June 9, 2010

I dedicate this recent realization,
From my young, naïve, and unlearned mind,
To the sentient beings who seek comfort in wisdom.
May they gain something positive from this essay,
And go on to find refuge from suffering,
In whatever school of thought they ascribe to.
I pray that I am forgiven for my ignorance,
And that my misgivings be respectfully corrected,
So that eventually I may refine my thinking
Enough to benefit the entire world.

The Nature of Transcendence

The mind thinks in terms of conceptual thought. Such is the nature of thought itself. Almost always, these thoughts can only be conceptualized in terms of the five senses. For instance, it is impossible (at least impossible for me) to conceptualize a number without utilizing one of the five senses*. Take the number five. In your mind you may see the number symbol “5,” or the word “five,” or see five objects. You may hear the word “five,” in english or any number of other languages. If you can read braille, you may be able to feel the symbol for “5,” or in general you may be able to imagine feeling five separate objects. In any case, you are unable to perceive of the true concept of “five” without utilizing any of the five senses or memory of them.

The only concepts which can be fathomed by the mind but are beyond the five senses are the “ineffable” concepts of pure nothingness, infinity, pure unity (singularity; infinite smallness; the opposite of infinity), pure being, and consciousness itself. These are ineffable because you cannot perceive of them in relation to your senses, only your mind. In this way, they are pure mental objects. Being beyond the senses, these objects are truly transcendent from the world we’re all used to, which is the one completely steeped in sense-based conceptual perception. All being transcendent, these ineffable concepts are truly the different sides of the same hand. Furthermore, I believe that as these ineffables have the very same transcendent nature, that this nature in and of itself is the concept which is called “God.”

The enlightened mind therefore, is one which has brought these slightly different concepts of transcendence onto the same level; in other words, unified them into a single perception of transcendence. This perception brings pure peace, because all negative emotions, such as worry, are based on sensory-based conceptual thought. The ineffables bringing one’s mind to a truly transcendent state leads to peace, and a subsequent joy rooted within that feeling of pure peace. Even generally positive emotions arise from this sensory-based conceptual thought. Strong love generally requires at the very least a duality of self and that which is not the self. The only exception to this is having transcendent love, that is, infinite love; unconditional love, known in greek as “agape” (pronounced “a-ga-pay”). In the case of having agape as a predisposition, one needn’t stray long from the perception of the ineffable to have the emotion. A truly realized master, needn’t even stray at all. They simply give compassion and acceptance to whatever unconceptualized perceptions they face at any given moment, including the self, other beings, and even inanimate objects, as they are all one and the same as far as their transcendent nature is concerned. Thus is the nature of enlightenment; a mind steeped in the nature of the Transcendent, or what we call God.

To realize a unification of the handful of ineffable concepts does certainly require some bit of either extraordinary mental capacities or considerable effort. This isn’t to say it is beyond anyone, as, I would argue, since the concepts are pure thought alone, they are reflections of the base nature of consciousness itself; however, those who have some extraordinary faculties of thought, or who have strong enough drives and the means to put forth great effort, are naturally more likely to have an easier time with the process. For the vast number of people who either do not have the extraordinary faculties, who aren’t aware of their faculties, who are burdened by time and emotional constraints, and the like, bringing to mind the true common nature of the ineffable concepts (God) is not feasible. So to bring the ineffable into the realm of sensory-based conceptual thought, God is made personal. Since these people are in the majority, it is unsurprising that most religious traditions in the world have attempted to make God personal, and it is not wrong or false. The true nature of these ineffable concepts is an experience, and therefore is rooted in the first person. Each individual is given different personalities which are based on the causes and conditions of that individual’s past, and so for some, the experience of the ineffables may have to be personal, otherwise it is completely beyond that person either in what they can experience or in what they want to experience; the only remaining option being to revert to atheism, agnosticism, or skepticism.

Certain religious traditions such as Buddhism,Taoism, and certain schools of Hinduism have almost perfectly captured the nature of the transcendent qualities, and developed rituals, practices, and philosophies which follow from it. Other traditions (to be honest, most traditions) began from the premise that the process of arriving at the enlightened mind, where the common nature of the ineffable concepts is the basis of perception, is beyond the capacities of most people or otherwise outside the common desires of people, and so they immediately reverted to giving God personal attributes as to be more suitable to the minds of the masses. Not to say that these religions were developed purposefully and intentionally in such a manner, but rather they developed naturally alongside the collective minds of each of the myriad world societies. Both systems point to the very same truth however, and I believe that in the spirit of overcoming the sensory-based conceptual thought, the goal now should be widespread recognition of this fact and looking past the names and rituals which divide the wisdom traditions.

I hope this essay was useful, helpful in some way, or at the very least, did not increase your suffering.

-Jake

*The numbers 1, and 0, can effectively correspond with the ineffable concepts of unity and pure nothingness, which are addressed in the next paragraph. They are unique numbers in this regard.