Buddhism & Power of Now versus Subjective Reality
Here's a conundrum that has arisen for me in reading on these subjects. I'd be enormously grateful for anybody's thoughts.
1. Many Buddhist texts I've read, and also Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now, emphasize the point that you are not your thinking mind, and that by learning to quiet the thinking mind, you can access a far more spacious plane of consciousness or Being. This plane transcends the separateness of individual people and is, in some way, the primary "stuff" of reality.
2. Meanwhile, subjective reality as I have understood it so far (along with The Secret, and a lot of personal development stuff that doesn't use the term "subjective reality") seems to suggest that thoughts create reality. What you think about, you create more of. Thought is the primary "stuff" of reality.
I've come to hold belief 1. through some success with meditation. I *want* to believe 2. as well, though I'd say I'm not there yet.
But are they just inherently contradictory? Or can they be reconciled? If getting caught up with thinking is somehow a distraction from Being, does that mean you have to reject the idea that thought is the basis of reality? Can you believe in some kind of Zen-like "enlightenment" and also believe in The Secret?
Does this post even make sense?
I think I'll stop there before I confuse myself even more...
Great questions! I'd be interested to hear what others here think. I personally have no idea...
I really don't have anything definitive to offer other than my own personal experience as an elderly soul who has practiced both philosophies for many years. I do meditate at least once each day -- and I am always being delighted by the way my thoughts result in manifestations.
As for your first item -- when meditating, aren't we striving to put ourselves into the present moment -- the now? Even when we are successful in achieving that goal we aren't necessarily shutting down the mind -- it still functions -- it just isn't in the past or the future -- it's more quiet -- but it is in the now. If we have channeled our thinking into the present -- into the now -- perhaps we are in a better "location" for communication with the Universe -- where the Universe can act upon those thoughts we have in the present moment.
Of course, the conundrum here is that when we are putting out thoughts out for the Universe to act upon them, we are told to see the desire as already done. Does that force us into the future and out of the present?
I personally don't feel that way, but it should be interesting to see what others have to say.
It is correct that you are not the mind. You are not your thoughts. When, in deep meditation, you "enter" the gap zone, between thoughts, or otherwise thoughts get very refined, start becoming mere formless energy impulses, and then you suddenly make a quantum jump and transcend even those impulses. Suddenly, you recognize your true Buddha Nature, or Atman, and reach what is termed in Yoga as nirvikalpa samadhi (bliss which arises fro a complete absence of modifications of the mind). You realize the true Self.
Now regarding your second question about The Secret or LoA or so-called "subjective reality", I find almost everybody has oversimplified this so-called "Law" and it has created much erroneous misinterpretation.
First of all, if we really investigate the nature and behavior of the mind, we realize that we don't truly have free-will. In fact, we don't even "own" our thoughts. They simply happen in the mind.
Now, in Vedanta, there are two concepts, known as buddhi and shakti. Buddhi (from which the title Buddha is derived, meaning the Awakened One) means pure intelligence of enlightenment without coloration by duality (good/bad, pleasure/pain etc). Shakti means the energy to create, which is also an attribute of the Self (meaning the Universal Self, as realized in meditation).
The objective of all meditative or devotional traditions, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Zen, Taoist etc is to awaken buddhi. The objective is not to get trapped in trying to realize powers of shakti. If buddhi is first awakened, the discrimination to correctly use of shakti, or power of intent, is automatically awakened. But the reverse is not true. Which is why Christ said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God [meaning awakening to enlightenment]... and all these things shall be added unto you."
A third concept in Advaita is maya, or "that which appears seemingly real". Essentially, the LoA functions in the realm of maya. So, "thoughts creating our reality" is actually quite incorrect, since this so-called "reality" is actually a dream, as understood from the enlightened state (which I described above). Neither this body exists, nor the mind, nor the universe. It is like the Matrix in which stuff exists - all a holographic projection of the Self (meaning the underlying Real substratum beneath all material objects and phenomena).
This is where The Secret or LoA fails. It is focused on desiring and creating, without the necessary discrimination present as a counterbalance to dictate whether what is desired is in one's own highest interest. Instead of accepting the flow of universal life, we seek to change it because of our inherent dissatisfaction with what IS in the universe and our perceived human life. The world or our life is not good or bad, pleasant or painful. We imagine it to be so because of our false understanding of Reality.
