The Spiritual Blessing of Losing the False Self
The Nyxall Minute Countdown
Steven J. Shupe
Steven J. Shupe
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Table of Contents
Note to Reader: Two Minutes to Annihilation is the third of four volumes in the Nyxall Minute Countdown to spiritual liberation. Four Minutes to Freedom and Three Minutes to Self Awareness have been previously published and are available for free download. The fourth volume, A Final Minute for Reflection, will be available in mid-August 2016.
“The spiritual seeker, if diligent, ultimately becomes a spiritual loser.”
The blue stone statue outside this Japanese temple depicts the most famous spiritual loser of all time, the Buddha. He appears to be laughing at the plethora of nonsense we go through in earthly embodiment before shedding the false sense of a separate self to return to a pure state of Oneness. Buddhists profess that a week of sitting in silent contemplation beneath a bodhi tree a couple of millennia ago gave this former prince a final boost to liberation from his false mind and its conditioning; while Jesus is reported to have taken a more dramatic path for giving up the ghost of one’s earthly form to rise back to heavenly unity.
Most of us still mucking around in the 21st Century have yet to find such a direct route to liberation as we don the cloak of spiritual seeker, soulful journeyer, or some such costume which reflects our urge to transcend the earthly madness of human desire and its dysfunctional expressions that fill global news headlines each day. Endless human need for security, for love, for purpose and power explode throughout the modern world and blare from countless consumer ads, political tirades, and increasingly noisy spectators of today’s gladiators in bulging athletic jerseys, spandex trunks, and colorful Pokemon forms.
Perhaps you have found a quiet niche of the Mind for respite from the clamor, for finding new realms of perception that provide enlivening and insightful alternatives to the earthly world of duality. Such was the case for this writer as the new millennium approached and dawned with the emergence into my world of spirit guides, psychic encounters, and other amazing grace that expanded the dimensions of my reality and sense of self.
My mind eventually felt whole, integrating with body and spirit, as my human self-identity evolved from spiritual seeker to spiritual finder to spiritual teacher happily dispensing my newfound wisdom via written and spoken word in India and the States. Soon, however, the punch line to the cosmic joke hit me in full force in order to consummate my rebirth as a spiritual loser devoid of past certainties. As written in 2010:
I haven’t a clue. I know nothing. That is not just a contrived lamentation; it is an honest assessment of what is left after being stripped of the layers of old conditioning, of the human self-image and the trappings which support it. Oh yes, I can still speculate about all sorts of things, about the nature of consciousness, spirit guides, old sweethearts, God, country, and apple pie.
But all these are simply mindgames, entertaining constructs that play out at various times as perceptions of the mind—a mind that is itself only speculative perception, a nebulous concept that gives us false comfort that we actually know something, that we actually are something. But when the mind ultimately awakens to its wholeness, to full awareness—poof—it realizes there is no mind. When the self finally knows and embraces all aspects of its being, it grasps the falseness of that sense of individual self—and it also vanishes.
What remains beyond this paradox is simply the moment of perception. That’s it. There is perception; all else is conjecture. Whether my currently-perceived laptop actually exists and whether there is this lanky man typing on it is an open question—whose answer, in recent years, I have spent an inordinate amount of time pondering. [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, The ‘I’ of the Storm, Chapter 7.]
GRATEFULLY, MY LENGTHY pondering on the nature of this writer, his mind and navel came to an end upon realizing that all a mind can do is to expose its own falseness. Reality, of course, cannot be coaxed forth by a mind that is itself unreal. Plus, as the laughing Buddha discovered, truth and perfection already dwell at the center of what we each are. So there is nothing for a spiritual seeker to find—only to lose the false ideas and conditioning that veil the eternal, which shroud the universal perfection residing in one’s core.
Moreover, becoming a spiritual loser not only brings one home to our innate spiritual heritage, but the loss of the false self enhances our earthly experiences as well:
“In an unselfconscious state the human body-mind naturally expresses as a harmonious flow of action in daily life—without effort, without forethought, without fear.”
