Part 1: A thread of my favourite spirituality concepts
Ideas that define the human condition–explored via the consciousness research of Dr. David R Hawkins
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We often use words and ideas as shorthand. We also assume that everyone else understands them just as precisely as we do.
Like when your significant other asks you to add more salt to the pasta sauce:
—How much exactly?
Just a little
—There you go
That’s too much. Just a little
It’s the same when we talk about subjective experiences using words that mean different things to different people.
When it comes to expressing spiritual truth, its meaning depends on the context. And spiritual work is all about framing one’s life—especially its vicissitudes—in a different context.
For example: a drink of alcohol works as a social lubricant for the regular person, but to an alcoholic in recovery, it’s a sure slide into the pits of despair.
When we talk about spirituality, we talk about the context rather than the content of our life.
In this post (and the upcoming ones), I have tried to contextualize ideas and concepts that affect our human condition, as explored via the consciousness research of Dr. David R Hawkins.1:
Consciousness, Mind, Enlightenment, Ego, Duality, Perception, Emotions & Feelings, Suffering, Addiction, Fear, Death,… etc
These concepts are at the core of human behaviour, and they play out in our everyday life. In part 1, the first of a series, you can read about a few of them.
Enjoy, ask questions, and add your own in the comments :)
Imagine a computer linked to a giant database of information. The hardware of the computer will run any software that it is programmed with while remaining unchanged intrinsically.
Dr David R Hawkins uses this analogy to explain consciousness:
“The database is human consciousness itself, of which our own consciousness is merely an individual expression, but with its roots in the common consciousness of all mankind. The database transcends time, space, and all limitations of individual consciousness.” 2
In one of my favourite passages, he expresses the core of the human dilemma:
The unawareness or ignorance of the true nature of the Self
“The individual is thus like a cork in the sea of consciousness—he does not know where he is, where he came from, or where he is going, and he does not know why. Man wanders about in this endless conundrum, asking the same questions century after century, and so he will continue, failing a quantum leap in consciousness.” 3
In many of his audio lectures, he describes consciousness as an infinite energy field—much like an electromagnetic field of infinite power—everywhere present, beyond time and space, with no beginning or ending.4
These things seem hard for the mind to comprehend (or worse, they appear as baseless woo-woo).
One limitation of the mind is that it’s linear and operates via the senses.
There’s no way it can experience infinity (via the senses). Perhaps only as a state of inner awareness, as has been relayed by enlightened mystics throughout time.
Another illustration: the mind can describe looking at a bird in great detail from its plumage to the notation of its song, but only a bird can experience birdness.
A good question to ask:
What am I? Am I my thoughts?
What is aware of these thoughts and sensations right now?
What am I?
Until the 16th century, the brightest minds of the time imagined the earth as the center of the universe.
One Polish Renaissance man named Mikołaj Kopernik5 (or Copernicus) suggested that the Earth and other planets actually revolve around the Sun. It didn’t go down well. Subsequently, Kopernik spent the rest of his time in house-arrest. (Not as bad as Galileo, though)
Why do I mention this? Because—from an early age, we are told stories that we believe to be true. Sometimes they turn out to be BS. The notion of an individual, separate identity is another story we are socially programmed with.
We are told we are our religion, our possessions, the pigment in our skin, the ethnic group we descended from.
We pin our self-worth on selfies and follower counts. We desire to express our individuality via a growing number of mass-produced products.
The herd-chase towards individuality is one of the most influential forces in modern society.
But it’s based on a story we tell ourselves—that we are individually separate ‘snowflakes’ with no connection to each other.
Few talk about ‘snow’ itself.
Man thinks he lives by virtue of the forces he can control, but in fact, he is governed by power from unrevealed sources, power over which he has no control.
Because power is effortless, it goes unseen and unsuspected.
Force is experienced through the senses; power can be recognized only through inner awareness.
Hawkins, David R.. Power vs. Force (p. 41). Kindle Edition.
If we ignore the world outside of us, the questions that remain are:
Am I this body? The name? Or am I my mind or thoughts?
Am I the sum of my experiences and memories?
Am I defined by my attractions or aversions?
What am I?
That’s a question that every spiritual student must confront and unlearn, often painfully.
Why? The imagined loss of one’s cherished attachments is an intense obstacle to the spiritual path. Dr. Hawkins says that even what we imagine to be the source of life itself—our identification with our small self—must be surrendered at the final doorway to Enlightenment
The law of conservation of energy says that it cannot be destroyed. Energy can only change form.
The body is form and therefore subject to change. But that which is the essence of life itself is beyond form, birth and death. A lot of enlightened folks have said the same thing.
The ‘I’ experienced within me is the same as the ‘I’ experienced within you. In that, the only thing that separates us is the notion that all is not interconnected.
Only awareness registers awareness.
The source, purpose, meaning of existence, of the core of life itself is the biggest mystery to the mind. What is the world?
The intellect struggles to understand the source of the phenomenon of consciousness. Is it born in the brain? Is it of material or divine origin? Can it be made in a lab?
👓 Perception vs Essence
Here’s a beautiful idea we don’t realize often enough:
We see the world not as it is, but as we are.
