IMAGES OF THE MIND: WHEN WE ARE NOT WHO WE BELIEVE OURSELVES TO BE
If there is one ‘Absolute’ Principle that I believe in it is this – That nothing is Absolute. I find that the moment we overly identify with one path, understanding, view, goal, principle, or self-image, we begin to block out many other possibilities. This is not to say we shouldn’t have any of that stuff, but rather that we shouldn’t get tied down into it and be open to other possibilities as being equally valid.
To some extent, trying to find a definition of something (Path, Self, Spirit, anything) that is fixed and stable is part of the way we’re wired. Unpredictability, facing the unknown, dancing with the Mystery – wasn’t something that served us from a evolutionary perspective. We didn’t know if the thing in the shadows was a friend, a friendly pup, an enemy, or a hungry sabertooth. Exploring that space of ‘not knowing’, the primordial Shadow – whilst it is something more and more of us are beginning to cherish now – was not always seen as the ideal. It still isn’t, in many spaces.
The human mind-brain is excellent in creating a fixed view of yourself or your connection with Spirit, along with a framework of perception that reinforces that view. We call this a confirmation bias, where we see what we expect to see. Conversely, when that view is changed or challenged, we experience cognitive dissonance. This applies to every facet of our lives, including the paths we walk as part of our Spiritual Journeys.
The flip-side of this is that our brains are neuroplastic, they have the ability to rewire themselves at any age. And so we always have the choice to change the neural pathways that have become fixed. In my other life as a motivational speaker, I view this concept as a powerfully liberating one. I’ve seen many eyes light up in the recognition that they can change the way they think, the way they perceive, they way they fundamentally exist in relationship to the rest of the world. There is no reason why that should not apply in spiritual discourse.
We don’t always choose to use this ability to re-wire, to break away from a more fixed idea of self, Path, Spirit, anything. We tend to hold onto what we think we know as – sooner or later – it becomes something that gives us a sense of stability, consistency and predictability. Those evolutionary predispositions come back in, I guess.
In the spiritual context – yes, it’s easy to apply this as a critique to those who believe in the more institutionalized, organized form of religion with a more ‘fixed’ understanding of knowledge. But it equally applies to those who are trying to chart new pathways, breaking out of that paradigm and into something new.
I’ve seen it with myself as well – so, I’m not speaking from a ‘holier-than-thou’ perspective. For some context – right now, the Path that I see myself on is a Formless One. But even in describing and expounding on that journey, I put certain things into a form, structure and give it a shape. Intellectually, at the level of the mind, it might ‘make sense’ . I might attach to that form, and invest emotions into it, and build that as the basis of some sense of security.
(And – we all do this, in so many parts of our lives – it’s the way we simplify information so we don’t need to expend energy thinking about everything all of the time.)
But thankfully there are other parts to my being, other energy centers that hold their sacred wisdom — very clearly but the rest of me knows that there is more to the picture. And even if I unwisely ignore that wisdom, the Universe has a way of making sure that I step back from the mind and to take those messages seriously! The Uranus/Pluto square-dance, beginning in 2012 and ending next month, bring the necessity of this reflexive self-awareness to the collective in powerful ways.
In other words, I am constantly guided to keep walking in a way that engages all of my being, and not just one part of it. In a way that looks past the mental constructs and illusions of self that the mind – through any act of intense self-identification – can produce. And I know others are guided to do the same.
Especially in an age where so many spiritual communities are built in virtual lands, the temptation to slip purely into one’s head-space is present. We are moved by, enraged by, motivated and even depressed by things that we see as a virtual representation of another person, and our perception of it. In some ways, as we interact in hyperspace, we also project an (often idealized) version of ourselves – a version of self that we may latch upon, become attached to and become emotionally invested in. Sometimes it’s a nice image, sometimes it’s hurtful – either way – it’s not you, but a representation that may or may not be accurate.
It might be the Venus-in-Aries shift (earlier today) talking here, but I do feel that I/you/we need a collective reminder to get out of that headspace. Get physical. Get connected with something material, tangible. To hug a tree, to hold a friendly animal. To meet people, to shake their hands and share a physical space with them. To witness others, and in the process, ourselves.
Do we interact the same way as we would online? Are we the same person in the flesh as we are as a virtual representation? Does the image we have of ourselves match up to the people we are in the flesh? Do we embody the spiritual philosophies that we hold so near and dear to ourselves as we engage within supposedly ‘mundane’ reality?
Image: Mirror Sphere.jpg – By Arne Groh (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons