Thoughts - some are mine, some are not. Most recent at the top (Feb 2023)
Living in a Silent Mind Colin McMorran (publication date end of 2023)
P R E F A C E
There’s a saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear – this has certainly been my experience. Whether that teacher comes in the form of another person, a life event, or a book, significant personal changes are all about timing. If the timing’s right, these meditations could be the catalyst that reveals a deep fundamental truth within leading to a profoundly transformative shift in perspective.
This book is an invitation to embrace the peace of mind and clarity of thought that give rise to harmonious living. Living in a Silent Mind uncovers an inner truth that allows us to see clearly and live peacefully. Uncovering that truth is about stripping away our accumulated knowledge rather than adding to it, about entering the beginner’s mind and questioning the preconceptions we have regarding ourselves and the world around us.
Living in a Silent Mind changes your relationship with the contents of your mind, so rather than being totally identified by thoughts, you fall back into the pure awareness that holds the thoughts. This is a space that allows true clarity of mind to shine forth – a presence of mind that isn’t dependent upon external factors or internal ruminations. Thinking becomes a tool to use when required (directed thinking), however there’s no longer a personal identification with the negative or unwelcome thoughts that fill our heads. This is peace. This is freedom from suffering.
This book is for the beginner’s mind and requires no deep philosophical, psychological, or spiritual understanding. Cultivating a beginner’s mind frees you from the limitations of past experience and future concerns; it’s a state devoid of expectations or biases allowing an authentic connection to the present moment. As such, these meditations require no familiarity with the perennial philosophy supporting them and neither is there a requirement to learn said philosophy.
My hope is that if these meditations are approached in the spirit of Shoshin – openness, eagerness and a lack of preconceptions, the novice and well-versed reader alike will benefit from these words by recognising the seeds of truth contained therein. That said, for readers who would like to explore the perennial wisdom of Advaita Vedanta and delve into the psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical nature of the Self, I would recommend my book ‘No Path to Enlightenment’, available in the Amazon bookstore.
Alexander the Great
Man’s immortality is not living forever. Every moment free from fear makes man immoral.
Colin McMorran - No Path to Enlightenment
The intention of this book is not to create more concepts, but to question the concepts we already have – specifically the concept of the Self, an idea that most people never address. To use a sailing analogy: if the questioning has been successful, your vessel has been untethered from its moorings and set adrift. Floating away from the safety of the harbour as the tide pulls you into the enormity of the ocean. However, this is what your vessel was built for; sailing the ocean is its function. You are leaving behind those who believe they need the protection of the harbour; for them, as long as they are securely moored to the dock, comfort is found in the gentle ebb and flow of the tide. For some, even the movement of the tide is disconcerting and so they keep their vessel in dry-dock where it is completely disassociated from its function and where there is no movement or connection to the ocean.
There are different levels of conscious awareness: many people are completely detached from the movement of the ocean, unable to see beyond their personal stories and the chatter in the head, living solely within that myopic and fixed paradigm they are in dry-dock. Some are moored to the dock feeling the underlying ebb and flow of the tide, vaguely sensing a deeper level of consciousness within their everyday lives. Others are sailing within the safety of the harbour walls getting a feel for the sea and exploring a deeper awareness. Those who have awakened to pure consciousness have left the harbour behind and are sailing the ocean. This analogy may give the impression there are progressive stages of consciousness; however, awakening can happen in an instant or conversely the same level of consciousness can last a lifetime. So, someone in dry-dock can suddenly find themselves pitched into the ocean, which can be extremely disconcerting and it can take years to find their sea legs. For those who have spent time exploring within the harbour walls entering the ocean may be less disconcerting. Alternatively, someone can spend their entire life moored to the dockside, their only connection with the ocean being the gentle ebb and flow of the tide.
Any movement in consciousness, whether from dry-dock to dockside, or harbour to ocean, is moving from the known to the unknown and can be daunting. The natural inclination is to stay with the safety of the known. However, as the ocean beckons, you will begin to realise the vessel is at home there, and start to sense its affinity with the sea as it rises and falls effortlessly with the swells. The movement you experience as the vessel cuts through the water gives a sense of freedom you have never experienced and with the wind in your face and the sea air filling your senses you feel more truly alive than ever before. Allowing the vessel to be what it was meant to be and fulfil its natural function is liberating, and you will smile as you realise worries about your ability to sail were totally unfounded - this is what you were born for. Feeling at one with both vessel and ocean, you realise the safety of the harbour was a prison you created for yourself, and for the first time in your life you taste real freedom.
