Popular culture is littered with tag lines intended to lead us to enlightenment. “Live in the moment.” “Don’t be attached.” “Meditate.” “Just Breathe.” “You are who you choose to be.” Operating outside a broader understanding of an articulated spirituality, these abstracted ideas become diluted and meaningless. Like signposts in a desert, they point in the right direction but they leave us without any road to travel.

Our new series “Moving Beyond the Meme” will expand on the following abstracted ideas both by offering short blog posts and directing students to our developed book club offerings. 

Up first:  On Thinking

Thinking is important. It is also complex. In order for you to read this sentence several million neurons needed to fire together coherently. A working brain is an important asset. However, it is not all you are.

Thinking is simply a thin layer of activity that functions on the surface level of your existence. In the deeper more expansive regions of yourself, you are connected to the totality of the universe. When we concentrate our energy on controlling the thinking mind, we swirl in the top level of our existence: the thinking level. The goal of truly knowing our most expanded selves is to transcend the thinking mind. We do this by exploring our own consciousness in a state of silence beneath the level of thought.   

Second:  On Choosing Positive Thoughts

I have read a lot about positive thinking these days. Memes and Facebook posts dedicated to this notion of directing our thinking toward growing a positive outlook. While well intended, these images and short posts ignore one very simple truth: Working to choose positive thoughts is a bit like throwing a blanket on a pile of garbage and then pretending it’s not there when your friends come to visit. It’s important to note that how we feel colors our thoughts. False positivity generally confuses both the speaker and the receiver. True positivity comes at the hands of removing our personal stress. When we think and behave from a place of true contentment, that contentment is reflected in our actions and words. 

Third:  On Consciousness

The best way to understand consciousness is to experience it. That is why I offer students the opportunity to learn to meditate in my course, “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity”. The subjective experience of diving deep within themselves offers them the experience of feeling the expansiveness of their truest self in rich and nuanced ways. Consciousness is infinite. It is divine. It is absolute. Within it, all the mysteries of the universe are held. It is simultaneously both empty and full. It flows freely. 

Fourth:  The Relationship between Thinking and Consciousness

Talking about thinking without understanding its relationship to consciousness is like getting in the car without turning it on, pushing down the gas pedal  and never understanding why we don’t seem to get anywhere. 

Thinking is consciousness and it isn’t. And, this seems to be where many of us have gotten terribly confused. Thinking is an aspect of consciousness. When we are connected to the vast well-spring of consciousness that lies at the very core of our being, we are able to connect our individual mind with the universal mind. With that connection, we gain clarity of thinking. The act of thinking is akin to threading the needle of consciousness, enlivening the infinite through the finite.    

Literature that supports this blog is woven throughout the past four years of our book club picks. Some especially strong examples: January 2016, March 2015, December 2014, April 2014 and December 2013.