Sculpting Your Boundless World of Potential
Nyxall Minute Countdown to Spiritual Liberation
Steven J. Shupe
Steven J. Shupe
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Sculpting Your Boundless World of Potential
Table of Contents
[Note to Reader: The final two volumes in The Nyxall Minute Countdown will be available in August 2016: Two Minutes to Annihilation and A Final Minute for Reflection.]
Nyxall Minutes published to date:
Four Minutes to Freedom [compilation of Minutes 1 thru 4]
Three Minutes to Self Awareness [compilation of Minutes 5 thru 7]
The Sky is No Limit
“No true knowledge exists, only the moment of wisdom flowing afresh from beyond mind and memory.”
We are taught as youngsters that knowledge is power. But what if knowledge is actually the opposite, a disempowering trap based on false assumptions made by our teachers, scientists, and parents that we swallowed whole during childhood and continue to digest as adults? Suppose our worldly knowledge is based on the faulty notion that one objective, real universe exists in which we live—a false realm built upon time, space, matter, and other scientific fictions of a mind that operates from its self-made prison of limited perceptions.
I discovered this trap, and my own self-imprisonment in faulty assumptions about the universe, after being challenged by the Dalai Lama a dozen years ago to meditate only on what is real. After pondering long and hard on his suggestion (and finding it difficult to latch onto any sure-fired reality) my scientific mind concluded that my entire experience of life had solely been flashings in my brain that I had interpreted as being a real, external world. And is it really out there, I had to ask myself? Are there actually billions of people wandering the Earth’s surface? Or is there nothing substantive, real, tangible beyond my inner interpretations of flashing neurons in my brain? Come to think of it, is there even a brain and a me?
Ultimately, I had to admit that I could not be certain of, nor able to prove anything as substantively real other than the following:
“THERE IS PERCEPTION is the sole certainty in the realm of mind. All else is speculation.”
So I followed the Dalai Lama’s sage advice and began meditating on the moment of perception as the closest thing to being ‘real’ in the nebulous realm of my mind. Whether sipping tea, taking a nature walk, talking with a friend, or during whatever other scenes were flashings in my brain at any given time, I became the watching consciousness experiencing each moment with growing awareness and focus. Surprisingly, my experience of earthly life—whether real or not—became more intense, more flavorful, more vibrant through acutely experiencing the ‘now’ of the unfolding perceptions of the mind.
And I realized that the sky’s the limit as to where life might lead, now that my perceptions were enthroned as the creator of my known universe—in the same manner as you too give creative form to your inner observed world. Yet in fact, the sky is actually no limit—not even real or tangible—existing only as another illusory external concept of the perceiving mind. (Or as in the convoluting picture of hut and rice paddy above, the apparent ‘sky’ is just a hazy reflection on irrigation water in the field. As you may have already deduced, the photo was inserted upside-down in order to help call into question one’s perceived world.)
After uncovering the vagaries of reality and identifying myself as the creative watching consciousness, as the power of perception (rather than as the human character Eye perceived), the nature of existence began to expand and alter. The dreams that emerge to watch at night, the memories that daily came to the fore, the frequent thoughts which flow through the mind that Eye perceive, no longer seemed mine. All that is heard, seen, and otherwise sensed became simply enrichments of consciousness that drift through the field of my observations. How could I possibly continue mistaking myself as the familiar Shupe character or identify with ‘his’ associated thoughts and dreams and hopes and fears? Eye was watching him, observing from a distant perch of awareness, no longer identified with or enslaved by what I had previously perceived as being real to the old me, I, and mine. Or as written at the time to modify Descartes’ adage (I think therefore I am) into a new paradigm:
“I perceive thought, therefore I am what I think.”
So if we are not what we think or feel or see, then what might we be? Perhaps a fleeting piece of consciousness bouncing between the Nothing and the All, an arc that ultimately leads one beyond the limits of conscious awareness itself. Or maybe we are best defined as simply the moment of experience, which in my current vision involves watching an alphabet flow from fingertips onto glowing laptop screen—an observation of wordplay that in past years has resulted in the emergence of numerous book characters seemingly wiser than their typing author. So, as in past Nyxall Minutes, I again turn the discourse over to these characters’ novel wisdom to further speculate on the nature of reality and our place, if any, in it:
“So where shall we venture next in our Non-self-help retreat?” Shri Shri Cy Bubha begins the post-lunch session as he paces the room looking for prey. He halts by the woman in meditation pose in the front row. “Let’s see what Ms. Ricardos has to contribute in wit and wisdom this fine afternoon. Con su permiso, senorita?”
