24 October 2010

Psychotherapy, Buddhism, Personality, Self

“To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly” (Dogen Zenji 1200-1253).
How does one “study” or “forget” the self?
How does the self study and forget it-|…|-self?
How is one “actualized” by “myriad things”?
Who is the “one” asking the question?
Both Buddhism and psychology attempt to grasp the nature of mind, consciousness and the self, to alleviate suffering and to foster greater capacity for happiness and compassion. We all are prewired to develop a “self”.  Human brain and nervous system have evolved to “have” consciousness and an embodied, pertinacious sense of “I / me” as a phenomenological center of our own subjectivity.
Along with the “language instinct” and its semiotic function(s), the capacity to “have” (an experience of) mind, consciousness and self are uniquely human, reflective of our evolutionary moment in space and time.  As humans, we are also hardwired to organize our genetic endowment and all personal experiences into a personality - a neurocognitive (brain-mind) system regulating the enduring patterns of our internal experience and behavior.
As we mature and transition from infancy to adulthood, personality eventually becomes central in making each of us unique among others and consistent in time and across different situations. In the course of our psychological development, all events in our lives, every interaction, sensation, thought, internal experience or overt behavior leave a permanent trace on our brain-mind (memory) and make us who we are in the present moment.
Given “good enough” conditions, life, self, identity and personality develop relatively intact. When the hereditary and / or situational conditions are not wholesome enough, specific problems known as “disorders of personality” may develop.
A disorder of personality (and a personality disorder) can be thought of as “an enduring disturbance of the neurocognitive system regulating patterns of internal experience, behavior and interpersonal adaptation“. It can become a life long psychological and psychiatric affliction permeating all aspect of life, interpersonal relations with other people in particular.
Buddhism and psychology in general, and Buddhist meditation training and psychotherapy in particular, are two distinct yet overlapping ways of healing and mending hurt selves, ruptured identities and maladaptive personalities.

www.twardon.org ~This website is a forum where psychotherapy, Buddhist meditation and disorders of personality are explored and discussed within a multidimensional,  multivariable, psychodynamic neurocognitiveparadigm.~

General symptoms of a personality disorder
Personality disorder symptoms include:
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Stormy relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Angry outbursts
  • Suspicion and mistrust of others
  • Difficulty making friends
  • A need for instant gratification
  • Poor impulse control
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
Specific types of personality disorders: The specific types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters based on similar characteristics and symptoms. Many people with one diagnosed personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder.
Cluster A personality disorders: These are personality disorders characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior and include:
Paranoid personality disorder
  • Distrust and suspicion of others
  • Believing that others are trying to harm you
  • Emotional detachment
  • Hostility
Schizoid personality disorder
  • Lack of interest in social relationships
  • Limited range of emotional expression
  • Inability to pick up normal social cues
  • Appearing dull or indifferent to others
Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs or behavior
  • Perceptual alterations, such as those affecting touch
  • Discomfort in close relationships
  • Flat emotions or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Indifference to others
  • "Magical thinking" — believing you can influence people and events with your thoughts
  • Believing that messages are hidden for you in public speeches or displays
Cluster B personality disorders: These are personality disorders characterized by dramatic, overly emotional thinking or behavior and include:
Antisocial (formerly called sociopathic) personality disorder
  • Disregard for others
  • Persistent lying or stealing
  • Recurring difficulties with the law
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
Borderline personality disorder
  • Impulsive and risky behavior
  • Volatile relationships
  • Unstable mood
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Fear of being alone
Histrionic personality disorder
  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Excessively emotional
  • Extreme sensitivity to others' approval
  • Unstable mood
  • Excessive concern with physical appearance
Narcissistic personality disorder: Believing that you're better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
Cluster C personality disorders: These are personality disorders characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior and include:
Avoidant personality disorder
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Social isolation
  • Extreme shyness in social situations
  • Timidity
Dependent personality disorder
  • Excessive dependence on others
  • Submissiveness toward others
  • A desire to be taken care of
  • Tolerance of poor or abusive treatment
  • Urgent need to start a new relationship when one has ended
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Preoccupation with orderliness and rules
  • Extreme perfectionism
  • Desire to be in control of situations
  • Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
  • Inflexibility
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder isn't the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, a type of anxiety disorder.
When to see a doctor- If you have any signs or symptoms of a personality disorder, see your doctor, mental health provider or other health care professional. Untreated, personality disorders can cause significant problems in your life, and they may get worse without treatment.
Helping a loved one- If you have a loved one who you think may have symptoms of a personality disorder, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to seek professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. 

