Knowing and Emptiness

lilyKnowing  is not knowledge. Nor is it opinion or speculation. Opinion and speculation require an object, whereas the faculty of knowing does not require an object. You are probably wondering how this could be possible—how can you know without knowing something?

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word know as a verb, meaning to perceive directly or to have direct cognition of something. But, there is no reference to the word knowing as a faculty. Knowing, like seeing or grasping, seemingly cannot do without an object. Perception and cognition have no meaning without first having something to perceive or of which to be cognizant. And yet, the mystic in you knows that knowing is a faculty—like seeing and hearing. And just as the absence of a visible object or a sound does not negate the eyes and ears, neither does an absence of knowledge negate your ability to know.

What we know has the power to shape our lives. It acts like a vacuum that draws to itself anything and everything that is in alignment with what we accept as real. Understanding knowing as a faculty is the first step in learning how to direct our knowing—how to choose the reality we want to call into being. In order to understand our faculty of knowing, we must first become familiar with it. We must learn what it feels like to know without an object.

This is what Eastern philosophies cryptically refer to as emptiness and no-self.

The logic is simple. By definition, an object is something separate from you. As long as a thing is separate from you, you will never attain it. Because to attain something, you have to become it. This is how the spiritual world works. Nothing is “out there.” But as long as you consider it to be an object, it is out there, and it will be out there forever. To grasp something in the spiritual world, you must first identify its vibration and then recreate that vibration within yourself. You don’t go anywhere; it doesn’t go anywhere. You reach it by becoming it. It’s that simple.

To know without an object is to become a negative potential. You become the vacuum that nature will fill. In metaphysical terms, this is called “undifferentiated potentiality.” But like any object, even undifferentiated potentiality is something external as long as it remains a concept. Have you ever wondered why in esoteric schools so much emphasis is placed on quieting one’s mind? As long as there are thoughts in there, you cannot be that undifferentiated potentiality.

branchOf course, there are prerequisite states of mind that must first be mastered before you can know without an object. First is concentration. You must be able to focus your awareness on one thing and keep it there despite any distractions. Prerequisite to concentration is trust. Unless you can relax into nothingness, fear will keep you attached to external objects just as surely as a person drowning will hang onto a life preserver. Why? Because most people identify with the things that occupy their awareness. Their thoughts, their possessions, their body, their relationships—all these things tell them who they are. Letting go of these externalities can be tantamount to losing one’s self. This can be terrifying.

Until you are confident in your own eternal nature, letting go of the contents of your knowing will be difficult. It will feel like you are going to die. This is why Self-realization is important—you must know who you are. This cannot be intellectualized, however. That’s why simply saying “I am one with God” doesn’t work. Being “one with God” is a concept and is therefore separate from you. As long as it is separate from you, it is impossible to be one with God. In order to be one with God, you must first identify the vibration of God and then recreate that vibration within yourself. You must become God. You must realize the Self.

It can be confusing to be told that you must do this or do that, while at the same time be told to let go. But this is what you must do. Everyone has their highest conception of God, a knowing of God that is based on an experience they have had. This is where you start. Each spiritual experience—the ones that have convinced you that God is real, even if still out there somewhere—carries with it a vibration, a feeling, or what the Sufis call a scent. This is the vibration that you must recreate in yourself if you are to become God.

Now, make no mistake, the average person will think that “becoming God” means that they will be omniscient and omnipotent, that they will actually become the Lord of the Universe. This is a foolish and immature notion. Becoming God in the sense we mean here is to become one with God, to attune our vibration with God’s vibration—the vibration we have been blessed to know in our highest spiritual experiences. We take our mountaintop experience, whatever that may be, and we sit in it. We fill our awareness with it until there is nothing else. And we do this until the ordinary part of us begins to fade away.

Soon, we will surpass our previous mountaintop experience and find new ones. We continue sitting with those, integrating their vibration into our cells and our consciousness until still more descend into our vision and our feeling. We keep doing this until we can create the vibration of God within our being at will, wherever and whenever we want.

eye

What does light look like before it hits something?  It’s dark—invisible.  And yet, it is still radiant.

What is it that you see when you look into a person’s eyes?  What makes you aware that they are seeing you.  When you enter someone’s phone number and they answer but don’t say anything right away, what makes you aware that they are ready to hear you?

In contrast, have you ever been with someone who was pretending to be attentive, but was actually thinking about something else entirely? You could tell, couldn’t  you?  How could you tell?  What was missing that told you they weren’t there? They were looking right at you. The lights were on, but no one was home. Attention is a tricky word. It is something that is not a thing. There are no particles of attention that you can quantify, but you really know when it’s not there. And it is unmistakable when it’s focussed on you.

Speaking of which, have you noticed that usually when someone is focusing their attention on you that they are actually focusing on a concept that they have about you, and they are not really seeing you at all? Doesn’t that feel weird. It makes you want to come up really close and look them squarely in the eyes and say, “HEY!” But you never would, because they would think that you were the one who’s weird. Ironic, isn’t it?

This does raise an interesting question: how much do you see? How much do you actually see when you look at someone or something? Are you seeing what’s really there, or are you looking at a concept in your own mind? Do you know that as far as the physical senses go, you don’t perceive anything out there at all? Perception takes place inside you, registering on your brain screen. The funny thing about the brain screen, however, is that it isn’t a flat surface like the one in the movie theater; it’s holographic, three-dimensional, a virtual reality, if you will. And—now get this—it’s all mixed in with your concepts! Your concepts and your brain screen are one and the same thing! You live in there! You live inside your concepts! This is the way the brain is set up. If you are going to rely on your senses, this is the only way that you are going to experience anything. Your experience will be entirely limited by the ideas that you have about the “world” you live in. But don’t give up hope—there is a way out.  And, it has to do with knowing, the kind of knowing that doesn’t have an object.

First of all, you have to let go of any idea you might have that you will disappear or that the world will disappear if you let go of your concepts. We’re not going to destroy the world, we’re just going to clean it up a bit. It begins, as you might have guessed, with changing your concepts.

Now here is where it gets really interesting. If there is nothing actually out there and it really is all taking place inside you, then you can change what’s out there by changing what’s inside you! In other words, change your concepts and you change what’s “out there.”

I’m talking about knowing. This is not about what you think is real, but rather what—at the bedrock of you—is real. This is the solid ground that you stand on, the substance of your reality. It is the basis of your understanding of the world and your place in it.

These three words—knowing, understanding, and substance—constitute the formula for the Law of Mind Action. They are the three-in-one simultaneity by which everything takes place. Knowing is the thing itself, understanding is the channel through which it manifests, and substance is its manifestation. These three aspects happen simultaneously. We are not talking about a process, but a realization. You cannot get there by separating these aspects out, no more than you can do a dance gracefully by concentrating on its individual steps. As in dancing, the realization of the Law comes through the integration of the individual parts of its process. It’s a place where you arrive, not a thing that you construct one piece at a time. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

There is an indefinable something that transcends the combined steps of any process.  And yet, that something manifests through the structure that the parts create—a house is not a home. It’s the aliveness of a thing that shows up once the structure is built. A body of knowledge is lifeless until life is breathed into it—a philosophy is dead until it is lived.

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4 Responses to Knowing and Emptiness

  1. MaryAnn Fry says:

    Brilliant! Or better yet, radiant.

  2. Lenore says:

    Wonderful Michael. So well written and something I’ve been practicing this very morning. Thank you!

  3. Really a delight to read your blog! Always hits home.

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