If you look at any historical enlightened Master who exhibited "miraculous" powers, you will see that they simply acted out of communion with their divine Self. The powers were never used or displayed to attract things to themselves. They were simply an expression of the universal flow of existence expressed through their bodies, because they had dropped all sense of personal identity or doership.
I am going to try and attempt to answer this very interesting distinction and contradiction. Or so it seems, at first sight. Here goes nothing...
The crucial reason for the confusion here is the lack of vocabulary. Lets expand that first before trying to tackle this issue. Otherwise we will end up getting further tangled into it. What you are pointing out are two entirely different "things", namely, two entirely different realities. I can hear the murmurs already. The logicians among us notice a self-contradictory proposition -- an opposite of a tautology. Bear with me for a bit... Lets refer to the Buddhist reality as Reality (I suppose, giving it the respect it deserves). And lets call the other reality, the one we all know and recognize and have repeatedly proven as "subjective", as simply, reality.
With that in context, you can see that, Reality is something that transcends the separateness of people, ideas, worlds and universes. It transcends it all because it fundamentally precedes it. It is the primary "stuff"! The usual old reality (see below) is related to this, but it isn't the same thing at all.
So what is the relation between Reality and reality? The best way I can say this is by calling reality as an instantiation or a lousy reflection of Reality. When we hang on to things, such as time or materials, we are hanging on to reality... illusionary reflections of the Real deal.
This is a topic of great big metaphysical treatise, and I can hardly do it justice here. :) I did talk about it a couple times in my blog [/shameless plug].
To further clarify this stuff, I can suggest picking up some books. There are very few books out there that talk about both... and actually bother to compare and contrast.
In Buddhism and all other religions, the highest aim is to liberate oneself from the phenomenal world to achieve enlightenment (or become One with God).
Creating reality through thoughts hinders the enlightenment process, because in enlightenment, not one thought or emotion can arise. Meditation achieves this purpose. Once any thought or emotion is created, you create karma which would then bind you to this phenomenal world. This karma can be good or bad, it does not matter.
Zen Buddhist monks aiming for enlightenment often transmit their accumulated good karma, or blessings, to everybody in this world so that they don't have any good karma to hinder their spiritual progress.
In Buddhism, karma is created through one's actions, words and thoughts. Therefore, subjective reality doesn't contradict Buddhist theories at all.
Compassion is an emotion. That is why Guan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, is reborn many times in this world to save human beings from suffering.
I think Jesus Christ may also have been born due to his compassion.
They're not opposites.
They're not opposites. This is my current model of reality:
There exists an entity called God. God is pure thought. Imagine closing your eyes, completely disconnecting all of your senses, and all that remains is your ability to think. That's kind of what God is like.
So God gets bored one day, being all alone with his thoughts, and decides to try something new. He begins creating a reality in his mind. He imagines the building blocks that it's going to be made up of (energy and matter), and decides laws to govern how they work. He creates a universe within that framework, and he finds a way to let it run on autopilot in his mind.
God gets excited at his marvelous creation. He decides he wants to experience it first-hand. He finds a way to split himself up into many many pieces, each pure thought. Each human being is one of those pieces. God incarnate into an imagined reality. All for the purpose of experiencing something less boring than pure thought.
God, in effect, is both the platform of Life, and all of Life.
Why do our thoughts influence reality in this model? Probably because it's been designed that way. God wanted to make the experience more interesting.
What is enlightenment all about then? Man becoming aware that he is God. Or better put, God remembering that he is God.
Enlightenment and the Law of Attraction are not opposites. Enlightenment is full connection to God. The LoA thrives on that same thing. The more connected you are to God, the better results you will obtain through the LoA. Most thoughts are in fact resistance to your natural state of connection. The LoA does not rely on your automatic thoughts for its effects. You do not need to hear thoughts articulated within your mind for them to have effect.