Karma- Every action will have a similar and equal reaction

We have come to a couple of related ideas which are common in Buddhism and they are the ideas of karma and rebirth. These ideas are closely inter-related, but because the subject is a fairly wide one, we will begin to deal with the idea of karma today and rebirth in another lecture.

We know that what binds us in samsara are the defilements — desire, ill-will and ignorance. We spoke about this when we talked about the Second Noble Truth — the truth of the cause of suffering. These defilements are something which every living being in samsara shares, whether we speak of human beings or animals or beings who live in the other realms which we do not normally perceive. In this, all living beings are alike and yet amongst all the living beings that we can normally perceive, there are many differences. For instance, some of us are wealthy, some are less wealthy, some are strong and healthy, others are disabled and so forth. There are many differences amongst living beings and even more so there are differences between animals and human beings. These differences are due to karma.

What we all share - desire, ill-will and ignorance - are common to all living beings, but the particular condition in which we find ourselves is the result of our particular karma that conditions the situation in which we find ourselves, the situation in which we may be wealthy, strong and so forth. These circumstances are decided by karma. It is in this sense that karma explains the differences amongst living beings. It explains why some beings are fortunate while others are less fortunate, some are happy while others are less happy. The Buddha has specifically stated that karma explains the differences between living beings. You might also recall that the understanding of how karma affects the birth of living beings in happy or unhappy circumstances — the knowledge of how living beings move from happy circumstances to unhappy circumstances, and vice versa, from unhappy to happy circumstances as a result of their karma - was part of the Buddha’s experience on the night of His enlightenment. It is karma that explains the circumstances that living beings find themselves in.

Having said this much about the function of karma, let us look more closely at what karma is. Let us define karma. Maybe we can define karma best by first deciding what karma is not. It is quite often the case that we find people misunderstanding the idea of karma. This is particularly true in our daily casual use of the term. We find people saying that one cannot change one’s situation because of one’s karma. In this sense, karma becomes a sort of escape. It becomes similar to predestination or fatalism. This is emphatically not the correct understanding of karma. It is possible that this misunderstanding of karma has come about because of the popular idea that we have about luck and fate. It may be for this reason that our idea of karma has become overlaid in popular thought with the notion of predestination. Karma is not fate or predestination.

If karma is not fate or predestination, then what is it? Let us look at the term itself. Karma means action, means "to do". Immediately we have an indication that the real meaning of karma is not fate because karma is action. It is dynamic. But it is more than simply action because it is not mechanical action. It is not unconscious or involuntary action. It is intentional, conscious, deliberate, willful action. How is it that this intentional, will action conditions or determines our situation? It is because every action must have a reaction, an effect. This truth has been expressed in regard to the physical universe by the great physicist Newton who formulated the law which states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. In the moral sphere of conscious actions, we have a counterpart to the physical law of action and reaction, the law that every intentional, will action must have its effect. This is why we sometimes speak either of Karma-Vipaka, intentional action and its ripened effect, or we speak of Karma-Phala, intentional action and its fruit. It is when we speak of intentional action together with its effect or fruit that we speak of the Law of Karma.

In its most basic sense, the Law of Karma in the moral sphere teaches that similar actions will lead to similar results. Let us take an example. If we plant a mango seed, the plant that springs up will be a mango tree, and eventually it will bear a mango fruit. Alternatively, if we plant a Pong Pong seed, the tree that will spring up will be a Pong Pong tree and the fruit a Pong Pong. As one sows, so shall one reap. According to one’s action, so shall be the fruit. Similarly, in the Law of Karma, if we do a wholesome action, eventually we will get a wholesome fruit, and if we do an unwholesome action eventually we will get an unwholesome, painful result. This is what we mean when we say that causes bring about effects that are similar to the causes. This we will see very clearly when we come to specific examples of wholesome and unwholesome actions.

