to saying, "feel not for the body, but for the SPACE in which you reside." For the same reasons we close our eyes in meditation, darkness is an arena in which there is no definitive sight. We are drawing attention away from the material existence, and placing our attention steadily inward. Listening. Listening for the silence.
Going back a bit, when I discussed our specific external senses and made reference to the possibility of perceiving this same objective existence on an entirely different plane of reality as the owl does or as the snake does, internalize that for a moment. What is the difference between the living consciousness within us, and that which is within the dog, or the cat? What is the difference between any other animal, or living creature at any given level of consciousness? The schematics of how our reality is perceived through the specific differing nature of our senses, and then how that information is interpreted conceptually in mind. This existence for the worm, is vastly, incomprehensibly different than ours. Life is life at its core, life feeds on life, life is made of star stuff as the plants consume it. The more complex the life form, the greater the creatures ability to conceive of a "Personal Self". Self-Identity is the birth in perception of the nature of Duality. Me as separate from the world. An inner world, and an outer world.
Meditation, can invoke the disillusionment of duality experientially at the physical level of sense perception, and transcend all models of self-identity, revealing a nameless and formless Core. The raw experience of simple awareness.
This does not mean, who you are vanishes; it is simply a way to find some truth to life, the pathless path within . . .
The kind of awareness we played with as children, without judgment or preconception grafted onto the moment. No concern for future, only plans, and projections, too engaged in the present to conceptualize of the past.
Living in the now. Living in the moment. Harmony. Whatever label you would like to put on attentive presence, please enter it here...
We become so caught up in the conceptualized stories of our lives, we often forget, that when it comes down to it, the entire experience of life is contingent upon an infinite amount (an inconceivably vast amount) of variables, which are operating concurrently in order to make all of this experience happen for us. In the end, everything we pursue at face value is meaningless. What we conceive at the cognitive level of intellect, is only the tip of the iceberg. But what maybe gets overlooked most often, is that at the very center of all of this life, is you.
You, as the experience, are the contingent variable to all that is. The entire cosmos as you know it exists purely within the imagination of conceptualization. You are the core. Not what you believe, or what you think, or what you think you believe; but you at the core of the experience. The awareness within. The silent listener. All of reality is a projection within you, so when you listen for the silence, and you don't hear it, but you feel it beneath the subtle murmur of life; you hear yourself. You are the silence. You are what is left when all else is gone. Perception is an inner projection, so when you hear nothing else, you're only hearing your self. "Listen for the Silence." You are the baseline of all experience. Without you there is no light, there is no sound, there is no experience. You make this all possible in your SPACE of Consciousness. You are intangible and immutable silence that envelopes all things . . .
Much love, may you find the silence, and that it is none other than the sound of you.
Who we are is not important, what is important is how we are within. Without "me", there is only the world. This is the truth we will leave behind . . .