Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Cognitive Process
Ordinary Knowledge is an Accumulation of Abstractions
In the normal cognitive process, we abstract certain forms and patterns from the overall unified field of knowledge and retain them in memory. The accumulation of these abstractions is what we ordinarily call knowledge. Our cultural environment largely determines which forms and patterns we focus on, isolate, and abstract. Thus ordinary knowledge is largely culturally determined. But knowledge can free itself from these constraints and apprehend what is. This is spiritual awakening.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 57
The Limit to Cognitive Capacity
At some point in the development of our capacity to discern, the cognitive capacity can take itself to its own limits. And that is really what the inner work is about: taking the discerning capacity to its ultimate limit, where reality itself is beyond cognition. Our cognitive capacity knows and knows and knows, until it begins to approach a reality that it cannot know. And the reason it cannot know it is not because our cognitive capacity is not developed, or because there is something wrong with it, or even because there is an obscuration, but because the reality it is now encountering has nothing to do with knowing—it is beyond knowing. When the mind recognizes that to be the case, it basically bows down and bows out.
In some sense, the mind has been wanting to do that for a long time because it has been doing the difficult job of inquiry for so long and it needs to rest. It wants to go to sleep. It wants the world to run without it because it has been feeling that it has had to be in charge of everything.