For us to set sail into the deeper consciousness of the I before I am we must first realise the prison we have made for ourselves. This ‘prison of our minds’ has been discussed throughout this book: it is the personal story we carry with us that limits and defines who we believe we are. It forces us to live in the past or project into the future and therefore misses the present moment. It tells us that we have limited time and must make a success of our lives by achieving certain material (and spiritual) goals. It tells us we are individuals who have to prove ourselves by measuring up to other people’s expectations, and must strive to reach our full potential (I should point out that as manifestations of the Absolute we have unlimited potential, however the way most of us ‘strive’ to achieve it is counterproductive as we fixate on the external world before understanding our inner truth). The prison of our mind tells us that happiness is found in the world of forms and so we become a measure of our possessions and achievements, and it tells us that we are in lack and the only way to become whole is to find that special person to complete us.
This I am not is a direct way of questioning that story by loosening the ropes that bind us to it - the tide will do the rest. Continuing to practice this I am not from within the illusion is like tentatively exploring within the harbour walls. Sailing into the ocean, however, cannot be a conscious decision, it will happen when it happens; just as when learning to ride a bicycle, you can never plan for that split second rush when you find yourself pedalling unassisted for the first time.
As your connection with the ocean grows, it becomes clear that the story of the illusionary Self you have been clinging to your whole life was a prison, initially created through your conditioning and then perpetuated by repetition and normalised through mutual agreement. Once the Self took root, it became an almost impenetrable fortress, guarded night and day by the ego. Living in the eternal present and being in touch with the I before I am, you will meet life with an open heart rather than a closed mind. Every person and every experience entering your life will be accepted and embraced at face value, rather than judged by a fixed personality with its story of how people should act or how events should unfold. Freedom is liberation from your vice-like mind and a return to the open expanse of the oceanic freedom where once again you are one with the natural flow of life.
Your ‘vessel’ (of course it is not ‘yours’) is the body-mind with all its conditioning and cumulative experiences. If it has been conditioned to sit in dry-dock then it knows nothing else – its fixed mind-set divides everything into constituent parts, and dissects and categorises in an attempt to understand and control. This is most people’s reality; they may have a vague idea of the ocean but will question or deny its existence because they can see no evidence of it in their lives. They have been raised and educated by others, all of whom are in dry-dock, and therefore those who talk of sailing the ocean are met with scepticism or ridicule. They look for safety in knowledge and understanding in an effort to minimise change and tame the unknown, and they suffer because of it. You are designed to sail the ocean not stagnate on the dockside, and there is a deep primordial awareness of this. All it takes is a willingness to open one’s mind to other possibilities. While the dockside seems a safe place it actually creates immense suffering because of the constant need to control life and the expectations of how it should unfold and so you fight a continual battle against what is.
Recognition of the ocean’s reality can happen after years of personal suffering or through contact with those who experience it directly, or a combination of both. Recognition is the opening, once the body-mind realises it is immersed in the ocean and at one with the great source then the egoic mind, while continuing to perform its function, is no longer the captain – it becomes the second-mate. You are no longer the constrained entity at the mercy of your conditioning but rather an open expanse of possibilities. The egoic mind is usurped and works in the service of the Absolute. You come alive in the ocean, never to return to the safety of the harbour, finding peace being what you truly are: divine presence arising from the one source. This book is an attempt to untie the ropes that bind you, ending your repetitive thought patterns and liberating you from the illusion of a Self. Once you are set free upon the ocean the worn pathways of your thoughts are washed away and every present moment is born afresh.
Colin McMorran - Living in an Empty Mind
Mind: The part of a person that makes them able to be aware of things, to think, and to feel; There were all kinds of thoughts running through my mind.
When you think about it, this part of us that is aware of things – ‘the mind’ is a tricky thing to get a hold of. This mind that all kinds of thoughts run through is very difficult to describe. In fact, I would go further and say it’s indescribable. Comparisons or metaphors can help when trying to describe the indescribable.
Comparing your mind to the sky
Your mind is like the sky: an open expanse within which things appear. In the following Session I will compare thoughts that appear in your mind to the clouds that appear in the sky.
This open expanse we call the sky is impossible to embrace; in other words, if we wanted to find it – to touch it, and flew a plane up there, there would be nothing that we could see or touch and name the sky. There’s nothing we can hold onto and say ‘this is the sky’, nevertheless it’s the background to everything that appears within it. When we look upwards during the day the sky is very real, however you can’t touch it or hold it – so in that sense it’s unreal too.
