The Light Itself

The Light Itself

An Essay on Attainment

Be what is lacking in the World. Create a life worth living.


Mastering our thoughts

Any experience gained in the Work is processed by the Mind. A strong and flexible Mind cements those experiences into easily expressible concepts. The worldview so constructed rewrites itself over time. Spiritual attainment, being emancipation from the Mind, can only be reached by carrying reason to its limit. Failing to do so will lead the Mind to rationalize spiritual experiences locking the practitioner in a mundane view of Reality.

Even though the Mind is the knowledge centre, what is known comes through the senses and the thoughts. We know our family because we see and hear them. Every conversation we have with them builds up that knowledge base; it shapes the way we perceive them and what we think of them. That knowledge acquired by seeing the world around us constitutes Reality. In other words, Reality is only in our Mind. When we see a tree, what we truly see is an image of a tree, in our Mind. We have no way of knowing the tree other than through what our senses tell us. The actual tree, the object that causes the vision when we look at it, cannot be known. This is true for every tree we have ever looked at. This is true for every single thing we have ever looked at. We can experience this phenomenon first-hand right now by looking at the room around us and see it not as walls and furniture, but as an image, devoid of any other concept. Once we can successfully see the world unfiltered by concepts of reason, what happens if we look at our own body? The realization might cause vertigo. Do we even have a body? We have no way of knowing. We can only reliably say that we have an image of a body in our Mind.
The individual is a witness. Our entire life is a series of images in our Mind, the source of which is unknowable. Some elements of truth can be inferred from the parameters of Reality. Space, time and self are filters that aim at simplifying the Universe as perceived by the senses (which are also filters in their own rights). Our brain oversimplifies the Universe into an easily manageable mental representation that favours our survival at a minimal energy cost. We see in three dimensions, because that is all we need to protect ourselves from threats in the physical world. Reality is filter by a relative time because perceiving every moment at once would be too big a task for our simple brain (and even if it was feasible, it would be a distraction in case of an existential threat). The self is filtering in much the same way as the Universe witnesses itself through many eyes.
It becomes clear that there is no Absolute Truth that an individual can know. It naturally follows that no argument has a right side and a wrong side. We convince ourselves that there is such a thing as a right side, our side, in order to comfort of our own worldview. We resist change. The flexible Mind discovers quickly that there is no Absolute Truth, but a myriad of individual truths. The rigid Mind, on another hand, stubbornly camp on its position upholding a flimsy worldview that remain constantly on the verge of collapse. We shun doubt to build a fortress of false confidence. The fear ubiquitous in modern society, its anxiety, comes in part from this. We argue to protect our truth. Yet freedom is in letting go.
That our individual truths are all of equal importance doesn’t absolve us from honing our truth. It is the responsibility of each individual to make sure their truth is based on sound judgment. Fallacies empower us to sharpen our Mind. A fallacy is a deceptive erroneous argument leading to falsehood. Aristotle went to great length in listing fallacies. The most famous one is probably the straw-man argument, which consists of changing the focus of the argument to one that seem related but isn’t. By choosing a focus that is easier to defend, the culprit appears to prove the original argument convincingly. Another one is disproving an argument that lead to a specific conclusion as if it disproved the conclusion itself. Yet another one is pointing to the popularity of an opinion to present it as true. The appeal to authority fallacy is the attempt to prove a statement because an expert said it was true, ignoring or hiding the fact that the expert could be wrong or even lying. Another common one is making the conclusion advanced sound like it is imperative to believe or else all hell breaks loose. Its more or less opposite is appealing to moderation, as if temperance proved the superiority of proposed conclusion. Some redefine words in a deceptive way to facilitate their argumentation. Here is one that is right on topic in our context: the Divine Fallacy advances that an extraordinary fact can only be the result of a divine or supernormal intervention. More on the mundane side of things, the Ad Hominem attempts to prove an argument by attacking the character of the opponent rather than their arguments. The False Dichotomy falsely presents the argument as having only two sides, one being obviously false, in an attempt to convince that the other side is right. As our last example, sometimes we let our own personal doubt about a conclusion entice us to believe it must be false. To sharpen our Mind and hone our individual truth, we can study fallacies and observe how they are used around us, in the news or on the internet. Some are a display of weak argument some are purposely deceitful.

Materialism is the false truth the most deeply rooted in modern society. Metaphysics has birthed many theories about the nature of the universe; materialism is only one of them. And it is not the most parsimonious. If every experience happens in our Mind, isn’t it a stretch to claim the world in which that experience takes place is outside the Mind? It seems like a radical explanation to our shared experience, which is the pinprick on which materialism balances itself today. Anyone is free to subscribe to the theory that there is an outside world made of matter into which we live. The price of that freedom is the intellectual honesty to admit that it is only a theory. How many of us have questioned it? We are content with laying yet another layer of illusion over our Reality. Our entire science is founded on the presupposition of materialism. Science hasn’t been studying the world for a very long time; it has been studying materialism.

Knowledge is acquired by way of experience perceived through five senses and thoughts. Knowledge isn’t acquired by way of reason. Reason is only a small fraction of thoughts which is itself only a small fraction of experience. For example, when we see a square of chocolate, it brings up memories, tastes, maybe values and other thoughts that aren’t based on reason. We remember what chocolate is, we know we like its taste, maybe our values make us decide against eating it. None of these involve reason, only memory, tastes and values. They constitute inferred knowledge or even beliefs. Reason plays a minimal role in the acquisition of knowledge. Reason is an arbiter of knowledge. In other words, it is only a tool.

The prison of certitude is hard to break out of. It mandates putting ourselves in the shoes of someone else, sometimes someone we dislike. But those who can do it are free. It is a sign of mental fortitude to study a point of view we strongly disagree with. Freedom comes to the one who immerses oneself in that social group, without judgment, with fairness and humility, as if one’s own brother or sister was among them. The process can only be fruitful if initiated from a point beyond reason, somewhere within the symbolic world of the Unconscious Mind. As Carl Jung put it “But if the individuation process is made conscious, consciousness must confront the unconscious and a balance between the opposites must be found. As this is not possible through logic, one is dependent on symbols which make the irrational union of opposites possible.” Therefrom comes a genuine understanding of the point of view of others. Therefrom comes the emancipation from the tyranny of reason.
Two opposites being true is a paradox. And a paradox is a wonderful teacher, as the Greek philosopher Zeno understood well. He told the story of Achilles, the fastest runner, who tried to catch a tortoise, the slowest runner. But when he had run half the distance that separated them, the tortoise had made some progress. And when he had run half the new distance that separated them, the tortoise had made more progress again. Achilles never caught up with the tortoise. Therefor the slowest runner ran faster than the fastest runner. Paradoxes teach us that we can think beyond reason even though we often conflate the two. Reason is merely one mode of thoughts. Reason, our modern culture’s fastest runner, will only ever bring us halfway closer to our truth.

Recommended Reading

Pushing the Mind to the limit is too broad a topic to give a complete list of recommended books. The reader eager to know more is encourage to seek scientific books that push the boundaries of science such as Donald D. Hoffman’s “The Case Against Reality”. It will be of great benefit to study any philosophical work that attempts to dismantle the supremacy of materialism such as “An Idea of the World” by Bernardo Kastrup. For an introduction to Advaita Vedanta, “Who Am I” by Sri Ramana Maharshi is a reference.