Einstein said “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” So I’d like to share three absurd ideas with you. If you study them, follow their implications and apply them to your daily activities, these absurd ideas are guaranteed to change your life, dramatically, and for the better.
Though these ideas may seem to be rooted in religious mysticism, I would encourage you to set any notions about religion or theology aside for the time being. These concepts are consistent with our best current scientific observations and thought.
Concept I: 99% of Everything is Nothing
This statement sounds like metaphor or hyperbole, but it is literally true. In fact, it is an understatement. All of what we perceive as material reality, things that seem so solid and durable, are actually vast chasms of emptiness. This is the case whether we are talking about a brick wall, or diamond ring, or the Rock of Gibraltar, or a planet or our own bodies.
When we take a close look at an atom, we see that it is not something “solid” at all. It is mostly vacuum, with itty bitty particles flying around at great speeds and at great distances from each other relative to their size. Even on this level, it would be accurate to say that they are “99% nothing.” When we delve to the subatomic level, things get even weirder and more ethereal. It becomes difficult to make a distinction between what is a particle, and what is a wave. Quantum theory suggests that what we perceive as matter is actually more a collection of fields of probability, rather than something certain and solid.
Although the experience of a baseball bat striking one’s skull will not seem less solid as a result, the fact remains that more than 99% of everything is nothing. It’s a bit imprecise, but not untrue, to say that it’s all essentially vibrations. When people refer to the “vibe” of a location, event or person, they can be speaking literal truth.
Which brings us to our next concept.
Concept II: All Is One
This one sounds like a very crunchy Hippie dream, doesn’t it? It reminds me of the old joke about a Buddhist Monk who walks up to a hotdog vendor and says “Make me one with everything.” Cliché though it may seem, this one is true as well.
These vibrations that are at the foundation of what we experience as the material Universe are, in fact, a single vibration. Our best theoretical explanation of how our Universe began describes an infinitely dense single point which contained all that would become time and space. From this initial singularity, energy was sent forth (in the “Big Bang”) which would create all things, sustain all things, and is all things. This sending forth continues today. The Universe continues to expand.
Think of the striking of a gong. Depending on where you stand in relationship to the gong, you will experience the feeling and the sound in a particular way, and you will experience variations as the sound waves travel through time and space. Someone close to the gong will experience something different than someone across the room, or down the hall. And everyone’s experiences of the sound and percussion will change with the passing of time, all from a single gong strike.
This is, I think, an apt metaphor for our Universe. Although things seem to be separate, there is an essential unity. The Universe isn’t filled with different things, as much as different expressions of the same thing. More than 99% of everything is nothing, it’s all vibration, and it is, in fact, a single vibration. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I won’t go about citing the research here. It’s easy enough to access the scientific literature on all of this should you so desire. I’ll include a couple of links to very basic explanations at the end of this article. For now, suffice it to say that I am a skeptic, and I have become convinced of the truth of these statements.
The first two concepts lead to the third, and it is the one that can be applied practically to better our lives.
Concept III: Thoughts Become Things
Since everything we experience as material reality is really a collection of vibrations which emanated from the single source, it follows that everything we experience is connected in ways that aren’t always immediately apparent to us. It may seem odd, at first, to consider that something “invisible” or “immaterial” such as a thought, can have an effect on material things. Perhaps it would be helpful to think for a moment about “invisible” forces such as gravity or magnetism which we know can exercise action at a distance. We also know from observations of a phenomenon called quantum entanglement that physical properties of paired subatomic particles remain correlated, even after they are separated by large distances in space (or even in time).
This third concept, admittedly, seems even weirder and New Agier than the first two, but there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that it is true. For me, the very well studied and documented placebo effect alone is evidence enough. If thoughts do not become things, then there would be no need for double-blind studies, where results must be shielded not only from participants, but also from the intentions of observers and researchers.
Again, if you remain skeptical of this concept I would encourage you to look at the research yourself.
So, how can we use this concept to improve our lives?
If you want to change your life, change your mind.
At the top, I promised that if you incorporate these three concepts into your life, it will change dramatically and for the better. I know that this can happen, because it has happened to me.
As we pass through life (or, rather, as life passes through us) we accumulate experiences, associations, notions and memories. Whether we consciously attempt to make sense of it all or not, our minds and our bodies are drawing conclusions. We learn as best we can how to survive, how to avoid pain, how to enjoy pleasure. The problem is that some of the lessons that our minds and bodies assimilate, some of the habits of attention and daily activity, are neither necessary for survival nor conducive to happiness. We take in and practice patterns that become the stories of our lives. No matter how hard we strive to change, we find ourselves experiencing the same things over and over. “It figures,” we say. Over time, we program ourselves to obtain the results we obtain. To change the results, we have to change the programming.
If we want to change things for the better, we have to begin with confidence that our thoughts are inevitably, assuredly, creating our experiences. And the only way we can have that confidence, the only way we can know, is to discipline our minds and observe what happens.
There is a large variety of approaches and methods which have been demonstrated to be effective in changing mental programming. While I won’t presume to prescribe what will work best for you, I will be happy to share three simple practices which have worked for me.
Go on a mental diet. Uell S. Andersen recommends this in his book Three Magic Words. In practice it means dedicating yourself to thirty consecutive days without entertaining a negative thought, about anyone, anything, or any situation. It doesn’t mean that you won’t *have* negative thoughts, but you must not entertain them. Don’t feed them, don’t dwell on them and especially don’t express them. When a negative thought comes, immediately refocus your attention on something else. This can be difficult at first, and I’m not sure if I’ve actually completed thirty consecutive days yet. I do know that it is much easier for me to avoid nurturing negative thoughts now than it was only a few weeks ago.
Practice gratitude. I set aside several specific times each day to recount the things for which I am thankful, and I keep a gratitude journal as well. This has had the effect of bringing a wealth of positivity to my life. It may be the single most effective practice of these three.
Meditate every day. I had tried to meditate at other points in my life, but found it difficult. This time, I kept it very simple. I use some of tbe frequency audio recordings from Brain Sync, and also their guided meditations. I take a twenty minute break mid-morning from my work day, and sit with my eyes closed, listening to the Grace and Gratitude recording. Sometimes I also chant for a few minutes with a Tibetan mala that I’ve had for years. No worries about technique or formalities. Just sitting and trying as best I can to not let my mind attach itself to anything. I usually try to focus attention on the sensation of breath as is enters and leaves my nostrils. That’s it. I find that I’m so much more productive with the rest of my time that I don’t miss the twenty minutes from work. In the evening I’ll spend another half-hour sitting with one of the guided meditations.
I’ve not found any of these activities to be difficult or onerous in any way, and the improvements in the quality of my life have been tremendous.
In case you’re wondering, the ideas presented here are not original to me. They are part of a tradition of American thought that first found rise in the mid 1800s as Emerson and others began to study Indian monist thinking. I would encourage you to study and consider these ideas, and I welcome discussion about them.