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SETTING THE CHALLENGE

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Where we will be one day. Thinking from a higher and more integrated perspective, using all our faculties and parts of the mind we haven’t yet accessed.

The massive acceleration in our technological and scientific capabilities has not yet been accompanied by any real grasp of the implications. We lack the understanding and moral development to be able to make the increasingly difficult decisions we are faced with. Right now we have too many choices. We are overloaded with information and it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. It is difficult to know what we should focus on, what we should think.

We must evolve to meet the challenges of the times we live in. We need to acquire the maturity and wisdom to recognise what is important, and to cope with the responsibility that our knowledge gives us.

In order to be able to focus our minds on what really matters we need first to look at how we think. And this involves examining assumptions governing our perception and understanding of the world, how we perceive ourselves in relation to others, and how we relate to society and the world around us.
In the age of mass information it is even more important to recognise that it is not what we know, but how we know what we know that matters. The map is not the territory, no map shows all of its presumed territory – and crucially it leaves out the map maker. And the map maker is heavily influenced by the prevailing paradigms.

Does language determine thinking, or is it the other way round? And where can meaning and truth be found? Perhaps there are no inalienable truths, perhaps everything we think we know is really just opinion.

We need a radical realignment of how we perceive ourselves in relation to others. The mechanistic world view embodied by thinkers like Newton and Descartes is increasingly replaced by a more holistic approach where the individual and the social cannot be separated. The mind and the self emerge from the social. No individual has a mind fully independent of the social processes that produced it.

We have built our civilisation on a fundamental error, a misunderstanding of who we are. We are sleep walking into oblivion.  If we are to survive as a species we need to change radically, to evolve to the next level.

We must evolve to survive.

Using the mind instead of being used by it

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I have to begin with my own experience because that is all I have got. My core problem has been that my mind developed a mind and will of its own. This phenomenon became particularly apparent at a time when I was under a lot of emotional distress. My reaction to that distress was to escape into my head, and live a kind of parallel life one stage removed from true feelings. Although it became fairly extreme, I came to see how the pattern had been set many years before.

I doubt very much that my experience is unusual. It is the mind disconnected from present experience that takes one away from the authentic self and high jacks one’s very existence. Like everyone I have my own particular story, and at one time the archaeology of my soul was necessary, but what interests me now is where lessons from that story can be of general use. I am looking for generic patterns, formulae even, to facilitate a higher level of awareness.

One key lesson has been about using the mind rather than being used by it. Too often mind and heart have been at odds and mind has shot off on a tangent of its own. I have been seeking to integrate my mind in order to use it more effectively, firstly to clear it and then to re-build on solid foundations.

The Tabula Project is partly descriptive and partly prescriptive. On a personal level the need to be able to trust my own heart and mind, my own perceptions and feelings has been of fundamental importance. Without that trust there can be no foundation.

But on a wider level the whole impetus is to begin working towards a new framework for thought. To begin with it involves living in the present. And that means silencing the internal dialogue, only using analysis where it is helpful to a specific problem, as opposed to an ongoing commentary on every aspect of life.

We are only using fraction of our frontal lobe. There is a consensus that activity in frontal lobe is the physical correlate of imaginative thought, inspiration and creativity. The more we can declutter and quieten our minds the more we will free up the frontal lobe for new frontiers.

The kind of transformation I am talking about may not happen for many generations but I believe it will happen.

The constant battle with the self

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Everything is back to front. It is as though we are looking at ourselves and the world around us from the wrong end of the telescope, trapped as we are by our limited selves. Our main problem stems from a lack of understanding of who we are.

The really hard thing to comprehend is that the self is not real. The self is an illusion, a construct infinitely malleable. The illusory self is the obstruction, the problem, the stumbling block to real understanding. We may fear that nothing lies beyond the self, that only the world of our senses is real. But this is a fundamental misperception and limits our horizons and understanding to a fraction of what we are truly capable of.

If we could tune our minds differently we would realise we are omniscient. We are more than capable of handling all the challenges we face. From perspective of wider consciousness we can answer all the most important and baffling questions of our existence.

Wider context of consciousness

There is an important distinction to be made between awareness and understanding that is accessible to the individual self and wider consciousness. The first is rooted in time and the specifics of our individual sensory experience, the second is timeless and universal.

