Let’s just start out by blowing your mind and showing you, right off the bat, what’s really being described here.
Have you ever heard of ‘stimulus response’? It’s something that scientists have only discovered in humans. It’s how we learn to call things names. It’s the mechanism behind what “IS” is.
The Tao Te Ching [Verse 1]
The way that becomes a way
is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name
is not the Immortal Name
no-name is the maiden of Heaven and Earth
name is the mother of all things
thus in innocence we see the beginning
in passion we see the end
two different names
for one and the same
the one we call dark
the dark beyond dark
the door to all beginnings
*LaoTzu’s TaoTeChing translated by Red Pine
Saint John of the Cross [Stanzas of the Soul]
On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!– I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!– In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.
In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me, Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.
This light guided me More surely than the light of noonday To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me– A place where none appeared.
Oh, night that guided me, Oh, night more lovely than the dawn, Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved!
Upon my flowery breast, Kept wholly for himself alone, There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him, And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret As I parted his locks; With his gentle hand he wounded my neck And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion; My face I reclined on the Beloved. All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
Buddha [Ananda Sutta: To Ananada]
(On Self, No Self, and Not-self)
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: “Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?”
When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.
“Then is there no self?”
A second time, the Blessed One was silent.
Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.
Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, “Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question by Vacchagotta the wanderer?”
“Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?”
“And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: ‘Does the self I used to have now not exist?'”
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Whatever you may have to do, watch your mind. Also you must have moments of complete inner peace and quiet, when your mind is absolutely still. If you miss it, you miss the entire thing. If you do not, the silence of the mind will dissolve and absorb all else.”
“It has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet, you just find your way between. When you fight, you invite a fight. But when you do not resist, you meet no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.”
“No particular thought can be mind’s natural state, only silence. Not the idea of silence, but silence itself. When the mind is in its natural state, it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience, or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence.”
“To go beyond the mind, you must be silent and quiet. Peace and silence, silence and peace – this is the way beyond. Stop asking questions.”
“These moments of inner quiet will burn out all obstacles without fail. Don’t doubt its efficacy. Try it. Silence is the main factor. In peace and silence you grow. In peace and silence, the skin of the “I” dissolves and the inner and the outer become one.”
“Your hope lies in keeping silent in your mind and quiet in your heart. Realized people are very quiet. You must realize yourself as the immovable behind and beyond the movable, the silent witness of all that happens.”
“What exists in truth is the Self alone. The self is that where there is absolutely no “I” thought. That is called Silence. The Self itself is the world; the Self itself is “I”; the Self itself is God.”
“The inner silence is self-surrender. And that is living without the sense of ego. Solitude is in the mind of humanity. Silence is ever speaking; it is the perennial flow of “language.” It is interrupted by speaking; for words obstruct this mute language. Silence is permanent and benefits the whole of humanity. . . . By silence, eloquence is meant. It is the best language. There is a state when words cease and silence prevails.”
“There is Consciousness along with quietness in the mind; this is exactly the state to be aimed at.”
“In samadhi* there is only the feeling ” I am” and no thoughts. The experience “I am” is being still.” The Self is God. “I am” is God. All that is required to realize the Self is to be still.”
*samadhi is a state of silent absorption in the Self, in God, in Nothingness of Mind itself, in Pure Silence
From the work called The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi, Shambala Dragon Books 1988. http://www.puresilence.org/ramana_maharshi_and_silence.htm
“It has often occurred to me that a seeker after truth has to be silent”.
The Mind cannot be transmitted;
to tacitly understand is transmission.
The Mind can perceive nothing at all,
but nothingness is true perception.
The tally is not the tally;
also, nothing is not nothing.
Do not remain in Illusion City,
Or you’ll mistake the pearl on your forehead;
Be aware, the word “pearl” is only an expedient,
For how can Illusion City have any form?
Plato [Allegory of the Cave]
SOCRATES: Imagine this: People live under the earth in a cavelike dwelling. Stretching a long way up toward the daylight is its entrance, toward which the entire cave is gathered. The people have been in this dwelling since childhood, shackled by the legs and neck. Thus, they stay in the same place so that there is only one thing for them to look that: whatever they encounter in front of their faces. But because they are shackled, they are unable to turn their heads around.
