Quite the goal that, enlightenment, eh? While part of me says “All in!”, the more rational part has a few caveats: got to make a living, be an involved aunt, write what is for me to write. I can’t spend the rest of my earthly life cross-legged under a banyan tree. Bet you can’t either.
So, why did I delve into Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror by Mark C. Brown, Ph.D.? The endlessly curious, less rational part, of course. But even the rational bits are glad that I did. And even if you are not actively seeking your personal nirvana, I’ll bet this book would be helpful to you as well.
Brown warns in the introduction that the first couple of chapters will be slower going, and it was fair warning. While definitely dense, these chapters serve as the basis for all else contained. Not to ruin the surprise or anything but Brown sets out his understanding of Consciousness as Creator. He views everything material to be Consciousness manifesting itself, and each developmental step, physical as well as mental, being the push toward enlightenment. Once humans and the human brain developed, Consciousness let go of now needless physical transformations to focus all that power on mental, thought-based development.
It does get a bit boggy, but I urge you to press on till you digest it. Everything else in Dr. Brown’s explanations and methods flow from these ideas. And, I must add, flow logically, which can be tough to find in this area. That logical grounding went miles in helping me to accept the more metaphysical stuff to follow.
If you fancy yourself a Buddhist, or at least well acquainted with its tenets, you won’t find great surprises here, but you will find a more reasoned presentation. Its about learning detachment, over and over and over, deeper and deeper and deeper. Now, while I don’t aspire to complete detachment, I was able to see a reason for developing some of these skills.
Brown describes the process of learning self-observation, the ability to step outside your self, with all its messy emotionalism and bias, and to see yourself and others engaged from an observer’s stance. As a writer, this ability is invaluable, and I am grateful to Brown here. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around detachment before, and he showed me that I already do this.
That is another fundamental point for Brown – we are ALREADY IN PROCESS. Because Consciousness is constantly pushing for growth/expression, we’re all on the road to enlightenment, albeit at different points on that road. While frustrating to my Type-A friends, we CAN’T rush enlightenment. We are where we are, learning what we need at this point, and the best we can do is step out and observe it. So guilt – GONE! No need to kick yourself, cause you’re as far along as you could possibly be right now. Lovely!
Living like a window, then, is the practice of detachment, letting the occurances of life and thought and feeling flow through you like a breeze through an open window, here and gone, here and gone. Working like a mirror is how we deal with others, remembering to take ourselves and our tumult out of the equation, so our friends, co-workers and loved ones can more clearly see their own tumult and know what they need to open themselves to.
So, if I’m not converting to Buddhism, or devoting my life to contemplation and meditation, why bother with enlightenment? Cause I get tired, and I bet you do as well; tired of the drama and the emotional roller coaster. No, I don’t care to eliminate them completely, become some unfeeling aesthetic. But I could stand to let some of the daily chaos of work or family life blow through me like an open window instead of having my view blocked by the blotches of stuff stuck to a more closed off mind. And learning to view my conflict with others not as a personal attack requiring self-protection, but instead stepping outside the scenario to learn what I can from watching it play out and blow on through can only do my emotional and mental state good.
So take the plunge and give swimming toward nirvana a try. If Mr. Brown is indeed correct, you already are! Pick up Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror. Lets see if we can’t help Consciousness along just a little bit.
Live Like a Window, Work Like a Mirror – Mark C. Brown Ph.D. – First Light Books – 2012