The Final Frontier

In mindfulness meditation we become aware of the concepts that build up our self-identity. What we have formerly identified with and have unconsciously seen as the subject, is slowly turned into an object in awareness.

The Zen-symbol for the oneness of existence.

We dis-identify with the tendencies of our psyche. Through that process we gain freedom from our worldviews, that shape our behavior and determine how we feel about the world. Just by holding these concepts in our awareness, we become clear of their underlying mechanisms and see through the ego-identification that is there.

In that process we come to a point where we have separated from all mental phenomena and recognize them as not-self. This is also called the neti-neti method. Finally we come to a state where we seemingly have nothing to let go of anymore. At that point we continue to ask the question: what remains?

The last identification that remains is that of the Do-er. We think we are directing our attention. We think that we are the source of our thoughts. That we produce our actions.

This is the final frontier which needs to be investigated.
Finally we might discover, that this deepest of all identifications is also illusory.

Time

Time is so essential to our existence, we usually overlook it.

Dogen watching the moon.
Here I will present an interesting viewpoint from Zen-Buddhism. Dogen writes about this in his book Shobogenzo. What follows is my interpretation of it.

Time can be seen as fundamental to reality. Everything can only appear as moments in time. Time is what we observe as the pattern with which the present moment changes.

If everything exist, it exist as moments in time. Infinite possibilities are unfolding as a seamless band of individual moments in conscious experiences. This band we call time.

Interestingly, time itself only exists as a concept. The only real thing about time is the everlasting moment. Time is never experienced outside of now. The concepts of past and future emerge as functions of our minds, always in the now.

Truth is only found now. There are all kinds of different experiences happening in the now. One day there will be enlightenment happening in the now, where the human concept of individuality is seen through and is replaced by more genuine understanding of being. On the other hand, there are many moments, in which the flow of events has no knowledge about it's own nature. This is the ordinary human experience.

Time after enlightenment. After enlightenment, time is seen for what it truly is. The change of events in the moment are still going to occur, but the awareness will always stay in the now. Concepts of future events are recognized as such. Plans can still be made and memories are still useful and nice. But the present moment will no longer appear as a tiny sliver of time, in between the seemingly infinite past and future. Instead it will be the eternal now that it actually is. Time being a property of what happens in it.

There is only being-time. All time occurs as moments of being. Nothing exists outside of it. Time both encapsulates all of existence and does not exist at the same time. This is one of the paradoxes of reality.

Win-Win-Win Decisions - From The Perspective of Spiral Dynamics

When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you. - Lao Tzu

We know Win-Win-Situations. When we make a business deal or we buy something, it usually is a Win-Win-Deal. We get what we want and the other party gets what it wants too.

We buy something because it is more efficient for us than if we would have made it ourselves. We benefit from efficient mass production. The company usually offers the product at a price where they make a profit too. A classical Win-Win-Situation.

Industry exhaust
The result of our highest wisdom?

From the theory of Spiral Dynamics we know that, in order to deal with future problems and to be successful in the long-run, we have to consider the third "Win". What is the third "Win"?

In the context of business, the third "Win" emerges when at least the whole industry benefits or better yet, the whole economy. But really, the third Win represents a higher level of consideration. It means we have to take into account a larger picture than the immediate people that are involved in the decision. In the long-term, in order to fulfill this third "Win", we will have to take into account the impact on the largest system we can think of. The ecosystem of the earth that supports our very existence.

No longer can we overlook the negative impacts of egotistical Win-Win decisions of the past. To enable the sustainable long-term success of a company, decision-makers will have to take into account the environment that they unquestionably depend on. If we want to develop a society and an economy that is able to support future generations, taking the biggest view possible is necessary.

Otherwise we will have to attribute our failure to survive to our unwillingness to embrace human-psychosocial development past the point of adolescence where we are still unconsciously living from a state of avoiding basic fears and work to compensate for our lack of safety. Which is, at it's core, caused by our false believe in a separated, illusory ego that needs to be defended at all cost to cover up it's inherent emptiness.