Your mind - like the sky, has contents
So the sky is an open expanse within which things appear; it’s the background to things like clouds, planes, birds, etc. and it’s both real and unreal. Real in the sense that you can see its blueness, unreal in the sense that you can’t touch or hold it. Similarly your mind is an open expanse within which thoughts appear; your mind is the background. It’s important to understand that your mind has no boundaries and isn’t a ‘thing’ that can be embraced or held or even seen - it’s the background within which things we call ‘thoughts’ appear.
Your mind is more fundamental than your thoughts because without it there would be nowhere for the thoughts to appear within. Clouds can only exist because there’s a sky within which they appear. Thoughts can only exist because there’s a mind within which they appear, and just like the sky, the mind has no boundaries – it’s limitless and is both real and unreal.
The mind lives in the present
Your mind doesn’t recognise the past or the future; it only sees the current moment – it only sees now. In other words, it lives in the present and is free from any concerns about past or the future. It’s important to realise that the past and the future can’t exist in the mind. This can be tricky to understand and will be covered in Session 9, but for now just realise that the past and future are created by your thoughts not your mind.
If your mind could speak
If your mind could speak it would say that it’s spontaneous, free-flowing and at peace; it may go on to say that it needs nothing and wants nothing and isn’t affected by anything that appears within it. So just as clouds can’t touch the sky, neither can your thoughts touch your mind. If your mind could speak it would also say it’s unaffected by events happening outside, that it’s infinite and eternally present and has no boundaries and no past or future, that it lives in the here and now.
Don’t be surprised if you find these descriptions confusing. It’s confusing because basically your mind is not a ‘thing’ – it’s ‘no thing’, or more precisely it’s nothing, and how can that not be confusing! At this point in the Sessions it’s okay to be confused – it’s actually not possible to touch or grasp the mind and say this is the mind, just as it’s not possible to touch the sky and say this is the sky. The fact that the mind is not a thing that can be easily described or held onto is what gives it its power – it is limitless and full of potential, something we will investigate in Session 14.
Your mind is not a thing
Your mind is like the sky, indescribable, untouchable, and perfectly at peace. It’s not a ‘thing’ like a cloud or a bird or a plane – it’s the background to all the things that appear within it. Because it’s not a ‘thing’ it isn’t definable in the way ‘things’ are definable. For example, a cloud or a bird or a plane are things because they have a shape and can be watched as they move across the sky – they are objects. As mentioned, the sky isn’t describable like this – it’s the background within which the clouds, birds and planes appear. Similarly, your mind is the background within which thoughts appear.
The mind is often missed because our attention naturally focuses upon the things appearing within it. We focus upon its contents – the thoughts, rather than the mind itself. This is because thoughts are identifiable and describable whereas the mind is not. Despite this, as mentioned previously, the mind is more fundamental that the thoughts appearing within - if it weren’t for the existence of the mind the thoughts would have no home.
You are the mind, not its contents
You are the mind not the thoughts appearing within it - you are the sky not the clouds. The feeling of being alive right now is the mind, which is at peace and free flowing. You are not your thoughts; you are the emptiness they are contained within – the Empty Mind - free and spontaneous, existing only in this present moment, perfectly at peace and needing nothing. This is your true nature. We will discuss the implications of this in future Sessions, however for now lets look more closely at the contents of your mind – thoughts.
Colin McMorran - Musings
The story so far . . .
You are an autonomous sentient human being.
You have free will to do as you please.
You are at the hub of life; everything is experienced in relation to you.
Objects exist independently but become subjective through your conscious awareness: you give meaning.
The world beyond your perception is happening without you and secondary to your domain.
Life is a struggle that brings pain and suffering; it’s your right to take what few pleasures it affords.
You steer the path of least resistance to survive; there is an animal core that guides you.
You are different from others; they seem false and only you seem real.
Others don’t question the natural order, making it difficult for you to be heard.
All your pain is mental anguish, wanting to connect with others but knowing that is impossible.
Your isolation is dangerous; the non-conformist is ostracised, and independent thoughts are stifled.
Conformity is the easiest path allowing mutual support and belonging. It’s sensible to conform, so you fashion a persona and play along.
False smiles and empty words fill the air and you find yourself imitating to survive.
You are the person you once feared, not knowing, drifting through life.
External events snap you out of your lethargy forcing a reaction.
Thoughts worn deep through repetition trigger automatic responses in a personality forged long ago.
You are close to the void but being you is too addictive to let go of.
You cling to habitual patterns through fear of the unknown.
Everywhere you turn you see madness and question whether the madness is within.
The world around you makes no sense; you look for answers but to no avail and so you look within wanting to know yourself.
You want answers to life’s mystery, to escape the circular quest for truth; you want the key that will set you free.
