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Hearts in Transcendence
Human Consciousness Liberated
By Alexander De Foe
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Alexander De Foe
All rights reserved.
THE MIND ILLUSION
Idealists live in a fool's paradise, but materialists live in a fool's prison.
Reading a book satisfies the mind, but how often does the act of reading fill the soul with awe? Just as the world's attention has turned to an information age, so our attention too, as citizens of the world, has turned from deepening our experience of life to the pursuit of accumulating momentous volumes of information. In modern times, we much too often substitute wisdom with information, communication with texting, self-expression with preoccupation, and faith with expectation. With robot-like precision we are trained at school, in the workplace, and in family life to micro-manage each and every detail of our existence. Our information obsession has triggered most of us to fall for the mind's illusion and to forge an intellectual wall around ourselves, a wall that fortifies the inner heart and prevents its true expression.
Despite how deep, the cold pulse of the over-intellectualization of modern societies can be felt in our hearts, if we dare to look within. It might feel as though a slight discomfort, something out of place, not quite right, or it might manifest as a deep dissatisfaction with life. It presents itself as the realization that we have become disconnected from ourselves and immersed in the intellectual mind; a schema of thoughts that we ourselves have constructed, a schema that only tangentially informs our reality, and often preoccupies us with meaningless notions.
Consider, how often does the act of reading a book enrich one's soul? How often do we read instead to entertain the intellectual mind and fill it with information instead? How often do we listen to the radio as a distraction, rather than allowing the music to touch our souls? Consider talking with friends, attending a seminar, preparing a meal, and each and every other task that we perform throughout life. How often do we perform these tasks mechanically and with a lack of mindfulness and soulfulness?
To pierce the intellectual wall we must begin "focusing the mind not on the appearance of the envelope, but on the meaning of the letter inside it," as philosopher Neil Kramer suggested in his book, 'The Unfoldment.' Too often we can find ourselves caught up in the impressions, ideas, and notions that we hold about the world, instead of setting aside our intellectual understanding of the world for a moment and beginning to live. As we remain in the mind's illusion, we put ourselves at odds with felt life experience.
The prison-like confinements of this wall do not just extend to those who are intellectually-minded. These self-imposed confines on our conscious experience affect all of us. From childhood, schools do not teach children how to build moral character, techniques to foster emotional intelligence, the importance of using their intuition, or means for living a fulfilling life. Schools instead teach children the sciences, mathematics, languages, and the necessary tools to become effective workers who support society. Most of us thus end up living in society's dream, rather than spending some time figuring out our own desires and dreams. This dilemma keeps us trapped in a constant model of thinking, organizing, and evaluating our world rather than reconnecting with what is important in life.
In our information-driven culture, most of us engage with online media, television, newspapers, and magazines that create a model of reality through the power of words, pictures, and symbols, all of which conveniently tell us all about how the world is, and little about our true nature, little about how we are (or who we really are). The mainstream media bombards us with a constant influx of images intended to incite feelings of fear, inadequacy, worry, and confusion. We substitute our true identity for 'brand identity,' losing our essence to the world of things. Switch on a television for just a few minutes and reflect on the images that are broadcast on the screen to recognize this process in action.
As far back as the commencement of schooling, we are encouraged to continue learning, to accumulate more and more senseless information, to pursue the idea that the more we know, the happier we will be in life, whether in a direct fashion (boosting our prospects of finding a job by having a higher caliber of education) or in an indirect manner (suggesting that knowledge somehow equates to happiness). I believe that knowledge that leads to self-examination does lead to happiness in life. However, reflect on the following question for a moment: Does the knowledge that we accumulate throughout schooling contribute to our overall happiness? To answer this question in depth we must give it more than just a few moments of sincere reflection.
Often, our sense of happiness has no relationship to what societal structures have to offer as such, but rather arises from within. Those who have experienced transcendental consciousness states often come in touch with a deeper sense of happiness and peace within, a sense that is not contingent on societal expectations or exterior goals whatsoever! In fact, moments of transcendence illustrate that society's dream of happiness is false, an empty pursuit.
The earliest moments in life in which I experienced self-transcendence can be best described as my sense of the personal self disappearing for a moment. All of the inhibitions, all of the limitations I had, seemed to vanish and it felt as though anything was possible. Any rationally-minded person might argue that this is just a subjective state of experience, and I would not have been able to experience anything more than I was capable of in the first place. However, my experience has shown me that this is not the case. Moments of transcendence do not just help us connect with a feeling of greater potential, these moments in fact empower us to discover more possibilities in life than we had ever believed existed.
