Principles


Since there is a gigantic confusion of terms like "reality", "enlightenment" and "consciousness" and the like, I think it would be a good idea to give an overview of what I mean by it here. For now anyway.

'Mind' or 'spirit' is in this write-up another word for the process of the flow of events, which IS our life. Part of that flow is - when the mind is more or less awake - more or less conscious. Other portions of the flow form undercurrents that are unconscious or semi-conscious. Stream and undercurrents influence each other and together they shape our experience of the continuous, but ever-changing moment. Mind is probably a consequence of processes in our brains. The other way around could also be (our brain is a process in mind). No one knows, in my opinion, and can know what is true here and how it happens, but the connection between mind and brain is, in my opinion, irrefutable.

By reality I mean that which is happening here and now, in other words our experience, our life: this constant and constantly changing flow of colors, sounds, feelings and thoughts, or again in other words: this universe. Reality, as far as I know, coincides completely with mind. Both terms are in fact interchangeable. Mind has no content. Mind is the content. We cannot know if there is 'something' outside of mind. What could there be outside our experience? What mind/world IS cannot possibly be known and is a question without meaning.

In order not to separate mind and reality and to name them as one, I also speak here of 'mind/world'. Other synonyms are for example 'this (conscious) life' or just 'This'.

Consciousness in my terminology is not a thing, not a 'space', not a 'container'. Consciousness is a quality of the mind at a particular moment of our experience. Consciousness has gradations, ranging from being completely unconscious, as in deep sleep or under anesthesia to being completely attentive and aware. It can be narrowed when we focus on something, or it can be wide open, shutting nothing out.

Often elsewhere the term "consciousness" or "awareness" is used in the way I use the term 'mind'.

The self, the psyche or the personality is nothing more than a process in the midst of all the other processes that take place here and now as mind/world.

The I is a point of view on and of the process of reality and acts as a self-reference in communication with others.

'Awakening' is the process of diminishing the need for and pursuit of permanence, such as being happy forever, or never suffer again, or clinging frenetically to opinions and views. It is the waning of the urge to be different, to be better, than what is experienced and felt here and now. At the same time, awakening can be seen as a process in which every conscious being is included and in which it is possible to become increasingly clear about this reality and your place in it. The process of awakening has no end point. Being 'fully awakened' therefore cannot be claimed. Everyone is more or less awakened. Robert Saltzman says the following about his own sense of being awakened:

"To be awake is not some kind of super-attainment, but only the liberty to be at ease with oneself, and to live step by step without making a big deal out of anything or attempting to become something.

This relaxation cannot happen when one's mind is filled with second-hand concepts about "reality." So "awake" means being naturally present without perfectionistic striving and without chasing after what others claim to have attained. This is totally ordinary, but being ordinary does not seem to have much appeal to those whose minds harbor fantasies of "transcendence," which, coming from Latin, literally means climbing beyond what one actually is presently, as if one actually could." 1)

Awakening is a breaking down process. It amounts to becoming utterly disillusioned, embracing not-knowing.

An awakening experience ('satori', or 'kensho') is the sudden realization that permanence and any holding-on is ultimately impossible. Life as it is is also seen as it is. Often in such an experience one also sees that the self is in fact not separate from the rest of the world process, but a part of it. You can also suddenly feel that everything is falling into place, that everything that is happening is okay on a fundamental level, because you see that it cannot be any other way than it is.

But even that experience-as-such passes, because the experience of being unseparated, or being absolutely content, is ultimately unsustainable in daily functioning and of course also because everything passes anyway. The only thing that possibly sticks is knowing that 'myself' is not in a position to do. Everything just happens.

'Enlightenment' is a term I prefer not to use, because this is where the confusion is perhaps most intense, especially since everyone has a different image of what 'enlightenment' would entail, and usually those images are all too grandiose, unattainable and impossible.

"[...] everything arises together as it does - as a whole system. Some people try to call that system the 'Self' and like to say that they are it, but I don't feel that way. I have my own little inner world, that's for sure, but that world is not THE "Self"; it is 'myself', and you have another 'myself'. At best, 'myself' is just a small feature of the system, not the whole system. It is a strange kind of megalomania to imagine that one is equal to 'God', or Brahman, as some Hindus believe. And yet, imagining that is what some people consider 'Enlightenment' or 'self-realization'. Personally, I feel much more at home in the ordinary world of people, donkeys and bluebirds." 2)

Finally, by Dis/covering, I mean seeing through the thought patterns that prevent experiencing the mere, bare existence of our lives. I call it dis/covering, because it is at the same time a discovery as well as an uncovering.

1) Robert Saltzman, The Ten Thousand Things, Chapter 18
2) Robert Saltzman on Facebook