The story going forward . . .
Recognise your incarceration and serve your time; don’t fight it, but learn to live within those prison walls.
From daybreak to nightfall, minute by minute, hour by hour, watch as the sunlight from the barred window inches across the prison walls. Ask nothing of life; watch it unfold.
Through accumulated knowledge and experience, imagine what freedom would be like, but away from those fanciful dreams follow the things that appear to make sense – there’s no other way.
Go about your daily life and watch as the days run into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years and the years into decades.
Know that the more you seek freedom, the stronger the prison becomes. The only freedom is in knowing there is nothing to free.
Perhaps today, perhaps a lifetime away, it’s realised that the sunlight streaming into your prison cell, the view through the bars and the days, weeks and years of incarceration were all unreal.
And know that today and a lifetime away are no different: awakening is in every moment, in every breath - so close and so palpable.
You were never held within a prison, and neither was the prison held within you; you and the prison were one and the same.
The beginning of the end . . .
Your story is your prison. This story of you is chalked on a slate and held tightly to your chest. Recent history is clearly legible but over time earlier words fade and parts of the story are lost.
The more threadbare the story becomes, the tighter you grasp it. As the chalked words merge and the story fades, the incentive to keep writing it diminishes, and as the Self weakens and your old life recedes, all the thoughts, ideas and beliefs that were imprisoned fall away.
Your story (now barely legible) loses its strength and your grip on the slate relaxes as the words make little sense anymore.
You may experience a moment of clarity and lay down the slate accepting there’s no longer a need to take from it or add to it.
The story ends . . .
Regardless of what went before, for a fortunate few the slate is wiped clean.
Witnessing the clean slate is Enlightenment.
The clean slate, and nothing more, is Liberation.
Carl R. Rogers (1902–1987) is esteemed as one of the founders of humanistic psychology. He developed the person-centered, also known as client-centered, approach to psychotherapy and developed the concept of unconditional positive regard while pioneering the field of clinical psychological research
When there is this complete unity, singleness, fullness of experiencing in the relationship, then it acquires the "out-of- this-world" quality which therapists have remarked upon, a sort of trance-like feeling in the relationship from which both the client and I emerge at the end of the hour, as if from a deep well or tunnel ... a timeless living in the experience which is between the client and me. (p.202)
Rogers, C.R. (1961) On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Beyond the immediate message of the person, no matter what that might be, there is the universal ... . So there is both the satisfaction of hearing this person and also the satisfaction of hearing one's self in touch with what is universally true. (p.8)
Rogers, C.R. (1980) A way of being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
I find that when I am the closest to my inner, intuitive self –when perhaps I am somehow in touch with the unknown in me–when perhaps I am in a slightly altered state of consciousness in the relationship, then whatever I do seems to be full of healing. Then simply my presence is releasing and helpful. At those moments, it seems that my inner spirit has reached out and touched the inner spirit of the other. Our relationship transcends itself, and has become part of something larger. Profound growth and healing are present”
Baldwin, M. (2000). Interview with Carl Rogers on the use of self in therapy. In M.
Consciousness, instead of being the watchman over a dangerous and unpredictable lot of impulses, of which few can be permitted to see the light of day, becomes the comfortable inhabitant of a society of impulses and feelings and thoughts, which are discovered to be very satisfactorily self-governing when not fearfully guarded
Rogers, C.R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
When I am at my best, as a group facilitator or a therapist, I discover another characteristic. I find that when I am closest to my inner, intuitive self, when I am somehow in touch with the unknown in me, when perhaps I am in a slightly altered state of consciousness in the relationship, then whatever I do seems to be full of healing. Then simply my presence is releasing and helpful. There is nothing I can do to force this experience, but when I can relax and be close to the transcendental core of me, then I may behave in strange and impulsive ways in the relationship, ways which I cannot justify rationally, which have nothing to do with my thought processes. But these strange behaviours turn out to be right, in some odd way. At those moments it seems that my inner spirit has reached out and touched the inner spirit of the other. Our relationship transcends itself, and has become a part of something larger. Profound growth and healing and energy are present.
Rogers, C.R. (1985) A client-centered/person-centered approach to therapy. In I.L. Kutush & A. Wolf (Eds.) Psychotherapists' casebook: Theory and technique in practice. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.
Supertramp - The Logical Song.
One of my favourite songs as a teenager - I gave little thought to the lyrics back then, but now they talk directly to me: a call to 'self-enquiry':
When I was young
It seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees
Well they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, oh playfully watching me
But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And then they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical
There are times
When all the world's asleep
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man
Won't you please
Please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
Please tell me who I am
I said now what would you say
Now we're calling you a radical
A liberal, oh fanatical, criminal
Oh won't you sign up your name
We'd like to feel you're acceptable
Respectable, oh presentable, a vegetable!