“Si profesor. Con mucho gusto,” Maria replies.
“Excellent. A seeker eager to grab for the gusto to find out whassup,” the robed guru notes. “And did I read correctly from your workshop registration that you are a fellow Texan-in-exile, Ms. Ricardos?”
“Born as a Lone Starling, yes, but raised all over the place in foster homes of sorts.”
Cy Bubha nods in understanding. “Nothing like a troubled childhood to open the door to liberation as an adult. Follow it up with a healthy dose of drugs, sex, rock-‘n-roll and you’re on the brink of enlightenment.”
Maria responds with a laugh and shake of her head. “Actually, I had a pretty white-bread upbringing followed by a tame decade during my twenties. I guess I’ve been making up for lost time the past two years, including getting in touch with my Hispanic roots.”
“Well, I’d say India is a strange place to be searching for Latino roots,” Bubha declares, “unless you dig the rumba in a Delhi disco.”
“Actually, after completing your workshop, I’ll be heading to Peru to lead a spiritual retreat there.”
Bubha rears back in delight. “Ah, a fellow slinger of cosmic hash ready to feed the spiritual malnourished. And what pray tell, Ms. Ricardos, is your specialty to be served as an esoteric teacher in the shadow of the Andes?”
“My birth mother insisted that my foster parents raise me Catholic, so my spiritual message hashes together some diced Christianity spiced with Eastern liberation philosophy.”
Tom Jameson chimes in, “Like preaching to love thy neighbor as thyself, even though neither you nor thy neighbor really exists?”
“Something like that,” Ricardos replies with a smile, “although things get more interesting when I start quoting Jesus where he basically says you’ve got to hate everyone and their sister in order to follow his path.”
“Aw, c’mon Maria, Jesus didn’t really express that,” an irritated voice calls from the back.
“To the contrary, the Book of Luke does quote Jesus as saying that hate of your earthly life and family is needed to be his disciple,” argues a second man. “But I suspect that’s just a misinterpretation by the King James translators. Probably it should be to renounce your family, but still to have compassion for them.”
“You can’t go around changing verses in the Bible just to suit your own belief system or to add some New Age psychobabble,” another participant objects from the right.
Cy Bubha steps in. “Actually, most historians agree that Luke wrote that verse after having gone over to the dark side of the Force due to some unresolved daddy issues. But let’s allow Ms. Ricardos to pick up that argument in Peru if she chooses, while we use this local outpouring of biblical opinion to demonstrate the personal nature not only of religious interpretation but of one’s subjective reality as well.”
Jameson challenges the guru, “Isn’t subjective reality an oxymoron? Reality, by definition, can’t be just a subjective opinion that varies from one person to another.”
“Well, as the Wookie zen master espoused after Chewbacca made a similar point about reality…” The Indian sage suddenly brays through his nose while appearing to be electrocuted, “Wwwwhaaaannnkkk!”
He settles back into contemplative pose and requests, “Ms. Ricardos, kindly translate that Wookie-wisdom for Mr. Jameson, as heard in your reality.”
“Certainly,” Maria responds after a chuckle and moment’s reflection to grasp the guru’s point. “The zen master posited, If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, does it make good timbre?”
Cy Bubha nods his approval then asks, “Mr. Fenway, what did your ear discern the Wookie master as saying?”
The man answers hesitantly, “How many oxymorons does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
A hand then shoots up from the middle of the group that the guru acknowledges, “Yes, Sister Iris, what wise Wookie-speak was heard in your universe of perception?”
“He espoused, Uncover all that is unreal in the realm of mind, until even the concept of reality is exposed as fiction.”
Cy Bubha gives the Buddhist nun a look of admiration. “Hell, I might shave my head too, if it helped me hear those kind of insights. Nice koan, Sister.”
“Uncover all that is unreal in the realm of Mind until even the concept of reality is exposed as fiction.”
