Category Archives: Thoughts

Substance and matter

The universe is considered to be the most vast and expandable thing that we can imagine. But does the universe really exist the way we perceive and intellectually grasp it, or do we only think it exists perceived as a universe by the limited and conditioned human mind? If there would not be living beings gifted with intelligence enabling them to physically observe things and reflect about those things, would there actually be a universe at all?

The universe that we observe through our senses is an individual subject defined within the limitations of the perceptive capacaties of the human mind. Of course, to have a subjective universe observed by someone, there must be an objective universe or substance too from which the observed and the observer are derived. This objective – and therefore non-changing – universe or substance cannot be grasped by the human intellect because in contrary to the empirical reality of the universe which we pretend to know, it is rather a metaphysical reality.

Unlike the subjective universe, which is created in the human mind, the underlying objective universe or substance cannot be measured within the dimensions of time and space and therefore is non-changing and within human definitions even non-existable.

The reality imagined by the human mind is not only limited to the measurements of the self-defined dimensions time and space, it is also limited to its own intellectual capacities combined with the limitations of the senses. As a matter of fact the subjective universe as we humans know it, exists only in that degree in which it subsists in our consciousness.

Our consciousness on its turn can only exist and operate within the limits of time, space and causality. The subjective universe which is created within our consciousness therefore is built exactly on this impermanent foundation: time, space and causality.

So if you have a closer look at it, it could be that the universe as we know it, is nothing but a figurative representation of the objective universe or substance conceived by the categories of our consciousness and intellect. An objective universe or substance which is unknowable to the conditioned human mind.

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Ahamkara – Maker of Illusions

Ahamkara is a sankrit term consisting of the words aham and kara. Aham means ‘I’ and kara is derived from the verb root ‘kr.’ meaning ‘to make’. Ahamkara is considered to be the identification and attachment to the ego.

Most of the times the human mind is in the state of ahamkara and therefore in a state of subjective illusion. In this state it is only possible to define things or concepts in relation to other things or concepts. With other words, the ahamkara creates a state of illusion in which reality is obscured. Nevertheless, through the subjectivity of the ahamkara the things and concepts created in the mind are taken for reality.

Moreover, the ahamkara through its subjectivity makes us believe that the ego is our true self. Even throughout western philosophy mostly intelligence is identified with the true nature of humans. But is that really so since even intelligence in its essence is based on the contrast of subject and object? The mind without doubt plays an important role in the formation of what we consider to be our individuality. Nevertheless, this on intelligence based individuality has the deceptive aspect of establishing itself as true nature of a person.

Besides the intellect in every human there is a knowing subject slumbering deep inside. It does not show any activities and therefore is unlike the intellect most of the time even not noticed. But it is this knowing subject that knows that we think. It is this knowing subject that knows that we dream and its this knowing that eventually makes us wakeup during a nightmare.

Any human being experiences three states of being: being awake, dream state, and dreamless sleep. During the first two states the mind with its intellect plays its known role of experiencing things out of the perspective of its own-created individuality existing in our thoughts. But what about the third state, when a person is in deep dreamless sleep? At that time when the contrast of subject and object is destroyed, where is the mind with its intellect, where is the ahamkara, where is the I? It is in the state of dreamless sleep that the difference between the intellect and the knowing subject, that is persisting without change through all the three different stages, becomes very clear.

To actually understand our true nature covered and hidden by the illusory nature created by the ahamkara it would be necessary to gain an understanding of this state of dreamless sleep. A knowledge of the state where the illusory substance of empirical reality, that is based on the contrast of subject and object, is not existing.

Unfortunately due to the limitations of the mind and its intellect it is near to impossible to grasp an understanding of the dreamless state. The horizon of the mind and its intellect is limited to all the ideas, concepts and definitions derived from the reality experienced through the limitation of our senses and our mind and its intelligence, which is an endless circle of limited and deceptive conceptions.

Our inner nature is like a giant underground maze in which only few parts are illuminated by lights. The brightest light is our mind which makes us believe that the true nature is to be found within the mind. On the contrary, the knowing subject in us is the maze itself. It includes as well the illuminated parts as the unilluminated parts of the maze and therefore is unknowable in its entirety.

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Fatal Ideas of the Mind

Philosophers of several traditions often made the attempt to kill God. But what implications has the concept of God being pure presence and actually not being some person or substance that can be killed?