Take, take, take it
But at night, when all the world's asleep
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man
Won't you please
Won't you tell me
Please tell me what we've learned
Can you hear me
I know it sounds absurd
Why won't you help me
But please tell me who I am
Who I am, who I am, who I am
Songwriter: Roger Hodgson
Producers: Supertramp Peter Henderson
The Tao Te Ching
We are that being uniquely called to occupy a precise place in the cosmic order no matter where or in what era we live. The Tao Te Ching is thus a work of metaphysical psychology taking us far beyond the social or biological factors that have been the main concern of modern psychology. It helps us see how the fundamental elements of the cosmos itself are mirrored in our own individual structure and it invites us to try to live in direct relationship to all these forces. Metaphysically the term Tao refers to the way things are. Psychologically it refers to the way human nature is constituted, a deep dynamic structure of our being. Ethically it means the way human beings must conduct themselves with others. Spiritually it refers to the guidance that is offered to us, the methods of searching for the truth that have been handed down by the great sages of the past – the way of inner work. Yet all these meanings of Tao are ultimately one.
We are conscious beings occupying the mid-point between the great cosmic expanse and the world of subatomic particles; a precise place in the cosmic order no matter where or in what era we live.
“At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want” Lao Tzu.
Colin McMorran - No Path to Enlightenment
The Self wants to be happy, peaceful and content. It seeks clarity, peace of mind and an end to its suffering. It wants to escape from the daily struggle, to stop simply surviving and to start living, free from self-doubt, anxiety and fear. It wants life to unfold naturally and to embrace uncertainty, change and the unknown, and live the truth, and for life to reflect back that truth. It wants to feel at peace and at one with others, to be free from the fear of death and the constriction it places upon life. It wants to be free from stressful thoughts and live in a still mind. Rather than trying to satisfy these desires, we need to recognise where they come from – we need to turn inwards because looking externally cannot fulfil these wishes. By repeatedly focusing attention within, this message aims to expose as an illusion that which desires these things, and in so doing free you from your Self.
In your life, you will have been encouraged to embrace the Self through sayings such as believe in yourself and anything’s possible, which is usually offered as a panacea to self-doubt and lack of confidence. However, such seemingly encouraging statements are part of the reason you find yourself on life’s treadmill, desiring all manner of things and finding fulfilment in none. Many believe an alternate to believing in one’s Self is surrendering to a higher power, and some religions offer this through the union with God. Belief in God through faith promises salvation and everlasting life, but such apparent surrender can imprison and increase suffering if it comes from a self-fulfilling need – in other words, if it is used to feed the yearnings of the illusionary Self, which unfortunately is usually the case. Surrender, in the truest sense, is dis-identification with the egoic mind and the collapse of the illusionary Self. Therefore, the truth of your being is not about intellectual conviction or having faith in divinities, nor it is about believing in your Self or in God; it is about relaxing the grip on your story, and resting for a moment between past and future, free from the shackles of history and hope - resting in the eternal present.
The true Self is the stillness within – the Absolute - the underlying awareness that is open to everything and everyone. Any thoughts that arise cannot touch this; it cannot be harmed or changed. Seeing through the illusion of your Self by gradually dropping your attachment to thoughts will expose all your desires, fears and anxieties as irrelevant background noise, causing ripples through an otherwise still and silent void and the difficulties of the human condition will begin to fall away. With the death of the Self the fear of mortality drops away, as does the need to follow others. Your isolated persona will diminish, and the feeling of unease created by living under the tyranny of self-doubt, guilt and uncertainty will lift, along with the incessant need to self-protect. The puffed up ego deflates like a seeping balloon as the air that gave it form returns to the unrestricted and limitless expanse from which it came. Your defences lower because there is nothing left to defend and all divisions fade as the bounded separateness of the constricted Self disperses back into the boundless Absolute.
Sam Harris - Waking up
That which is aware of joy is the same thing as that which is aware of sadness and on some level its not diminished by sadness or improved by joy. If you can keep dropping back into that state, and paradoxically and happily, that state begins to have its own qualitative character which is more towards the good side of things – more joyful and compassionate and loving and positive.
The mind has no shame – it just thinks, so thoughts just keep coming and the goal from a meditative point of view is this analogy from Tibetan Buddhism: To get into a position that thoughts are like thieves entering an empty house; there’s just nothing to steal! To be completely indifferent between a good thought and a bad thought, that’s the superpower.
