• Richard Ingate

Creating from an empty mind

'The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness'

(A much quoted Zen saying that misses out the continuation that when the cup is empty you can fill it with something you actually like.)

Introduction - 'fessing up to my bias

In writing this I am aware that I have a model in mind of how our experience of the world is, a model of how our brain functions to express and mediate our perception of reality.

I will be upfront and say this is not a completely scientific, evidence based model for I believe there is a spiritual depth to whatever it is that we are, which includes the biological expression of consciousness but is not limited to it.

I have no evidence for this and so wanted to state my 'bias' at the beginning so you can make an informed choice about reading on, or not.

Why are we not wonderful all the time?

If we have these deeper spiritual realities, why are we not all enlightened sages drifting peacefully around the utopia we naturally created (as we are all so amazing)?

You have probably noticed that we are not always so amazing all of the time. You only have to look at the egotistic antics of today's politicians for easy to see examples of how we all are rather less than we might be.

We are wired to be learning machines. When we are born,we begin to interact and learn from our environment. Crying works at first and most of us learn that crying gets us positive attention, food and nappy changes. This is not intellectual learning; the process of conditioning and habit formation goes on out of awareness/consciousness.

Our cluster of conditioning and habits take on an identity. We are part of our family and wider society and psychologically primed by both to think, feel, believe and behave in particular ways. Grow up in The UK and you will have very different automatic reactions and likes and dislikes about food to someone who grew up in Issan, Thailand.

Our conditioned identities formulate into a world view. This is how the world is, this is good and this is bad. This is possible and this is impossible. This is right and this is wrong.

This is our conditioned self, our sense of self, the feeling that I am an 'I' and I am real.

We paint the world in our own image.

And for most of the time this is how humanity lumbers through history. We crave power and glory so there are wars, we crave freedom and so 'leaders' must forcibly control us or lose their power. We desire 'more' and so profit, that made up word, takes higher priority than the world itself.

The biology that crafts our vehicle for moving through the world works well to do all of that, mostly. I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong. This is how things work.

Life and death are both part of the system, as is suffering.

This is how it is - or at least part of how it is. To the extent that we are wedded to this perspective, we are blind to even the possibility of another way of moving through life. We are walking around the planet holding a mirror in front of our eyes - today it's a more visibly a phone.

It stops us seeing what is actually here, mainly because the NOISE of all that THINKING drowns out anything else.

Wider and deeper

So what is here to see if we put the mirror down?

There is wider and there is deeper.

Wider is a connection with the whole of the world and especially where ever we happen to be right now. We are separate but not separate. What a mystery!

I suspect it is easier to feel a connection outdoors than it is in a man made building full of man made objects that insulate us from the natural world (and of course some insulation is needed, or cooling in tropical climes!).

Wider - this is the realm of nature and I have nothing more to say other than go outside as often as you can and just walk around and pay attention with a quiet a mind as possible. Be open to the possibility of feeling the spirit of the place.

For those who want to go even wider, there are many ways to support the environment and delve deeper too, into its magic, as our ancestors did and as do some today.

Deeper - when we start to put down the mirror we begin to notice what is around us both in the external world and in our inner world - the inner world that is deeper than our conditioned thoughts, responses, beliefs and ongoing 'yada, yada, yada' internal monologue.

This is a realm we can explore with care. Meditation is the key in my opinion. The ability to deliberately focus and direct attention and awareness and take a perspective on on going experience with care. All these are aspects of meditation, as they are of other disciplines.

Perhaps there are many ways to the Way.

Whichever way you choose, should you make such an unfashionable but meaningful commitment, for it will become your lens on the world.

A different way of seeing.

When you look differently you see different things. A lens is just a lens but the journey has begun.

What shines through?

Living wider and living deeper changes how we engage and are willing to engage with the world. In all honesty, it is not all roses. When you see the dysfunctional way (because disconnected from wider and deeper) of various aspects of our society such as 'work' you may find it even harder to turn up day after day after day...

You may well feel a need to recreate your lifestyle to reflect and express your shifting understanding of the world because how we want to engage with our day changes. A daily routine of getting up, commuting to a job that is stressful, tolerating bosses that are in place to enforce compliance, commuting home, rushing through chores and then vegging out to try and recover enough to do it all again the next day.

That shit no longer flies.

The role of coaching

In general, society will not pat you on the back and welcome your new take on life. The job of society is to enforce compliance. In our Western consumerist society the hierarchy is profit and power driven and so any deviation from that will not be supported.

This is where professional coaching can play a useful part. Be aware that 'coaching' is a very vague term and much so called 'coaching' is training to be a better part of the status quo, richer, more successful, nearer the top of the hill.

The professional coaching that I do is for people who are waking up to wider and deeper and need to explore what that actually means in a world that demands regular payments and how to integrate a new level (s) of insight into expression in the world, into a lifestyle that lives from a deeper grounding .

In this respect we are all works in progress. If this is for you, you can book a free initial exploration conversation online.

Creating from a peaceful mind

"Only in silence, the word"

(Ursula K LeGuin)

A peaceful mind doesn't mean a constant state of bliss. I mean a mind, an experiencing of life, that knows the nature of thought, that knows thought like weather will always change. Really knowing this means we get less caught up in our own thinking, less of the time, and recover perspective sooner when we do get lost (which we all do,regularly). Once again a regular habit of awareness, mindfulness, meditation is a key tool in my understanding.

When we are less driven, we can drive.

When we can design a lifestyle from our deepening insight we choose or create work that fits how we want to walk through our lives.

My trust is that as we go wider and deeper the choices that we make will heal us as individuals, communities and environments.

And it is an article of faith. I have faith that if we are less driven by craving and desperation we will make wiser choices and we will thrive and the world will thrive with us because it's not a rush to be king of the hill anymore. It's a 'WE are all in this together' and when one of us is successful, all of us can be successful in the sense that as the water rises all the boats sit lighter in the water. This is not the best of metaphors but I can hope you get my meaning.


I wonder what difference this article will make to your life? Let me know. As a lover of bad puns I hope it leaves you more awake than 'woke'.

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