THE BLOG
11/21/2016 10:07 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Transforming Your Reality

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In his Dharma speeches Son Master Songdam makes the extraordinary claim that the entire universe is actually a mirror.

He claims that everything we experience as external events and objects are actually the reflections of our own mental activity. Our states of mind are reflected back to us from this mirror to be experienced by us as the things we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

Everyone's experience of life, then, is actually the reflection of the contents of their own mind. And when someone does something good or bad to us, it's really the reflection cast by our own past thoughts and actions. From this perspective, then, to love someone for being kind to us or to resent them for being cruel to us is as senseless and silly as falling in love with your own reflection or getting into a fight with it. The only wise thing to do when confronted with your own reflection is to accept it for what it is and not react to it.

Son Master Songdam tells us that if we can truly perceive and accept this truth of our existence -- that the occurrences of our lives are really nothing more than our own reflections -- then we will live in this seemingly troubled world like enlightened bodhisattvas. We will finally be able to let go of our grievances, grudges, resentment, and rage. We will finally be able to find peace.

If all of this is true, then the way to change our lives and this world is not to take physical action. It's not to embark on self-improvement programs. It's not to try to change our political, economic or societal system.

As incredible as it may sound, the true way to change your world would be to change your own mind. To transform the structure of your own consciousness.

We currently seem to live in a world filled with good things and bad things. In nature we may witness behaviors among living beings that are both beautiful and ugly, terrifying and lovely. Among human beings we see both selfish and altruistic deeds, kind and cruel actions, and good and evil acts. According to Son Buddhist teachings, we see such things because our own mind is filled with both positive and negative mental phenomena.

If we were to purify our consciousness through loving, good, and compassionate thoughts and actions until there was nothing dark or destructive left, then we would find ourselves in a radiant universe, devoid of pain. We would call this place "heaven."

Or if we were to poison our own minds with cruel and hateful behaviors until there was nothing bright or loving left, then we would find ourselves in a horrific and agonizing world, devoid of hope or compassion. And we would call this place "hell."

According to the ancient Son masters, we construct our own reality through our own decisions. How we regulate our own thoughts and feelings is the most important thing that we ever do. It is, in fact, the secret to transforming our lives.

Sometimes we pray for things. And in praying, we may think that if we deeply desire something and ask for it with the utmost humility and gratitude, then we'll get it. The Buddha, God, the universe, or some other external power will grant our wishes.

But according to Son Buddhist teachings, the real way to pray is simply to focus your mind until you have no other thoughts except for the thought of your prayer. Then, that singular thought will be manifested in your reality just as an object put in front of a mirror is clearly reflected in it. Of course, that's not as easy as it sounds. But it's something that you can try the next time you pray.

Or you can go to a higher level of mind cultivation. You can simply practice Son meditation and keep your mind focused on "Yi-mwot-go?" at all times. Remain in the state of Doubt and sustain it during all hours of the day. Become so focused on "Yi-mwot-go?" that you begin to dream about it at night and the Doubt permeates your subconscious mind.

Then, according to Son Master Songdam, your mind will become purified. Your consciousness will no longer be a chaotic storm of images, voices, and emotions. It will become clear and unified.

If in this clear and unified state you just idly think to yourself, "Gee, it would be nice if I had this or that thing!" then what you thought of will instantly manifest in your physical reality. This is because your mind is no longer clouded over by an endless stream of meaningless mental events. Whatever appears in your clear, unified consciousness will also appear in your world.

According to Son Buddhist teachings, this is the proper way to pray. Simply practice Son meditation, purify your mind, and all that you need will be reflected into your world.

It becomes tempting at this point to think of Son meditation as a vehicle for getting the things that we dream of. Lots of money. A beautiful house. A beautiful car. Our fantasy job. Our fantasy lover. A life as uplifting, glamorous, and exciting as a Hollywood movie.

But it is possible to think bigger than this.

In his teachings, Son Master Songdam tells us that there is an insect which can only perceive one dimension of physical space. It can only see what's in front of itself. It lives its entire life moving forward along a straight line. And if in the course of walking forward, another insect should poke it from the side, the one-dimensional insect would not be able to see what touched it. This insect has no ability to perceive left and right. From its perspective, an invisible and mysterious force struck it on the side for no apparent reason. It doesn't know that there is a world surrounding it.

Then, we are told that there is another kind of insect. This insect can perceive only in two dimensions. It can see what's in front and behind, to the left and to the right. But it cannot see anything above or below itself. This insect perceives the entire universe as a flat plane.

So this insect lays its egg on the ground, on the flat surface that is its world. And then in order to protect the egg, the insect proceeds to circle it incessantly, always on the lookout for predators from the north, south, east or west.

But one day a bird swoops down from above and plucks the egg. The disappointed insect has no idea what just happened. From its perspective, the egg simply disappeared. There is no way for the insect to understand that there is a sky above it, another world with height and depth, populated by other creatures.

Now let's consider human beings. We live in three dimensions. We can perceive events in front and back, left and right, and above and below. We take our precious money and put it in a safe where nothing can get to it from any direction. But when we open the safe the next day, the money is gone. We look at the video recordings of our surveillance cameras, but they show nothing. As far as we can tell, during the night no one ever approached the safe and it was never opened. And yet the money is gone. We are completely baffled by this seemingly mysterious occurrence.

This is because we have no way of comprehending that there exists a four-dimensional being that can move forward and backward in time as easily as a human being walks up and down a hallway. This four-dimensional being went into the past and took the money before the human being ever placed it in the safe. The human being, of course, has no way to perceive such events and from our perspective the money simply disappeared.

Through this simple story, we can see how the structure of our consciousness and its perceptual faculties completely define and, in fact, create the world that we experience. Whether it's a one-dimensional insect, a two-dimensional one, a three-dimensional human being, or a four-dimensional thief, each of us is totally convinced that what we perceive and know of the world is, in fact, all of the world.

In our current state of consciousness, we simply cannot imagine the existence of other levels of reality.

But everyone from the ancient sages of the past to contemporary physicists has imagined other dimensions of existence. Scientists for at least the past one hundred years have theorized the existence of multiple dimensions of physical reality.

In our day to day experience of living, however, we cannot help but instinctively believe that what we perceive is all that there is. Whatever we may theorize or imagine, we always feel that reality is exactly the way we physically experience it.

But what if Son meditation could expand our powers of perception and awareness? What if the one-dimensional insect could discover a second dimension of physical space and see the breadth of the world? What if the two-dimensional insect could discover the third dimension and witness the height of the world?

What if we limited human beings were, in fact, Buddha? What if we could practice Son meditation and learn to experience the universe in all of its infinite dimensions?

Could we not become universal beings?

Isn't it possible that the legends of transcendent bodhisattvas, possessed of seemingly miraculous powers and unhindered by time and space, could be true?

But wait a second.

Whether the universe has one dimension, three dimensions, or infinite dimensions, didn't we say before that it's all just a reflection of our own mind?

So what if in Son meditation, through "Yi-mwot-go?" we turned our gaze inward to the thing that's being reflected in the mirror of the universe?

Wouldn't we then be gazing at the origin point of the universe? The source of all realities?

What if we attempted to perceive the perceiver?

Then, wouldn't we come to know the one and only true thing in all of existence?

The one thing at the heart of all things.

According to the Son Buddhist teachings, when we come to know this one thing, then we will know all things. This is the only truly worthy goal of all human endeavor.

Enlightenment.

Palms together,
Hwansan Sunim