Colin McMorran - No Path to Enlightenment
The individual who yearns for truth and Liberation, is caught in a trap: It is said that there’s an ingenious method of catching monkeys using a large clay pot tied to a tree. The story goes that a poacher places an apple inside the pot that has an opening slightly larger than a monkey’s hand and then hides in waiting. Patience is often rewarded as a monkey approaches and smelling the fruit squeezes its hand into the pot grabbing the apple and making a fist that is too large to retract. Despite having the means to escape by simply letting go it tightens its grip, even as the poacher breaks cover, the wretched animal remains trapped by its desire for the fruit and is subsequently caught. You may feel a mixture of pity and irritation towards the unfortunate creature: if only it could see things differently, if only it could see the bigger picture all its suffering would be over in an instant.
We are clutching at life, our desires imprison us; freedom is letting go. We search relentlessly for a truth that will set us free and only by letting go do we recognise the truth of our lives: We were led to believe that truth and freedom from suffering was a reward after a lifetime of one hundred thousand steps, when in actual fact they were available in each step we took – available to us from the very beginning by simply letting go.
When the search is dropped and stillness is embraced the Absolute is glimpsed; caught in a movement, or heard in a sound – held for a breath, a beat of the heart. True in the moment until falsified by thought, alive in unknowing until deadened by language. It comes before all, underpinning everything, here in plain view, reflecting back every named phenomenon and every experience. Infinite are the ways the Self searches for truth: philosophy, theology, psychology and sociology. Such pursuits may increase knowledge and intellectual understanding but are of no use when seeking the Absolute - its truth cannot be conceptualised. Our thinking is so ingrained that usually only concepts matching existing patterns will be recognised and embraced (this is were Analogies can sometimes help). The intellect cannot discern truth; it cannot be taught or understood; a lifetime accumulating knowledge and refining ideas and beliefs will move you not a step closer. Take a step back from your thinking mind. Keep stepping back, and when you think you are at the source step back once more.
Jordan Peterson on Jung's notion of consciousness
Jung’s idea was something like this: at the beginning of time people were unconscious and that consciousness emerged with all its catastrophes, consciousness of death for example, and one way out of the burden of consciousness was to return to unconsciousness. You can do that with alcohol you can do that by being dependent; you can do that by failing to grow up. You refuse the burden of consciousness by becoming unconscious again. But there’s another way forward, which is by becoming even more consciousness. So the idea would be a little bit of consciousness is like an illness but if you can expand that consciousness upwards enough then it starts to become something that is it’s own cure and that partly what your goal is while you suffer through life is to heighten your consciousness to the point where everything gets integrated enough so that that’s proper medication for the disease of self-consciousness. So it’s more consciousness rather than less – it’s more attention.
Colin McMorran - No Path to Enlightenment
The ocean wave
Waves are a manifestation of the ocean, arising as the seabed slows the incoming tide causing the surface flow to swell up and overturn. Although the familiar sight and sound of crashing white foam appears separate and identifiable, it is always part of the ocean, and never separates from it. It makes no sense to imagine a wave independent from the ocean: the two are one and the same. Similarly, we are temporary manifestations of the Absolute, apparently being born, having our moment and then returning to the source.
Just as each wave has a unique form as it swells and breaks, so too our environment uniquely shapes us as we grow. And just as the wave is created and sustained through constant movement, so our life is created and sustained through continual change. Waves are tangible and physically exist; we can distinguish between them and can measure their progress and witness their different forms.
However, we know their appearance, their motion and force are manifestations of the one underlying source. Their separateness is both real and unreal; we know that although each individual wave is unique, they do not act autonomously and cannot exist independently from the ocean. Similarly, our sense so being a separate and identifiable Self is both real and unreal; we very much exist – we are real and in many ways are a product of our environment and our experience, however we are also unique expressions of the one underlying source, having no existence independent from that source – I call it the Absolute.
Becoming aware of this deeper sense of self – the Absolute – we fall into a way of being that naturally expresses through us, we come to realise that we are whole and complete just as we are and therefore need nothing to fulfil us. Knowing we are whole allows us to manifest truthfully and naturally in the world. This peace and clarity sends positive waves out into the rest of our lives and good things come to us because we are sending out only the good. Because we don’t need anything to complete us we are at one with the infinite life force and therefore are open to all possibilities – we embrace life and life embraces us – the wave and ocean are one.
Colin McMorran - No Path to Enlightenment
How can the unknowable be approached, how can it be written or talked about? How can the infinite be expressed by the finite, how can the eternal and the formless be comprehended in a world of impermanence and forms? This unknowable stillness at the core of your being can only be pointed to indirectly and therefore should be approached delicately and from various angles.
