You have said “At the highest level, the level of the spiritually awakened, the cosmos has no purpose! But the reason for this realization is different from that of the ordinary people. The cosmos is an illusion, a creation of mind. It exists because of our ignorance. Our purpose, when we are ready, is to cast off the ignorance, to break down this illusion, to liberate the personal mind to attain Universal Mind, called variously by different peoples as God’s Kingdom, the Great Void or Enlightenment”.
How do we best go about this? How can we truly begin to both understand and experience the cosmos as an illusion … to free our ignorant minds to attain Universal Mind?
How we can best go about understanding and, more significantly, experiencing the cosmos depends much on how we perceive the cosmos to be. The numerous perceptions of the cosmos may be generalized into three broad levels.
At the basic level, which applies to the great majority of people in our world, the cosmos has no purples. The less educated may not be aware of the cosmos. What they are aware of is their immediate surrounding. Some may not have ventured beyond their immediate surrounding for their whole life. The more educated would know of the cosmos, and that the world we live in is a very minute part of it. But even to the educated, the cosmos is not meaningful. Many of them would know that it consists of galaxies with countless stars and planets which, as many of them believe, are cold and lifeless.
At the intermediate level, which applies to the spiritually concerned, the cosmos is purposeful. It provides the space and time for them to cultivate. To them the cosmos is full of life. Our world where we now live is only a small part of the cosmos. Those who have cultivated blessings will go to heaven, as promised by God or whatever name they call the Supreme, to enjoy eternal life of happiness, whereas those who have done evil will be punished in hell where there is constant suffering.
At the highest level, which applies to the spiritually awakened, the cosmos has no purpose, but this purposeless cosmos is different from the purposeless cosmos conceptualized at the basic level. To the spiritually awakened, the cosmos is an illusion, a creation of mind. This does not mean that the spiritually awakened imagine the cosmos to be there when it is not there. The cosmos exists when the mind conceptualizes it. The spiritually awakened are also aware that the cosmos is real to the great majority of people at the basic level who conceptualize the cosmos as galaxies and stars, and to the spiritually concerned at the intermediate level who conceptualize it as the space and time containing heavens and hells.
Beyond this, the spiritually awakened are aware that if they have perfectly no thoughts, in practice and not just in theory, there are no galaxies and starts, no heavens and hells, and no cosmos. They themselves do not exist as individuals. There is no differentiation at all. In religious terms, there is just God, and only God, and nothing else. In scientific terms, it is just a universal spread of energy without differentiation, not even a single sub-atomic particle.
To say that the cosmos has no purpose is not to say that life has no purpose. Different people, understandingly, have countless different purposes in life. But if we are to sum up the countless purposes in life into one main purpose, it is to understand and experience the cosmos to the best of our benefit and the benefit of other people.
To the great majority of people at the basic level, it is to be healthy and happy, and to live life in this world as long as they can. To the spiritually concerned at the intermediate level, it is to do good and avoid evil, while also enjoying healthy, happy and long life. To the spiritually awakened, when they are ready, it is to attain no-thought or no-mind so as to accomplish Universal Mind, called variously as returning to God, merging with Tao or attaining Enlightenment.
There are numerous ways to accomplish the noble purposes at these three different levels. An excellent way is to practice any one, or two or all the arts taught in our school, Shaolin Wahnam, namely chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan.
The arts taught in Shaolin Wahnam will help practitioners achieve the purpose at all the three levels. At the basic level, the arts enable practitioners to generate an energy flow to have good health, happiness and longevity. At the intermediate level, the arts enable practitioners to have mental clarity and a lot of energy to do good and avoid evil. This development is intrinsic, not merely told by their teachers. At the highest level, the arts enable practitioners to expand their spirit to realize the most supreme purpose.
How do we understand and experience the cosmos as an illusion, to free our ignorant minds to attain Universal Mind? This can be accomplished through two approaches – understanding intellectually and experiencing directly.
Understanding what is meant by the cosmos is an illusion and how to free our ignorant minds to attain Universe Mind, sets both the foundation and the direction of our training towards our goal. It saves us a lot of time grouping about aimlessly, and prevent us from going astray.
The cosmos is an illusion means that what we see and think is real, is only relatively real and not absolutely real. The chair you sit on is real relative to how your sense organs receive data, especially how your eyes perceive energy and how your mind interprets it. Millions of micro-organisms floating in front of you will see and think of the same chair differently because they have different sense organs.
The chair, therefore, is a phenomenon, an appearance. All other things and beings in the cosmos, including the distant galaxies and stars and heavenly beings, are phenomena.
This does not mean that the galaxies and stars and heavenly beings as well as all other things are merely imaginary. They are real relative to the conditions you are subjected to in the phenomenal world.
What, then, is Absolute Reality, called variously by different peoples as God, Tao, Emptiness and Universal Mind? It is just God, Tao, Emptiness or Universal Mind and nothing else – without subject and object, without the knower and the known, without any differentiation.
More important than intellectual understanding is direct experience. Indeed, having understood what the concept of the cosmos is, you should do away with intellectualization if you wish to attain Universal Mind, because intellectualization which necessities thoughts will cling you to the phenomenal realm.
To have direct experience of Universe Mind, you have to learn personally from a true master who not only is capable of helping you to accomplish this noble task but is willing to teach you. It is naïve and unreasonable for people to believe that if a student wants to learn, a master must teach.
To help students attain Universal Mind, it is often not merely instruction, but heart to heart transmission from the master to the students. Unless you are an exception, it is unlikely you are ready to be completely merged with the Universal Mind, or permanently returned to God the Holy Spirit, Yet, a glimpse of Universal Mind or God, called a spiritual awakening, is a life-changing experience. It also brings you tremendous joy and freedom.
The above extract is reproduced from “Your True Nature: Wisdom of Living Masters” by Natalie Deane and Damian Lafont.