One of the coolest things I ever saw at the movies was the scene in The Matrix where Neo asks Trinity if she can fly a helicopter. Her response is “not yet” – and then she closes her eyes and receives a download from outside of the matrix that allows her to not only fly the helicopter, but wreak some havoc on the evil machines in the process.
A few years after the movie came out, I watched a special release DVD edition with “Philosopher commentary” by Ken Wilber and Dr. Cornel West. It was heartening to know that at least some of the film’s impact was down to its carefully researched themes which echo the wisdom traditions of the perennial philosophy, even if the rest of its success might be attributed to sexy androgynous actors in shiny leather outfits doing cool things with machine guns on Ducati motorcycles.
In short, while the movie was pure fantasy, the notion that most people live in a 100% thought created reality completely unaware that there is another world that exists beyond their personal thinking is pure spiritual fact. And while I have yet to receive an instant download which enabled me to fly a helicopter or do brain surgery on an epileptic lemur, the way I live my life (and in particular, do my radio show, one on one coaching, and group work) is almost entirely dependent on that particular capacity of the mind.
Here’s a somewhat clumsy drawing of how the principles behind the human experience work together with our brain to create our experience of life:
At a limited view, we are only aware of our own thinking, and it appears to us as objective truth, even though it only exists in our own thoughts. Then, as we expand into another level of consciousness, we become aware of the subjective nature of our thoughts, which are often different to other people’s thoughts. Expand further, and we become aware of two different kinds of thoughts – the ones that come from our brain (i.e. memory and received knowledge) and the ones that seem to download into our brain (i.e. inspiration, intuition, and wisdom).
An even deeper understanding reveals that we live in a world of Thought – that in fact, we’re not designed to experience anything else. This is the first real recognition of “the human matrix” – that things are definitely not what they seem, no matter how real they look, taste, smell, sound, and feel. Beyond the human matrix is the deeper or “universal Mind” – the intelligence and energy behind life, or if you prefer the space inside of which life unfolds.
For the purposes of today’s tip, I’m going to focus in on one particular capacity of the mind – its role as a conduit for deeper wisdom that can inform and guide us throughout our lives. To understand this for yourself, here’s the key question:
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Most of us have our “signature moves” – the habits of thinking that have got us to wherever we are in our lives today. For some, their signature move is to seek advice from outside of themselves. Others prefer to analyze the problem from every possible angle, gathering data in an attempt to form a more holistic perspective than the one they begin with. Still others get caught up in thoughts of overwhelm and switch off, drowning their sorrows in tankards of ale or hypnotizing themselves into numbness in front of the flickering screens of the human matrix.
But in my experience of nearly 25 years of working with high achievers in every area of life, people who consistently thrive have somehow stumbled across the secret to downloading wisdom. They’ve learned to switch off their personal thinking just enough to open up the space for a deeper wisdom to come through. It happens in the shower, at the gym, or driving in to work; on walks in nature or sipping coffee in a cafe. For some, it’s a more formal ritual – a meditation practice in a darkened room, or a prayer to a higher power and a surrender of individual will in favor of divine guidance.
What is consistent is that they have learned or intuitively realized that while factual questions (“How do I get to Carnegie Hall? What’s the boiling temperature of water?”) can be searched in a data base, more open questions (“How do we grow the company quickly without overextending ourselves? What’s shall we do about Ferguson, or the Middle East? Who am I, really, and how shall I live?”) are best answered from a deeper part of the mind.
I heard a story recently that Syd Banks, the man who first articulated these principles after an enlightenment experience, once ruefully told a friend “I always tell people to look within – but they never do!”.
Here’s what I’ve seen for myself:
The moment I turn my attention inward and allow my thoughts to wander, fresh new thinking begins to come through.
It isn’t always brilliant and it isn’t always wise – but the more I look in that direction, the more clearly I see, the easier it is to differentiate, and the more often I know exactly what to do.
With all my love,