We have a subjective and flawed understanding of our relationship to the world around us, which is created by our thoughts. It is possible to examine our common assumptions about the external world and how we interact with it, including our relationships with other people. Our beliefs, born out of thought, create and sustain the illusion of our Self. These beliefs are kept alive by habitual thinking patterns, which build and sustain our story - our self-image – a story that is unreal and, for the most part, unhelpful.
The awareness beneath this story is occasionally glimpsed in rare and uninvited moments of so-called ‘heightened consciousness’ or ‘heightened awareness’ that occur in a flash, but cannot be experienced in the moment or relived through memory. These moments may occur at times of great personal drama, physical exertion, quiet contemplation, or even while brushing your teeth – it matters not. The common factor is that for a fleeting instant and through no cultivated effort, an altered state takes over – a sort of peace and clarity that has nothing to do with our individual stories, and for a moment our suffering disappears. Because there is no personal sense of ‘I’ having the ‘experience’, the moment cannot become part of our experiencing structure - our story - and we cannot attach to it. Then we return to our everyday consciousness, wanting to understand and trying to take ownership of what just happened – wanting to make it part of our story. However, this impersonal awareness cannot be contextualised within our frame of reference; it can only live when we are absent. This clarity exists beneath the story of you.
These brief glimpses cannot be expressed without destroying their essence, and so all we are left with is an attempt to point to this ground of being indirectly through analogies and metaphors. It is not knowledge that can be understood and passed on; it is more akin to an ever-present and vaguely familiar feeling that infuses every experience, being both of the experience and other than the experience – both real and unreal. All that can be hoped for is that the Absolute behind everything, including the illusion of the Self, might become apparent, not in a dualistic subject/object sense as in ‘I am aware of..’ or ‘ I know that..’, but though an impersonal, indescribable being-ness that is so close we cannot see it and is as fundamental and as effortless as the breaths we take.
Colin McMorran - No Path to Enlightenment
Acceptance when it is practiced as a means to an end is not acceptance.
When you want to accept the thing that’s causing you to suffer in order for that thing to disappear and relieve your suffering, you are not accepting the thing. In other words, acceptance is accepting the suffering. So for instance waking up with early morning anxiety about the day ahead causes you to suffer, acceptance is not a way of overcoming the anxiety so that you don’t suffer, acceptance is accepting the anxiety in the moment that it arises and accepting the suffering it brings. You want to control the feeling of anxiety and rationalise that accepting it may make it go away – again, this is not acceptance, this is a strategy to try and control it, which will only ensure that its grip tightens – it’s the exact opposite of acceptance. True acceptance is welcoming the early morning anxiety – embracing it as a part of your living experience.
If there’s a way to avoid suffering then clearly you should take it, for instance using painkillers for a headache; the suffering I am discussing here is psychological and brought about through the circumstances of your life. Again, if you can change the circumstances causing the anxiety then this should be considered. When you feel you have no control over the cause of your suffering, when all other avenues to relieve it have been explored, there is then an opportunity to practice the acceptance I am discussing.
The idea that our lives are filled with pain and suffering can lead to an overall acceptance of how things are, along with the assumption that to fight against it is pointless. However, I suggest that there is distinction to be made here between accepting ‘what is’, and giving up. Accepting ‘what is’ recognises that a deeper consciousness is acting through us. The idea that we can end our struggles by simply allowing life to take us where it wishes, often described as‘going with the flow’, is misguided; the struggles each of us face in our daily lives – all the frustrations, heartache, failures and setbacks are part of life. We cannot sanitise that life by choosing to give up and go with the flow. Such a decision is meaningless anyway because we are not in the flow - the flow is in us, - or, more precisely, we are the flow. Choosing to ‘go with the flow’ falsely assumes that, firstly, there is a Self that can choose, and secondly, there is a separate flow it can ‘go’ with.
Acceptance when it is practiced as a means to an end is not acceptance.
Transcenders, I suspect, find it easier to transcend the ego, the self, the identity, to go beyond self-actualization. … Perhaps we could say that the description of the healthy ones is more exhausted by describing them primarily as strong identities, people who know who they are, where they are going, what they want, what they are good for, in a word, as strong Selves… And this of course does not sufficiently describe the transcenders. They are certainly this; but they are also more than this.
