Have you ever used the wrong tool for a task like using a butter knife as a screwdriver? I have. I didn’t appreciate using the right tool for the job until I was older, more mature and saw a better way.
My experience with a butter knife taught me a lot about a screwdriver. If I let go of the frustration associated with the task and don’t take it personally, I can see that a butter knife is not the right tool for the screwdriver job because it wasn’t intended for that job. A tool that was optimized for spreading butter on toast, slicing a banana or creating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be used as a screwdriver-substitute, but when you want the job done right, you need the right tool. When I had the experience of completing a task with the intended tool, I knew it was good. I was pleased and I felt everything was as it should be.
Our brain is a tool. It was designed for unique tasks. You could say it is like a colander. We use a colander to separate things and so does our brain. The colander is perfect for separating the pasta from the hot water. It’s great for washing broccoli and cauliflower. I keep discovering other separation applications for my colander that bring joy to my life like rinsing canned beans before I add them to my award winning chili (you would’ want to dump them straight into the chili without rinsing because the bean slime would mess it up). I learned this important tip through trial and error. You could say conditions (like unwanted bean slime in chili) refined my use of the colander.
Your brain is a great separator. It separates stuff into categories. It separates good from bad. It separates likes from hates and attraction from rejection. We need our brain-tool to survive. We need the thinking mechanism of the brain-tool to keep us healthy, safe and satiated. It is not, however a good tool for waking up, enlightenment, satori, salvation or being born again. You can’t discover ultimate truth with a conditioned brain. The brain was conditioned to have holes like the colander so it can separate the stuff. Truth is found in the wholeness of all the stuff, the non-duality of reality, the oneness of thingness, the divine nature of forms or (what many have called) the will of God. What we desire, what we are and what we manifest, is as much the stuff of the water as the cooked potatoes. We are the eye trying to see itself and the finger trying to touch itself. When we seek the truth of what we are with a conditioned brain, we trying to lift ourselves off the floor by pulling up on our belt.
But don’t be dismayed. Like the butter knife as a screwdriver, the colander can be used for other purposes. During an eclipse, the holes in a colander can be used to protect a person’s eyes to witness firsthand the eclipse. If you desired a full experience of the sun, the colander is not the right tool but the ability to witness the eclipse gives us a glimpse of the sun indirectly. In a similar way our sifting and separating brain can be used for a different purpose and be transformed to think in a different way. We learn about screwdrivers when we use a butter knife for the screwdriver task. We can observe the eclipse with the use of the colander to have an indirect experience of the sun. We can also sit in the sun with our eyes closed to experience the sun another way. The colander is a tool. Our brain is a tool. Our mind will use all the tools (which includes our brain) to experience authentic reality. We can know the water because of the pasta. Sometimes it means we set the tool aside and sit in the sun for a while. When we have authentic experiences, our mind is being renewed. We become aware of our conditioning.
When we were children, our colander didn’t have holes in it. We were more like a bowl scooping it all up. We didn’t think of separating stuff since all the stuff was all we were. Over time our brains were conditioned to separate. We experienced pain and loss. We were called by a name and told a story. Our bowl was drilled with the holes that describe our story. As a conditioned self our identity is only our story, we are blind to the truth of what and who we are.
Many have come to show us the way. The mystics, gurus, sages, yogis and others have revealed our true nature. Information is available but if we are using our conditioned brain to uncover the truth, we won’t find it. The proof of our self-evident, divine nature escapes through the holes of our conditioned mind. Only when we become aware of the water, use the tool in a different way and let our minds be transformed will we be positioned to wake up to what we are.
Jesus was a fully realized being who tried to show us the way. He was so influential, humanity created a religion in his honor. Much of that religion is devoted to better colanders with more refined holes for precise separating but if you look at Jesus’ teaching in a different way, with a renewed mind, you discover genuine, authentic revelation. Some of his early followers tried to capture the essence of Jesus’ revelation. Here is a quote from one of his followers.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)
I went back to the original language and looked at the meaning of the words from a different perspective, a unifying, non-dual perspective. Here is what I got:
Don’t let your interaction with the physical world be only through your conditioning but instead let your mind be metamorphosed by a different way of thinking and reasoning. When you experience what is genuine (like testing the authenticity of a coin) you will see the workings of the divine in everything. You will come to accept this admirable divine nature as the consummate and ultimate reality. (Flip Side Translation)
What we are is ever present. When we wake up to it, we will know that everything is as it should be.
If you like the Flip Side interpretation, I’ve written a book named “Flip Side” that is available here. Check it out.