This morning was a gorgeous, unseasonal April spring morning. There wasn’t a wisp of wind, and the water surrounding my home was perfectly still. I took these two photos. What I love about these pictures is the perfect reflection of the objects on the water.
The photo with the wooden boat stakes is particularly interesting in that it is nearly impossible to tell where the stake ends and the water begins.
This situation reminded me very much of our essence and our soul. Do we know where we begin and forever ends?
That may sounds deep, but it really is not.
This stillness of the water this morning reminded me of the quote “As above, So below”.
What does that mean?
My understanding is that the laws of physics and how things work in the universe (above) is how things work with us too (below).
Both Us and the universe are made up of the same “stuff”.
Our bodies and minds operate the same way the universe operates. Yes – even our mind. While our mind is invisible to the eye, is still a product of the “stuff” in our universe.
As Carl Sagan often said “We are made of Star Stuff”.
The Yoga Sutras were written around 200BCE in Sanskrit. In the very first chapter it is explained that we really are not separate from the Universe/God/The Divine/Pure Consciousness (or whatever your concept is of an entity that is greater than us as individuals). It is said that we can’t see this because we are looking at ourselves through false lenses.
Why did they think this?
It sounds complicated but when it’s explained and thought through, it’s really simple!
- Our minds are comprised of matter
- This matter fluctuates
- These fluctuations are what we perceive as mind chatter (that voice in our head that is talking to us all the time, replaying songs and conversations, worrying, chatting-chatting & CHATTING…)
- These fluctuations and chatter impact our emotions
- If we quiet the mind, we will be able to think clearly and not have our emotions impacted by our thoughts
- A quiet mind brings peace
- Our emotional/mind connection functions like a mirror that is clouded. Others have interpreted the original Sanskrit to liken this to water.
That last bullet point is the most important and off the bat it makes the least sense. But if you stay with me maybe it will make sense to you too.
But what needs to be explained first is the watcher part.
I am blown away by the idea, expressed in the first part of the Yoga Sutras, that we are one with everything in the universe. We are all connected to just one thing. A source of sorts. All major religions incorporate this concept into their teachings.
That part, in and of itself, is not particularly mind blowing. I have always heard it; kind of accepted it, didn’t understand it, and just moved along.
But when I considered this in a different way, I was able to understand the absolute coolness (for lack of a better word) of how this can be.
This is the watcher part:
If we consider the monkey chatter of our mind and understand it to be the organ of our brain doing it’s thing –
Then the other part– the part of us that notices the chatter (which seems like the same part) – is the part of us that is not stuff. If you are just reading this through right now to finish and didn’t grasp the lines here; re-read it.
Another way to put this is that when I notice a song in my head that I didn’t put there, the thing that noticed the song is not the same thing that is playing the song. They can’t be. How can the same thing notice something it didn’t do.
The first time I grasped this concept someone asked me to close my eyes and picture a dog. When they asked if I saw the dog, I said yes. Then they asked who created that image and I answered my mind. Then they asked if your mind created the dog image, who is seeing the dog? And who told the mind to put it there?
The part that notices is the part that sages, philosophers and religion describe as our immortal soul.
Psychoanalysts have use the Freudian construction of the Id, Ego and Superego. While the Supergo in Freud’s theory is sort not meant to be a soul, it is still the watcher. It is the part that hears the chatter of the mind and sees the images that are there.
This Superego has also been referred to as the Superconscious.
If our soul/superconscious is immortal and interpreting the world through our senses; which part is real?
Back to that last bullet point which I will copy here again:
Our emotional/mind connection functions like a mirror that is clouded. Others have interpreted the original Sanskrit to liken this to water.
If water is moving, filled with dirt, impacted by wind – anything that would disturb it; it is not clear. Items reflected off of it will be distorted and not be reflected back as they really are.
Same with a mirror. If you look through it and it is distorted, moving, dirty, or clouded it is difficult to see the original image clearly.
The mind works the same. When it is filled with chatter, static, noise, etc – it does not see clearly.
When we still the mind we will feel peace.
That is fairly simple right? Easy concept but difficult to carry out.
But where does this reflection come in?
The One you are looking for is the One who is looking
If our immortal soul is watching the world and listening to our brain’s chatter through our bodies, unless we clear the mind; we will see distorted images. The mind is the vessel that transmits the image, like the water or the mirror.
On a completely similar note that may not be clear yet, scientists have been studying the theory of a holographic universe for about 25 years now Our Universe a Hologram. Meaning what we see and live in the 3D world is only in our minds.
I do know it sounds ABSOLUTELY CRAZY. I’ve watched at least a dozen documentaries and explanations about this. I understand parts of it for moments but get thrown off by the math and science that is beyond my ability to fully comprehend.
Perhaps it’s true. Think about it.
If as in the Yoga Sutras, our immortal self that is part of everything else can only see ourselves through the mirror of our mind mirror, only one part is real. Because when we look through a mirror we see a duplicate of us. Only one is the original.
If the theory of As Above so Below has any merit, mirrors and water reflections and all that jazz shows two of everything, with the “two” really only being one.
But if the mirror is cloudy or the water is moving, it looks like 2 different objects, but really there is still only one.
If our mind works like everything else in the universe – what we experience when we still our mind is our true self. It is a point at which point we are aligned with all that is and are able to see that what is all around us is only a holograph.
But like my photo of the boat stakes, with that perfect reflection it is difficult to tell where one part begins and the other ends. But only one part is real.
What is looking is safe and secure for all of eternity; because it is eternity. It’s why we feel peace. It is Us.
The moral of this story? Still the mind. Meditate. Be at Peace.
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If anyone who read this far is still interested in learning more, the late philosopher Alan Watts explains this many times in many ways. He has many free podcasts to listen to. One talk in particular relates this concept to the scientific mystery of Quantum Entanglement. There is science behind all this! Religion, philosophy, the field of mental health and science are very much related.
“The biologist will show us very clearly there is no way of definitively separating a human organism from its external environment. The two are a single field of behavior. And then, furthermore, to observe something—either simply by looking at it, or more so by making experiments, by doing science on it—you alter what you’re looking at. You cannot carry out an observation without in some way interfering with what you observe. It is this that we try when we’re watching, say, the habits of birds: to be sure that the birds don’t notice us that we’re watching. To watch something, it must not know you are looking. And, of course, what you ultimately want to do is to be able to watch yourself without knowing that you’re looking. Then you can really catch yourself not on your best behavior and see yourself as you really are. But this can never be done. And likewise, the physicist cannot simultaneously establish the position and the velocity of very minute particles or wavicles. And this is in part because the experiment of observing nuclear behavior alters and affects what you’re looking at. This is one side of it: the inseparability of man and his world, which deflates the myth of the object of observer standing aside and observing a world that is merely mechanical, a thing that operates like a machine out there.”