Regarding human sentience, the brain is what the body does. The mind is what the brain does. And YOU are what the mind does.
The brain springs into existence because the body grows it. When the brain starts running on all its cylinders, what you end up with is a mind. What your mind gets busy creating is a you.
The last part is what we are interested in here. You are the creation of your mind. It’s what minds do. Don’t take it personally; after all, you know that the first thing the mind did was decide it was special! It made a thinker and it created specialized thinking-about-yourself-thinking called ego. Because this thinking is all it can do, it believes it’s own thoughts are reality. Which they are To It. But none of these things is the essential you, any more than you are your physical possessions. You are not your personal attributes, either. I could tell you the same kind of story about your blood and heart system, but you don’t think you are your blood, do you? No, because the heart pumps blood, it doesn’t think beliefs. The “you” you think you are is only just what the mind is doing, that’s all. If this upsets you, take a walk. (Because really the objection is, “What? I made up all that thinking stuff for nothing?” So it creates some “I’m offended” thoughts and blame them on someone [else].) If you simply don’t understand what I am saying, boot up your computer. See it come alive. Now shut it down. All that stuff the computer was doing is “gone,” not happening, finito. What you were watching was what the computer was DOING, not what the computer IS. It’s just a machine – hardware, metal, and silicone, connected with wires and the whole mess housed in a box and powered by electricity. Whereas the human organic central processing unit is made of gray and white mushy brain cells connected with nerve fibers and carefully housed in a special cocoon-like cranium which is mounted on a body powered by chemical digestion. But when you see either of these computers come on – what they do in action, oh boy!
On the first level there is a gross level of bodily meat and nerve and brain cells. A consciousness manifests within the functioning of this bodily unit. And finally, pure awareness can happen spontaneously or by exploring this consciousness.
Here’s how it works.
With its infinite potential to be anything, the mind starts doing stuff, at first just in response to things. The act of noticing something is the first step to its no longer “being” what it was originally. As soon as it notices something, notices SOMETHING IS *THAT*, then the mind instantly becomes *NOT* THAT. Before, the mind was all that it was, infinite potential. And now it is NOT THAT. “There is a THAT, and I ain’t it. And hey, I’m having an experience; oops, I can’t *be* what I’m *having*, so now there are TWO THATs. And I’m not either one!”
In fairly short order, the mind comes around to deciding what it IS instead of what it isn’t. “I am the thinker!” And this is more of not being – “I am not the not-thinker.”
So this is you. It goes on your whole life simply because that’s what the mind does. It will continue until Shut Down. Unless, unless, well, here is the peculiar thing. One of the things the mind has evolved into doing (infinite potential, remember) is sometimes becoming a YOU that heads into the direction of becoming less, not more, of the YOU it is being. Perhaps it simply noticed it had been creating more “I,” and the more “I” it tried to be, the more trouble it got itself into. Perhaps it merely ran into the notion that being less-I might be more pleasing. Whatever: the mind goes with it; it reverses course and becomes aware of itself being itself. Conscious. Hey, I was wrong, I AM some of those things I was claiming I wasn’t. Hmmm, could I be none of those things I think I am? Can I therefore maybe be even all those things I said I wasn’t? And if I can even ask these questions, is not everything in doubt? And if so, WHO AM I REALLY?
This is where the fear comes in. Some have said this is the ego making a last-ditch effort to stop you from turning it off. But it may be just the unknowingness of not being anything. Ego-fear is a simple survival mechanism which may be easily turned off. Maybe it is not necessary to go through a big project of battling with the ego and working down all its defenses. (This may account for spontaneous awakenings. No one told ’em it would be hard to do, that ego battle. No one told them they couldn’t wake up without twenty years of meditation: so they don’t bother waiting; they just wake up.)
Originally, we were infinite potential, not knowing even that, just the potential of ALL. When somebody wakes up, they often later report that they realize they were all of everything the whole time. I believe even that description is this side of the veil. That is to say, they WERE back at pure potential but then, but then (for some unknown reason), they notice something and blammo, they are something other than ALL. Coming a little further, they notice many things. One of them is the ability to speak, and they say (not from Infinite Potential, but from being very little of an “I”) I AM THAT. They were being Infinite Potential but they are now being just short of that; they are being the “I” that knows it is THAT, but still, being the “I” that is able to say it. A moment before, they were the THAT they refer to, but the THAT was actually even less than a THAT; it was (is) all-that-is, infinite potential, a no-thing. It’s what they were when they started out in life. Which may also be the reason such an I-AM-THAT being “comes back” from revelation; it is being a mind that has a built-in proclivity to notice things. And you know what happens when you notice something. Here you are again!
So there you go. If you become less and less of an identity, you become more and more of the alternative (where you came from) – which, as it turns out, is pretty damn big: All That Is! Infinite Potential! Yikes! And to think, you’ve been looking for yourself!
