Insight is mind-power. It can’t bend spoons or produce helicopters out of thin air. No, insight isn’t a conjuring trick. Rather, it sees the through deception of the conjurer. There can be fun in being deceived, of course. Magicians can produce good entertainment. But we are in the habit of seeing the appearances of everyday life as something that they’re not. That can cause a huge amount of misery for all of us.
Insight penetrates the trickery of the mind
The mind is amazing. It is a magician that assembles unconnected components into images. For example, a mass of pixels may be just billions of tiny dots. Put them together and the mind sees them as a picture. Similarly, programmes are broadcast across the world and appear to the mind as images on television screens.
If the mind didn’t work in this way, it would not be possible to communicate using images. If all we saw in an artist’s painting were various coloured pigments, the work would be meaningless. And yet there is something of a deception going on because the mind is making out something that isn’t really there. Up to a point, we manage. We’re okay because we know that the weather man is not really inside the television. The photo of a mountain is not the mountain. But if we accidentally break a favourite ornament, we feel upset. But is anything really lost? The pieces are still there, so what’s gone?
Insight lets us know we’re okay
Making appearances seem real is a trick that the mind applies to almost everything. The downside is that we want things to be just right and are not so happy when they’re not. We become attached to things, circumstances and people. We’re happy when they are with us but often fear losing them. Anything we don’t like is unpleasant.
What if we could see things differently? The environment we see now is an ever-changing collection of images. Moreover, we all have different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, education and emotional baggage. So every human being sees a different world. No wonder there are problems!
Insight helps us to see things for what they really are. Then our emotions don’t swamp us. So if we can look beyond the apparent, our problems become less pressing and gradually disappear. Just as a mirage disappears as we approach it, our worries dissolve as our insight grows.
No-one can do that for us but as it is the mind that is the cause of all the complexity and error, we can use it to heal itself. As that progresses, the mind relaxes. We feel happier and at greater ease with our world, no matter how crazy it may seem.
Insight wakes us up from our dream-state
When we are dreaming, everything in the dream seems real. It may all be rather bizarre but it seems real while we are in it. But when we wake up, we know the dream was no more solid than a phantom or a mirage and usually we forget it quite quickly, if indeed we remember it at all. In the dream, the imagery is as real to us as when we are awake.
It is only when greater awareness comes to us as we wake up that we can dispel it as unreal. In the dreaming state there is awareness but not as great as when we are awake. Similarly, when we are awake there is awareness but not as great as in the enlightened state.
A first step: see the world as a play of energy
Our world seems very solid and real but science tells us it isn’t. Everything that looks and feels solid is made up of countless particles – atoms and molecules and the minute particles that make them up – and, just as importantly, the space between the particles. The physicist would tell us that the space between the particles is enormous – far greater than the “mass” of the particles themselves. The particles are whizzing round at enormous speed in a vast amount of space and this gives the appearance of solid matter. This means that when we look at or feel something solid, we perceive something that is not solid at all. It’s an illusion.
Unless we have exceptionally sensitive and subtle vision, it is impossible for our eyes and mind to see solid things as mainly consisting of space. However, it is not such a great stretch of the mind to think of everything in terms of energy. In fact, even all the particles are simply energy taking form, so whether something appears solid to us or not depends on how densely the energy manifests.
Understanding is part of insight
Insight begins with understanding. So we can begin to understand that the whole world is a play of energy that is an amalgam of billions upon billions of energy systems. Just like the solar system itself, you and I are each an energy system, as is a tree, a bird, an ant and so on. All these patterns of energy are composed of billions of smaller ones. We can think of the organs in our bodies, and indeed every cell, as interdependent composite forms of energy.
Every family, community, anthill, shoal of fish, every nation is a complex system or organism composed of energy. That means that everything is energy and is moving and vital. Nothing is dead because energy is dynamic. It’s extraordinary if we take the trouble to think about it.
If we can begin to see everything in life as energy, we start to break down the concepts embedded in the mind that convince us that everything is solid and real. Instead of solidity, see everything as fluid and vital. Gradually your perception will change and your mind will become freer. It really is amazing –but you have to discover that for yourself.
From Chapter 6 –Deeper insight equals greater happiness in The Great Little Book of Happiness