The guru continues, “Some might profess, Sister, that our lives would prove nigh impossible to navigate with no reality through which to steer one’s course. Care to comment on your personal experience in an unreal world?”
“Oh, there is nothing unreal in my perceived world—and nothing that is real either. Same with understanding that there is no self—there is nothing that is not-self as well. After one begins living as consciousness, these false concepts of real-or-unreal and a self or not-self naturally drop as fictions of dual thinking. Then my existence is intimately interwoven with my perceptions in each moment—be they my perception of nighttime dreams, telepathic messages, this monestary workshop, visions of other dimensions, angels or ice cream cones. And my mind no longer wastes time evaluating whether each thing is real or not. It is as it is: A mental experience of my senses that enhances and entertains my watching consciousness.”
A classmate observes, “I’d imagine that having that perspective would make it hard for you to get either passionate or upset about daily things.”
“True, my watching consciousness never does. But do realize that I, as awareness, still observe this maroon-robed human character called Sister Iris operate and respond in duality—like pulling her hand off a hot stove to avoid pain, or by choosing a pleasant food or person to enjoy in the moment, or in feeling emotions of anger, happiness, and such arise. But all quickly pass since there is no Iris self-identity there to keep energizing abstract desires or the emotional crap that used to hold my ‘real’ world captive. Again, a liberating change.”
A front row person objects to the notion of no reality. “But Bubha, haven’t we spent all week kicking around ideas of ultimate truth and our real nature as pure consciousness and our perfect center and stuff? Don’t they exist in reality?”
“Our flying nun simply said there is nothing real in the realm of mind,” the guru answers. “Perhaps some absolute truth or reality exists beyond mind and thus beyond our ability to perceive it. And all our mental labels and concepts are just futile attempts to express the inexpressible, to reach past the mind’s illusory creations and into the Absolute or Nothingness or the Infinite beyond perception.” [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, Beyond Illusion, Round One.]
BUT HERE WERE ARE, still dancing in the realm of mind and Minutes and paradoxes which emerge when addressing the fiction of reality. Eventually, the logical mind grows exhausted by trying to make sense of fleeting reality and a universe that transcends its grasp—which is precisely the valuable, liberating purpose of a koan, as mentioned by Cy Bubha above. When the rational mind is utterly confused and worn out by endlessly pondering a Zen master’s nonsensical koan (expressed in the form of a convoluting premise, question, story, or even universe), a moment of true wisdom flashes as experiential understanding beyond the mind’s normal logic and narrow reality.
For now, however, let us use mind’s logic, as applied by another wise character in the Himalayas of northern India, to speculate further on the subjective nature of our known worlds, realities, and one’s role in creating them:
“Try to grasp that your power of perception is not only at the center of your world, but that your perceptions form the outer limits of the known universe as well.” In response to your continuing mental block, the elderly Tibetan monk pulls you to your feet and leads you to the cave mouth. The two of you gaze down at the village of Tabo where colorful prayer flags flutter in the morning breeze. Lamaji points to the Buddhist temple complex and states, “I once saw a full, brilliant rainbow whose arc appeared to end directly at the monastery gate. Do you understand the conditions needed to see a rainbow?”
“Sure,” you reply. “The sun must be shining from low behind me, with a bit of rain or mist in front.”
Lamaji nods. “Now picture that rainbow which ended at the gate, about a half kilometer away. What would have happened if I had shouted to my brother monk at the monastery to look at the beautiful rainbow lying between us by the gate—assuming of course he could hear my voice? Would he have seen it next to him?”
“Of course not. He would simply be looking into the sun and mist thinking you had gone a bit silly.”
“Correct. But if he then turns around with his back to the sun, he would see a rainbow lying about a half kilometer further beyond his position at the monastery.”
“Two people seeing two rainbows in two locations,” you state to demonstrate you catch the lama’s drift.
“And if you had been looking out the cave one hundred paces to my left, you would have seen another rainbow in a third location, ending about a hundred paces to the left of the monastery gate.” The monk queries, “So what was actually out there?”
You ponder a minute and reply, “Rain and sunlight creating the conditions for rainbows to appear at spots relative to the observers.”
“Well put. So three observers, three rainbows. And no observer…”
“No rainbow,” you conclude, “even though the rain and sunshine together create a potential field from which countless rainbows could emerge.”
