Experiencing The Silent Ground Of Being
The afternoon was gray and chilly, with only the saddle-shaped opening to the canyon visible beyond town. For a few precious minutes however, the sun poked through as it neared the horizon in the western sky.
Brilliant orange light then flooded the land, illuminated the hills in the distance, and lit the sycamores around me in a golden glow.
Beyond interpretation or imagination, a reverential quality came over the land and flooded into one. One felt, as intensely as ever before, the love of the Earth and for the Earth.
Suddenly it began to sprinkle in the immediate vicinity. With the sun still shining near the horizon, a partial rainbow appeared over the hills. The brain became very quiet, with not a flutter of thought. It felt as if I wasn’t there. An ineffable sacredness suffused the land and infused the attentively quiet brain.
So why does the brain revert to the noise and suffering of thought rather than remain in the silence, emptiness and love of being? Is it a universal phenomenon?
With rare exceptions in our lives, the mental and emotional residues of thought dominate the brain. Thought is like the noise of a busy freeway that never stops, and barely slows, even during sleep.
Is it because the habit of psychological thought is tens of thousands of years old, and only so-called mystics experience states of seeing and being without the filter of symbols and memories?
Is it because we deeply fear the loss of the known, as knowledge and experience, and rarely fearlessly stand in the emptiness of being?
Is it because the human brain is ‘wired’ for symbolic activity, and the state of unmediated perception is an atypical exception, labeled ‘mystical experience?’
All the above probably. So must we resign to becoming zombies, and being surpassed by the thought machines man is making in his image?
Or can the brains of ordinary, serious individuals fall silent in undirected attention to the movement of thought/emotion, and drink from the infinite well of silence and emptiness?
What is our place in the universe? I propose that wherever there are the right conditions and enough time for potentially intelligent life to evolve in a random way, creatures of ‘higher thought’ arise that break the bonds of ecological niche and consciously manipulate their environments.
Furthermore, I propose there is a truly universal tendency in symbolic thought-bearing species using conscious thought (which is inherently separative) to fragment the seamless wholeness of their planets, as man has been doing to the Earth.
On the other hand, clearly brains such as ours are necessary to see and feel, indeed to participate in the silence and emptiness of the cosmic Mind.
That is not a contradiction, but the ultimate paradox. The silent, conscious awareness of the Mind that permeates the cosmos requires the evolution of creatures with brains large and complex enough to possess (and be possessed by) conscious thought. But creatures acquiring symbolic thought, without awakening deep and abiding insight, wreak havoc on their planets.
As smart as crows, orcas and bonobos are, the human brain is the only brain on this planet that has the capacity for conscious awareness of immanence and being infused with Mind.
Therefore it isn’t science and technology that make us human beings, or even language, art and culture, but developing our spiritual potential. That has nothing to do with organized religion, much the diabolical union between evangelical Christians and Donald Trump to which religion has descended in America.
Einstein said, “I have no better expression than the term ‘religious’ for this trust in the rational character of reality and its being accessible, at least to some extent, to human reason.”
Reason, the highest faculty of the intellect, is necessary, but insight is essential. Reason cannot extricate humankind from the mess man has made, for reason and the intellect also produced the bomb, and is giving Israel, stuck in the Old Testament, reason to use it against Iran.
Einstein was very deterministic and rather deistic, maintaining, “Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control…we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player.”
Though control is a delusion, beings with the potential for higher consciousness contain a creative, indeterminate potential for ongoing creation in accord with the cosmic Mind. That has nothing to do with choice and free will, and everything to do with wholeness, responsibility and insight.
There is a tremendous elegance in the paradox between temporality and space-time, in which the brain indisputably exists, and directly experiencing the silent, empty and timeless ground of being, which the brain is capable of sharing in when thought, knowledge and experience are completely still.
What releases the spiritual potential within us? Passive watchfulness in the mirror of nature, which gathers sufficient non-directed attention to completely silence thought and bring the benediction of Mind.
Though it dominates the human brain and is decimating the Earth, symbolic thought is not the entire brain anymore than it is the entirety of nature.
For when the brain is completely quiet and empty of thought, the brain sees, feels and shares in the throbbing silence and creative emptiness of Mind.