Authentic Presence and the Mind

Theme of the following quotations: Typically we experience life through the filter of mind: its ceaseless thought, feelings, sensations, and experiences. Yet mind is the conjurer or illusion. When mind stills, the spontaneous presence of awareness (Being) stands more clearly revealed for what it is: the most deep source and meaning of authenticity.

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Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought.

~ Eckhart Tolle (1948-present),
German-born spiritual teacher,
in Stillness Speaks


The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real. Let the Disciple slay the Slayer.

~ Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891),
Russian mystic and founder of Theosophy
in The Voice of the Silence


So freedom is not a matter of having one’s autonomous mind, it is not a matter of freedom of mind, it is, rather, a matter of freedom from mind.

~ A.H. Almaas (1944-present),
Kuwait-born American psychologist and philosopher,
in The Point of Existence


The issue here is the belief that you know. You believe that you know who you are, you believe that you know the world, you believe that you know what existence is. What you actually know is your own mind. You don’t know existence. You have lost the mystery that you live in. We all lose the mystery that we are, the mystery that surrounds us, the mystery that brings us wonder, freshness, and freedom. We have made our world into a fossil.

~ A.H. Almaas (1944-present),
Kuwait-born American psychologist and philosopher,
in Diamond Heart Book Four: Indestructible Innocence


We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

~ Anais Nin (1903-1977),
American (French-born) author and diarist


What is important is to see that words and ideas enslave us in formulas and concepts. As long as we are trapped in a net of consoling belief, we lack the intensity and subtlety required for real exploration. Unless I understand this, my observation will remain based on forms, on what I know, and will not be enlivened by the spirit of discovery, as if for the first time. And it will be egocentric, with my ordinary “I” interpreting everything that is presented from its self-centered perspective.

~ Jeanne de Salzmann (1889-1990)
master teacher of the Fourth Way of G. I. Gurdjieff
in The Reality of Being


There has been a great deal of discussion, philosophical and spiritual, about representational thinking. Spiritual teachings emphasize how representational thinking is a problem. Our understanding here is not that representational thinking is the problem, but that the problem is using representations for perception. To think and speak we have to use representations, but that by itself does not necessarily distort reality. However, when our representations completely determine the ways in which we perceive reality then that becomes a specific problem.

~ A.H. Almaas (1944-present),
Kuwait-born American psychologist and philosopher,
in The Void


Two thousand years ago, Mahayana Buddhists said that the structure of our conditioned experience is shaped by the concepts we use to cut the universe up into self and the world, and then we fill these in and make meaning out of our existence. According to Buddhist philosophers, the manifest universe exists as a function of linguistic designation. It comes into being through the distinctions we make and share in language.

~ Peter Fenner,
contemporary Australian Buddhist scholar,
in Radiant Mind


You cannot escape your own attitudes, for they will form the nature of what you see. Quite literally you see what you want to see; and you see your own thoughts and emotional attitudes materialized in physical form.

~Jane Roberts (1929-1984),
American author and spirit medium
in The Nature of Personal Reality


As a man is So he Sees

~William Blake (1757-1827),
English poet,
cited in The Poetry and Prose of William Blake, by David Erdman


The internal dialogue is what grounds people in the daily world. The world is such and such or so and so, only because we talk to ourselves about its being such or such and so and so. The passageway into the world of shamans opens up after the warrior has learned to shut off his internal dialogue.

~Carlos Castaneda (1925-1998),
Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author,
in Tales of Power


Where there is mentation, there is duality.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981),
Indian Advaita Vedanta master,
in I am That


We divide in thought what is undivided in nature.

~ Alan Watts (1915-1973),
British philosopher, writer
cited in The Naked Now by Richard Rohr


Tell them that in the end I had no need
for God, who’d become just a story
I once loved, one of many
with concealments and late night rescues,
high sentence and pomp. The truth is
I’d learned to live without hope
as well as I could, almost happily,
in the despoiled and radiant now.