Take an example of creative expression. In moments that we pursue creative endeavors such as writing, or drawing, we have the chance to connect with a deeper part of ourselves, a super-conscious force that we have access to when we allow ourselves to forget our personal sense of self, so to speak. The temporal self-construct disappears, and the wellspring of potential beneath now comes into clear sight.
There is a certain reverence that lies beyond the intellectual wall that many accounts of transcendence capture. When we learn to connect with that transpersonal part of ourselves, it becomes much easier to draw upon this innate power and creative potential. For example, consider Elizabeth Gilbert's 'TED Talk,' in which Gilbert mentioned that she could not understand how some people experience 'writer's block' – creative potential seemed unlimited from her vantage point. This is easier to understand when we consider moments of transcendence. Tuning in that no-self state of being brings about a transcendence into a more expanded, and more approachable consciousness state, a state in which possibilities arise in infinite potential. It is in these states that we tend to experience raw creative potential.
To consider my experience of this process, I can reflect back to when I had a deep dislike for school and the Western educational model in general. During high school education in particular, in my attempt to escape mathematics, physics, and chemistry classes, I strived to switch to as many arts, design, and history classes as possible. It is not that I dislike left-brain, logical thinking, but rather that I was using those faculties too much, and I felt that the creative artistic part of my consciousness was being neglected. Later in this book, I will describe how creative and artistic pursuits open our potential to a much broader range of experience, whilst building logical, structured models of the world tends to limit our interaction with life itself.
During Grade 11, when I transferred into an art subject toward the end of semester, I realized it was not going to be as easy as I thought it would. In fact, I had not been very good at drawing at all, as I had not attempted it before. It didn't help that I did not pay attention to any of the classes until the moment that the final two hour examination arrived. When asked to paint an original piece of work, I panicked immediately, and I honestly believed that I was bound to just stand there for the entire two hours with a blank canvas in front of me the entire time. I think the teacher even told me that there is no chance I would pass the exam (or something along those lines) because I never attended the classes. However, something unusual happened at that moment. Something prompted me to pick up the paintbrush, and I found that I stopped panicking and stopped thinking, and I intuitively began painting.
I was quite surprised by the quality of the work I saw beginning to form in front of me, in particular as I had never been that good at drawing or painting in the past. The aspect of this experience that stood out for me is the lack of intellectual engagement throughout those two hours. It felt as though I was not thinking about what I was doing at all, the two hours felt more like 20 minutes at most, and yet, I ended up with one of the highest grades for Art among all of the subjects I was enrolled in, as the result of the work I had somehow produced during that exam. In retrospect, it was as though I was in a trance state or altered state of consciousness during the experience.
This experience showed me that there is a deep-seated source of intelligence and inspiration that rests just outside of what we can come to understand with the intellect alone. Many artists lose themselves in their work, and at that point discover their full potential to paint. That source of potential is transpersonal, it is not born from the constructed, personal self. It extends to a place of soulfulness and super-conscious potential. Such states of transpersonal connection arise not just during artistic and creative expressions, but can be cultivated in all life pursuits. Although the artistic work that I completed in high school was quite simplistic in contrast to the surges of creative genius we often see in our world, I believe that other works of pure creative expression come about from a similar source of inspiration that transcends the intellectual wall. The works of art by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many other famous creators noted throughout history seem to transcend what is humanly possible. We look at those artworks in awe, as they touch a place beyond our rational understanding. Certain artistic works are so majestic that they seem to reach a place of inspiration far beyond possibilities first fathomed.
Despite claims that moments of creative genius are rare and unique occurrences, I suggest here that the states of consciousness that bring about this creative power are accessible to each of us, on an ongoing basis, if we learn how to cultivate these states. The creative genius of da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Monet arose from this same inner wellspring, this same intuitive-creative source within. During schooling we are not taught to fine-tune these intuitive capabilities, and instead we are taught the methodical approaches of how to think, how to write, how to draw, and so on. On other occasions in school I recall that answers to complex mathematical would seem to just arise in my awareness, I could not provide reasoning or proofs, but I could just receive the answer when I quietened my mind enough. I had many telepathic (mind reading and subtle information transfer) experiences such as these long before I developed a professional interest in studying the extended capabilities of the mind. It was not a methodical thinking and problem-solving process that I was using during those moments. Far from it. It felt more like a meditative trancelike state of knowledge acquisition.