Woohoo! I've just become consciously congruent about this. Thanks for posting the question. :)
here is my understanding of things... No you dont have to reject one to embrace the other. they may appear to be contradictory at first, however looking closer they are in fact fully compatible and complimenting of one another.
the reason why we must quiet our mind IS because thoughts create reality. if we have a bunch of thoughts flying around and we are not aware of what half of them are, we will be experiencing 'automated reality', which will be a reality based on these, often negative, thoughts. as we learn to still the mind and get rid of the unnecessary noise, we create a clean slate on which to create our desired reality, consciously.
it could be compared to being a windshield wiper: if the windshield is full of bugs, you will have to clean it in order to see the road clearly. :)
Meditate further. Be patient. When you reach a point where the lesser state of communication cease to exist, it will begin to make sense.
Books can only inspire, true knowledge comes from practice.
Thanks, Reyv ----
Thank you again.
I'm thrilled by the detail and usefulness of all these answers to my original question: thank you. I'll try to post again soon if I have anything more to contribute myself, but for now I just want to turn all these posts around in my head for a while.
Excellent thread. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to present your views and thoughts. :)
This is a great thread!!
It's like each post is a condensed version of one of my favorite books.
I also believe that Zen enlightenment and LoA are mutually supportive.
I believe enlightenment is a goal in which the ego is gradually reduced until it is used for only the most basic functions - eating, cleaning, working, etc. This allows the 'Watcher' or higher self, to exist more presently.
LoA, on the other hand, is a system or methodology for drawing people, things and experiences to you. You do not need to be seeking enlightenment for the LoA to work.
I think the irony is that the closer you get to enlightenment, the stronger your LoA methodology becomes - but the less likely you are to use it for material purposes.
But it can, and we do, use it as a distraction from being. As Tolle says, when the mind quiets down there is more space available for the rest of the being to come through. The problem is we all go bonkers when that unfamiliar part of self comes through and we either shut down the space or fill it with constant thought and images.
Thoughts creating reality are not part of SR as I have seen it defined. (It is part of LoA though.) Beliefs are part of SR and are deeper, more unmoveable truths that we feel make up our reality. I described it to someone today like this: Beliefs are the deep undercurrents of the ocean and thoughts are the quick moving and fast changing waves on the surface. The ocean flows where the undercurrents take it even though the waves may be flowing in the opposite direction on top.
So 'thoughts' are a result, and not a cause? I'm not sure if I can accept that.
It is conceivable that thoughts are a result, but aren't results the cause of some next result?
My next question would be: If thoughts only reflect what is underneath, how can we change what's underneath? A big part of the LoA methodology is to discriminate where and what thought is expended upon.
wow this thread rocks! I loved these quotes:
"What is enlightenment all about then? Man becoming aware that he is God. Or better put, God remembering that he is God."
"I think the irony is that the closer you get to enlightenment, the stronger your LoA methodology becomes - but the less likely you are to use it for material purposes."
I am a beginning meditator and this thread has definitely inspired me to keep with it!
In the second book it is said that concepts like "The Power of Now" are great, but they are incomplete and can be virtually meaningless unless understood within a much larger context. That is exactly how I felt when I read the book.
Here's a simplified way of thinking about it. What if each person needs to learn a certain number of spiritual lessons before they move up to the next level of enlightenment. For example, lets say that you need to learn 20 lessons before you reach the next level. Well, maybe Tolle learned 19 lessons in his life and was stuck there for a LONG time and his life sucked and he wasn't happy until that one day when he learned lesson #20 which for him was "The Power of Now", or living in the present moment. Because that was the single lesson that brought him from a lower level to a higher level, he thought that THIS IS THE ULTIMATE LESSON! and he felt passionate about writing a book on nothing but "The Power of Now". For other people , however, they might read that book when they are on lesson #12 and even though living in the now takes them to #13, they don't experience the next level of enlightenment as someone else, because they still have 7 lessons to go.
For them, they might be at lesson #19, still confused, unhappy etc. and then they stumble onto something like "The Law of Attraction" or "The Golden Rule" or "Positive Thinking" which was the missing lesson for them, and that lesson along with the other 19 takes them to a new level.
Anyway, my point is that I believe "The Power of Now" to be just one lesson, incomplete without all the others. It is a good and powerful lesson to learn, but it's like learning a single technique in a martial art. You can't just go around doing an upper cut all the time, but learning to upper cut might be valuable.