“Right, if countless eyes were observing.” The monk returns to a sitting position. “Think now, where is the rainbow actually located that you see?”
“About a half kilometer from—”
He cuts you off with a raise of his hand. “Think carefully.”
Thoughtful silence is followed by your sudden exclamation of clarity and surprise, “I get it, Lamaji. Only raindrops and sunlight are present in the sky. The rainbow takes form solely in my mind.”
“Indeed, sunrays may be out there in space being refracted by raindrops, but their energy waves only become a colorful rainbow when perceived in your flashing brain.” The old monk continues with his explication, “Finally, consider that not just beautiful rainbows, but one’s entire known world takes form in the eye of the beholder out of a universal energy field that each observer subjectively perceives. Kind of shatters your old view of there being only one solid, real world if you think about it long enough.”
ACTUALLY, when I first grasped this lesson of the rainbow it did not shatter my reality but instead finally gave me a handle on a seemingly nonsensical premise expressed by modern quantum physicists: that electrons, like rainbows, do not actually exist until ‘viewed’ or detected in experiments, emerging from a nebulous field of potential when observed. Gracious, I thought, what a power we have—to give form to the void, to give substance not only to shimmering rainbows, but to the very building blocks of creation through observations in the lab.
But after subsequent years of exploring the nature of the universe, the building blocks of creation no longer appear to my scientific mind as subatomic particles. From my experience and perspective, perception itself is the primary building block of creation, augmented by thought, imagination, and expectations that give rise to the worlds flashing into form within our minds. If one expects to find electrons or turtles or planets or a universal energy field at the foundation of reality, that is what the mind perceives and creates as its world.
In trying to grasp such a nebulous albeit powerful concept, I again call upon my ethereal pals from The Nyxall Chronicles who are experts in navigating and explaining an illusory world of perception:
“It’s truly an amazing universe we live in,” the woman on Shri Shri Cy Bubha’s left comments, shaking her head in awe.
“Or an amazing world that lives inside you,” the guru interjects. “Remember what I was saying half an hour ago about your known universe existing solely within your mind, made up not of solid matter, but of your perceptions?”
“That’s a hard concept for me to sink my teeth into, let alone swallow,” she responds.
“I can relate,” Tom Jameson states sympathetically. “What helps me, Judith, is to picture that there is actually something ‘out there’—specifically, a unified energy field vibrating throughout space—that my senses convert into the personal world that appears in my mind.”
“So we each perceive individual inner worlds but they spring from a universal blueprint that we share in common,” the woman paraphrases. “That makes some sense.”
“Moreover, I like to think that the universal blueprint is made up of energy waves of our collective human consciousness,” Tom continues. “Thus by peering into this energy template made of humanity’s collective thoughts and beliefs, we each perceive Earth in a form shaped by our current cultural conditioning and education. And as we grow and evolve, so too does the universal blueprint alter to reflect our changing global view of reality.”
“Can you give us an example to clarify what you’re trying to say?”
“Sure. Centuries ago, the general human belief was maybe turtles-all-the-way-down holding up a flat earth, until our collective consciousness shifted to the paradigm of a spherical planet,” Jameson explains. “Then when a Newton or Einstein adds his advanced thinking to the collective blueprint, our picture of the world again changes and we perceive that as the new ‘reality’ until something better comes along, like quantum physics.”
Cy Bubha grins while commenting, “I hope I’m still alive when modern physicists finally get the joke on themselves when realizing that there is no single, objective physical world built from illusory subatomic particles—only the scientists’ self-fulfilling prophecies and perceptions of atoms conjured up by their expectations, mathematics, and machines.
“Granted, theirs is an ingenious and lovely example of the mind’s power to create form from the void: To conceptualize a new subatomic particle, to construct it with intricate math, to predict how it will appear in particle accelerator collisions, and then to convince a bunch of their colleagues to believe in its existence as well.
“And voilá, suddenly the new particle blips into form just as expected in the next big collider experiment. Our collective consciousness shifts forward again, along with congratulatory slaps on the back and a Nobel Prize or two. Then the next imagined particle is ‘discovered’ and the next and the next until the gang at the accelerator finally grasps the punch line: It’s all a creation of, and within, their minds—just bosons, muons, gluons, come-ons, and put-ons all the way down.”