~ Stephen Dunn
Contemporary American poet
in “A Postmortem Guide”, of the book, Different Hours


Give up those erroneous thoughts leading to false distinctions! There is no ‘self’ and no ‘other’. There is no ‘wrong desire’, no ‘anger’, no ‘hatred’, no ‘love, no ‘ victory, no ‘failure’. Only renounce the error of intellectual or conceptual thought-processes and your nature will exhibit its pristine purity—for this alone is the way to attain Enlightenment, to observe the Dharma (Law), to become a Buddha and all the rest.

~ Huang Po (d. 850),
Chinese Zen Master,
in Wan Ling Record 26


Rama, in the scriptures words have been used in order to facilitate the imparting of instruction. Cause and effect, the self and the Lord, difference and non-difference, knowledge and ignorance, pain and pleasure – all these pairs have been invented for the instruction of the ignorant. They are not real in themselves. All this discussion and argumentation takes place only in and because of ignorance; when there is knowledge there is no duality. When the truth is known, all descriptions cease, and silence alone remains.

~ the Sage, Vasistha,
in Vasistha’s Yoga, one of the most important scriptures of Vedantic philosophy,
translated by Swami Venkatsesananda


When understanding dawns, conceptualization ceases and mind becomes vacant. The very nature of the mind is ignorance and therefore stupidity. When the mind stops (conceptualization ceases), peace or wisdom prevails. No thought of either happiness or unhappiness diverts the equanimity of the pure mind.

Ramesh S. Balsekar (1917-2009),
Indian Advaita Vedanta master,
in The Final Truth


Only when one severs the very root of the mind with the weapon of non-conceptualisation, can one reach the absolute Brahman which is omnipresent, supreme peace. Conceptualisation or imagination is productive of error and sorrow; and it can be so easily got rid of by self-knowledge [MN: knowledge of the nature of the experiencing awareness which is knowing the experience of reading these words] – and when it is got rid of there is great peace.

~ the Sage, Vasistha,
in Vasistha’s Yoga
translated by Swami Venkatsesananda


Just pause thought. In that space, do you disappear? What is there in that space? Obviously you are there. You are quite present and aware. That is all. You are, and you know you are. There is both the sense of being or presence and a knowing capacity. Is that awareness ‘over there’ while you are ‘here’, or are you that which is aware? Realize that you must be the presence of awareness that remains in the gap between thoughts.

~ John Wheeler
contemporary American nondualist teacher
in The Light Behind Consciousness


Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic, but pure experience is always nondualistic.

Richard Rohr (1943-),
contemporary Franciscan friar and author,
in The Naked Now


Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles. Is there a difference between yes and no? Is there a difference between good and evil? Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!

~ Lao Tsu (c.604 BC–c.521 BC),
Taoist philosopher ,
in the Tao Te Ching


To see that all knowledge is a form of ignorance is itself a movement of reality.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981),
Indian mystic,
in I am That


Fast from thoughts, fast:
Thoughts are like the lion and the wild beasts;
People’s hearts are the thickets they haunt.

~ Jellal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273),
Persian poet and Sufi master,
translated by Kabir Helminski, Sufi teacher,
in The Knowing Heart


Step aside from all thinking, and there is nowhere you can’t go.

~ Seng-ts’an,
the Third Founding Teacher of Zen,
cited in Loving What Is by Byron Katie


Love has befriended Hafiz so completely.
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image my mind has ever known.

~ Hafiz (1325/26–1389/1390 C.E.),
Iranian poet,
cited in The Wonder of Being by John Wheeler


~ Note: If you have found these quotes to be supportive, you may be interested in my book How to Be Yourself: A Guide to Living an Authentic Life which contains more than 300 quotations such as these which are organized into different topics related to authenticity. The book is available on Amazon in print and ebook format. (See top right cover image for a link to more info). ~

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