What do I know about the world? I think I know a lot, I feel a lot. There is a great deal of information stored within me. I am full to the brim with ideas, conclusions and analyses. Every day brings uncounted and perhaps uncountable little experiences, some quaint, some mundane, some sweet, some bitter. Some days bring huge, overwhelming experiences which make me feel laughably small and reveal the depth of my ignorance.
The sum total of all my past experiences affects the way each new experience is felt and understood and it keeps on coming, minute after minute, a relentless assault of data, sensation and opinion. My tiny little mind interprets it all as best it can through the rather unsophisticated and completely emotional framework of ‘like’ or ‘dislike’, ‘for’ or ‘against’, ‘yes’ or ‘no’, demanding repetition of this experience which I liked, or avoidance of that experience which I disliked. This state of ‘for’ or ‘against’ causes a sort of mentality of preference and resistance which in turn causes the experiences that linger within me, to stay on as part of my system. Through all this, as the years pass and each new experience comes along and adds to those already stored within, an immense accretion of concepts slowly begins to form in my mind, becoming entrenched there. This accretion of concepts is the only lens through which I am able to perceive my life and myself. It becomes my ‘reality’.
I take this ‘reality’ very, very seriously. I take it so seriously that it entirely dictates the way I feel and operate; my happiness depends on it, my sadness depends on it, I cling to it. I fight and argue for it and celebrate it. I embrace what is ‘good’ according to my conception of life and reject what is ‘bad’ according to it. I can, in fact, see nothing beyond it, my whole existence, as I am able perceive it, is just concepts and thoughts collected from the world of experiences.
How does all of this come to me? Through what medium does experience enter into me, to then be processed and stored and acted upon? I cannot think of any concept that exists within me which did not come from an event or situation which I experienced through one or more of my 5 senses. Imagine it: A whole life with all of its beauty and ugliness, joys, agonies, relationships, ambitions, desires, disappointments, reasonable and unreasonable expectations; what my guru calls ‘the world of noises’, all of it just light and sound coming in through the holes in my head.
It seems absurd to me that I could take it so seriously, as a matter of such grave import. It seems absurd that that is all there is to me. Perhaps that really is all there is to me, but what if it isn’t? What if there is something within me which is independent of all the stuff coming in through my head-holes; something beyond mere processed and recycled experiences? What if there something within me which is truly original, truly my own? What if there is something within me which does not require the medium of head-holes to be experienced, but is able to experiences itself? For that, I would need nothing from the ‘world of noises’. Surely, if there is such a thing, then it is worth exploring, it may even be the only thing worth exploring, the only thing I can keep forever, the only thing which cannot be lost.
Enter: The game of silence; the shift in focus from that without to this within, the exploration of myself. The understanding that everything I think I know about the world has little lasting value. The understanding that while the world outside is to be experienced, explored and positively contributed to, the inner work is what yields lasting fruit. The inner work is all.
Author: Hein Adamson