Why is being aware of concepts so vital to spiritual awakening?

words & design by Brian Thompson.

I often talk about being aware of the “concepts” and “conceptual” ideas that you believe and create your sense of self around. In fact, it’s one of the most important spiritual teachings there is.

But, what exactly is a concept?

A concept is any thought that attempts to make something out of nothing.

Did you notice what slipped between those words? That was one right there. A concept—a thought-object made from ethereal, non-existent mind-stuff—an illusion created out of thin air. Sure, it appears to exist, but it remains a formless thought-form that can only float within the mind that thinks it. It is illusory, holding no truth beyond one’s belief.

When you look for something, you miss nothing—and by nothing, I mean, you miss all that is, which is the totality of the present moment you are now experiencing. Nothingness is the absolute truth of reality when it is undivided by the conceptual mind. All of the “somethings” that we label our world with only limit it. They project a meaning, a purpose and a definition onto that which otherwise has none.

Outside of mind there are no concepts, and outside of consciousness there is no mind. We are a presence of consciousness, but we are not anything that appears within it. Therefore, since concepts can only exist within consciousness itself, we know that they are not the truth that they suggest. Only consciousness is the absolute, and we are that.

We are pure presence, empty of anything that happens to appear within mind.

Consciousness is naturally unlimited and unconditioned, but we limit it and condition it through our concepts, shrinking ourselves into ideas of somethings we are not.

At best, concepts are a map. While they may point the way however, they are not the terrain itself. In other words, they may suggest an intellectual understanding, but they can never equal the realization of one's intimate conscious experience, which is all that life truly is.

At worst, a concept is a delusion that obscures the beauty and truth of one's being, causing one to needlessly suffer from an imagined something that doesn’t even exist.

Through our concepts, we become immersed in a false reality filled with false somethings that become our false problems. But in truth, all of our problems are nothing. Before our conceptual notions created the mental environment for them to appear within, they didn’t even exist. Indeed, it is our opinions alone that divide. It is our opinions that consume our happiness, eating it alive before our very eyes. Further, it is the concept of our self that is the most damning of all beliefs—we believe we are something we are not. We mistakenly believe our thoughts, rather than our conscious presence in which they appear.

Peace, love and happiness is always available to us here and now, and yet it’s rarely realized because our concepts obscure it.

The universal truth is that everything within our field of perception is empty—empty of independent self-existence.

In other words, all of the “somethings" that we seem to be surrounded by are nothing but thought-obejcts that we layer on top of the otherwise indivisible totality of reality. No “thing” actually exists, as we intellectually perceive it.

We give a name to every form that we perceive, and then we assume to understand it completely. In other words, we separate a piece of reality apart from its whole (the universe), giving it a definition, a function, and a meaning. In doing so, we see what we think, rather than what is. We live in a dream of mind.

This is good, this is bad. This is beautiful, this is ugly. This is pleasure, this is pain. I am happy, I am sad.

It is your concepts that cause you sorrow and emotional unrest—concepts which you've personalized and self-identified with, and that you’ve unknowingly limited your conscious presence with. We suffer only from the stories we tell ourselves, not from reality itself. All suffering exists only within mind.

To be truly free in life, is to be free of your concepts—all of them.

Begin by eliminating the belief in whatever you think of yourself. Realize that you cannot be defined. You cannot be limited. You are a presence of infinite consciousness—no concept can ever control or confine you, but they can certainly appear to do so if your belief, identity and wellbeing is invested in them.

Empty of belief, you are free—as consciousness always is.

There is only this present moment presence of knowingness that you are currently conscious of, which in reality is unbound by any mentally conceived-of name, form, definition, opinion, attribute, characteristic, or belief.

Empty of something, full of nothing. I Am free.