We can understand by means of this general introduction that karma can be of two varieties - wholesome karma or good karma and unwholesome karma or bad karma. In order that we should not misunderstand this description of karma, it is useful for us to look at the original term. In this case, it is kushala or akushala karma, karma that is wholesome or unwholesome. In order that we understand how these terms are being used, it is important that we know the real meaning of kushala and akushala. Kushala means intelligent or skilful, whereas akushala means not intelligent, not skilful. This helps us to understand how these terms are being used, not in terms of good and evil but in terms of skilful and unskilful, in terms of intelligent and unintelligent, in terms of wholesome and unwholesome. Now how wholesome and how unwholesome? Wholesome in the sense that those actions which are beneficial to oneself and others, those actions that spring not out of desire, ill-will and ignorance, but out of renunciation, loving-kindness and compassion, and wisdom.

One may ask how does one know whether an action that is wholesome or unwholesome will produce happiness or unhappiness. The answer is time will tell. The Buddha Himself answered the question. He has explained that so long as an unwholesome action does not bear its fruit of suffering, for so long a foolish person will consider that action good. But when that unwholesome action bears its fruit of suffering then he will realize that the action is unwholesome. Similarly, so long as a wholesome action does not bear its fruit of happiness, a good person may consider that action unwholesome. When it bears its fruit of happiness, then he will realize that the action is good. So one needs to judge wholesome and unwholesome action from the point of view of long-term effect. Very simply, wholesome actions result in eventual happiness for oneself and others, while unwholesome actions have the opposite result, they result in suffering for oneself and others.

Specifically, the unwholesome actions which are to be avoided relate to the three doors or means of action, and these are body, speech and mind. There are three unwholesome actions of the body, four of speech and three of mind that are to be avoided. The three unwholesome actions of body that are to be avoided are killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. The four unwholesome actions of speech that are to be avoided are lying, slander, harsh speech and malicious gossip. The three unwholesome actions of mind that are to be avoided are greed, anger and delusion. By avoiding these ten unwholesome actions we will avoid their consequences. The unwholesome actions have suffering as their fruit. The fruit of these unwholesome actions can take various forms. The fully ripened fruit of the unwholesome actions consists of rebirth in the lower realms, in the realms of suffering — hell, hungry ghosts and animals. If these unwholesome actions are not sufficient to result in rebirth in these lower realms, they will result in unhappiness in this life as a human being. Here we can see at work the principle of a cause resulting in a similar effect. For example, habitual killing which is motivated by ill-will and anger and which results in the taking of the life of other beings will result in rebirth in the hells where one’s experience is saturated by anger and ill-will and where one may be repeatedly killed. If killing is not sufficiently habitual or weighty to result in rebirth in the hells, killing will result in shortened life as a human being, separation from loved ones, fear or paranoia. Here too we can see how the effect is similar to the cause. Killing shortens the life of others, deprives others of their loved ones and so forth, and so if we kill we will be liable to experience these effects. Similarly, stealing which is borne of the defilement of desire may lead to rebirth as a hungry ghost where one is totally destitute of desired objects. If it does not result in rebirth as a ghost, it will result in poverty, dependence upon others for one’s livelihood and so forth. Sexual misconduct results in martial distress or unhappy marriages.

While unwholesome actions produce unwholesome results - suffering, wholesome actions produce wholesome results - happiness. One can interpret wholesome actions in two ways. One can simply regard wholesome actions as avoiding the unwholesome actions, avoiding killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and the rest. Or one can speak of wholesome actions in positive terms. Here one can refer to the list of wholesome actions that includes generosity, good conduct, meditation, reverence, service, transference of merits, rejoicing in the merit of others, hearing the Dharma, teaching the Dharma and straightening of one’s own views. Just as unwholesome actions produce suffering, these wholesome actions produce benefits. Again effects here are similar to the actions. For example, generosity results in wealth. Hearing of the Dharma results in wisdom. The wholesome actions have as their consequences similar wholesome effects just as unwholesome actions have similar unwholesome effects.

