Consider looking at your own eyes in the mirror. Do you have poor eyesight? Is there dust in the air? Is the light harsh or dim? And the mirror itself – is it curved, does it have scratches or streaks? Even if the conditions are perfect, is not the trickery of the mirror that your reflection’s left eye is your right eye?
A visual reflection is not the thing it reflects – it is but a distorted image.
Now consider the way in which you think about yourself, consider the mental mirror you put up in your mind so that you can perceive your life. Is it large enough to contain your entire reflection? How is your mind’s vision, and how are your mind’s air and light? Is the mirror you so spontaneously created perfect in form, or is it warped and scarred? Even if your mind is calm and your projection is profound, is not there still trickery innate to your mental mirror?
A mental reflection is also not the thing it reflects – it is another distorted image.
The mental mirror isn’t just about self-perception, it’s also used to map and evaluate the qualities of all the things we have some attachment to. You can’t consider directly another person, for example – you can only map and qualify that person as a mental construct you project onto your mental mirror. You can’t consider a flower or a bee as they are, either, but rather only as you conjure them up within you.
Thoughts and systems of qualification are illusions, insofar as we mistake our mental reflections for the real thing. We do, of course – I might truly regard a flower for a moment, but then I’ll mentally move into categorization and analysis. The abstract reflected flower becomes superimposed over the real flower that I had been regarding, then I can no longer directly see the flower. I see it overlaid with interpretation, I see it in comparison to all the other flowers, and I see it in comparison with my own situation. And since the thoughts suffer the inevitable defects of a reflection, they cannot clarify the truth of the flower for me. They can only clarify the uses of the flower.
A mental reflection is a creation of duality, a separation of one-ness into relationships where things have uses and values. A mental reflection of yourself has tones of what use you may be to others and yourself; you can no more regard your soul than your physical eye can behold itself.
When we sit and simply regard a thing, when we have an emptiness in our heads and calm in our hearts, we don’t create the duality. Instead, we perceive the one-ness – through the connection of focus and awareness, we become the flower we regard. There is no difference, there is nothing more. All other things disappear, including ourselves, and there is only the flower. It is brilliant, it is joyous, and it is amazing. In emptiness there is unity, in reflection there is distortion and duality.
Desire is an instrument of projection – we can never desire a thing in itself, but only an evaluated illusory reflection of a thing. When we relinquish the desire for something, we can then truly love it. When we relinquish the desire for something, we can then truly know it.
Yet, the mental tool of reflection is perfectly suited for the physical world. In the regularity of physical laws, in the links of causality and the inevitability of time, things differ in form and use. They arise and subside, and reflection yields measurements of the tide and the currents. But reflection fails beyond physicality and causality. It cannot get beyond the uses of things.
What mental mirror could be large enough to hold a comprehensive view of God? With what inner light could one illuminate a mental image of all that is? The strangeness of man is that he attempts to recover spirituality and life through false images of use and evaluation, yet those very false images are what deny him infinity and timelessness.