“By using our attention we learned a whole reality, a whole dream. We learned how to believe in society: what to believe and what not to believe; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable; what is good and what is bad; what is beautiful and what is ugly; what is right and what is wrong”.
– Don Miguel Ruiz
Quantum physics tells us that we live in a sea of infinite potential. We use our attention to manifest reality. Because of our conditioning, this is hard for many of us to realize. What we attend to we become. Awakening means realizing that we are not victims of some external reality but the authors. As Amit Goswami writes, “There is no object in space-time without a conscious subject looking at it”.
According to Don Miguel Ruiz our attention has been hooked. This is done through the process of enculturation. Our awareness is controlled by our beliefs, which Ruiz refers to as agreements. Once we accept a belief it becomes subconscious. It becomes a way that we perceive ourselves and the world. Unfortunately, as we noted before, many of our unconscious beliefs are disempowering. For one thing, most of us were not raised knowing that we the creators of our own realities.
Instead we have been programmed to believe that we live in a predetermined material universe in which our paltry consciousness is insignificant. And because we believe that it is! As we progress in meditation we begin to take control of our attention. We develop the ability to exercise lazar-sharp focus as needed, to choose our thoughts and to tune into our intuition. We begin to take control of our experience of realty.
I have a high school friend who is a medical doctor and is a hardline materialist. We have had somewhat heated arguments as to whether an external reality exists outside of consciousness. To him the idea that it doesn’t is absurd. He believes that consciousness is a byproduct of electro-chemical processes in the brain. This is the standard position of scientific materialism (which is different from science itself.) My position is that if there is a reality external to consciousness, we cannot know it. This is a philosophical position elaborated in both Eastern and Western traditions.
The truth is that neither position can be ultimately proven. We need to balance them. There does seem to be a material world “out there,” which is presented to us through our senses. On the other hand, it is up to us to creatively interpret what is really a spectrum of electromagnetic energy through our mind. The mind operates through the brain but is not identical to it. As Daniel J. Siegel writes, “Culture is the way that meaning is transferred among individuals and across generations with groups of people. How this energy and information flow shifts its patterns across time is what cultural evolution involves. This reality of how we have changed as a species involves not the genetically driven evolution of our brains, but the mental evolution of how we collectively pass energy and information among each other across generations. This is the evolution of the mind, not the brain. One view is that for the mind (energy and information flow) to exist it may need to harness the activity of the brain. In this manner, the mind uses the brain to create itself”.
Meditation helps us to differentiate between mind, senses and awareness. It is through awareness that we are able to make changes in ourselves and consequently in our experience of reality. The mind is not the brain and the mind is not awareness, or consciousness. Awareness empowers us to use our attention to create new realities, cultural changes and a new world.