SOCRATES: Some light, of course, is allowed them, namely from a fire that casts its glow toward them from behind them, being above and at some distance. Between the fire and those who are shackled [i.e., behind their backs] there runs a walkway at a certain height. Imagine that a low wall has been built the length of the walkway, like the low curtain that puppeteers put up, over which they show their puppets.
SOCRATES: So now imagine that all along this low wall people are carrying all sorts of things that reach up higher than the wall: statues and other carvings made of stone or wood and many other artifacts that people have made. As you would expect, some are talking to each other [as they walk along] and some are silent.
GLAUCON: This is an unusual picture that you are presenting here, and these are unusual prisoners.
SOCRATES: They are very much like us humans, I [Socrates] responded.
SOCRATES: What do you think? From the beginning people like this have never managed, whether on their own or with the help by others, to see anything besides the shadows that are [continually] projected on the wall opposite them by the glow of the fire.
GLAUCON: How could it be otherwise, since they are forced to keep their heads immobile for their entire lives?
SOCRATES: And what do they see of the things that are being carried along [behind them]? Do they not see simply these [namely the shadows]?
SOCRATES: Now if they were able to say something about what they saw and to talk it over, do you not think that they would regard that which they saw on the wall as beings?
GLAUCON: They would have to.
SOCRATES: And now what if this prison also had an echo reverberating off the wall in front of them[the one that they always and only look at]? Whenever one of the people walking behind those in chains (and carrying the things) would make a sound, do you think the prisoners would imagine that the speaker were anyone other than the shadow passing in front of them?
GLAUCON: Nothing else, by Zeus!
SOCRATES: All in all, I responded, those who were chained would consider nothing besides the shadows of the artifacts as the unhidden.
GLAUCON: That would absolutely have to be
SOCRATES: So now, I replied, watch the process whereby the prisoners are set free from their chains and, along with that, cured of their lack of insight, and likewise consider what kind of lack of insight must be if the following were to happen to those who were chained.
SOCRATES: Whenever any of them was unchained and was forced to stand up suddenly, to turn around, to walk, and to look up toward the light, in each case the person would be able to do this only with pain and because of the flickering brightness would be unable to look at those things whose shadows he previously saw.
SOCRATES: If all this were to happen to the prisoner, what do you think he would say if someone were to inform him that what he saw before were [mere] trifles but that now he was much nearer to beings; and that, as a consequence of now being turned toward what is more in being, he also saw more correctly?
SOCRATES: And if someone were [then] to show him any of the things that were passing by and forced him to answer the question about what it was, don’t you think that he would be a wit’s end and in addition would consider that what he previously saw [with is own eyes] was more unhidden than what was now being shown [to him by someone else].
GLAUCON: Yes, absolutely.
SOCRATES: And if someone even forced him to look into the glare of the fire, would his eyes not hurt him, and would he not then turn away and flee [back] to that which he is capable of looking at? And would he not decide that [what he could see before without any help] was in fact clearer than what was now being shown to him?
SOCRATES: Now, however, if someone, using force, were to pull him [who had been freed from his chains] away from there and to drag him up the cave’s rough and steep ascent and not to let go of him until he had dragged him out into the light of the sun…
SOCRATES: …would not the one who had been dragged like this feel, in the process, pain and rage? And when he got into the sunlight, wouldn’t his eyes be filled with the glare, and wouldn’t he thus be unable to see any of the things that are now revealed to him as the unhidden?
GLAUCON: He would not be able to do that at all, at least not right away.
SOCRATES: It would obviously take some getting accustomed, I think, if it should be a matter of taking into one’s eyes that which is up there outside the cave, in the light of the sun.
SOCRATES: And in this process of acclimatization he would first and most easily be able to look at (1) shadows and after that (2) the images of people and the rest of things as they are reflected in water.
SOCRATES: Later, however, he would be able to view (3) the things themselves [the beings, instead of the dim reflections]. But within the range of such things, he might well contemplate what there is in the heavenly dome, and this dome itself, more easily during the night by looking at the light of the stars and the moon, [more easily, that is to say,] than by looking at the sun and its glare during the day.
SOCRATES: But I think that finally he would be in the condition to look at (4) the sun itself, not just at its reflection whether in water or wherever else it might appear, but at the sun itself, as it is in and of itself and in the place proper to it and to contemplate of what sort it is.
GLAUCON: It would necessarily happen this way.