From what I've found, it's best to study many different texts on a subject, especially something like Spirituality and to look for similarities, not the differences. Just because Eckhart Tolle says one thing, and another book says another, doesn't mean that one has to be totally discredited. Maybe 99% of what Eckhart writes is good, except that one sentence you found to be a contradiction. Or maybe he's correct but the other book is incorrect on that one point.
Ultimately, just keep looking at similarities and you'll find your way. Listen to your intuition.
I used to be stuck like this with nutrition. Every book I read seemed to contradict the previous one. I liked what one author was writing but then I didn't like what he had to say about one thing for example. Then I liked what another author was saying but he contradicted the first one in certain spots etc. Ultimately I just started looking at commonalities. Like for example, all the books I've read all say that drinking 6-8 glasses of water is better for you than drinking coffee, tea, pop, etc. so while I figure out the rest of the commonalities, I'll focus on drinking water because they all agree on that :)
So basically, the more conscious you are, the more easily your thoughts will manifest, because your mind is quieter, so the message is more clear. In this way, the mind is what Eckhart Tolle says, A TOOL, to be put down when you are done using it, otherwise is doesn't work.
I've taken on the idea that it's not so much the thoughts that create reality. That the thoughts are sign posts to feelings and internal states, a labeling. I've felt that LoA as an experience when I've been totally persent. I'd look around and not really have thoughts but awareness that the experience of the physical world is living through me as being me in the universal sense. The boundary of me/other or inner/outer gets blended and everything just IS exactly perfectly unfolding.
So I'd say your two points are actually the same thing. Although I say that by qualifying "thoughts create reality" as your feelings are your experience. Which is both what Buddhists say and IM says, I hope. Like IM is really, in my ideas, a way to get more aligned with the natural way of being such that your thoughts are more conhernt as a reflection of being more at peace and less ego driven internally and the universe seems to respond by showing you more refections of your internal state. I suppose the IM stuff helps rein in the thoughts to produce the internal states that get great vibes going.
So in other words... if you can only focus on positive... then in the end... that is where you will be anyway. Same Destination... Different Paths. read on...
When a person is in true Appreciation/Joy/Love level... then they can feel the joy in eating a fresh salad. They can feel the great joy in doing a very mundane thing like washing your dishes or cleaning your home. You get there with practice and as you change ... so is your reality. *Its always an inside job*.
Its not very hard to change... but it does take practice and diligence.
EDIT: I reread my post again... It may be a bit confusing.. here it is more clearly and briefly:
1. Cease thought like in Meditation and you let your dominant well being flow.
2. Ceasing thought also ceases negative thought. This is why you feel good.
3. Instead if you only thought positive good feeling thoughts... you would feel great.
4. The Universe says, "Here is an incentive... you are created in my image. You have my power. Your thought is creative... go forth and create your life deliberately".
5. To accomplish point 4. you must feel Good by thinking good feeling thoughts (like having a million bucks?) thereby connecting you to your well being................ which by the way meditation also does.
Right now we operate with just a little bit of consciousness in the field of manifestation. We are birthing more consciousness into this process. I guess the first thing for one to consider then is: has consciousness be mistaken to be the mind?
That's why I don't understand why people who believe that reality is subjective promote I-M as a personal development tool. :confused:
I-M is a personal stagnation tool to those who use it as one.
I-M is a personal destruction tool to those who ise it as one.
It's your thoughts creating your reality.
It's you discovering a hammer and either using it to hurt yourself and other people,
ignoring it because you feel unworthy, unfit or not wanting to change yourself and other people,
or to construct something of value to you and other people.
At this moment in time I simply can't express and explain I-M / the power of thought in a more simpler and understandable way than this.
Consciousness AND Law of Attraction
Here's how I see it. It's a melding of both perspectives.
Consciousness is consciousness, that vastness which we cannot explain in words. Subjective reality/law of attraction/thoughts held in mind produce after their kind fits in as a filter of consciousness.
Consciousness/God/Spirit is always there and all there is and our thoughts and perception filter how it is expressed.