One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.  
- Dogen

Essential Spiritual Practice: Zazen

According to the Shobogenzo, which is the best resource of Zen-Buddhism, the practice of Zazen is the only real practice that is required to achieve the realization of truth. While we are sitting in the clear awareness in an upright position, we are cultivating the qualities of the buddha-mind or no-mind. The practice is simple yet effective. You sit with your legs crossed or with your feet under your butt. In both of these positions the spine stays straight without muscular contraction. These positions become comfortable for extended periods of time after the first few weeks.

Zazen is the only essential spiritual practice.


Then the whole practice is to remain as awareness, which is aware of itself. You could accompany this being aware with the question: "What am I?". This question emphasizes the empty nature of awareness and denies our commonly held believe that we know who we are, when in fact our true self has none of the qualities we attribute to our self.

Sitting in Zazen is therefore an exercise of remaining aware of the nothingness that it is. Over time this will increase our capacity to stay in this clear state of mind and detachment naturally develops. A detachment from the false self which we identify with.

Even though this practice sounds simple, it has many nuances and should be evaluated and discussed regularly with a teacher to avoid the various traps of wrong practice. For example, it is easily possible to do ones daily practice in a state of day-dreaming, where one is almost entirely absorbed in thoughts about ones life. Which actually achieves the opposite of what Zazen practice is about.

To start the practice of Zazen it can be helpful to choose an object in ones experiences to focus on. This will train the ability to concentrate without interruption for extended periods of time. In my own practice I have found constant objects, like sensations to be best to develop this concentration. I start out every meditation practice with about 10 minutes of concentration on the sensation of my hands which lie on top of each other in my lap. This concentration requires effort and silences the mind. When I feel that my concentration has deepened and lengthened, I shift over to concentration on awareness without objects. Remaining aware as awareness of itself, as mentioned in the beginning.

I wish you much success with your own meditation practice. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments, or book a Consultation with me, if you want to discuss your progress in detail.

Create your own best life

This is a list of a few concepts and action-steps that I have found to be helpful for personal development. This list has developed in my journal over time and is likely to change and grow in the future. But at this point in time is is worthwhile to share. Enjoy, adjust and implement!

Becoming your own success story is hard.


First, an example for why we should engage in continuous improvement and personal development:


  • See yourself as the boss and the employee of your own life
    • and then consider yourself to currently be the worst of both: you tell yourself strictly what to do but you never do it, right?
    • how can you become a good boss and employee?
    • by designing a negotiation-process for continuous improvement for yourself
    • strive for continuous but step-by-step improvement
  • Develop a profound routine:
    • why? better to have a plan than to drift aimlessly through your life
    • work on improving your routine over time, test different styles and see what works for you
    • get up every day at the same time, even on weekends (more energy through solid circadian rhythm)
    • do one hour of meditation daily. Suggestion: 40min in the morning and 20-30min in the evening
    • pick the times when you work, when you exercise, when you study
    • remind yourself every evening before going to bed what you are thankful for that happened that day. Maybe start a journal.
    • set weekly goals of new things and challenges you want to do.
    • Set a certain amount of time that you dedicate towards caring for your relationships
  • Live your life as though you are already the version of yourself that you want to become
    • Visualize daily, where you want to go and which goals you want to achieve
    • Goals need to be kept alive. Ever wonder why you tend to forget about your motivation behind your goals? They die without constant reminders that keep you on track.
    • Acting the way you want to become is the only way to get there. Change is inevitable.
    • let your journey for personal development be guided by the best version of yourself
    • constantly remind yourself of how you would think and act if you would already be that person and then, slowly over time, you will develop those habits and skills.
  • In Buddhism they teach that you become free by letting go of your attachments
    • Giving up materialistic possessions and attachments is only one side though
    • Giving up attachments to who you currently are is the other side
    • That means having no attachments to your current state of being because a lack of freedom is largely a conceptual limitation
    • That is a tricky thing to do, because changing the self feels like letting parts of yourself die
  • Seek out your errors
    • Confront them in a way that does not crush you
    • ask people of their opinion and listen with a non-judgmental, open mind
  • When you feel fear, see it as an opportunity for growth
    • Fear is the imaginary border off your comfort-zone, behind which, growth-opportunities lie
    • Beyond that, the self imagines danger. Which feels very real, even though it usually is not




Why Conscious Exploration Entails Suffering

"The magnitude of the benefits of spiritual and personal development are equal to the suffering it causes."