Going much further, Transpersonal Psychology is interested to explore extreme wellness or optimal well-being. It is interested in those cases of persons who have often or perhaps permanently expanded their "normal sense of identity" to include the supra- or trans-personal, the Self of all selves, the One underlying the Many. Transpersonal Psychology explicitly acknowledges and makes use of the profound spiritual psychologies of the Great Traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, mystic Christianity, Judaism and Muslim Sufism), as well as new insights and methods in the human potential and consciousness-expanding movements.
Maslow articulated such key concepts as “self-actualization” (development of one’s capacities) for Humanistic Psychology, then exceeded it with his Transpersonal Psychology ideal of “self-transcendence” (full spiritual awakening or liberation from egocentricity), along with the notion of “peak experiences” (and “plateau living”).
Until you bring what’s unconscious into consciousness it will control your life and you’ll call it fate. The more you deny what’s inside of you the stronger it will come after you – from inside, it also comes from outside like the people who come into your life just at the right time; they are your fate.
The eye does not go there, nor speech, nor mind. We do ... Just as fire that burns and enlightens things does not either enlighten or burn itself, so the mind, which wills and determines in respect of external objects, cannot will or determine in respect of its self, because its Atman is also the Brahman.
Jordan Peterson on his youthful dilemma
I don’t know how these things where causally related, I guess it was because I was trying to figure out who I was and how that could be fixed – something like that. I started to pay very careful attention to what I was saying. I don’t know whether that happened voluntarily or involuntarily but I could feel a sort of split developing in my psyche – a split into two let’s say, and one was let’s say the ‘old me’ that was talking a lot and that liked to argue and that liked ideas.
And there was another part that was watching that part, like just with its eyes open and neutrally judging, and the part that was neutrally judging was watching the part that was talking and going that isn’t your idea, you don’t really believe that, you don’t really know what you’re talking about, that isn’t true. And I thought, hmm, that’s really interesting – and that was happening to 95% of what I was saying, and so then I didn’t really know what to do. So I thought okay this is strange, maybe I’ve fragmented and that’s just not a good thing at all – I mean it wasn’t like I was hearing voices or anything like that, it wasn’t like that. People have multiple parts.
So then I had this weird conundrum – it was like, well which of these two things are me? Is it the part that’s listening and saying no that’s rubbish, that’s a lie, you’re doing that to impress people, you’re just trying to win the argument. Was that me or was the part that was going about my normal verbal business me, and I didn’t know but I decided I would go with the critic. And then what I tried to do, what I learned to do I think, was to stop saying things that made me weak, and I’m still trying to do that because I’m always feeling when I talk whether or not the words that I am saying are either making me align or making me come apart. And I really do think the alignment - I think alignment is really is the right way of conceptualising it because if you say things that are as true as you can say them, let’s say, then they come up out of the depths inside of you.
Because we don’t know where thoughts come from, we don’t know how far down into your sub-structure thoughts emerge, we don’t know what process of physiological alignment are necessary for you to speak from the core of your being. We don’t understand any of that, we don’t even conceptualise that. I believe you can feel that and I learnt some of that from reading Carl Rogers who’s a great clinician because he talked about mental health in part as the coherence between the spiritual or the abstract and the physical and that the two things were aligned. And there’s a lot of idea of alignment in psychoanalytic and clinical thinking.
But anyway I decided I would start practicing not saying things that would make me weak and what happened was that I had to stop saying almost everything that I was saying - I would say 95% of it. It’s a hell of a shock to wake up and realise you’re mostly dead wood! It’s a shock, and you know you might think do you really want all that to burn off? Well there’s nothing left but a little husk – 5% of you, its like well if that 5% is solid then maybe that’s exactly what you want to have happen.
This Thing Called You - Ernest Holmes
The greatest minds of the ages have accepted that such a pattern exists. Socrates called it his spirit, Jesus his Father in Heaven. Some ancient mystics called it Atman. Why don't you call it just you, your complete self? For surely this is what they all have meant.
Just try to catch the larger vision and realize that there have been and are people, many of them, who have wooed and wed some invisible Presence until Its atmosphere and essence have become woven into the fabric of their own existence. Every man is a doorway, as Emerson said, through which the Infinite passes into the finite, through which God becomes man, through which the Universal becomes individual.
You are to believe with utmost simplicity and with complete faith that there is a pattern of your being, or a real spirit of you, which is as eternal as God, as indestructible as Reality, and as changeless as Truth. This pattern is seeking to manifest through you. Back of it is all the will and purpose of the universe, all the irresistible laws of being. Finally it will win.
It is because it is there that you have these irresistible urges—the longing to live more fully, the feeling that life belongs to you. There is something within you beyond all doubt and fear, something which has never been limited by your acts or destroyed by your feeling. This is the only something that can make you whole.