When I first began learning about the three principles behind the human experience, I just wanted to be happy. I had been seeking to avoid a return to depression for over twenty years, and to my delight, I began to experience a level of well-being that was previously unknown to me. So I threw myself into the field with my usual 'kitchen sink' abandon, reading every book multiple times, listening to every audio I could get my hands on, going on every course, and peppering practitioners with questions at every opportunity.
Sure enough, within less than a year of having come across the fact that we live in the feeling of our thinking, not the feeling of our circumstances, I was happier than I'd ever been. For the first time in my life, I didn't feel broken. I recognized that the only thing between me and my well-being was a thought, and that I didn't even have to control my thinking - I could simply let it settle and my mind would return to a relatively quiet and peaceful place.
So when one of my coaches suggested that there were deeper levels to this understanding, I was genuinely puzzled. It was such a relief to finally be "fixed" that I couldn't imagine what could be gained by continuing to look in this direction.
But after taking some time off from all that studying, I became intrigued by the idea that there might be something beyond the secret of happiness and well-being that I felt I'd discovered, and I returned to the conversation. This time, I didn't really know what I was looking for, so I read and watched and listened with less vigor and intention than before. Because I was more relaxed and had less on my mind, I was able to see and hear things that had eluded me the first time around.
To my own surprise, I began to spend more and more of my time in a world of deeper feeling. This meditative place seemed to fit the description of what some Eastern religions call 'the unconditioned mind', and I began to experience a level of connection and insight that led me to begin describing it as "the space where miracles happen".
Better still, the more time I spent in that space, the more my clients and people around me seemed to spend in it too, as if the space itself had a resonance that drew people into it like a gravitational field. But when people asked me to explain this 'second order' change, I struggled. I couldn't identify what was different between 'just' getting happier and this new, deeper sense of peace, clarity, and well-being.
As I've continued to look in this direction over the past few years, I have become clearer and clearer that the difference that makes the difference in the quality of our life and the level of our effectiveness in the world is less to do with having a quiet mind than with what shows up in that space of quiet.
Or to put it another way:
There is a world of difference between experiencing an absence of thought and the presence of Mind.
Mind is what I call "The God Principle" - the energy and intelligence behind life.
In The Inside-Out Revolution, I talk about it like this:
In mystical circles, this energy behind life is often referred to as the 'Ground of Being'; in physics, it's sometimes referred to as the 'quantum field'; in religion, it's God, or more specifically the Godhead. While to equate these things may seem heretical in some traditions (including atheism), I mean no offense by it - I'm simply pointing to the fact that nearly all traditions and fields of study point to something that's beyond our personal human-sized view of life.
I like to think of it as infinite creative potential - the potential for any form to arise (including thought-forms) and for any experience to be experienced.
In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins quotes Albert Einstein:
'To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense, I am religious.'
Dawkins then goes on to say that in this sense he too is religious. And in this sense I think anyone who has ever contemplated the miracle of life would call themselves religious, no matter what their view on a supernatural deity...
In fact I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't at least some awareness of a part of themselves that exists beyond whatever personal trials and tribulations we all face. And the more time we spend connected with that part of ourselves, the more beautiful our life, and the impact of that life, becomes.
I still get embarrassed from time to time when I talk about things like this, as my own habitual thinking about God and religion still gets all muddled up and I struggle at times to separate the baby from the bath water. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I allow myself to go beyond the relief of a quiet mind and rest in the mystery and presence of a larger divine Mind, it feels like coming home.
The world begins to make sense again, my love for and faith in humanity grows, and I get to experience a level of peace in the midst of the chaos that allows me to embrace the richness of life in a way that younger me who "just wanted to be happy" could never have imagined.
This is, as best as I can tell, our birthright as human beings. And the kindness of the design is that all we ever need to do to claim it is to look in this direction and to see it for ourselves.
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