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Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had.

And they are all we can offer


others. This might not be obvious, especially when there are aspects of your life that seem in
need of improvementwhen your goals are unrealized, or you are struggling to find a career,
or you have relationships that need repairing. But its the truth. Every experience you have
ever had has been shaped by your mind. Every relationship is as good or as bad as it is
because of the minds involved. If you are perpetually angry, depressed, confused, and
unloving, or your attention is elsewhere, it wont matter how successful you become or who
is in your lifeyou wont enjoy any of it.
Most of us could easily compile a list of goals we want to achieve or personal problems that
need to be solved. But what is the real significance of every item on such a list? Everything
we want to accomplishto paint the house, learn a new language, find a better jobis
something that promises that, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in
the present. Generally speaking, this is a false hope. Im not denying the importance of
achieving ones goals, maintaining ones health, or keeping ones children clothed and fed
but most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the
underlying purpose of our search. Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are
trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.

Truly wanting him to be happy made his happiness my own.


I had ceased to be concerned about myself. I was no longer anxious, self-critical, guarded by
irony, in competition, avoiding embarrassment, ruminating about the past and future, or
making any other gesture of thought or attention that separated me from him. I was no
longer watching myself through another persons eyes.
The moment I could find a voice with which to speak, I discovered that this epiphany about
the universality of love could be readily communicated. My friend got the point at once: All I
had to do was ask him how he would feel in the presence of a total stranger at that moment,
and the same door opened in his mind. It was simply obvious that love, compassion, and joy
in the joy of others extended without limit. The experience was not of love growing but of its
being no longer obscured. Love wasas advertised by mystics and crackpots through the
agesa state of being. How had we not seen this before? And how could we overlook it ever
again?
Twenty percent of Americans describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. Although
the claim seems to annoy believers and atheists equally, separating spirituality from religion
is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It is to assert two important truths simultaneously: Our
world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn,
and yet there is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture
generally admit. One purpose of this book is to give both these convictions intellectual and
empirical support.
The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, which is a translation of the
Greek pneuma,meaning breath. Around the thirteenth century, the term became entangled
with beliefs about immaterial souls, supernatural beings, ghosts, and so forth. It acquired
other meanings as well: We speak of the spirit of a thing as its most essential principle or of

certain volatile substances and liquors as spirits. Nevertheless, many nonbelievers now
consider all things spiritual to be contaminated by medieval superstition.
contemplativewith which to discuss the efforts people make, through meditation,
psychedelics, or other means, to fully bring their minds into the present or to induce
nonordinary states of consciousness. And no other word links this spectrum of experience to
our ethical lives.
Although the insights we can have in meditation tell us nothing about the origins of the
universe, they do confirm some well-established truths about the human mind: Our
conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and patience,
are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world.

Ceaseless change is an unreliable basis for lasting fulfillment. Realizing this, many
people begin to wonder whether a deeper source of well-being exists. Is there a form
of happiness beyond the mere repetition of pleasure and avoidance of pain? Is there a
happiness that does not depend upon having ones favorite foods available, or friends
and loved ones within arms reach, or good books to read, or something to look
forward to on the weekend? Is it possible to be happy before anything happens,
before ones desires are gratified, in spite of lifes difficulties, in the very midst of
physical pain, old age, disease, and death?
We are all, in some sense, living our answer to this questionand most of us are
living as though the answer were no. No, nothing is more profound than repeating
ones pleasures and avoiding ones pains; nothing is more profound than seeking
satisfactionsensory, emotional, and intellectualmoment after moment. Just keep
your foot on the gas until you run out of road.
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the term higher consciousness is often
used by spiritually minded people to

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describe important but part of reach
mental states

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hindu sages Christian monks and Buddhist


ascetics all speak of reaching moments

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of higher consciousness through
meditation or chanting fasting or

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pilgrimages

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unfortunately the way in which these
spiritual people discuss their states of

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higher consciousness has a tendency to
put a lot of secular types on edge

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it can also found maddeningly vague and
wishy-washy touchy-feely and for want of

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a better word annoying

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what on earth do these gurus really mean

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we deeply sympathize with such
frustrations not being by nature

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particularly attracted to the inevitable
or the mysterious

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however it seems that the idea of higher
consciousness is in fact a very

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interesting one which has nothing
inherently to do with spirituality and

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can be defined simply enough in strictly
rational and secular terms

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this is how we see it as human beings we
spend most of our lives functioning in

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states of lower consciousness

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well what were principally concerned
with is ourselves our survival and our

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own success narrowly defined ordinary
life rewards practical an introspective

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self-justifying outlooks for the
hallmarks of lower consciousness

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neuroscientist speak of a lower part of
the brain they call the reptilian mind

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and tell us that under its way we strike
back when we hit blame others quell any

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straight questions that lack immediate
relevance fail to free-associate and

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stick closely to a flattering image of
who we are and where we're headed

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however that rare moments when there are
no threats or demands upon us

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perhaps late at night or early in the

morning when our bodies and passions

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comfortable and quiescent we have the
privilege of being able to access

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the higher mind what your site is called
on me o cortex the seat of imagination

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empathy and impartial judgment will
loosen hold on our own egos and ascend

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to a less biased and more universal
perspective

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casting off a little of the customary
anxious self-justification and brittle

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pride in such states the mind moves
beyond its particular self-interests and

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cravings

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we start to think of other people in a
more imaginative way rather than

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criticize and attack with free to
imagine their behavior being driven by

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pressures derived from their own
primitive mines which they're generally

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in no position to tell us about that
temper or viciousness

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are we now see symptoms of heart rather
than evil

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it's an astonishing gradual evolution to
develop the ability to explain others

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actions by their distress rather than
simply in terms of how it effects us we

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perceive that the appropriate response
to humanity is not fear cynicism

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aggression before ones when we can
manage it

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luck at such moments the world reveals

itself as . different a place of

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suffering and misguided effort full of
people striving to be heard

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lashing out against others but also a
place of Tennessee long beauty touching

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vulnerability fitting responses
universes sympathy and kindness one's

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own life feels less precious want to
contemplate being no longer present of

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tranquility once interest to put aside
and one may imaginatively fuse with

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transient or natural things trees the
wyndham off clouds or waves breaking on

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the shore from this point of view status
is nothing possessions don't matter

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grievances news their urgency if certain
people could encounter us at this point

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they might be amazed at our
transformation and our newfound

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generosity and empathy states of higher
consciousness are of course desperately

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short lived

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we shouldn't in any case aspire to make
them permanent because they don't sit so

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well with the many important practical
tasks we all need to attend to but we

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should make the most of them when they
do arise and harvest their insights for

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when we require the most higher
consciousness is a huge triumph over the

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primitive mind which cannot envisage any
such possibilities

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ideally we'd be a little more alive to

the advantages of this higher mind and

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strive to make our oceanic experiences
somewhat less random and less clothed in

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unnecessary mystery

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yeah