Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Nervous System
Conceptualizing oneself happens as a result of this process. Conceptualizing yourself means that you use all your experiences, good and bad, to crystallize a certain picture. And this picture is mostly based on a rejection of something you don’t want, something you experience as negative or painful. One of the main purposes of the creation of identity is to resist. The conceptualization of identity is simply the crystallization of that activity into an image of a person. But the core of that image is the frustration, which I call the state or affect of negative merging. Instead of harmony, there is a jagged flow through the nervous system. This is experienced as frustration, which is suffering. Psychic suffering, mental suffering is that actual contraction, that feeling of harshness, dryness, stuckness.
Whenever we are reacting to or rejecting anything, we are identifying with that core of frustration. Of course, this core of cyclic reactivity and frustration is covered with something softer, so that usually we don’t feel it. We dull it with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. So we see that the personality is constructed of a continuous cyclic movement of reactivity. It continuously produces more of itself, more frustration and suffering. Understanding this enables us to understand the processes of disidentification, letting go, surrender, and acceptance.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 180
Differences between Emotional States and Essence
The main difference between emotional states and essence is that the former are discharged processes of our nervous systems, whereas the latter is definitely not. Emotional states are primarily physiological processes accompanied by some ideational content. On the other hand, essence is not a physiological process and is not a discharge of the nervous system. Essence is independent of the nervous system, transcends physiological processes, and can, in fact, exist without the physical organism. Essence, when it is present, affects the nervous system, but it is not the discharge, or the emotion, that results from the contact between essence and the physiology. This is a very important difference. It means that emotions don't really exist except in the sense that activities exist. They are activities, and activities don't have an ontological presence. Essence, on the other hand, is not an activity. As we saw in chapter 1, essence is a presence, and its basic quality is its existence as an ontological actuality, as a "suchness." An emotion is an activity that starts and ends, whereas essence is a presence. An emotion is like the movement of water, the activity that is the motion. The motion of water is not the water. Water can be still, without motion. Essence, on the other hand, is like the water. It exists whether there is motion or not.
Energies of the Chakras
This is all beautiful and good. In fact, it is necessary for inner development. But this is not yet essence. This kind of experience is what usually happens when one of the chakra. in the body is activated. Chakra is an Indian word meaning "center" or "wheel." The chakras are different centers of certain energies; the heart chakra is one of many. They are usually located at the main plexi of the nervous system and are very much linked with the nervous system and its processes. Their function is mainly the coordination of some basic physiological and autonomic discharge processes. The energies of the chakras are the basic raw energies of emotional states. When a chakra is active, or "open," we directly experience the basic subtle energies that go into the makeup of the various emotions, instead of the emotions themselves. That is why we experience emotional freedom when the heart opens: the energy frees us, for the moment, from the conflicting emotions that usually fill our hearts. The basic energy of the heart chakra is experienced as love, joy, and bliss. When it is seen, it is seen as colored lights in the heart, usually golden or green.
Felt Experience of Essential Brilliancy
Brilliancy usually flows in the body through the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal column. As such, it is directly involved with the nervous system and the brain, so it affects the functioning of thought. Imagine Brilliancy flowing through your synapses; imagine feeling it in your nerves. Imagine the sensation of exquisite smoothness and purity coursing through your nervous system, lighting it up, setting it ablaze with the brilliance of intelligence. Like a lubricant or a conducting substance of complete smoothness in your nervous system, Brilliancy dissolves any resistance in the nerves with its smoothness and flow, with its incredible ease, speed, and penetrating power. Brilliancy makes the inner sensation of your consciousness so delicate, so subtle, so exquisite, that you truly know what the refinement of consciousness means. Although its presence can be quite full and immense, Brilliancy makes you feel as if your senses have been cleansed with some kind of divine shower, so that your very sensations are exquisiteness itself. Even clarity is seen as an external reflection of that pure radiance. Brilliancy is the explosion of illumination from which clarity comes.