These two different levels of consciousness can appear incompatible, but we need to find a way to bridge the gap. The question is how do we gain access to understanding and insights from beyond the individual to a universal perspective.

We need to start from the filter of being human. From our limited individual mindsets we cannot know the answers to all the big important questions, but we can at least have an inkling what those questions are which is a good starting point.

Moving on

What is our current mindset? The difficulty is how easy it is to get drawn into the mundane. A lack of understanding of who we are keeps us focussed on the daily grind and minutiae of our separate selves.

But this is an important part of the journey. We need to come to terms fully with our separate selves and history before any chance of transcendence possible.

Ultimately we need to find what is of real, lasting value. This will include challenging the assumption that the human race is the only or ultimate manifestation of consciousness. Why should we have the monopoly?

We have unlimited access

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It is possible for each of us to have unlimited access to everything there is to know, including the answers to all the important questions like who are we, why are we here, where are we going. This involves a fundamental shift in awareness away from our individual perspective to a wider consciousness.

Our separate selves are not real but we can embody what is real – our bodies were built for that ultimate purpose. We are at the epicentre, what we previously called God, the originof everything, and full realisation of that is only the blink of any eye away.

Why is it so important to ask the Big Questions?

Because if we knew why we were here it would make a massive difference to how we live our lives.

The level of threat we face today has never been greater, but the mindset that got us into this mess won’t get us out of it. We have built our civilisation on a fundamental error, a misunderstanding of who we are. We are sleep walking into disaster, and if we are to survive as a species we will need to change radically. We will need to evolve to the next level.

To begin, we need to focus our minds on what matters. The answers to all the Big Questions are imprinted on our DNA, but get lost in the minutiae of everyday life.

Problems with Faith

We need to really know not just be told what to think. We each need to experience the answers for ourselves. It’s not enough to piggy back on other people’s ideas, or rely on time worn notions handed down from previous generations.

Faith in an external or separate God is no good to us. It keeps us at the level of children leading to an abnegation of responsibility, unable to meet the challenge of who we are. By coming into being we create ourselves.

The word God has become practically meaningless through mis-use. Faith belongs to a mindset that keeps the ego-self separate. Breaking apart the “concept of God”, we need to move beyond two polarised positions of faith or no faith.

Taking a leap beyond faith

1. Practise keeping your mind clear, silence the internal dialogue.
2. Sit with the intention of being open to new thoughts you could never have thought.
3. Observe what directs these thoughts, and where that comes from.

Perils of the ego

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Our minds are not separate. We have one mind, but many brains and these brains develop minds of their own, counterfeit minds, poor imitations of the real thing. Some imitation minds are pretty convincing – they nearly always are to themselves at any rate!

The trick is to somehow find a way to jump out. You need to do it very carefully, so bogged down as you are by the burden of your separate existence which you are so duped into believing is your real self. Your counterfeit mind will trick you in every which way.

Look how it is enjoying reading this right now, and thinking how cleverly it is disguising itself as your real self. It might think it has become invisible, that it has lulled you into a false sense of security while it spies on your efforts to decommission it. But at another level it knows the game is up, because if it really takes on board what you are saying it knows that it is only an illusion.

Don’t imagine it’s going to go without a struggle. It may realise it is only an illusion, but it will feel very real to itself and it is highly unlikely gracefully to step aside and let you in. It will fight tooth and nail to retain the right to exist on its own terms. It will form a barricade around itself, it will make itself impregnable.

But at the same time it will be horribly conflicted.

Let’s just say that your counterfeit mind, being pretty good at what it does, has understood its own limits, is signed up to the overall objective of omniscience and is prepared to be a willing agent in its own destruction – a pretty tall order – even then, it is tragically doomed to sabotage its own efforts.

Is there somewhere for it to go? Perhaps we can find a fitting requiem, somewhere it can rest in peace…..

Now pause and think about this for a moment. If you understand what I am saying, and I mean really understand it, you will know that you are not real. The tool which you use to think, your counterfeit mind, has taken you over and assumed an identity, which you think is you. It’s not. The tail has been wagging the dog.

I know this sounds catastrophic but the only painful bit is making that realisation. And it is only painful for a nano second. Think of it like jumping into a pool of cold water – as long as you keep moving you will quickly adjust and soon you will wonder what took you so long.

If you have already made this leap, you will know that really is all there is to it.