To operate in human society without applying forethought and other familiar mental tools was a difficult notion for this old control-freak engineer/lawyer to adopt. But it comes easily to a spiritual loser who simply lives in the moment without rehearsing upcoming conversations, outlining the next project, or otherwise making plans while trusting that the future will unfold just fine, thank you, as this human form plays its convoluted role to perfection. In short, There are no right decisions, only right actions—pithy and wise words of advice given me by a kindly spirit guide back in 1992 when my comfortable 3-D reality was shattered by inter-dimensional communication and events.
Even those exciting times, however, ultimately had to be exposed and released as fleeting mindgames in order to break into freedom beyond the play of perceptions. Granted, our worlds of perception are enriching and entertaining to the watching consciousness during our lifetimes in embodiment; such as when observing the dynamic dance of the costumed Tibetans pictured above, or listening to the chanting and drumming that too are a part of their religious traditions.
But a time comes when, for the sake of spiritual freedom, letting go of attachments to one’s earthly perceptions and mindgames is necessary, as discussed in the following Nyxall Chronicle excerpt:
The rhythmic drumming from my elderly Tibetan neighbors’ prayer room came late this morning, closer to seven o’clock than the usual six. I am always happy to hear its beat, its familiar cadences mirroring those of Native American ceremonies half a world away. Wondering now, from where does this universal human urge arise to stretch the skin of ibex or deer or impala and to feel the ancient beat in ear and soul—no, not just to feel it, but to experience the act of creating it, of drumming it?
The current cadence of the Himalayan drum may sound similar to that of American tribes, but the purpose of the beat is far different. These elders, like good Buddhists throughout greater Tibet, are preparing for death in order to facilitate a favorable transition into the next life and beyond. Old age in the Tibetan tradition is a time to let go of earthly attachments, to prepare the mind for the moment when its worn body is shed. Typically, the local lama is called in to join the relatives at the death bed to read ancient texts from The Tibetan Book of the Dead over the corpse to help the deceased’s mind understand what is happening; to guide it through its confusion at seeing its lifeless body; to help it overcome fear and to navigate the bardo it has suddenly found itself in, the nebulous realm between one existence and the next.
The idea of a monk reading aloud to a dead person’s mind seems strange to those of us thoroughly conditioned to think of ourselves as the physical form and the brain attached to it. To grasp that our consciousness, our power of perception can exist separate from the body is a hard concept to fathom—unless you are one who has out-of-body experiences. Often such an experience is reported by those on operating room tables whose awareness is suddenly looking from the ceiling down at their anesthetized body and at the procedures being taken on it by the medical team—details of which they are able to later accurately describe. For most of us it comes as a surprise to be peering at our physical self from a distance or, in meditation, to feel the sense of one’s consciousness exist independently from a body which has just dissolved into a feeling of pure energy.
But that is nothing, the Tibetan experts report, compared to the shock at the moment of bodily death to discover that one’s perceiving mind remains intact to watch the drama and to experience the emotions of the event. The distress is mitigated, however, if the deceased has been properly prepared in life for this auspicious moment of its body-death, primarily by having let go of attachments to family, possessions, and worldly concerns that would otherwise create sticky psychological tentacles to inhibit the mind’s journey into its next incarnation.
So the drums beat, incense burns, scriptures are read, chants are invoked, and meditation is practiced all the better to prepare Tibetan elders for a smooth transition. Ultimately, transport of their corpses to the charnel ground where they will be chopped and fed to Himalayan vultures is a final demonstration that the self is not this bag of meaty bones but is the awareness, one’s Consciousness that was never born and will never die—and that ultimately will be liberated from its earthly journey to nestle back into its natural state of oneness beyond the illusions of worldly separation.
A few years back, I returned to the States from India after learning that my seventy-something father was fading fast. I arrived in time to watch him succeed in accomplishing in the remaining four months of his life what it can takes decades or more for monks to achieve regarding release of their attachments and transcending the illusion of the false self. Dear old dad—this lovable control freak, Dean of Engineering, conscientious caretaker of his children, and one who definitely had a strong self-identity—surrendered it all in those months.
