The future is an ever shifting pageant of shadow puppets that darken as light shines more directly on them.
It seems one of the significant stumbling blocks in both spiritual and practical matters is how we have been conditioned to think “rationally.” We are led to believe that by breaking things down to ideas we label as “facts” that we somehow are engaging in the only sane way of thinking. We are like the blind person in the proverb, who having contact with a small part of any experience, goes on to declare we understand the whole of the pattern and declaring this we are praised for it.
Our mind arose as a part of the same natural process that can be said to have created our spirits as well. Thus the Greek word “psyche” used to mean both spirit and soul. But we do not still posses a natural understanding of mind or a natural understanding of the creative process we refer to as thought. Instead, we have education which creates a consensus and does further the need we have to communicate, but distances us to a degree from the center of awareness that is the true mind. The discipline of Zen uses devices to help us disassociate our awareness (at least for a time) from the “normal” process of thought. It’s from the realization not that this process is bad, but rather that its scope is starkly limited. And it is possible, actually effortless, to return our awareness to that natural state. Referred to in Zen as beginners mind.
It’s the effort to think that is one of the biggest limitations on thought. We learn a system of habits and believe that this is the only way the mind can function appropriately. In fact, you no more need to make your mind think then you need to make your heart beat. And much of how people think ignores broad portions of the way the mind naturally works and thus we have things like nihilism. Thinking as we are taught, it is quite easy to arrive at the conclusion that nothing in life has true meaning and in the context of the “style” of thinking we are taught that conclusion is logical. It is basically true in that very narrow frame of reference. So in going to that extreme not only is the rational thought we have been taught limited, it’s potentially harmful. Much of the social and psychological dis-ease we deal with so much today comes simply from despair. Giving up on understanding the world or the self. They are actually one and the same task and how we have been taught to function doesn’t equip us adequately for that.
Honestly, many people even conclude that they fail at their spiritual practice, largely because they evaluate it from the context of “rational” thought. There is a lot of despair in the communal thought process and thus war, social strife, bigotry and greed are actually quite logical if we are thinking as we were taught. Our strength has limits.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.