Brilliancy, pg. 19
Merging Essence Impacts the Nervous System
Unconsciously, Merging Essence is equated with the good undifferentiated representation, the positive dual unity. But consciously it is associated with the good mother, or the all-good love object. A devastating outcome of this association is the development of the strong belief that the Merging Essence is not part of oneself, but that it is, or is part of, the good mother. In the usual process of ego development, the most integration an individual can have of this aspect is the belief that one can experience it only with the good mother, or with somebody who stands for her……… Another important factor in this aspect is its relation to the nervous system. It is a state of melting and flow, expansion and pleasure. When it is present it seems particularly to affect the nervous system, facilitating the functioning of the nerve cells and ends, as if energy and electrical impulses become smoother and more easily transmitted. It is a profound relaxation of the nervous system, and of the whole organism. It is closely allied to the functioning of the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. So it facilitates discharge, rest, relaxation, metabolism, gestation, which are all features of states of satisfaction and gratification. Its effect on the organism, at all levels, is that of comforting, soothing, nourishing, relieving tension and discharging energy. It is no wonder that the good mother becomes the promise of everlasting happiness for the ego. She represents a vehicle for the return to Essence. These qualities of the affect of the Merging Essence are exactly the mothering functions, which object relations theory says are internalized and integrated by internalizing the good mother's image. Object relations theory understands ego development and autonomy to be dependent on internalizing these soothing and regulating functions, which in turn depends on the internalization of the mother's image, forming one of the two main achievements of object constancy.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 238
Nature of Intelligence
Intelligence transcends the mechanical part of our consciousness, the physiological apparatus of the nervous system. Many of you think that intelligence has to do with how many cells are operating in your brain. That factor may have something to do with its level of functioning, just as the thymus gland becomes more operative the more love manifests. But that doesn't mean that you can do something mechanical with your thymus gland and become more loving. Neither can you do something with your brain—inject it with some kind of chemical to activate more of the cells—and become more intelligent, at least not at the present level of scientific knowledge. Intelligence is something innate, organic—part of your very consciousness, part of your very beingness—that when present can affect your brain and allow more cells to be active. It’s as though more of a certain part of you has to be present in your brain for your brain to respond and function intelligently. Intelligence needs the physical apparatus of the brain in order to express itself. So if you have brain damage, your capacity for intelligence will probably be limited. This is because, even though you have innate intelligence, the vehicle through which it expresses itself isn’t functioning optimally. It is as if you had a great capacity to sing but something was wrong with your vocal cords—you would be unable to sing, regardless of how wonderful your innate singing capacity was. Likewise, you could be very intelligent, but if you have brain damage, you won’t be able to express that intelligence. The point is that intelligence is not an innate property of the brain cells; it is a property of your consciousness, your soul.
Brilliancy, pg. 95
Technical Use of “Mind”
So the more technical use of “mind” in this culture is that the mind is the content of experience as a whole. All impressions are taken to be the mind. A further distinction can be made between that content and the container or apparatus that is concerned with these things. Either the content itself, or the receptacle or the perceiver of the content is considered the mind. This distinction is not generally made in psychological literature. If there is a distinction made, it is between the physical nervous system and the thoughts themselves. If you take the mind to mean only the mental processes, then the apparatus is the physical nervous system, the brain. If you take the mind to mean all impressions and experiences, then the apparatus becomes the whole body with the emphasis on the entire nervous system including the spinal cord and ganglia as well as the brain. So now we have two concepts for the word “mind.” Of course, some philosophers talk about the mind beyond the brain or nervous system. They postulate the existence of a mind that operates through the brain if they are referring to the “small mind,” or of a mind that operates through the whole nervous system, the entire “soma” or human body, which they refer to as “big mind.” The mind is seen not as something definite, rather as a kind of force or agency. In these formulations it is not very clear what that force is. This leads to questions about the nature of the mind. What is the mind that is separate from the brain and the nervous system? Is there an agency of the processes? Is there a force?