In ‘In Another Country’ by Ernest Hemingway, he says of man, “If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that (a wife)… he should find things he cannot lose.”
What is it that humans cannot lose?
In his famous debut book The Outsider, Colin Wilson notes that Hemingway ultimately demonstrates that there is nothing that man cannot lose. Not that there is no value to life, but that ‘life is the only value; it is ideas that are valueless.’
The Endless Mirror is a book that would extend your sense of the limits of practical thinking. Unlike the existentialist philosophers of the past, it does not end with a single despairing truth, wherein after long deliberation, humans, life, or ideas are declared valueless.
This book’s perspective is not that ideas are true, but that they are only potentially useful. They do things when people project them into the world.
What is it that humans cannot lose? This is the clue that distinguishes thinking which imprisons from thinking which liberates.
The single most important thing I have ever read was Eckhart Tolle’s explanation of creating space between awareness and thought in his book A New Earth. The Endless Mirror builds around my experiences of using this idea in my life.
Thought is like an iceberg in that the thoughts that appear to us are organized and limited by deeper layers of thinking that we ordinarily never learn to see and which therefore control us. This subsurface layer, the human subconscious, is filled with cultural ideas people take for granted as reality.
If long ago, there were people who believed humans could not enter the sea, this idea would structure their experiences. Their reality would be shaped by how their belief led them to act.
Creating space between awareness and thought allows us to not automatically believe the thoughts that appear in our mind. This gives us the ability to act around them and not only react from them.
When we expand our consideration of cause and effect to encompass the beliefs that create our patterns, we can start to move beyond the perennial fixation of establishing the truth and begin to follow what each “truth” each belief, causes when projected.
In the last 500 years, changing ideas have changed our experiences of life far more than the changes in genes have. The opportunity in this book is to see that every problem our civilization cannot seem to solve, emerges from the reflex to identify with the thoughts or beliefs that appear in our head, which naturally encompass inherited cultural assumptions.
What is it that humans cannot lose?
It is something they do not know they have until their awareness expands beyond their thinking.
What we cannot lose is an aspect of ourselves that is normally masked by the egoic reflex to separate the world with thoughts. This survival mechanism has become distorted because a modern person’s sense of self has become bloated with an ever-increasing variety of abstract mental divisions (ways of separating themselves from the rest of existence). As long as their awareness cannot reach beyond thoughts, in this case, divisive thoughts, people cannot experience the possibilities inherent in alternate viewpoints.
Consciousness is not a lifestyle; it is an inner turning point, where you are no longer a passenger of involuntary thoughts and feelings but rather the space of awareness through which these pass like clouds in the sky.
The philosophers of the past were doomed by their times in that the information available to them lacked the variable that would give them a perspective on their assumptions about reality, including the reality of the self.
Today’s humans have a larger archive of experiences to learn from, but this also means that everyone can find sources to support their current viewpoint. The result is that people have become fixed in realities that all point in different directions.
For this modern condition, consciousness is a reset. To become aware of our thoughts and not identified with them allows us to choose which ideas to believe, based on how they lead us to experience life.
Don’t we already do this? No, because the ego, the reflex of creating self meaning, is built up from thoughts a person normally identifies with. If those thoughts, including the thought of one’s pride, one’s race, one’s identity, one’s image, are challenged, then the person is challenged. This egoic bias warps our sense of empiricism, our capacity for clarity and honesty. This is why people always believe it is the others’ fault, that the others are wrong.
We usually cannot infer a reality beyond our thought-bound experience. Our ideas create what we interpret as reality, not because of magic, but because they determine what people do to each other.
Practical thinking, in the case of The Endless Mirror, involves creating a bridge of thought to the inner world that surpasses both thought and the ego.
Do your ideas push you away, or bring you closer, to everything?
Take a look into The Endless Mirror, and perhaps you will see a place where we all meet.