SOCRATES: And having done all that, by this time he would also be able to gather the following about the sun: (1) that it is that which grants both the seasons and the years; (2) it is that which governs whatever there is in the now visible region of sunlight; and (3) that it is also the cause of all those things that the people dwelling in the cave have before they eyes in some way or other.
GLAUCON: It is obvious that he would get to these things — the sun and whatever stands in its light — after he had gone out beyond those previous things, the merely reflections and shadows.
SOCRATES: And then what? If he again recalled his first dwelling, and the “knowing” that passes as the norm there, and the people with whom he once was chained, don’t you think he would consider himself lucky because of the transformation that had happened and, by contrast, feel sorry for them?
GLAUCON: Very much so.
SOCRATES: However, what if among the people in the previous dwelling place, the cave, certain honors and commendations were established for whomever most clearly catches sight of what passes by and also best remembers which of them normally is brought by first, which one later, and which ones at the same time? And what if there were honors for whoever could most easily foresee which one might come by next?
SOCRATES: Do you think the one who had gotten out of the cave would still envy those within the cave and would want to compete with them who are esteemed and who have power? Or would not he or she much rather wish for the condition that Homer speaks of, namely “to live on the land [above ground] as the paid menial of another destitute peasant”? Wouldn’t he or she prefer to put up with absolutely anythingelse rather than associate with those opinions that hold in the cave and be that kind of human being?
GLAUCON: I think that he would prefer to endure everything rather than be that kind of human being.
SOCRATES: And now, I responded, consider this: If this person who had gotten out of the cave were to go back down again and sit in the same place as before, would he not find in that case, coming suddenly out of the sunlight, that his eyes ere filled with darkness?”
GLAUCON: Yes, very much so.
SOCRATES: Now if once again, along with those who had remained shackled there, the freed person had to engage in the business of asserting and maintaining opinions about the shadows — while his eyes are still weak and before they have readjusted, an adjustment that would require quite a bit of time — would he not then be exposed to ridicule down there? And would they not let him know that he had gone up but only in order to come back down into the cave with his eyes ruined — and thus it certainly does not pay to go up.
SOCRATES: And if they can get hold of this person who takes it in hand to free them from their chains and to lead them up, and if they could kill him, will they not actually kill him?
GLAUCON: They certainly will.
Finding is losing; losing is finding (Luke 17:33).
The poor are rich (Matthew 5:3); the rich are very poor (Mark 10:17-25).
Hunger is satisfaction (Matthew 5:6); satisfaction is emptiness (Luke 12:16-21).
Weeping is bliss; bliss is weeping (Matthew 5:4).
The wise and learned do not understand; mere babes do (Matthew 11:25).
Folly is wisdom; the wise are ignorant (1 Corinthians 1:18-27).
Weakness is strength; strength is weakness (1 Corinthians 1:18-27; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 13:9).
‘Holy Father, […] that they may be one, as we [are]. […] that they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us […] that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one’ (John 17.11 & 21-23).
Back to the Tao Te Ching [Verse 2]
When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
Therefore the sages
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away
Relational Frame Theory
Relational Frame Theory, or RFT, was established to integrate a wide range of psychological phenomena into a cohesive theory of language based on contextual relationships. It proposes that human cognition and communication are founded in our capacity for identifying and creating relational links between stimuli, and made possible by our “arbitrarily applicable relational responding” ability (Cullinan & Vitale, 2009).
Acceptance and Committment Therapy
Built on the foundations of RFT, Acceptance and Committment Therapy (ACT) brings the research into the treatment process. It helps clients learn and practice the six key contributors to psychological flexibility: acceptance, cognitive diffusion, being present, self-as-context, values, and committed action. The ultimate goal is the pursuit of truth – not as an objective or subjective measure, but as a measure of what actully works in your life.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another 3rd wave behavioral approach that centers itself on mindfulness, language, and inquiry. The very point of the dialectic is to help people see that two apparent opposites can be true at the same time. It helps deconstruct many entrenched thought patterns by presenting everything with its opposite as a way to retrain the mind, break down fixed positionalities, and alter behaviors along the way.
If you can see the thread that is being woven here, it’s not exactly what most of us think of as ‘spirituality’. Yet if you can grasp this, all the way, at the core of your being, then you have the power to find the freedom that has always been yours.