Karma, be it wholesome or unwholesome, is modified by the conditions under which the actions are performed. In other words, a wholesome or unwholesome action may be more or less strong depending upon the conditions under which it is done. The conditions which determine the weight or strength of karma may be divided into those which refer to the subject — the doer of the action — and those which refer to the object — the being to whom the action is done. So the conditions that determine the weight of karma apply to the subject and object of the action. Specifically, if we take the example of killing, in order for the act of killing to have its complete and unmitigated power, five conditions must be present — a living being, the awareness of the existence of a living being, the intention to kill the living being, the effort or action of killing the living being, and the consequent death of the living being. Here too, we can see the subjective and the objective conditions. The subjective conditions are the awareness of the living being, the intention to kill and the action of killing. The objective conditions are the presence of the living being and the consequent death of the living being.

Similarly, there are five conditions that modify the weight of karma and they are persistent, repeated action; action done with great intention and determination; action done without regret; action done towards those who possess extraordinary qualities; and action done towards those who have benefited one in the past. Here too there are subjective and objective conditions. The subjective conditions are persistent action; action done with intention; and action done without regret. If one does an unwholesome action again and again with great intention and without regret, the weight of the action will be enhanced. The objective conditions are the quality of the object to whom actions are done and the nature of the relationship. In other words, if one does a wholesome or unwholesome action towards living beings who possess extraordinary qualities such as the arhats, or the Buddha, the wholesome or unwholesome action done will have greater weight. Finally the power of wholesome or unwholesome action done towards those who have benefited one in the past, such as one’s parents, teachers and friends, will be greater.

The objective and subjective conditions together determine the weight of karma. This is important because understanding this will help us to understand that karma is not simply a matter of black and white, or good and bad. Karma is moral action and moral responsibility. But the working of the Law of Karma is very finely tuned and balanced so as to match effect with cause, so as to take into account the subjective and objective conditions that determine the nature of an action. This ensures that the effects of actions are equal to and similar to the nature of the causes.

The effects of karma may be evident either in the short term or in the long term. Traditionally we divide karma into three varieties related to the amount of time that is required for the effects of these actions to manifest themselves. Karma can either manifest its effects in this very life or in the next life or only after several lives. When karma manifests its effects in this life, we can see the fruit of karma within a relatively short length of time. This variety of karma is easily verifiable by any of us. For instance, when someone refuses to study, when someone indulges in harmful distractions like alcohol and drugs, when someone begins to steal to support his harmful habits; the effects will be evident within a short time. They will be evident in loss of livelihood and friendship, health and so forth. We cannot see the long-term effect of karma, but the Buddha and His prominent disciples who have developed their minds are able to perceive directly the long-term effects. For instance, when Maudgalyayana was beaten to death by bandits, the Buddha was able to tell that this event was the effect of something Maudgalyayana had done in a previous life when he had taken his aged parents to the forest and having beaten them to death, had then reported that they had been killed by bandits. The effect of this unwholesome action done many lives before was manifested only in his last life. At death we have to leave everything behind — our property and our loved ones, but our karma will accompany us like a shadow. The Buddha has said that nowhere on earth or in heaven can one escape one’s karma. So when the conditions are correct, dependent upon mind and body, the effects of karma will manifest themselves just as dependent on certain conditions a mango will appear on a mango tree. We can see that even in the world of nature certain effects take longer to appear than others. If for instance, we plant the seed of a papaya, we will obtain the fruit in shorter period than if we plant the seed of a durian. Similarly, the effects of karma manifest either in the short term or in the long term.

Besides the two varieties of karma, wholesome and unwholesome karma, we should mention neutral or ineffective karma. Neutral karma is karma that has no moral consequence either because the very nature of the action is such as to have no moral consequence or because it is done involuntarily and unintentionally. For example, sleeping, walking, breathing, eating, handicraft and so forth in themselves have no moral consequence. Similarly, unintentional action is ineffective karma. In other words, if one accidentally steps on an insect, being unconscious of its existence, this also constitutes neutral karma because there is no intention - the intentional element is not there.

