Alan Watts The Void, The Mirror and The Thunder of Silence || EP 238

In Buddhist imagery, the void is often symbolized by a mirror. A mirror has no color to it—it merely reflects all colors that appear in it.

Huineng also said that the void was like space. Space contains everything—mountains, oceans, stars, good people, bad people, plants, animals, everything.

And the mind is like that. Space is your mind. It’s difficult for us to see that because we think we’re in space and that we look out at it. All space, all types of space—visual, dimensional, audible, temporal, musical, tangible—are the mind. They’re dimensions of consciousness.

And so the great space that every one of us apprehends from a slightly different point of view in which the universe moves—is the mind. So the mind is represented as a mirror, because the mirror has no color in it, yet it’s able to receive all the different colors.

Thirteenth-century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said, “In order to see color, my eye has to be free from color.” In the same way, in order to see, hear, think, and feel, you have to have an empty head. The reason why you’re not aware of your brain cells is that they’re void, and for that reason, you are able to experience. So that’s the central principle of Mahayana. When the Hindu Buddhist monks went to China, and the Chinese saw them trying to sit perfectly still and not engage in any worldly activities—and these monks were celibate—the Chinese thought they were crazy. Why do all of that?

The Chinese were very practical, so they reformed Buddhism and allowed Buddhist priests to marry. And their favorite story from India was about a layman—the wealthy merchant Vimalakirti—who could out-argue any other disciple of the Buddha. He even won a debate against the bodhisattva of wisdom, Manjushri. They all had a contest to define the void. The monks gave their definitions, and Manjushri gave his, and then it was Vimalakirti’s turn. Well, the businessman said nothing. And that’s how he won the whole contest. The thunder of silence.