In other words:
Perception: the world as I see it.
Essence: true nature of something regardless of perception.
Allow me to illustrate it with a glitch in the matrix:
This is an astounding trick of the mind as it balances relative brightness.6
Perception works like that. It will show us differences even where are none.
The mind projects its perceptions onto the world out there.
Note how a coiled length of rope in a darkened room can be perceived to be a cobra.
Perception is what the mind does fundamentally. It interprets events and experiences based on its dominant programs.
That also means that there are more names given to things than the number of things in themselves. The mind attributes causes to events even when there aren’t any.
Notice any red strawberries?
It’s amazing how our eyes fall for illusions all the time. 7
Our minds are no different.
In other words, we see problems and suffering even when there are none.
Ever hear yourself say: Why does my life feel like sh*t?
Honestly, I do.
The Buddha took a dim view of desire as the root of all suffering. As a young prince, the first time he set out of his palace, he saw things never-before witnessed in his privileged existence: disease, old age, and death. He never got over it.
It feels like 2020 never really got over either, but let’s try to break down what exactly feels like sh*t?
This quote from Pascal hits the spot:
“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
He was right about me.
If you try this exercise: shut out the external world for a moment and try to locate the underlying feeling.
Boredom comes up. I want to do something. I reach for the phone. For something, anything to explore with my attention. To eat, to scratch, to say.
This quote sums up most of my life’s problems. Does it describe yours too?
“Escape is the avoidance of feelings through diversion. This avoidance is the backbone of the entertainment and liquor industries, and also the route of the workaholic. Escapism and avoidance of inner awareness is a socially condoned mechanism. We can avoid our own inner selves and keep our feelings from emerging by an endless variety of pursuits, many of which eventually become addictions as our dependency upon them grows. People are desperate to stay unconscious. We observe how often people flick on the television set the minute they enter a room and then walk around in a dream-like state, constantly being programmed by the data poured into them. People are terrified of facing themselves. They dread even a moment of aloneness. Thus the constant frantic activities: the endless socializing, talking, texting, reading, music playing, working, traveling, sightseeing, shopping, overeating, gambling, movie-going, pill-taking, drug-using, and cocktail-partying. Many of the foregoing mechanisms of escape are faulty, stressful, and ineffective.” ― David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
What’s behind it all?
A good question to ask every day: What am I trying to avoid right now?
Did you know that we love suffering?
Love is a strong word. Perhaps ‘being attached to the payoff of negativity’ is better.
The political theater of hating one’s opponents, punishing the ‘haters’, etc, show how enjoyable a sick spectacle can be. But there is a cost.
“We hang on to pain. It certainly satisfies our unconscious need for the alleviation of guilt through punishment. We get to feel miserable and rotten. The question then arises, “But for how long?” ― David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
The idea of alleviating suffering is also the reason for this newsletter.
Fact: a loving thought is more powerful than a hateful one. The two might seem like opposites, but hate is just the extreme absence of love.
I remember when I first read this in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot:
"The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh."
Poetic, yes, but accurate? Not really.
This zero-sum sentiment is echoed in many other ways: there’s no happiness without sorrow. there’s no joy without suffering. A fallacious idea based on the mind’s perception of opposites.
Duality and opposites
The world as we see perceive it, via the senses, is dualistic. It sets up opposites - Between subject and object, Between this and that, you and me, us and them.
There are no opposites.
It’s just linguistic convenience. For example:
Dark is not the opposite of Bright.
There are varying degrees of the presence of just one variable, that is light.
When there’s almost no light, we call it dark. When there’s a lot of it, we call it bright.
Same with Good and Bad, etc.
Duality injects the observer into the perceivable world as the point of reference between two ‘opposites.’
HOT or COLD,
UP or DOWN,
GOOD or BAD… are all relative to the point of observation, i.e., as we define them.
This is a liberating insight, in my humble opinion. The next time you come across a pair of seeming opposites, consider this idea:
what seems like a pair of opposites is just the varying presence of one variable.
Love, beauty, inspiration, compassion, joy, peace, oneness with all of life… have no opposites.
That which is infinite can have no opposite.
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More threads soon.
— Amogh (see you on Twitter)
A psychiatrist, consciousness researcher, and teacher of Enlightenment, Dr David R Hawkins produced an immense body of work (books, audio and video lectures) focussed on expressing and contextualizing the human condition via levels of consciousness. His research forms the basis for this newsletter.
Hawkins, Power vs. Force (p. 20). Hay House.
Hawkins, Power vs. Force (p. 41). Hay House.
There’s a reason why peak consciousness experiences are often expressed with the metaphor of light.
Per Wikipedia, Copernicus was “a polyglot and polymath, he obtained a doctorate in canon law and was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist. In 1517 he derived a quantity theory of money—a key concept in economics—and in 1519 he formulated an economic principle that later came to be called Gresham's law.”
Our perception is really warped like you wouldn’t believe. https://www.provideocoalition.com/5-color-illusions-that-colorists-filmmakers-should-be-familiar-with/
The grandmaster of illusions - Prof. Akiyoshi Kitaoka http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/index-e.html