So where were we? Oh yeah, about not being anything. So once a being is being no-thing, or at least so little of things that it’s just barely worldly enough to operate as a human, it is like pure awareness. It be-s. (Notice that English does not leave room for the word “bes.” You can eat: “He eats.” But you can’t be: “He bes.” Interesting.)
So dig this. The person bes, right? He is not anything, but, say, he looks at a mountain. He’s not Being or Doing anything, right, except being a human being being nothing – except . . . except, all systems are ON. That is, his senses are running, his organic cpu is booted up and functioning in as-a-human-being mode, that is, ready for interaction with things NOT-HIM, or from his point of view (if he had a point of view, but remember, he has not done anything yet, even “notice”), NOT-I. He is receiving information, data is coming in through default pathways and yet his mind has not responded . . . because “his mind” IS the response which may or may not happen due to the influx of information. His brain has aptic structures (such as, his ears connect to brain areas uniquely suited to sorting through signals generated by a human ear), so if sound vibrations strike his ear, it is possible – we may say it is even likely – that signals will begin to pass through the nerve channels to the passive idling brain. It is, we can say, APT to happen. Just as if you let go of an apple, it is apt to fall to the ground.
So there our fellow stands. Light shears from the sun’s surface, travels millions of miles, bounces off an outcrop on the planet Earth, and a minuscule portion of the bouncing light continues across a valley to our friend (our booted-up idle human nobody person) and the light enters the eyes, passing through the cornea, lens, and fluid, and striking the retina (the imperfect organic form of the perfect CCD chip which is in your digital camera). The photon happens to strike precisely in a way to go into a structural part of a rod or cone eye-cell wherein there is nowhere else for it to go, and its energy (the “energy” of its very existence, we could say) sets off a quantum interaction in the cell. (This is the first known area, by the way, where science precisely observes and sees us operating in a quantum way, when quantum bits are triggered by photons in the eye to generate charge potential, and neural cells are apt to create signals when charged, and also pass the potential via a synapse to an adjacent neuron) and a “usual” electrical neuron signal is generated and propagates along the optic nerve. Then another photon, and then another signal, more and more, and soon there is a flow, and the optic nerve begins to flood on towards connection with a brain structure which has its own design, its own aptic structure, and flooded, it accepts the incoming signals, shuffles them around, ignores them as noise or this or that, but finally, at some point, maybe milliseconds, maybe minutes, finally it does what it is structurally most apt to do: it assembles all the signals in a way relative to the pattern of the excited retina, and a theoretic “image” is formed in the cells and neurons of the visual cortex. It has done what humans call “seeing.”
Only, only, nobody has yet seen it, because there is no-one there, remember? Welp, that is about to change, because the brain is an aptic structure too; it is apt to act, do, and think like a human being and so, randomly, it being ready for just about anything a human can be ready for, it experiences the visual cortex’s “I have an image to present,” and the human brain, now starting to “act” or operate, more than simple “idling,” it then accepts the image and POOF BAM – – – MOUNTAIN!
now operating, now Being more than just at-ready-idle, he IS the mountain. He HAS to be. He can’t be anything else; he is being no-thing, cannot be anything. All that is happening from a human point of view is the “MOUNTAIN IS” signal is accepted, registered, and essentially IS that human’s experience. So when he sees a mountain, he IS the mountain, which is all-that-is, because that is what he is seeing, being. Ask him “Who are you?” and if he responds spontaneously (instead of noticing he has been asked a question), he will say, “Mountain.” He isn’t even “here”! Nobody home!
Whatever he perceives or apperceives, he is that. It is his ONLY experience and therefore the totality of his experience. HE IS THAT, but he would say, “IAMTHAT,” indicating the mountain, that being all there is.
Now, when such a being is looking at YOU, he bes YOU. And if you look at him, well, what do you see? You’ll see yourself of course, though you won’t see the “who” that you Think you are; you will see what he sees, what you Really are.
This last should neatly explain bodhisattvas, enlightened teachers, the idea of “transmitting” awakening, and a host of other shifts that one can experience with another. You are seeing yourself through another’s eyes, only you don’t realize it’s you, you think it’s Him, and you go, “Oh man, he’s beautiful!” and he sees what you are doing, and compassion fills his face, and boy, do you feel close to him then!
When you see another who is being you, you experience the very thing you’ve been searching for. You think it’s this spiritual person in front of you. But it’s only you. Him being you. You feel like something is going on, some answers are near. You open up to who you really are and look. You become totally present with the reflection which he is being. You begin to reflect what you are seeing. And what you are seeing is what? What you are seeing is the being you are being.
In physics, they put two mirrors on the end of a ruby and energize the ruby to give off light. The light bounces between the mirrors until so much builds up that it breaks through one end as a laser beam.
When one person is totally present with an awakened being who is being the (other) person, anything can happen. And does.
Suddenly, on awakening, all the “I” melts away and there you are! Trembling with the knowledge that you are Home.
Origins Originally Written in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, 1999