One point for clarification that should be noted in this chapter is that I am not against intellectual thought. However, I believe that as a consequence of the information-driven world that we live in, we have become increasingly dependent on knowledge, facts, data-based information, and micromanaging life, and, particularly in the Western world, we have started to forget how to experience life fully, how to reconnect with our intuition and our emotions. Therefore, this book advocates for a balance between the thinking mind, and the emotional and spiritual facets of the human experience. Too many people in our world spend less than 10% of their time deepening their spiritual and emotional experience of life, and most of their time widening their intellectual knowledge, putting their mental commentaries about the world on repeat rather than engaging with life in the here-and-now.
This detrimental over-intellectualization does not just extend to basic tasks in which we retreat into the mind rather than engaging with life. This process is more subtle than that, it is about the constant reduction of core human values to societal constructs, mental ideas, and concepts we find in the external, rather than cultivating our sacred inner experience. For instance, too many people gossip about others rather than connecting with others at the soul level. Too many follow rules to the letter rather than valuing wisdom above doctrine. Too often we interpret rather than feel; analyze rather than experience. These are all symptoms of being out-of-tune with ourselves as we overemphasize just one shade of conscious experience: The intellectual mind.
Earlier on I stated that the intellectual mind just somewhat informs our experience, and more often than not, separates us from direct felt experience. To expand on this point, consider the myriad conflicts that arise in the modern world. Despite our overall intelligence on the rise on a global scale, we can see more incidences of violence, depression, divorce, and conflict also on the rise. These observations affirm that a balance between the intellect mind and the soul is not just preferable, but essential in our world. No matter how smart, how advanced we become, this constructed intelligence cannot substitute our deeper connection with direct felt experience.
Too often we depend on the intellect alone to deliver us meaning, failing to recognize that meaning can exist on a multitude of levels: Spiritual, emotional, intuitive, and metaphorical, for example. Yet, too often we focus on the rational-intellectual understanding that we hold and herald it as the correct, or complete understanding. What is it that gives intellectual experience that status of being correct, whilst emotional spiritual knowing is often considered of a somehow lesser caliber than rationalized knowledge?
Most people see the world through the lens of the intellectual, rather than creating the much needed space to understand how the world can be perceived through several lenses, intellectual knowing being just one facet of perception. The intellectual mind only tangentially informs our reality by filtering out all incoming information through the five senses that does not match our pre-determined schema of the world. The process of what we choose to filter and experience consciously is determined by our worldview and what we expect to perceive. In many ways, the intellectual wall only alerts us to what we wish to see, discarding all of the other data and experience that our consciousness touches. Consider, for example, someone who acts as a racist. He immediately filters out anything that someone of a different race in the room wishes to verbalize or express. He refuses to validate their experience before even hearing it. It is almost as though his intellectual mind cancels out the real and valid experience altogether, substituting it for an alternative worldview.
Experiments in perception help us observe how our intellectual model of the world can cancel out and eliminate entire fragments of information from our awareness (see 'The Invisible Gorilla' experiments, as well as the theories behind the deletion, generalization, and editing of perceptual information in Neuro-Linguistic Programming; NLP). Accounts of transcendent experiences often discuss coming in touch with a much broader experience of life. This makes much sense when we consider that trillions of bits of information and data make up matter around us. We take a slight percentage of this into our perception, making an even smaller percentage of matter true (valid, in our eyes) by validating it with the intellectual mind and allowing it into our field of perception. How much of physical matter do we really perceive with the five senses? Is it 10% of all that exists in front of us? Is it one percent? Or even less?
It is important to consider here the Taoist idea that all matter is in constant motion. The intellectual mind takes the experience of motion and turns life existence into a static image. Like a metaphorical Medusa, the mind freezes potential realities in time and turns them to stone. The aim of effective self-awareness practice is to recognize the importance of motion when working with transcendental states. It's also critical that we recognize how the intellectual wall can be so static, so immovable. Often we term people who are fixed in their beliefs as acting out in an arrogant or stubborn manner because these individuals are no longer receptive to be constant motion of life, instead deciding to fixate on a particular single point of consciousness even if that point is no longer relevant now.
Excerpted from Hearts in Transcendence by Alexander De Foe. Copyright © 2015 Alexander De Foe. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Capturing Moments of Transcendence, 1,
Chapter 1: The Mind Illusion, 13,
Chapter 2: Sublimated Consciousness, 47,
Chapter 3: The Reimagined Self, 85,
Chapter 4: Reclaiming Disavowed Emotions, 115,
Chapter 5: Transformational Mind States, 149,
Chapter 6: Relational Depth, 185,
Chapter 7: Ultimate Freedom, 219,
Chapter 8: Our Higher Mind Potential, 259,