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Welcome to the reality revolution. Today we’re going to dive into a short lecture by Alan Watts that is congruent with a lot of the material I’ve had recently on the podcast. I’ve had meditations and discussions about the concept of the void and of the mirror in reality, trans surfing, and, and I found a nice, sweet, beautiful little essay by Ellen Watts that really captures a combination of what we’re talking about. I have two other episodes on Alan Watts that you need to check out, uh, there that are great. He’s wonderful. I think he’s just as awesome as Neville Goddard and many others. I also have an episode on using source using the void to find source and which is discussed by dr Joe Dispenza. I discussed that recently in an interview with Mary Rose, a conscious mind trainer, and she had used a lot of dr Joe’s techniques and talks about going into the void, also my episodes on the dual mirror and understanding the mere reality in trans surfing, both of those videos. Uh, so we’re in this mirror and this void. And so what does it mean from, from a F a spiritual Zen type of philosophers perspective, and I think you might enjoy this. I call it the void, the mirror and the thunder of silence. When you discover that there is nothing to clean to and that there isn’t anybody to cling to them, everything is quite different. It becomes amazing. Not only do all your senses become more wide awake and you feel almost that you’re walking on air, but you also finally see that there’s no duality. There’s no difference between the ordinary world and Nirvana. They’re the same world and the only difference between them is a point of view. Of course, if you keep identifying yourself with some sort of stable entity that sits and watches the world go by, if you don’t acknowledge your union, if you don’t recognize your inseparability from everything else that there is, if you insist on trying to take a permanent stand on trying to be a permanent witness of the flux, then it will grate against you and you will feel very uncomfortable. It’s a fundamental feeling in most of us that we are witnesses. We feel that behind the stream of our thoughts, feelings and experiences, there is something that is the thinker, the feeler and the experiencer and this thing belongs within and not outside the changing Panorama of experience. This is what you’d call a cue signal. At one point when someone wanted to record your telephone conversation, it was ruled that there should be a beep every 70 seconds in order to cue you in. That conversation was being recorded in a similar way. In our everyday experience, there is a beep that tells us that we’re having a continuous experience. It’s like when a composer arranges some music and they keep it in a recurrent theme, but make several variations of that theme. There isn’t a constant noise going all the way through to tell you that the piece is continuous. Although there is such a thing in Hindu music, the drone and the drone represents the eternal self behind all the changing forms of nature, but that’s only a symbol to find out what is eternal. You can’t make an image of it. You can’t hold onto it. It’s psychologically more conducive to liberation to remember that the thinker or the feeler or the experiencer and the experiences are all together. They’re all one. However, if out of anxiety you try to stabilize or keep permanent, some kind of separate observer, then you’re in for conflict. This sense of a separate observer, a thinker of thoughts is an abstraction we create out of memory. We think of the self, the ego rather as a repository of memories, a kind of safety deposit box or filing cabinet place where all our experiences are stored, but that’s not a very good idea. It’s more that memory is a dynamic. It’s a repetition of rhythms and these rhythms are all part and parcel of the ongoing flow of present experience. How do you distinguish between a memory and something known in the moment? Actually, you don’t know anything at all unless you remember it because if something happens that is purely instantaneous, a flash of light lasting only 1000000th of a second, for example, [inaudible] you don’t really experience it. It doesn’t give you enough time to remember it, so it doesn’t make an impression. All present knowledge is memory. You look at something and the rods and cones in your retina jiggle around and a up a series of vibrations or echoes in your brain and these echoes keep reverberating. The brain is incredibly complicated. For example, everything you know is remembered, but there is a way in which we distinguish between seeing somebody here now and the memory of having seen somebody else who is not here now but whom you did see in the past and you know perfectly well when you remember that other person’s face. That’s not an experience of the person being here. How is this? Will memory signals have a different cue attached to them than present time signals? They carry a different vibration, but sometimes the wiring gets mixed up and present experiences come to us with a memory cue attached to them, which is when we experience deja VU, we feel quite sure that we’ve experienced this thing before. We don’t ordinarily recognize that although memories are a series of signals with a special kind of cue attached to them so that we don’t confuse them with present experiences. They’re actually part of the present moment experience. They are part of this constantly flowing life process and there is no separate witness standing aside from the process watching it all go by and you can accept that and no longer clutch to this sense of a separate self. And that’s why death should be an occasion for great celebration. It’s the opportunity for the greatest of all experiences when you finally let go and you can do that when you know there’s nothing else to do. So in Buddhist philosophy, this acceptance of change is the doctrine of the world as the void. This teaching did not emerge prominently until well after the Buddha died, we only begin to see it really emerge