In case God would be pure presence it would be certainly a very bad idea to develop, through the concept of the ego, a feeling of self-awareness. It can only create unhappiness. If God would be pure presence, consequently mankind – like everything else – is a part of God. So developing an illusion of self-awareness in that case could be compared with cutting off certain parts of your own body. Some act of self-mutilation, which potentially could turn life into a permanent source of misery and unhappiness.

For a huge part people turn unhappy through thoughts being developed by the conscious mind. Because of the ego it is expected that something big has to happen in life. This something that has to happen often can be reduced to the creation of the feeling – or shall I say illusion? – of being better off than their direct environment. Humans often try to express and confirm this desire by status symbols. The big expensive car on the driveway should tell the neighbor: ‘hey dude, I have achieved more in life than you did’.

Unfortunately these ‘factors of success’ are nothing but transient material things. If you remove them all, there is only emptiness, dull empty life. It is the loneliness of this emptiness people are afraid of.

But the darkness created by the ego is actually much bigger and much more harmful. The competition initiated by the ego is going on everywhere. People try to identify themselves by outdoing others. Culture and society teach people to be this way: competitive. The ambition taught by the culture, in which we are growing up, is one of the root causes of all violence and inhumanity in this world.

Ego is nothing but an idea. When we are born we are given a name. People start calling us by this name. We start to identify with this name. The beginning of ego, a non-existential substitute for the real self that is unknown to us. Ego, just like our name, is also an idea.

The ego creates an impression to the individual that it is an unfinished product. Unfortunately it is a mechanism of the ego to attempt constructing a complete product by adding – empty – material phenomena. A process that enlarges the emptiness the ego is actually trying to escape from.

The ironical thing is that in the perspective of God being pure presence, it is actually the ego, producing all the emptiness in its attempts to finish the product of itself, is the real factor preventing the individual from becoming a finished product: the ego preventing the unknown – the real self – of becoming known.

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Emptiness – The Potential Danger of Freedom

Monotheistic religions are often based on the dogma that God created the world and mankind. This is quite a totalitarian view. If mankind would be designed with a purpose by a God, it would mean that somewhere out there is some kind of conscious super-being who is in control of all he has created. A giant master of puppets. Consequently it would also mean than nothing can be bad or good because mankind would be nothing but a puppet whose strings are being pulled. There would not be any sins that can be repented, because those sins could only be initiated by the Maker himself. Mankind would not be responsible since it only carries out orders and instructions from above.

If there is God being the creator there is no freedom and responsibility since the maker of everything is in charge. Existence then is rather reduced to being one of Gods toys. There actually could not even be a heaven and hell since it would be utterly unfair that the maker would send some of his disciples to hell and some to heaven on base of deeds that he has initiated with his godly will.

But what if there really is not such a God, no Maker? Nothing at all could be created. It would mean the universe was and will always be there. Mankind would be free. At least free from God his dictatorship. Without God there is no – by religion dominated – moral system. Either God exists or there is freedom.

But this kind of freedom actually could become pretty dangerous, which after all is the reason why religion was invented and institutions like society and culture were created. Just imagine every individual would be licensed to live according his individual fantasies…

Limitless freedom also often leads to emptiness by constraining the individual of having a purpose, of having roots. Emptiness can drive people insane.

Maybe it is the danger of the intellectual capacity of mankind: it can either create lies and those lies being repeated enough after some time become consoling truths. Or it can destroy those so called truths through its reasoning capacities. In that case only meaningless and emptiness is all that is left.

So in both ways if mankind allows the intellectual capacity of its mind play its games, life is robbed of its significance: with God it is a puppet, without God it is a temporary phenomenon. With God mankind is on a stairway to an imaginary heaven, or on a road to an imaginary hell, without God mankind is on a road to nowhere.

In this nowhere of transience – or call it existentialism – the danger of emptiness and subsequent insanity is included. One of the main reason mankind always looked for the mysterious Sugarland Country – the Life After, promised by most religions in return for obedience to their rules and restrictions in this life time.

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Kupamanduka – The Frog in the Well

Kupamanduka is a Sanskrit word that literally translated means frog in the well. It used as an expression to define a person having a restricted and isolated view on the world. A frog living in a well, considering the well as all there is in the world.

But aren’t we in some way all kupamandukas? We maybe do not live in a well, but the dimensions time and space can be seen as our well. What we experience today is the life in the well. Everything else are stories, memories, hopes, plans, ambitions, etc.