He became as a child again with no concern for future, no tie to past. Not only did he not care about his possessions, he no longer knew what was his. He could share a warm hug with his children, then let us go without the least concern for our future. And before he died, one of his last statements to his exhausted wife who shepherded him through the transition was, “I don’t know who you are, but I sure do love you.”
With luck, prior to my bodily death, my essence shall reach Father’s state of innocence, of detachment, of heart—preferably without his boost of Alzheimer’s disease. So thank you, dear one, for your loss of a self-identity that now inspires a prodigal son to continue exploring beyond the known self and world. Perhaps someday, by grace, I will look at this perceived world taking form in my mind and honestly, eternally be able to say, “I don’t know what you really are, but I sure do love you.” Or so goes the remaining dream that may yet come true for this stranger in a strange land called Earth. [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, The ‘I’ of the Storm, Chapter 9.]
A NICE SENTIMENT, but much has changed in the six years since I wrote that Chronicle excerpt and dreamt of purely loving the earth world. In fact, the more I watch from the perch of consciousness, the more I become swayed that a prerequisite for achieving liberation from the false is to get utterly fed up with earthly life, love, and the pursuit of happiness—and weary of the human ego that endlessly chases them. So I turn to my favorite Nyxall book character to help elucidate this point in a straightforward manner that is the hallmark of this unique guru:
“You gotta be kidding, guys!” Shri Shri Cy Bubha huffs, leaning back in his chair with arms folded in disgust. “How can I talk to a trio of wankers who still think they’re defined by their body and brain?”
The middle British man tries to explain, “I know that I’m really just consciousness, but its home is in my body. That’s what I have been saying all along and you keep changing my words.”
“Well even that’s crapola,” the Indo-American guru responds. “If you think that you live in a house, you’re still attached to it. And this attachment to your human embodiment—a trap that every toddler falls into—begins your lifetime of suffering.”
“Oh bloody hell, that’s why so much of this Eastern religion stuff stinks,” declares the man on the left. “You blokes try to convince us that earthly existence is all suffering and misery. I’m quite happy with my life,” he asserts forcefully.
“Me, too,” interjects the middle man in support of his friend.
“Oh, get real guys. Happy just means that you’re distracted from feeling your pain at the moment.” Cy Bubha holds up a hand to silence their objections, and quickly adds, “But for the sake of harmony and for potential mega-donations of your rupees to me, I’ll concede that nothing is wrong with being happy. Happy is like a decent table wine, so go ahead and indulge in a glass or two each day to relax and even improve circulation.
“But when a person or a whole culture makes the pursuit of happiness a primary goal, it’s like chugging cheap wine all day, fogging reality and losing clarity, creativity, and the ability to embrace all the experiences that make up the human condition. Life just becomes a frantic quest for more, more, more money, sex, comfort, thrills, possessions, gods, relationships, and other external stimuli which are never enough to find lasting happiness because the real source of bliss lies within ourselves.
“So, ultimately the ego’s addiction to happy robs you, your true consciousness, of finding the inner connection with something more real, more deep. It’s a poor tradeoff that most of you Western winos don’t even know you’re choosing, unless you are one of the brave, the few, to be willing to die to your earthly ego.”
The man on the left looks befuddled. “You mean we have to wait until death to return to a state of oneness and bliss?”
Boredom and discouragement are reflected in the guru’s voice as he answers sarcastically, “Yeah, right. But if you can first give away what you have accumulated in life—say, for instance, giving your hundred-rupee notes to me—then the ability to release your grasping ego and to achieve bliss is greatly accelerated.” While shifting a wicker donation basket from his lap to the table Cy Bubha suggests, “Shall we try a demonstration, gentlemen?” [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, The Now or Never, Part Two.]