The benefits of understanding the Law of Karma are that this understanding discourages one from performing unwholesome actions which have suffering as their fruit. Once we understand that in our own life every action will have a similar and equal reaction, once we understand that we will experience the effect of that action, wholesome or unwholesome, we will refrain from unwholesome behavior, not wanting to experience the effects of these unwholesome actions. And similarly, understanding that wholesome actions have happiness as their fruit, we will cultivate these wholesome actions. Reflecting on the Law of Karma, of action and reaction in the moral sphere encourages us to renounce unwholesome actions and cultivate wholesome actions. 

Extract from "Fundamentals of Buddhism", by Dr. Peter Della Santina. 

09 October 2010

What is Zen?

Zen is very simple... What are you?
In this whole world everyone searches for happiness outside, but nobody understands their true self inside.
Everybody says, "I" — "I want this, I am like that..." But nobody understands this "I." Before you were born, where did your I come from? When you die, where will your I go? If you sincerely ask, "what am I?" sooner or later you will run into a wall where all thinking is cut off. We call this "don't know."
Zen is keeping this "Don't Know" mind always and everywhere.
When walking, standing, sitting, lying down,
speaking, being silent, moving, being still.
At all times, in all places,
without interruption — what is this?
One mind is infinite kalpas.
Meditation in Zen means keeping don't-know mind when bowing, chanting and sitting Zen. This is formal Zen practice. And when doing something, just do it. When driving, just drive; when eating, just eat; when working, just work.
Finally, your don't-know mind will become clear. Then you can see the sky, only blue. You can see the tree, only green. Your mind is like a clear mirror. Red comes, the mirror is red; white comes the mirror is white. A hungry person comes, you can give him food; a thirsty person comes, you can give her something to drink. There is no desire for myself, only for all beings. That mind is already enlightenment, what we call Great Love, Great Compassion, the Great Bodhisattva Way. It's very simple, not difficult!
So Buddha said that all beings have Buddha-nature (enlightenment nature). But Zen Master Joju said that a dog has no Buddha-nature. Which one is right? Which one is wrong? If you find that, you find the true way.
By:Zen Master Seung Sahn

07 October 2010

You Have Chosen to Remember

Imagine being born into a dream: a mass illusion transformed over thousands of years by billions of people into what today you call reality. The billions of people subdivided into territories they called countries, into belief systems they called religions and into groups they called races. Countries subdivided into states, provinces and cities, which then subdivided into neighborhoods that subdivided into buildings or single-family homes. Religions divided into conservative and liberal sects, which then grew into more conservative and liberal branches. Races divided themselves by all of the above, including color, tone, ethnic makeup, and financial status. Each group then teaches and defends that its way is the way and its truth is the truth, and each group creates its own reality out of what it believes. Each group then tries to sell you on its current forms and laws, telling you that this is what is "right." Each teaches you that the closer you are to following its form, the happier, more successful and peaceful you will be. And somewhere deep within, you know that it is your right to be happy and to be at peace. So you buy into it, and regardless of how little sense the illusion makes, you keep participating for if you stop you will be judged as an outcast, a trouble-maker, a bum. You are taught that if you stop participating in the group's way of life, your hopes for happiness, success and peace will also end. The group tells you that if you go against the norm, you will not find happiness, peace or success. So you buy into the illusion the group offers, believing that there is no other way. You carefully weave and contour the illusion into one you can live with for now. But my friend, regardless of how you choose to weave, contour and experience the illusion, it is still an illusion.

