Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on February 3, 2015

"What you see is what you get," a familiar refrain, but here quoted with a bit of a twist. Usually this phrase means "look at me; I am as I appear to be." And the twist is that I am pointing out that what we each see out there in the world through the filter of our mind is what we get. Moreover, much of what we see externally comes from inside us and is not even really out there at all. Our ignorance of this fact hermetically seals us from any way out of this closed-loop situation. This is the case for almost everyone.

In other words, our own biases, prejudices, and assumptions not only color what we see (like rose-tinted glasses), they actively create "what" we see, and all of this takes place right before our very eyes. Realizing this fact represents a major breakthrough in mind-training discipline, the fact that (in many ways) we not only project our own biases on the screen of the world around us, but we then proceed to watch our own projections with rapt attention as if seeing them somehow confirms that they are true. Thus the phrase "What you SEE is what you get," and the take-away is that we create much of what we see.

It is one thing to read about and understand intellectually what I am pointing out here, but quite another thing entirely to experience our internal projecting first hand and realize (once and for all time) what is going on, i.e. that we are playing both parts, the part of the subject and also the object we gaze upon. The realization is that a lot of what we see of the external world is not external at all, but just part of our own inner projections. This insight, realized, is the first step of any internal work.

The realization is that the subject (me) and the object (the external world) are not fixed-in-stone opposites, but rather they are in cahoots with one another. In other words, the objective world (the "there" and the "them") that we see out there is to a great measure actually created by the subject, ourselves.. The objects we see are a product of our own subjectivity. What I see outside myself as the external world is a set-up, much of which I create through my own warped mental filter.

All real inner work begins when we start to see through this vicious cycle, i.e. that we are projecting many of our own problems unto the world around us, and then taking them for granted. We are watching our own movie. Until we wake up to this fact, we are caught and hurtling through the night of time asleep in our own dream.

I am speaking here of the subject/object dichotomy we all subscribe to. So the problem becomes, how do we break the subject/object syndrome? How can we wake up in this dream of life we are having?

In my own case, back in the 1950s and early 1960s, the subject and the object dichotomy was particularly polarized and distinct. It never occurred to me (as far as I know) or to any of my friends that there was any osmosis going on between our mind and the world around of us. My self was anaerobically signed-and-sealed like the proverbial boy in the bubble. Nothing was leaked, not even a clue. This was the world I lived in, with me on the inside and everyone and everything else on the outside; the two worlds were inviolably separate from one another.

And the sad thing is that my own inner projections were scaring the hell out of me. As far as I could tell, I was a victim in a world hard-edged against me. There was seemed no alternative, no differential. Try as I might, I could never find the end of the thread to begin to disentangle that ball of string that we call our relation to the outside world. And this is where the concept of a "gap" comes in.

The 1950s mentality in which I came up in was seamless and gapless – not a crack. In order to begin any kind of real internal change we first have to find a gap, a chink in the armor of the self's airtight seal, in other words, a way out or at least a peek. And here the strict dichotomy was the "me" of the self and the "them" or "it" of the outside world, and never the twain shall meet. And so we come to one of the great initiation gateways, a ring-pass-not, as the occultists say.

This is where the concept of a "gap" comes in, and the Tibetans are all about finding these gaps or openings in our subject/object dominated view. Before we can begin unraveling our mental straitjackets, we have to find some gap, a loose thread or two. We must catch our self in the act of misdirection (ignorance), and in the beginning, this is not easy.

Once we experience consciously that we are creating the external world with our own projections, once we realize we are doing this ourselves, we have what is called a "gap," a differential or thread that we can begin to work with to deconstruct this ingrained dichotomy of subject-object separation. This concept of "me" having no relation to "you" and to the external world (that is so confining) can be deconstructed a bit at a time, but there has to be some initial glimpse or gap in the armor of the self before this can happen.

Over the centuries, there have been many ways this traditionally has been done. Of course there are the various botanicals, in particular hallucinogens like peyote, mushrooms, and so on. And there are less invasive methods as taught by the Tibetan Buddhists, which I may go into in another blog.

I can tell you that much of what we see in the outside world comes from our own internal biases, prejudices, and upbringing. You probably understand what I am saying, intellectually, but perhaps you have not experienced this in real time, much less realized it fully. That's the threshold we must cross, "realization."