To become wise, you must under stand your confusions.
Knowledge builds upwards: conscious thoughts float on top of deeper feelings. What, in your mind, you can see most clearly, is most superficial. Remember that.
Impulses begin as deep neural pathways -- ones which know only fear and pleasure -- and transform, blossom into feelings, then feelings into ideas, and ideas into thoughts. There for us to sense are only these most refined mental concepts -- so far removed from the source that they have often become delusion or fiction. Yet we take these thoughts to be true simply because they are there, despite that most of what we are, and what we believe goes on behind closed doors, outside of our imagining and thinking, in the subconscious.
This is not to say this subconscious cannot be accessed.
Doors were made to be opened. But first, realize that while the whole kaleidoscope of your mental universe seems ever in flux, its entirety can be traced back to but a few roots. Diversity of thought is merely a reflection of the endless array of stimuli and experiences we have in this world.
So much has been said in the annals of spiritual literature about the importance of distinguishing the observed from the observer. Here on this site, we’ve done nothing to put an end to this task. However you’d do well too conceptualizing the whole situation in another light -- not as observer and observed, but as reflector and reflections.
At least, it’s another way of looking at it.
Your mind, the reflector. Your thoughts, its reflections. To know yourself, there is only one goal: to throw out reflection, and find the reflector -- which is the essence. The essence of you.
That which reacts -- not its reactions.
Imagine looking in a mirror and seeing not the reflections, but the essence of the mirror itself.
Mind bending, isn’t it?
But nevertheless, find me somebody who can do this and I will show you someone who understands, who is self-aware, who is wise.
But let’s try another metaphor, this one only a bit more extended.
Ready your imagination.
Envision a vast forest, that stretches in all directions to the horizon. The trees are bunched close together. They are probably well over one hundred feet tall, and bunched so close, that at the tree tops, where you are, nothing can be seen of the forest floor. An undulating blanket of interwoven green leaves stretches out, brightly illuminated by the sun. Leaves shimmer, and glow, fluttering green. Just feet below, are the twisting branches from which the leaves sprout. But quickly, as you move lower still, things become dark.
As you would descend downwards, you would notice curling twigs combining into branches, those branches into limbs, and limbs into thick trunks.
While leaves flutter, trunks do not move. They loom, in towering and silent stillness. Down, all the way to the forest floor, where the sound of the wind high above can no longer be heard.
This is the mind; this forest imagery another allegory.
Think first of the leaves -- they flutter, they are delightful. But they are weak in a way, mercurial. They point every which way, and so point in none. They shift as the wind goes, each with a mind of their own.
At this level, you cannot find security, nor permanence. Indulge in observation, watch how the leaves go. From such chaos nothing can be known, so be content to know nothing. Rather see, and no more.
But go deeper, you will find there is stability and order. You will find there is direction. You will know how ideas are supported and organized, and the forces which structure all that above.
Leaves are mere reflections of environment -- the result of interplaying sun, water, and wind. And most conscious thought is this way. Reflections of sensations, myriad, fluctuating ... intellectually worthless.
Discover what is beneath. Under stand the canopy, and you will know something timeless, strong, and sure.