In the world of illusions, success can be measured a hundred different ways, and failure a thousand others. In truth, you achieve success through your simple participation in the life experience. You experience growth, and that is what you have come to do. If you accomplish what you have come to do, then you have succeeded. In that sense, there is no more need to ever talk about being a successful human being. Yet, the ego offers people the opportunity to set different parameters around the idea of success, and they usually bite at those offers. Trying to set parameters around an illusion of success simply leads to confusion and disillusionment. For how could you ever succeed at putting parameters around something that does not exist? So you end up having many different ideas of what having a successful life really means. All these ideas are judged against each other, each chipping away at the other's views. Yet part of what the ego tries to sell you about success is that you cannot really be a complete success unless others also view you as a success. Due to the many individual perceptions of success, this makes the task even more difficult and confusing. To add to your confusion, the ego-self so narrowly defines success that many times there is no place for also achieving happiness. The ego-self very often sets success and happiness so far apart that you must sacrifice one to achieve the other. Finally, even if others perceive you as a success, deep within, the ego will try and convince you that you are lying to yourself and others, that you are really just a fraud who will soon be exposed.

As you continue to work on yourself, understand that if something is causing you anger, stress, unhappiness, regret or any other "negative" emotion, you are, by definition, experiencing an illusion. You will experience the illusions you still think are real. You will do so because you have made the unreal real and the best way to understand that what you see as valuable is actually valueless, is to experience its valuelessness. Many times, when people awaken from a particular illusion, they hold themselves in judgment for having so viciously defended it. I gladly and gently remind them that they should not judge themselves, but should be grateful for the experience, and proud of their awakening. My friend, it is an awakening once you realize that the unreal, regardless of how real people want to make it, is unreal. The greatest gift any illusion can offer is the opportunity to let you see it for what it truly is.

By- James Blanchard Cisneros, You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey From Perception to Knowledge

04 October 2010

Rewiring Neural Pathways for Higher Awareness

Those who study truth as taught by those who have become enlightened see the limitations of conventional psychology quite clearly. Studying the works of Freud is one thing, but a Zen master is on an entirely different level and can solve many more problems, and generally with greater ease because their understanding of the mind and reality is much deeper. Freud was still identified with being the mind, while the enlightened are identified with the Awareness that is able to silently watch the mind from an outside perspective. The first one thinks about what the truth might be, while the other is the Truth (with a capital "T"), and therefore truly knows the Truth. True knowing involves being that which is to be known, otherwise it's nothing more than mere speculation and intellection. This article is for those who are ready to go beyond the intellect.

The brain is basically a computer that automatically plays the programs (society's beliefs) that are put into it. The neural pathways, thought processes, and mental associations of the brain become ingrained and habitual, thus perpetuating the same behaviors and thought processes over and over again. Just as a drop of water will continuously and repetitively flow down the same pathway after the first drop originates the way, the energy flowing through the brain's neural network will do the same.

The good news however, is that we can change those neural pathways; first, by realizing that we can, second, by wanting to change the brain's thought processes, and third, by choosing to adopt different (more positive
) ways of perceiving "reality". The only way to change those repetitive thought processes, and to create new neural pathways, is to let go of the mental concepts that one currently thinks are "true". In doing so, energy starts flowing throughout the brain in different directions to different parts of the brain, thus contributing to new neural pathways and new ways of thinking and perceiving. The more we purposefully think in a different manner, the easier it becomes, and eventually that becomes the brain's new way of automatically thinking. With this understanding it becomes quite apparent why Buddha said "What we think, we become".

When we focus on the negative, we perpetuate the negative. When we focus on the positive, we perpetuate the positive.

When a person says "that's just the way I am" or "I can't help it, I am what I am", that's not quite true. They are who they are because of what they are currently aware of, and because of the way they choose to think and perceive. Absolutely everything is a choice, but people don't realize it. The problem is that they simply aren't aware that they can change the mind's way of thinking, and that's because they identify those thoughts as being "me" or "important", when they're not.

The heart pumps blood all by itself without you doing it, the lungs breath air all by themselves without you doing it, and the brain associates concepts with other concepts all by itself. The mind is thinking completely on its own. It has nothing to do with "you". If you look inside even for a brief minute you'll see that words, thoughts and thinking are completely automatic. The brain works all by itself, which means that you are not the doer of deeds, nor the thinker of thoughts.