Decluttering the mind

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Decluttering the mind is the first step to improving how we think. The goal is for the mind to become a blank canvas, a TABULA RASA, from which point we can become receptive to new insights.

Part of decluttering the mind involves discarding outdated notions of self. We need to re-define who and what we are. And we need to re-evaluate concepts like God, intelligence, understanding and awareness.

Awareness transcends the individual. It cannot be restricted or bound down. It is something in and of itself. From this perspective we may recognise that intelligence, understanding and insight are different manifestations of awareness.

Our relationship with awareness is a profound and symbiotic one. At the level of self awareness is something we may have access to, but at the greater level of creation we are both part of that awareness and co-creators of it.

We may legitimately ask whether the awareness we can access from the limited level of understanding of the self is really worth anything at all? Surely things look very different depending on the vantage point from which one is observing. Do we, from the limited perspective of our “selves”, have the capacity to get beyond the relative?

The answer lies in becoming very still.

First we need to quieten the mind. This is why it is so important to declutter and to rid ourselves of the delusions of self. From the perspective of a clear and decluttered mind we can allow our minds to wander wherever they want to go. From this perspective we may start to believe our thoughts, whatever they truly are.

For absolute truth to exist there needs to be intelligence capable of grasping it.

Non-memory based thinking

Once a certain level of self-awareness is achieved it becomes possible to embark on a greater level of awareness through non memory based thinking.

This involves clearing the mind and purposeful forgetting.

The first leap of faith is the recognition that what we need to know comes to us when we need it with no effort. The next leap is when we start to access to insights and information we have no first hand experience or knowledge of.

Gradually we draw less and less on our own direct individual experience and knowledge. Increasingly we exist on another plane of awareness where we are omniscient, at one with ‘all that is’.

The Spirit of Socrates

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We need an opportunity to ask the big questions, with no agenda, in a spirit of discovery, a voyage into the unknown, drawing on everything we can.

This needs to be the broadest church possible in the purest sense – beyond religion, science, theology, a kind of philosophy that takes as its starting point direct experience. A philosophy that is predicated on the innate wisdom and knowing that exists in each of us.

Perhaps, bringing the spirit of Socrates back to life, if we can formulate the questions the right way the right answers will follow.

Believing and knowing

To what extent can we know something just by deciding that we know? What is the difference between knowing and believing? To know surely just means “believing” what our mind and senses show us.

Believe implies that an alternative view may be possible. To say one believes is less forceful than to say one knows. But how can we really know anything?

Perhaps we can speculate that there are broadly two levels of consciousness: one is timeless and universal and one is rooted in time and the specific self. “Knowing” in the truest sense is a function of the timeless and universal, whilst the local self is in the business of “believing”.

We are at the Epicentre

I have “come to believe” that we are at the epicentre. Aside from our separate selves which are dispensable and have a short shelf-life, we are also connected to and part of “all that is” expressing itself in billions of different ways. Our minds are just the tip of the gigantic iceberg, which they simultaneously are.

Let us suppose that consciousness is the primary reality, and living or not living are secondary manifestations. This can lead to a blurring of the distinction between being dead and alive. Depending on whether we nurture wider consciousness in ourselves or focus only on the minutiae of our individual lives, we may find ourselves “dying” while still alive. We might also speculate that being dead doesn’t necessarily open one up to a new level of consciousness. We choose whether or not to be open.

I’m looking for what lies beyond the immediate details of our lives. I get this feeling that reality is elsewhere. This waking life is a dream. The identity that is “me” is a construct. I feel no more real than a transistor radio, just receiving signals.

This is all a dream

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Do we have even the faintest idea of how powerful we are? Do we realise that our minds have infinite potential? We can literally do anything, go anywhere, know everything – know everything there is to know and then create more to know.

Our minds are infinite, but we are so bogged down with the humdrum limited horizons of our small and narrow human existence that we miss the wonder whizzing by, it completely evades us.

Our minds are at the epicentre of creation, but we are still in darkness imagining we can’t see without light. We are like janitors who see only the fire exits and emergency lights, looking for the switches to illuminate the whole building. We creep around in semi-darkness feeling our way around for switches on the walls not realising that the switch we need is in our brain. If we understood that we would know we don’t need light, we don’t even need eyes.

We are looking from down the wrong end of the telescope.

