THE BIG MIND OF PRIMORDIAL AWARENESS
It is taught in Jewish mysticism that each and every blade of grass has an angel hovering above it that continuously whispers to it, “Grow! Grow!” This is an extraordinary idea. The teaching also says that, every field has its angel, every mountain has its angel, every nation, every planet, every solar system, every galaxy, and even every universe.
We learn from this that while individuals are unique, each individual gives up this uniqueness when identified with a group, which has its own identity. As each group is identified with a still larger group, we ultimately come to the conclusion that everything in creation fits under one umbrella. Oneness is the soul of Judaism.
This idea of oneness is in contrast with the enormous multiplicity of the individuality of each blade of grass. Judaism resolves this apparent contradiction—and Buddhism comes to an identical conclusion—by recognizing that there are two perspectives: a relative truth and one that is absolute.
The relative perspective is dualistic, a world composed of a multiplicity of things, each of which is unique. The other viewpoint, however, is the perspective of the absolute truth in which nothing is considered unique, for nothing has its own enduring identity. Each and every thing is an absolute necessity that cannot be omitted without tearing the fabric of creation. Thus nothing can be viewed as separate.
Einstein amplified on this idea, showing that space and time cannot be separated from one another. Our minds boggle at this idea, for the nature of thinking itself is dualistic. That time does not exist on its own and that space can be “bent” and “stretched” simply is inconceivable—and yet these amazing ideas have been proven in modern physics.
The relative viewpoint is the way we humans perceive the universe. The absolute viewpoint is the way God perceives creation, so to speak. Let us investigate more closely what this means.
Every individual has a unique point of view depending upon a multitude of variables: language, culture, age, gender, family experience, education, socio-economic status, etc. There are hundreds of variables that eventually affect one’s level of consciousness. Therefore, there are billions of unique relative viewpoints. This vast spectrum of human consciousness falls into a single category known in Jewish mysticism as mochin de katnut, literally defined as “small mind.”
This definition of small mind is not intended to be interpreted as a demeaning notion for it is an all-inclusive representation of the way people see things, without regard to the fact that it includes all genius and all ignorance of human perception. So, Einstein’s equations fall into the category of small mind just as much as small mind includes someone who is considered mentally challenged because of extremely low intelligence. The essential point is that when the human mind is clinging to a particular thought-subject, it is in the realm of mochin de katnut. Obviously, most of us live our lives in this realm most of the time.
In opposition to mochin de katnut, there is a realm of consciousness described in Kabbalah as mochin de gadlut, literally “big mind.” The awareness of big mind is not limited in any way by any of the variables described above. Big mind has no limit at all—it is aware of everything, everywhere, at all times. Indeed, it is primordial awareness itself.
Small mind continuously sees imperfections, it judges and criticizes how life is unfolding, it wants to fix things and make things better. Small mind also experiences strong emotions and is often dissatisfied and frustrated. But small mind is sometimes happy and even joyous. In the end, however, one of the most common conditions of small mind is its sense of confusion—it wonders often about how life works and if there is any purpose to one’s existence.
One of our predicaments in this life is our continuous propensity to be overwhelmed by the appearance of things and our complete immersion in the belief of our separate self. These two aspects of our lives are reinforced time and again, day after day, moment after moment. As long as we believe there is a central “me,” and that this “I” engages unlimited worldly objects, we are forever surrounded and immersed in the realm of small mind.
Yet, consider this idea of mochin de gadlut, big mind. It has the following qualities. It recognizes each moment as perfect, just the way it is. Big mind is equanimous about matters (but not apathetic), it is sharply aware of the conditioning that lies under all of our activities. Big mind is never dissatisfied with the way things happen, it is a calm, expansive, spacious state. It sees clearly the mystery of life and rests comfortably in the state of “not knowing” what is going to happen from moment to moment. Small mind has an urge to be in some kind of control; big mind recognizes that the intrinsic nature of creation is that it is unknowable and uncontrollable.