The body is a collective community of individually living cells that are all co-operating together to make a larger whole. The brain's neural network, and its thoughts and thinking are just another part of that overall cellular functioning. So if the mind and body are working all by themselves as a result of cells doing work, why do we identify the mind's thoughts and the body's actions as being "me"? Are we the mind and body, or are we the Energy/Life/Consciousness/Awareness within the body that is simply aware of itself as existing? Are we the mind and body, or are we the Awareness that is watching the body/mind's automatic functioning? Are we the physical doer and thinker, or are we the formless Silent Observer?

Out of being identified with the body/mind, we are being controlled by it. We are enslaved by it because we falsely identify it as being "me". But this is just a part of the evolution of consciousness that we all go through. The ultimate goal of life, and really the only one worth pursuing, is to set oneself free from this false identification that creates suffering.

You are the silent formless Awareness that is aware of the mind, its random babblings, and its irrelevant thinking. That thinking is irrelevant because Silence is all-knowing, which explains perfectly why people experience sudden epiphanies, insights, and intuition in moments of inner quietude. Epiphanies happen in the Silence of the mind, not because of the mind, but the mind likes to mistakenly take credit for those brilliant ideas that come out of seemingly nowhere. The mind thinks it "knows", but only Silence actually does.

As long as one thinks their current physical sense and brain perceptions of "reality" are "the truth", one will never come to realize otherwise.

Words, concepts, and perceptions have nothing to do with reality because they are only based on the interpretations of human anatomy. Every different species of animal on the planet perceives their reality differently because their physical senses and brain work differently. A dog's sense of smell will give it a completely different sense of "reality" than that of any other species on the planet, an elephant's sense of hearing will give it a completely different sense of reality than that of any other kind of animal, and a fly's sense of vision will be entirely different than that of any other type of animal. Every different dog or human will also sense and perceive things differently than every other dog and human as well.

To think that a human's perception, or your individual mind's perception, of "reality" is "the truth" would mean that every other living thing on the planet that has a different perception of reality is "false". That simply cannot be true. If it's all relative, all subject to change, and is only based on one's level of current awareness, then it's all irrelevant.

To think that the mental concepts in one's own brain are "the truth" is nothing more than the mind's egoic wishful thinking. The ego has a superiority complex. It likes to be "right", and it will try to perpetuate that notion in whatever way it can. Individual perceptions, opinions, concepts, and thoughts are not at all important, but the ego/mind/brain/intellect likes to think that they are, and it often sees this kind of information as a threat even though it's the solution to one's problems. There comes a time when we eventually realize that thinking is the original underlying source of all conflict, hardship, and suffering, and at that point we choose to start letting the thinking process dissipate as it arises, or before it arises.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder because of the mind's perceptions of, and beliefs about, so-called "reality". Things are only seductive, attractive, and tempting out of an automatic result of biology, anatomy, and unawareness of higher levels of truth. Without the mind interfering, everything just IS; nothing more, nothing less, and there's nothing wrong with that. Existence is perfect exactly as it is and it doesn't need the opinions of a faulty neural network running on autopilot to tell it that it is or isn't.

The brain/mind is faulty in that it can't decipher truth from falsehood, but at the same time it's perfect because it is what it wants to be. People think what they do because that's what they want to be "the truth". Everybody can believe what they want to believe, even if it means their own suffering.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but only thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The only Absolute Reality is that Awareness Is, and as soon as the mind tries to conceptualize that "Is" into a thought form, it's already falling into error. All words and concepts beside "Is" are a mental distortion of Reality based on fantasy, fiction, and the wishful thinking of the mind. Actually, even "Is" is a concept that is best to be let go of in order to realize the ultimate in peace of mind. Why? Because silence of mind means peace of mind.

So "what is enlightenment?" you might be asking at this point. Well, it's the permanent cessation of all concepts, thoughts, and perceptions of the ego/mind/brain/intellect, and it's the full-blown realization that one's true identity is actually formless, shapeless, timeless, non-local, all-encompassing, all-knowing pure Awareness. And don't even think about trying to imagine that with the mind!

By: Jarett Sabirsh