This is the beauty of personal development. You become free to choose the degree of your happiness. If you are not yet fully present and content with existence, you are not enlightened yet. Than you know you have not yet gone through enough spiritual suffering. The suffering on the spiritual path usually comes up during meditation as distractions in the form of memories of your life.

In meditation you want to still the mind and turn awareness in on itself.


Step by step you are discovering that non of those things were ever actually you. You continuously detach from the identification with the illusory self. That means to dis-identify with what you previously thought was you. That is painful as it can feel like you are step by step dying. But at the end of that process or in an instant you will realize your true self and die into the whole of existence.

That process has an in-flexion point, where the emptiness inside turns into all of existence. A realization will happen where you see that you are in fact larger than the entire universe. But until then, the spiritual journey can feel painful, because it is a process of continually letting go of false believes, which make up who you currently think you are.

How can you enjoy this process of self discovery, if it entails so much suffering? 
Because suffering is the byproduct of discovering your own delusions, that are actually the root cause of your suffering. A deep interest in the truth will over-shine the falling away of attachments to the illusory self. Pulling out the illusions reveals their full depth. It will reveal to you how you are pushed around by their emotional force.

But, because delusion is what the false self is at it's core, discovering those very deep truth is a painful process of self-transformation. The self wants to remain as it is. You right there, you want to maintain the status quo of who you are. Revealing the delusions in yourself is like cutting away parts of yourself, with the intention to discover that you never were those parts to begin with. Or rather that you never were those parts exclusively. Finally you will come to understand that your illusory self is part of the mind of god, which is the unchanging ever present emptiness that you are. 


The Irony Of Reasoning

"Consciousness is in its fundamental nature always one. I want to say: the total sum of all consciousnesses is always only one."  
- Erwin Schrödinger

Being able to reason and make rational decisions is one of our great strengths as human beings. Our mental capacities have developed from purely reacting to the environment to making plans and decisions based in a deeper understanding of the processes behind our experiences. Among many other circumstances, this ability has allowed our species to increase in numbers beyond what has formerly been possible. Our ability to reason has undoubtedly great practical benefits. This goes hand in hand with our faith in the scientific method for explaining the world. 

Cosmic Art - Fractals
When we encounter mystical, religious and spiritual texts, we still apply this analytical mindset that we are so used to. We are unable to tap into the mental abilities which are necessary to make sense of them. Not seeing that the essence of these teachings lie outside of what can be understood with reason, we still try to fit these texts into conceptual thinking. The habit of dividing the world into individual parts which can be explained by their interaction with other parts, keeps us from realizing the oneness that spirituality can lead to. 

What is the fundamental fault in reasoning?
If we would follow back our reasoning to its origin with the same analytical mindset that we apply in science, we could discover that reasoning itself is always paradoxical at its core. There will be a point in every line of reasoning that cannot be explained with reason. Always continuing to ask the question "Why?" will lead to a fundamentally mystical and therefore unanswerable question. It would therefore be possible to disproof the effectiveness of reasoning, as a means to explain the nature of all existence, by consistently applying the principles of reasoning to itself. 

Science itself has discovered this within the model of quantum mechanics. Within that framework it has shown that it is impossible to explain the fundamental mechanisms of matter/existence without a paradoxical and therefore unreasonable statement. If you are someone who has grown up with this scientific, materialistic world-view, it can be a revealing endeavor to study quantum theory. At some point your current world-view has to break down in order for you to grasp what this theory points to at a fundamental level. 
One trap must be avoided here. It is false to think that our world-view has already changed, because we, as a society, are able to apply the mathematical equations from quantum theory to create functioning technology.

If you want to reason yourself to death, a good place to start is this article on the Interpretations of quantum mechanics. A shorter version can be found in part 5 of the main article about quantum mechanics.

Popular Posts