around 100 BCE and it didn’t reach its peak until 200 CE. The doctrine was formed by Mahayana Buddhists who developed a whole class of literature called proj NA per meta Pragna means wisdom and Paramita can be translated as for crossing over or for going beyond versions of the proj. No Paramita are recited by Buddhists all over the world, particularly a short version called the heart Sutra and the text contains the phrase form is emptiness, emptiness is form and then goes on to elaborate on this theme, so it was supposed to be early missionaries that Buddhists are not. Neil lists that Buddhist assert that the world is really nothing but the philosophy is far more subtle than that. The main person who propagated these teachings was Nagarjuna who lived somewhere around 200 CE. He possessed one of the most astonishing minds that the human race has ever produced. The name of Nagarjuna school of thought is called Maude yamaka, which means the doctrine of the middle way or the doctrine of emptiness. Emptiness essentially means transients, nothing to grasp, nothing permanent, and it specifically refers to ideas of reality, meaning that reality escapes all concepts. If you say there is a God, that’s a concept. If you say there is no God, that’s also a concept and so Nagarjuna emphasized the dialectic method of teaching Buddhism specifically at the university of Nalanda, which was destroyed when the Muslims invaded India, but which has been reestablished in modern times. The dialectic method is perfectly simple and can be done with an individual student and in teacher or with a group. You’d be amazed at how effective it is when it involves presses a little more than discussion. The teacher gradually elicits from participants their basic premises on life, what their fundamental assumptions are, what is right and wrong, what is the good of life? Where do you take your stand and the teacher finds this out for each student and then demolishes it. When you lose your fundamental beliefs, you lose your personal compass and you get frightened and immediately look for something to depend on. And in this dialectic method, the teacher doesn’t offer any alternative suggestions. They just continue the process of examination. Why do you think you have to have something to depend on? Now this is kept up over quite a period of time and the only thing that keeps students from going insane is the presence of the teacher who seems to be perfectly happy. And when students finally realize the void emptiness, they are liberated and yet they can’t quite say why or what it is that they found out. That’s why it’s called the void. Nagarjuna continued on to teach that you must void the void that is you mustn’t cling to the void. And so the void of the non void is the great state as it were of Nagarjuna as Buddhism. But you must remember that all that has been avoided, all that has been denied are those concepts in which one has hitherto attempted to pin down what is real Zen teaches. You cannot nail a peg into the sky. To be someone of the sky. To be someone of the void means that you don’t depend on anything. When you’re not hung up on anything. You’re the only thing that isn’t hung up on anything, which is the universe which doesn’t hang. Where would it hang? It has no place to crash or fall on, and this is a strange notion to people like us who are accustomed to rich imageries of the divine, the Lord God in heaven, resplendent with glory, with all the colors of the rainbow surrounded by golden saints and angels and everything like that, and we feel that’s a positive. We’ve got a real rip roaring, gutsy religion full of color, but it doesn’t work that way. The clearer your image of God, the less powerful it is. It’s more of an idol than anything, but voiding that image completely isn’t going to turn it into what you think of as void. What do you think of as void? Being lost in a fog, in darkness, in something like the space behind your eyes, some blank nothingness. None of these ideas are the void. The sixth patriarch Zen queening taught that it was a great mistake for people who practice meditation to try to make their minds empty. A lot of people try to do that and they sit down and they try to have no thoughts whatsoever in their minds and not only no thoughts, but also no sensations. People close their highs and plug their ears and generally go in for some sensory deprivation and that can be quite interesting. It sends some people crazy, some people don’t. It doesn’t bother at all and some people get a pleasant sensation of weightlessness. I’ve said elsewhere that the people who really accept transients begin to feel weightless. When D T Suzuki was asked what it is like to experience Satori enlightenment, he replied, it’s like everyday experience, but about two inches off the ground. And when Changzhou once said, it’s easy enough to stand still, the difficulty is walking without touching the ground. Why do we feel so heavy? It’s not just a matter of gravity or weight. We feel that we carry these bodies around as the Zen koan asks, who is it that carries this corpse around? In common speech, we talk about life being a drag or laying our burdens down. Who is carrying the burden? That’s the question. And when there’s nobody left for whom the body can be a burden, the body is no longer a burden, but as long as you fight it, it’s a burden. And when there’s nobody left to resist the thing we call change, which is simply another word for life. When we dispel the illusion that we think our thoughts instead of being just a stream of thoughts, when we lose the notion that we feel our feelings instead of being just feelings, then life is no longer a burden. Feeling feelings. Is it redundant expression like saying that you hear sounds when hearing is sound, there are no sounds that are not heard. Seeing his sight, you don’t see sights. That’s ridiculous. When we think redundantly like this, it’s comparable to oscillation in an electrical system where there’s too much feedback on old fashioned telephones, the receiver in the mouthpiece, we’re separate and if you really wanted to annoy someone, you would put the receiver to the mouthpiece and create this terrible howl. It could be very hard on the ears. That’s due to the oscillation. So when you get to thinking that you can think your thoughts, that’s a similar consequence. I am worried and I ought not to worry, but because I can’t stop worrying. I’m worried cause I worry she’s, you see where this leads for us, that oscillation means anxiety but knockers UNE is method abolishes anxiety because you will discover that no amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that’s going to happen. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to die. Don’t put that off in the back of your mind as something to consider later. It’s the most important thing to consider right now because it enables you to let go so you don’t have to defend yourself all the time. You don’t have to waste all your energy on self-defense in Buddhist imagery that the void is often symbolized by a mirror. A mirror has no color to it. It merely reflects all the colors that appear in it. Weening also said that the void was like space. Space contains everything. Mountains, oceans, stars, good people, bad people, plants, animals, everything and the mind is like that space is your mind. It’s difficult for us to see that because we think we are in space and that we look out at it all space, all types of space, visual, dimensional, audible, temporal, musical, tangible are the mind. There are dimensions of consciousness and so the great space that everyone of us apprehends from a slightly different point of view in which the universe moves is the mind. So the mind is represented as a mirror because the mirror has no color in it yet it’s able to receive all the different colors. 13th century Christian mystic Meister ICART said, in order to see color, my eye has to be free from color. And the same way in order to see, hear, think and feel, you have to have an empty head. The reason why you’re not aware of your brain cells is that they’re void and for that reason you are able to experience. So that’s the central principle of Mahayana. When the Hindu Buddhist monks went to China and the Chinese saw them trying to sit perfectly still and not engage in any worldly activities, and these monks were celibate, the Chinese thought they were crazy. Why do all of that Chinese were very practical. So they reformed Buddhism and allowed Buddhist priest to marry in. Their favorite story from India was about a layman, the wealthy merchant, bill McCurdy, who could out argue any other disciple of the Buddha. He even wanted debate against the buddy Saatva of wisdom. Mind you, she, they all had a contest to define the void. The monks gave their definitions and the Manjushri gave his, and then it was Vilma skirt E’s turn well, the businessman said nothing. And that’s how he won the whole contest, the thunder of silence. [inaudible] so it’s always fun to read Alan Watts words. You should definitely listen to his lectures. He’s got a great way of delivering his lectures and he will be timeless forever. And I just thought this one was interesting. It’s sporing some interesting concepts and it’s just another learning on our path. Uh, that makes you think a little bit, and I’m interested with this concept of the void. You can see where dr Joe Dispenza gets the concept of space and void in his meditations. And for some people when I mentioned that it seems kind of weird or unusual, and I’ve even had people that did meditations of the void meditation. I have the void meditation, I have the Coon, delete any void meditation and I have a sleep meditation, a lucid dreaming in the void. And uh, and some people totally get it and some people, uh, they don’t want to go in the void. It’s a scarier, weird subject and it’s hard to explain why it’s such a powerful or effective thing. It’s not saying as much in this essay, but there is power in the void because in the void is infinite possibilities. Imagine that you go to a place that has all the answers, that has all the possibilities because in space space is filled up with so much energy that we’re not even aware of. Emptiness is never empty. So this void is more than just this void. So it’s interesting. It’s sometimes hard to explain and these teachings help a little bit. It’s goes all the way back. My own personal opinion is the void is the connection to the God that we all are. We don’t have to worry about dying because we are God and we’re just in this instrument right now feeling these feelings, thinking these thoughts, these sites. But we are a part of something much, much bigger. And when you understand that mere principle that what we see in our lives is a reflection of what our thoughts are and what our actions are. And you think about how a mirror works. You don’t, if you have a smudge on your face, when you look at the mirror, you don’t try to wipe the smudge off on the mirror. You smile, you wipe it off on yourself, right? So this void that we have live in that we exist in, that creates the world that we’re in is a mirror that doesn’t really want you to know. It’s a mirror that is a conscious mirror, a conscious void. It’s so hard to explain, but I think understanding it through that way is helpful. In any case, it’s always fun to go on these metaphysical journeys with you and I hope you got something out of it. And let me know if you want more. Alan Watts got lots more and some Neville Goddard, some Dolores cannon coming and more meditations and interviews. As always, I’m deeply grateful that you’ve shared this journey with me. All episodes of the reality revolution can be found@therealityrevolution.com I am imagining incredible things for anybody that’s listening to this right now. I’m imagining miracles that are amazing, wonderful, fantastic and incredible right now. Just incredible things. Today’s going to be the greatest day just from hearing this, the energy that I’m sending you. I’m sending you the best, so I hope you have an awesome day and welcome to the reality revolution.

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