When all is said and done, there are only four things that you need to know about: the world, the mind, the heart, and you, the one who is experiencing the other three. If you know the nature of these four things, you will know all there is to know. The question becomes, at what level of detail do we need to explore each of them in order to know their nature?
Let’s start with the world. What is the nature of the world around us? That seems like an enormous topic, but at the broadest level, it’s actually pretty simple: The world’s nature is the existence of form. A field of energy has manifested into myriad forms in accordance with underlying laws. That’s about it. In order to know the nature of the world we don’t need to know the behavior of every fish that lives in the water and every animal that lives on land. We simply need to recognize that there is water and there is land, and there are animals that live in the water and animals that live on the land. That knowledge is sufficient for one who is exploring the nature of things. The world is something that exists that you are capable of experiencing. It was here before you came, and it will be here after you leave. You don’t need to analyze it. Just open your eyes, and you will see the myriad forms that creation brought into existence.
The important thing to realize is that the world has nothing to do with you. It exists independent of you. This is easy to see with distant planets like Jupiter and Mars. They are just a couple of planets orbiting one star, our Sun. The fact that you can look at them with a telescope doesn’t mean they have anything to do with you. You won’t even be here in a few years, but the planets and their star will go on existing for billions of years. What is more, there are billions of stars, and they all exist independent of you. Even the planet Earth exists independent of you. It is just one of the planets circling one of the stars in the universe. It has been doing this for five billion years, and it does not depend upon you for its existence.
So at the highest level, this is the nature of the world around you. Its nature is existence, its nature is form, and its nature is that it has nothing to do with you. You are just the experiencer of the existence of creation. But how much of creation are you actually experiencing? There is hardly a number small enough to represent how little you experience compared to how much you miss. Just stop for a moment and look at how little is within your field of vision. You can’t even see what’s behind you or what’s going on next door. How much are you missing of everything that is going on in the universe right now? The fact is, you see practically nothing. One grain of sand compared to all the sand on all the beaches of the world is a larger percentage than what you can see going on in this universe at any given moment. So why do you think it has anything to do with you? You have to wake up and look at the world with a universal perspective.
Once you step back far enough, the nature of the world becomes clear. This is also true about the nature of mind.
What is the nature of mind? The truth is, it is easier to understand the nature of the entire universe than to grasp the nature of mind. But this is not because the nature of mind is so complicated; it is because you can’t see the forest for the trees. You can’t see the mind because you are lost in your thoughts. You are so involved in your thoughts that you can’t step back far enough to see what is creating them. You have to be able to get behind the mind enough to see what is not mind; then you’ll be able to see what is mind.
Meditation gives you this perspective. In deep meditation you see the mind from a distance, like you see a star in the sky. But if you got up really close to a burning star, you would not recognize it as one of those things that dot the sky at night – you’d see it as a giant ball of burning fire. In order to see ‘star’, you must be able to see ‘not star’. The same is true with the mind. If you step back deep enough within your Self, you will see the mind talking at a distance – yackety yak. But around the edges it’s not doing this, and beyond the edges there is perfect stillness. In other words, in deep meditation there is absolute peace, quiet, serenity, and total calm all around you. But if you gaze in the direction of the personal mind, there is noise. You are now able to see the thought-generating mind because you can see the still mind.
We don’t maintain this perspective for long, however. We quickly get lost in the thoughts of the mind. That is why we can’t see the nature of mind. In the purest sense, the mind’s nature is a field of unmanifest energy that has the ability to manifest in the form of thoughts. You should see mind as an ocean of energy in which thoughts form like waves. Just as waves in the ocean come up and go back down, so thoughts in the mind come and go. Each thought is different, just as each wave is different, but they are all manifestations of the same ocean.
The mind is a field of energy that exists between you (the indwelling Being) and the world that you see. In this field of energy that is mind, there are laws that cause the wavelets of thoughts to manifest as they do. Just as scientists can study waves and understand why they behave as they do, so you can study your thoughts. You’ll see that there are underlying laws that determine how the mind creates thoughts. If I knew every single thing that ever happened to you during your entire existence, I would know all the data that programmed your mind. If I put them all together in the right balance, I could predict what your thoughts would be when you see something in this world. There are patterns or impressions that the mind has learned, and this underlying learning causes your thoughts to manifest in a particular way.
Your mind is the sum of your learned experiences. All the different experiences that have come in through your senses have left impressions upon the field of energy that exists as mind. Based upon these impressions, the mind generates different thoughts at different times. This is where thoughts come from. When the world of sense flows into your mind, thoughts will be created in accordance with these stored patterns. Once you see this, you’ll realize that it’s been happening your entire life. Wherever the spotlight of your senses happened to be aiming, your mind was being programmed. There was no planning involved; your mind was simply programmed by the events that happened to be unfolding in the direction you happened to be looking. If one or more of those events had not taken place, or if you had been looking in a different direction, your mind would be programmed differently, and your thought patterns would be different. If you understand nothing else, please take the time to understand this.
Every single second you are experiencing such a minute amount of the world, yet these events are being stitched together in your mind and presented back to you as absolute truth. But they are not the truth, and understanding this dynamic of how the world programs your mind is essential for knowing the truth. There is nothing holy about any of your thoughts, and they really have nothing to do with you. They are just the result of the impressions that got made upon your mind. Just as you can watch the waves of an ocean come and go, so you can watch the thoughts in the mind come and go.
But that is not what you do. You actually believe in them. A thought pops up, and it becomes your whole world. You make every single decision based upon your thoughts. You practically worship your thoughts. In fact, you do more than worship your thoughts – you think you are your thoughts. If right now your thoughts suddenly start saying, “I don’t like this article. I don’t even agree with what it’s saying” – what is that? It is just thoughts forming in the essence of mind. There is not a single thought that is not the result of your learned experiences.
The sum of all these impressions determines what you think. Then you actually say outside what your thoughts are saying inside. Your mind literally tells you what to say, and you say it. That’s scary stuff, isn’t it? People don’t talk about this, and almost nobody explains it. There was not a single class you ever took in school, no matter how far you went in your education, that told you what was going on in your mind. Instead of teaching you about the nature of the mind, they are busy programming your mind. How are you supposed to get free?
The mind reacts based upon the impressions with which it is programmed, and the ripples caused by that reaction are what you experience as thoughts. You think you are making your own decisions, but you are not. For example, you look at somebody and suddenly your mind says, “I don’t like him.” That could have happened because the shirt he’s wearing was somehow associated with a bad childhood experience. Your likes, dislikes, and views about everything are affected by the impressions that got made upon your mind. So how can you call them your choices? You are just following the programming of your mind.
But there is something even more powerful than the mind that affects how you interact with the world – and that is your heart. Your heart is quite distinct from the field of energy that creates thoughts. Like everything else in creation, the heart has its own nature. The heart is best seen as an energy field with currents of different strengths flowing in various directions. These currents are like vectors of energy that can flow towards something or away from it, and they can certainly cause quite a disturbance when their flow is blocked. You experience these vector flows on a regular basis. If you see something in the world and the heart gets attracted to it, a vector of energy is formed in the heart and starts going in that direction. The next thing you know, you are drawn there. Your mind may be saying, “No, I don’t want to do this; it could cause real problems.” But the pull of the heart can be very strong in spite of what the mind is saying. This shows how distinct the heart is from the mind.