Our personal well is limited by the words and expressions we know. The vocabulary, the opinions and the convictions, provided by the background and society we are living in, have built the walls of the well.

Of course it is possible to extend the well by meeting other kupamandukas or by exploring other wells. But still there always will be walls shaping a well. For the kupamanduka, that we all are, it is impossible to break through the walls. What is there behind the horizon of life simply cannot be grasped by the kupamanduka.

It is the fate – or should I say doom – of the kupamanduka that the possibility of jumping out of the well one day will always remain nothing but an illusion.

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The Human Brain

Which kind of reality do humans actually perceive? Is it a reality as it is, or is it a reality, which has been directed by our brain functionality that is shown to us?

Often it is assumed that the brain is permanently active. But is that really so? Experiments in the past have shown that the human brain rather works in cycled time intervals. This has a huge influence on the way the world is perceived. For example, if the same tune is sent out twice within a very short time interval the human brain will perceive it as only one tune. The same way the human brain acts as some kind of film director when seeing things. Multiple and successive sight impressions caught in a certain timeframe will be captured as a single composed image by the human brain.

Those examples show us that because of this functionality a human being can perceive the phenomena around him only in a distorted and selective way. It also shows us that the brain is not permanently active but rather reacts in intervals on the stimulations it perceives through the senses.

It is this functionality of perceiving and processing that is considered to be switched off completely during anesthesia. Even during sleep the brain keeps on processing sensations. But more in the background like dreams taking place. That is why a person is still  able to estimate what time it is when he wakes up from sleep. If a person wakes up from anesthesia though, he is really disorientated because that particular brain functionality has been disabled for some time.

Also where space is concerned, humans do not really experience space. They rather develop a sense of space according to the phenomena they perceive. Space perception is more a way through which humans become aware of their own position in relation to the objects around them. Space does not really exist as an individual object.

Although space is mainly derived from vision, also the other senses or a combination of them play an important role in the process of perceiving space. When, for example, a person hears the humming sound of a bee, he knows by experience how loud the humming of a bee normally is. Subsequently, according to the volume that he hears, his mind makes an estimation of how close the bee is in relationship to his own position.

So what is time and space then really? Are these things that are really out there in the world, or are these just concepts produced by consciousness? Thinking in terms of time and space is not really something a person needs to learn in school or from some books. Phenomena are rather instinctively positioned in time and space.

Nevertheless perception of space, like all sorts of perception, only brings some kind of selective and therefore illusionary reality. Since the human mind is not capable to capture nature in its entity, it is the selective process of perception that saves the individual from complete disorientation. In this process it is the human brain that models the overflow of sensations in some kind of variants or images of reality, which can be handled by the individual.

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Mother Tongue

Young children somehow have the capacity to learn the language of their environment almost automatically. The capacity to pick up a mother tongue seems to be some kind of pre-given capacity of any human being. Through the mother tongue the child learns to think and communicate.

Comparing this process of mastering the mother tongue, at the time a child starts speaking, with the process of learning some foreign language at a later age, is really amazing. Under normal circumstances a child picks up its mother tongue in a perfect way. Anybody learning another language at a later stage in life, will only with great effort manage to master this language at the same level of his mother tongue .

On the other hand when a child is picking up its mother tongue, it is not been exposed yet to all the possible syntactical combinations and grammatical exceptions of that language. So it is not possible to say that children pick up their mother tongue just by reproduction of the given examples. This is also indicated by the fact that when a child learns its mother tongue from a person who is not a native speaker in that language, the child by instinct will nevertheless master its mother tongue in an accurate way.

It is like at the time of birth an intuitive understanding of grammar is given. This in-built functionality of learning a mother tongue just needs to be fed with any human language.

So that actually completes three instruments enabling human beings to construct own realities: senses – language – consciousness.

The same way a human being perceives what we consider to be our world, within the limits of time and space it can imagine, it actually could perceive any world: it is able to perceive sensations through it senses, it is able to learn any – spoken – language and it has consciousness to categorize the sensations received through its senses. On base of these factors consciousness develops self-awareness and that way initiates the differentiation between what it perceives as itself and what it perceives as the external reality. And most of all it has the tools and capacities to communicate and reflect about those perceived realities and that way creates new realities.

A possible conclusion could be that nature has produced a specific species provided with all necessary instruments to start defining imaginary realities.

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