Jameson suddenly rises and strides to the middle of the room readying for an impromptu comedy performance on the topic. He formally announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming on such short notice to this Board of Directors meeting of CERN.”
Cy Bubha comments as an aside to the group, “CERN is the huge particle accelerator project in Europe where most new subatomic particles are being discovered.”
Jameson continues his act by stating, “I called you Board members here today to share some good news and some bad news.”
“Give us the bad news first, Mr. CEO,” Bubha calls out, playing the shill in Tom’s routine.
“The bad news is that all the subatomic particles that we thought we had discovered as the fundamental building blocks of the universe are merely perceptions of our minds, figments of our imagination that we mistook as objective reality. So our seventeen mile-long particle accelerator has been an intricate toy with which to validate our faulty illusions about particle physics, about imaginary particles we conjured up with our collective minds here at CERN.” He shrugs and smile sheepishly. “Sorry about that, folks.”
Cy Bubha improvises a response as an agitated CERN board member. “Damn it man, have you squandered the billions of euros our corporations and governments shelled out for this project, just to play mind games with your imagination and our money?”
CEO Jameson suddenly brightens. “Well, that’s the good news, ladies and gentlemen. You didn’t lose a thing. Those euros never really existed either; they’re just figments of our collective imagination, too!”
“You’re fired!” Cy Bubha blusters.
“Sorry, pal, but you’re just a fleeting, illusory creation in my perceiving mind as well.” [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, Beyond Illusion, Round Three.]
TO TRULY ACCEPT there is no one, external world out there—and with no real electrons, rainbows, and substantive people living in it—takes a quantum shift of consciousness to achieve. Courage, too, is required to make such a leap to understand that the known universe resides solely within yourself, an inner world built from the creative perceptions of your mind. Moreover, only the brave will face the subsequent step of accepting that one’s known world and mind are themselves fabrications that must ultimately be jettisoned in order to launch into freedom beyond imprisoning illusions, beyond the realm of consciousness and its ephemeral creations.
Destruction of a one’s reality may seem like a high price to pay for liberation into the great unknown. But for those ready to escape the madness and seductions of earthly duality, annihilation is a divine gift that terminates enslavement to endless human desire and conflict. If you aren’t convinced, just ask the liberated fellow below, reclining in Thai temple and nirvana.
“Realize that you are but an imaginary character in the dream of an illusory mind—and you are free.”
For further book information or to view the author’s bio, link to
Books of The Nyxall Chronicles:
The Now or Never (2001)
A Mindgame to Remembrance (2004)
The ‘I’ of the Storm (2010)
Beyond Illusion (2016)
Volumes in The Nyxall Minute Countdown:
Four Minutes to Freedom (June 2016)
Three Minutes to Self Awareness (July 2016)
Two Minutes to Annihilation (pending)
A Final Minute for Reflection (pending)
The sky is no limit when one grasps the true nature of the boundless universe that is created by your thoughts and perceptions. This latest Nyxall Minute essay challenges the reader to: “Uncover all that is unreal in the realm of mind, until even the concept of reality is exposed as fiction.” Then your Consciousness is free to soar, to create, to lead the spiritual journeyer into discoveries and realms beyond the known self and its narrow earthly existence. The Nyxall Minutes are a series of thought-provoking essays—both insightful and humorous —designed for those bravely exploring one’s spiritual truth and falseness garnered over a lifetime on this convoluting planet. Themes range from knowing oneself as universal consciousness (rather than as a limited human ego), to the vagaries of love, quantum physics, and ultimately to seeing through life’s transient illusions that veil the eternal perfection abiding in one’s core. Each discourse begins with a stimulating quote overlain on a photo taken by the author during his decades-long spiritual path, primarily in Asia and Peru. The quotes were written during moments of insight along the way, often then incorporated into his series of books, The Nyxall Chronicles, composed from 2000 to 2016. Excerpts from the Chronicles appear frequently in the Nyxall Minute essays to enhance the discourse and provide direction on where to look for further stimulation and entertainment with the topics at hand. The Nyxall Minute Countdown to Spiritual Liberation will climax in August 2016 with the final essays embodied in “Two Minutes to Annihilation” and “A Final Minute for Reflection”.