IF YOU HAVE READ The Now or Never (2001) you know that Shri Shri Cy Bubha, like many spiritual teachers, has been expert at turning his devotees into spiritual losers, particularly with respect to diverting their cash. Fortunately, Cy Bubha—and his creator/author—have mellowed with age, becoming less mercenary although no less devoted to exposing the false human self-identity and its sticky attachments to earthly conditioning. In the opinion of some jaded gurus and writers, modern culture’s addiction to romantic love tops the list of those entanglements which can inhibit an earthling’s flight to spiritual freedom. As recently professed in the latest Nyxall Chronicle, Beyond Illusion:
“The limited, dualistic notion of loving someone or something thwarts our ability to live in utter love. True love blossoms with the awareness that you are one with all, manifesting as that oneness in action.”
Hmm, that sounds both a bit too abstract and airy-fairy at the moment—much like the atmosphere of the Kyoto meditation garden seen in the photo. So before addressing this quotation that rips apart the very fabric of romantic love to assist the serious spirit loser, let us take a plunge into earthly attachments with this writer’s first-hand and last-ditch effort at grasping for mainstream love circa 1992 (excerpted from The Now or Never, The ReMinder):
A perspective on the budding romance requires some knowledge both of nurse Ann and of love. The former should be easy to convey…although the latter prerequisite involving love proves challenging for we raised in English-speaking cultures. For language is power and ours is limp, to say the least, in matters of the heart. Its lexicon contains but one small vessel—waterlogged and impotent through overuse—to carry a boatload of situations. Yes, that soggy four-letter word, LOVE.
What to make of Anglo ancestors who limited love’s glory to a single word while developing a full score of terms for the waste product of digestion? What can we deduce about this English tribe that can wax poetic about turds and patties and pies; or extol the virtue of utilitarian dung and manure, then pontificate scientifically over feces and excrement, and medically about stool; who can stalk wild animals while tracking fresh scat and droppings; and school toddlers about their poop, kaka, and doo-doo while pointing encouragingly to the potty? Beats me.
But what is just plain crap is that we offspring of English-speaking clans receive but one word—love—for the innumerable cravings of heart, soul, genitalia, and for a host of other sensations. Imagine the confusion of youth in such a culture, a perplexity that springs into full flower in conjunction with the first follicles of puberty.
An example of such youth is near at hand, actually the hand I see now scribbling across the page. For on Sunday mornings, the juvenile version of this appendage along with its attached body was trundled off to the First Presbyterian Church to learn from a kindly preacher that God was love and we were to love God with all our heart and other organs. The next event in our Sunday ritual was to return home to a pot roast simmering among carrot and potato, unaware it was soon to be transformed into six piles of droppings. (Hmm, Kemosabe, looks like three juvenile males, one juvenile female, and an adult mating pair.) Whereupon my elder siblings and parents would routinely express their love associated with the smell of pot roast, the taste of desert, a newly purchased article of clothing, or any of a number of lovable matters that qualified as table talk.
A final confounding love blessing of this holy day arrived at bedtime as my pajama’ed body was tucked-in with a mother’s assurance that she loved me, leaving my still-active mind to ponder the obvious question: On the great cosmic scale of adorability, where did I fall betwixt the love of God and love for pot roast? Although too young and innocent to curse English lexicographers, I was old enough to sense the first tremors of insecurity about love’s true meaning.
As years passed, I did hear that Greek philosophers had done a better job of espousing the breadth of love. Three Grecian words were created, as I recall, coinciding with self love, love of humanity, and something about loving your mother. But loving your mother could lead to blindness—as could self love, come to think of it, if one were too enthusiastic in expressing it in the shower. Perhaps I should have listened more carefully.
So the ancient Greeks proved little help in my sorting through adolescent confusion about love, with the Roman contribution of amore doing no better. Listening to Italian-American crooners equate love with a pizza in the face (actually, being hit in the eye with a big pizza pie in conjunct with full moon) did little to inspire my understanding of love, astrology, or table manners. Nor was the cause of romance furthered by the only ancient Roman words I learned in sex education class: Coitus interruptus—that accursed phrase which should have been buried along with Caesar without praise—robbed me of what other cultures make an important rite of passage for vigorous, virginal youth. For my lame attempt at being a Latin lover through hasty invocation of coitus interruptus ensured that, instead of losing my virginity to the charms of Beatrice Tanigawa, I lost it to the Tanigawa sofa.
