With respect to the mind, one who looks hard enough can see a great deal of madness. Many systems of philosophy, both Eastern and Western, agree that the mind is the instrument through which we are able perceive all of creation. In the same way, we can say that our relative reality is both experience with, and created by, the mind.
My personal present moment experience: sitting in a DC coffee shop, I feel a cool breeze flowing in from outside, I smell freshly baked goods and see a stream of people walking to work. This is my relative reality; but truth be told I cannot truly know the feeling of the breeze, or the smell of baked goods or the people wandering outside this cafe window. All I can ever truly know are the sensations experienced within my own body, within my own mind. It is with this understanding that we begin to realize that the entirety of our experience exists no where other than within.
If we are able to transcend the mind, to exist in a state of no-thought, we will also transcend the senses and reality itself. This is something we've all experienced. Deep sleep being the most accessible example. While in a state of deep REM sleep, thoughts dissolve into impossibility and we are unable to experience life through the senses. Every aspect of reality fades away, and what we're left with is a simple sense of self. While in deep sleep, "I am" is all that holds true.
Reality, as we all experience it, is something that exists only within the confines of our mind. Yet, at the same time, the mind is something that exists only inside our relative reality. An interesting paradox that gives rise to even more interesting questions:
- If the mind created our reality, and at the same time exists only inside our reality, than did the mind create itself?
- What was true before the mind? What will be true when it dissolves back into emptiness?
Contemplation of such subjects might never necessarily lead to answers; but they will serve to increase our understanding, and it is through this understanding that we eventually remove enough grime, see clearly through the looking glass and gaze inward at the absolute.
The father of Advita Vedanta, Adi Shankaracharya once said, "When the mind manifests, everything else manifests. When the mind is destroyed, everything else is destroyed."