One of the hardest things for us to realise is that we are not children. There is something very comforting about the idea of a parent-like protective God that will look after us. But that is from the perspective of our limited separate selves.

As beings “created by God” we have a limited awareness and power, not equal to God’s, and ultimately we can only be responsible to God not to ourselves. This has led to abnegation of individual responsibility which has left us disempowered and demoralised, and unable to meet the challenge of who we are.

We created ourselves. This is all a process of awakening. Sometimes we get glimpses, but all the time we rely upon the senses we created for answers, real understanding eludes us and we are destined to remain at the level of existence that those senses can perceive.

If all you have is a hammer you will see everything as a nail.

We only know what we think we are capable of knowing. Our understanding is limited by our own self-limiting beliefs. And we have got ourselves side-tracked, bogged down in the minutiae of our individual lives. We forget that it is we who have chosen to limit ourselves, and we who call the shots.

One day we will wake up and realise that this has all been a bad dream.

The illusion of the separate self

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The biggest obstruction to realising and becoming who we really are is our notion of the separate self. I am not saying anything new here. For centuries the most enlightened among us have pointed to the illusion of separateness, the cause of all suffering. And yet it is such a powerful illusion.

In evolutionary terms we have travelled a long way from our earliest origins. Perhaps it has taken this long for us to begin to get an inkling of what we could be capable of. Our minds are infinite, but we keep putting the cart before the horse, and limiting our minds to what our brains can register.

We have forgotten who we are. But of course this doesn’t mean anything much unless we realise it, and to realise it would be devastating for our egos. Our egos have got nicely used to the illusion of separateness and all that it entails.

The ego is the main modus operandi. Multitudes of vested interests have been vying for this status quo for thousands of years, and in this illusory state of affairs there is an inertia which makes it highly unlikely that anything will change. Like turkeys voting for Christmas our egos will hardly willingly vote for self-annihilation.

Bridging the gulf

It is the trauma stemming from this basic delusion of separateness that religions have attempted to counter in their attacks on human selfishness and greed. But in trying to solve one problem they have created another: the idea that we are “God’s creation”.

We need to bridge the gulf between ourselves and our notions of God, so that we may come to understand that we are one, and as one have access to everything. We are currently limited by how we use our brains. It is our undeveloped individual consciousness that is the central problem.

We have defined ourselves as limited mortal beings, either created by some greater force, which many call God, or just randomly brought into being by chance and evolution. Either way, what we imagine we are is what we have become. We have not dared to dream of anything greater.

Each of us has the capacity to be omniscient. But that does not mean that any of us will actually realise that potential. We need to find a way to bypass our brains. We could fly but right now we are choosing to crawl.

Why?

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Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we heading? What is the purpose? What is it all for?

Before we can answer questions of meaning and purpose we need first to identify who is doing the thinking. There is a distinction to be made between what we are able to think as individuals and what we are able to know when we access our higher awareness.

Somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten the whole point of life, and because we can’t remember we sometimes imagine that there is no point.

We need to examine the assumption that we can’t possibly know why we are here. We have got ourselves horribly tangled up and confused with this idea of something greater than us. Unable to see what we are in reality doing, we imagine some higher power is in charge, and we increasingly abnegate responsibility for more and more. We limit ourselves to the level of self.

We need to free ourselves from all the excess stuff that pertains to the specific local self. We could start with the “low-hanging fruit”: persistent repetitive thoughts, be they anxieties or just screen saver thoughts. I’m sure you know the kind of stuff I mean, the background noise, the ongoing chatter.

Next we could try letting go of the habit of trying to remember things. Of course we need to know certain stuff, and I’m not trying to deny what it means to be human, nor to do away with the developmental stages of childhood through to adulthood.

This is about differentiating the frontal lobe from other parts of the brain, keeping the frontal lobe cleared and freed up for new thoughts, a kind of gateway into universal consciousness. Leaving the rest of the brain for more routine functioning.

Why shouldn’t we know?

Why do we suppose that everything has to be created by something else, be it an external force, being or deity?

We create ourselves. And I do not just mean at the superficial level of individual personality and attributes. I mean by coming into being we create ourselves. It is a process of emergence, of unfolding. That we are not conscious of the process does not mean to say we are not doing it, and ultimately responsible for it.

Perhaps we should be asking the question: Why shouldn’t we know all there is to know?