Fortunately, more than twenty years elapsed between this moment staining my past (as well as a quickly flipped couch cushion) and the magic moment of meeting beloved nurse Ann. And admittedly, the English language should not be condemned, as it did ultimately clarify the subtleties of love. As I learned to listen better (as in, to the radio) I realized that we youthful boomers had also delineated, through word and melody, three forms of love: One was a Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, I’ve Got Love in my Tummy kind of feeling; the second occurred when We’ve Got a Groovy Kind of Love; and the third was where Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Also, additional song titles and tunes taught that we English-speaking teens were more likely to find love if our names were Susie, Johnny, or Laura; or if we surfed, lived near railroad tracks, and drove a fast car. But alas, whichever of the three love paths a teen treaded to ecstasy, the trip was destined to be short-lived, ending in either severe heartbreak or an even more severe auto collision. [end of Chronicle excerpt]
ACTUALLY, NURSE ANN’S and my relational demise resulted from a quick head-on collision with reality in mid-1992. Shortly after concluding we could make a loving, stable family environment for ourselves and her young children from previous marriage, the cosmic trickster threw a major-league curveball into our domestic diamond. The sudden and uninvited appearance of spiritual, telepathic messages in Ann’s receptive, though skeptical, mind opened our world to sacred support from a wise, invisible Source of information, of new ideas about our multidimensional universe, and encouragement to know ourselves beyond the confines of earthly conditioning.
This cosmic wake-up call sent me spiraling off into a decades-long, ongoing journey of exploring the mystery, while Ann chose to walk the line in a familiar world where children could be raised in 3-D vision and security. And as a solo spiritual seeker I soon found true love which turned out to be an internal state of being, rather than a fluctuating feeling focused on some external object of love American-style.
This notion of a non-personal state of love led to the Kyoto garden quote which, I suppose, simply reflects another game of my illusory mind wanting to wax philosophic rather than letting go into being a full-blown spiritual loser. But such lingering expressions of mind and self-identity are a natural part of the difficult transition in releasing all held near and dear. Thus I am reminded, as we approach the next Nxyall Minute for annihilating the false self and its attachments, of the importance of applying a healthy dose of compassion to ease the pain of personal loss on the road to universal freedom:
“Unconditional self-acceptance lays the final stepping stone in the path to pure selflessness.”
continue to the next Nyxall Minute
“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? Can I prove that 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 photo 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 image 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 countless 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’ familiar 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 one is 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 bald 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 any given moment—be they my nighttime dreams, telepathic messages, this monastery 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 detached 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—e.g., What is the sound of one hand clapping?), 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.” [Reprinted from The Nyxall Chronicles, A Mindgame to Remembrance, Chapter 1.]
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 atoms 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 an external 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 humanity grows and evolves, 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 is perceived on the printouts 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 audience, “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.”
continue below for a summary of The Nyxall Chronicles
Welcome to The Nyxall Chronicles, a journey of spirit, of imagination, of freedom. The path is lined with humor and intrigue to guide one’s Consciousness—your innate power of perception—to reclaim its rightful place as creator of your known universe. Retaking this throne means, of course, supplanting its former master, the measly human ego that has kept your spirit enslaved to its endless desires and false conditioning for a lifetime. No doubt, this grasping persona will kick up some dust along the path and scream in protest at being usurped. But as freedom rings and spirit soars into the infinite, one’s limited self-image and narrow world that supports it inexorably melt back into the nothingness from whence they arose.
That nothingness is represented by ‘Nyx’ in the series title, the ancient Greek goddess who is the infinite deep, the dark emptiness from where all creation emerges and into which all ultimately dissolves. Zeus himself was said to fear confronting Nyx and vanishing in her embrace. And indeed, those lounging upon lofty peak while vigilantly preserving their self- importance and the material world they created, had best forego the pummeling, cleansing, and laughter at one’s mortal foibles that The Nyxall Chronicles expose.