The Law of Attraction is helpful because it helps us to attract what we want rather than what we don't. We shift our thoughts from what we don't want to what we do want so that our filter on consciousness changes.
However, if your objective is to manifest pure Spirit/Consciousness/God here on earth as the great mystics did (Buddha, Jesus), you get all thought, all filters out of the way.
This is where the practice of meditation and being in the now come in.
I used to see them as opposite too and felt that I only wanted to activate the law of attraction. I didn't want to be some airy, fairy mystic walking around on earth penniless with a bunch of followers. This was my idea of God on earth, but what if God is infinite supply, radiant health, unconditional love as He is described in many scriptures (not just Christian). It would mean that me manifesting Spirit on earth (enlightenment) would manifest all of those things. That would also explain a lot of the "miracles" that are documented. It's just pure Spirit in full expression.
The Secret, I-M and this entire site is based on this assumption.
What makes you think that your thoughts create your reality?
1) Nothing makes me, I choose to.
2) My thoughts make me think that my thoughts create my reality. There is nothing else that has the power to make me believe this way. I choose to align with this belief because I witness it happening day after day to myself and others in all the ways I described earlier.
3) Are you saying that reality creates your thoughts? Then where do emotions derive from? I hear reports of people experiencing hatred, anger, jealousy and anxiety to name a few, therefore the emotions are part of reality. (objectively) Then why have I never experienced these emotions? Is it not because reality cannot make me experience them? Is it not because I choose not to think thoughts that cause these emotions to appear in reality? (subjectively)
4) In my reality my thoughts create my reality. In your reality this may not be the case. How would I know if your reality works the same way as mine does? Maybe in my next life I'm in a reality filled with pokemon and all I know is that I gotta catch em all.
Thank you for answering. Glad you gave your own opinion instead of quoting other people or books. ;)
IMO, thoughts can only create things on condition that time is "real".
If everything in this material world (incl. time) is illusion ("maya"), thoughts cannot create anything, because that implies that time is real: first you have a thought, then it materializes.
Everything that happens now is a predetermined illusion (at least in my subjective reality model ;) ).
Ok, so you want to add time into the equation, or more specifically, that time is an illusion and does not exist. No problem, this doesn't prevent you from believing in the power of thought or I-M. Here's the secret. *drumroll*
It's not about the manifestations. It's about the mind-set.
The mind-set is what you want to have and the manifestations are just sugar coating. Not the other way around. I imagine you agree that the mind-set is in the present. Then focus on that alone if you wish. The manifestations IMO are synchronicities appearing in incalculable frequencies of future nows, that reinforce and perpetuate the mind-set (which is primary). I hope that made sense. :) Why are they manifesting irregurarly? I do not know for certain, but I imagine it's the magnitude of the intention that affects the delay of the manifestation. Some may say there are more variables.
But you still want to know the answer to why there are delays. Here's one alternative answer: Everything is in delay. Even a thought of yours is not instant. It has delays. This view is congruent with the notion that everything vibrates, nothing is still. I'm not overly satisfied with the answer I could find to this question of yours, but it's the best I could present for now.
It's important to consciously decide between the mind-sets of either prosperity, mediocrity/complacency or poverty. Prosperity is not about the "things" and poverty is not about the lack of "things". I think the mind-set itself has so much more power to create great emotions, than the mere "things" have the potential of creating. I want to experience positive emotions and thoughts, therefore I make it so. This is another reason why I find the mind primary and manifestations secondary.
see experiments below
From Form to Formlessness
Form = objective world
Formless = non-object or subjective
scroll down to the experiments dialogs read slowly and do them yourself as you read.
I love the idea that we're all one and that collectively we're all God together. That is relly inspiring, especially when the world is such a mess. But it isn't a mess at all.
It's just all of us having a reality experience.
My Mum died recently and to see her body lying there I knew it was just a vessel for her part of God to have 'that' experience.
It was sad, but I know the essence that was inside my Mum's body for 76 years, is still alive, somewhere and I'll get to connect with it again some day.
She's still living, just not how I think, didn't Enstein say something about energy can neither be created or destroyed?
Most of our thoughts, just get in the way of our true purpose, to ultimately return to the source, that's all life is, a journey of enlightenment.
Cool and Kooky:D
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