But if you are ready for truth to set you free from the mess—or at least to provide some entertainment while pondering disposal options—then read on, brave explorer, remembering that another’s words are, at best, guideposts for reclaiming what you already know deep within your fount of quiet wisdom. Or as sagely expressed from ancient Asia: If it can be spoken, it is not the Tao.
While Mrs. Lao Tzu chimed in from the garden, “Right, Mr. Airy-Fairy, and if it can be smelled, take out the garbage already!”
Good advice for all occasions. But in The Nyxall Chronicles, the odorous remnants left by a controlling ego and its ultimate demise are, admittedly, solely those of the author—while the guiding trail of fresh breadcrumbs and sparkling gems which light the way to freedom were dropped by spirit guides, angels, demons, and other messengers of grace that smashed to smithereens this engineer-lawyer’s comfortable reality and sent my world spinning off into two decades of mystery, discovery, and cosmic vertigo.
The seeds of this reality-shift and its convoluting effect on mind and manners are recounted in the initial Chronicle, The Now or Never, written at the turn of the millennium along the sacred river Ganga in northern India. As in each of The Nyxall Chronicles, the story includes a healthy dose of ‘science friction’ wherein an author vigorously rubs together fact and fantasy to generate heated suspense and spiritual Light in order to send one’s limited existence up in smoke. The Chronicles are essentially nonfiction, however, in that they accurately trace the author’s creative imagination, multidimensional compositions, and real-world journeys which collectively led to both a fiery self-implosion into Nothingness and to an uplifting union with All.
That refreshing experience is embodied in Beyond Illusion, the final Chronicle where the scene shifts from Himalayan vistas to Peruvian Andes in year 2015. Getting there was indeed half the fun, as an earlier book, A Mindgame to Remembrance, cavorts between a humorous heaven and India intrigue to rescue Consciousness from terrestrial entanglements; while The ‘I’ of the Storm flings the reading mind into orbit around a precariously wobbling planet to wipe out antiquated views of a three-dimensional world and its transient inhabitants.
These four books of The Nyxall Chronicles, although interrelated, can be read in any sequence since they each contain a unique storyline, message, and resolution. What ultimately emerges in this journey is an intricate dance of Mind, of mystery, of a spirit buffeted and buoyed by the winds of change in a cosmic house of mirrors.
If you choose to engage in this creative two-step twixt reader and scribe, lead with your inner wisdom, swirl with your imagination, and open sesame to the wonder of an ever-expanding universe—the universe that is you.
Books of The Nyxall Chronicles:
The Now or Never (2001)
A Mindgame to Remembrance (2004)
The ‘I’ of the Storm (2010)
Beyond Illusion (2016)
For further book information or to view the author’s bio, link to
Annihilation may not sound like a spiritual blessing, but it indeed provides a springboard to freedom after living a lifetime or more imprisoned by a false sense of self and its illusory world. A pair of insightful and enjoyable essays are found in “Two Minutes to Annihilation” to help the reader expose and release these falsehoods that hinder one’s path to spiritual fulfillment and liberation. The first thought-provoking essay, entitled ‘The Joy of Letting Go’, delves into how attachments to earthly desires—primarily for romantic love and constant happiness—can hinder experiencing both spiritual bliss and pure, unfaltering love that is an inner state of being. The second stimulating essay, ‘The Sky has No Limit’, encourages readers to embrace their powerful role as creator of their personal reality, based in unlimited potentials of the mind, perception, and direct connection to the universal divine. [The latter essay was previously published separately in late July 2016.] “Two Minutes to Annihilation” is the third of four volumes in The Nyxall Minute Countdown to spiritual liberation. “Four Minutes to Freedom” and “Three Minutes to Self Awareness” are currently available for download; while the fourth volume, “A Final Minute for Reflection”, is scheduled for publication in mid-August 2016. The Nyxall Minute Countdown is designed to help launch the reader to liberation by providing entertaining food for thought while you chart your path to spiritual freedom. Each of the Minute 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 essays to enhance the discourse and provide direction on where to look for further inspiration and entertainment with the topics at hand.