Intelligence Beyond the Brain

Is there an intelligence beyond the brain? What does it mean to say this? And if there is such an intelligence, can it be related to A Course in Miracles? Will A Course in Miracles introduce us to this intelligence?

When I sit quietly and give attention to what can be observed, I see that another energy is sustaining life and that it has nothing to do with me. The trees are not growing because of what I do. The birds are not flying and feeding and building their nests under my direction. The movement of the sun and the moon, the falling rain – it is all so consistent, all so beautiful and all so perfectly independent of my self.

All that does not rely on the brain at all. Long before our brains were inventing language and monetary systems and governments and agriculture and so forth, the flowers were simply growing and going to seed and growing again. The seasons were emptying into one another. The stars were shining, the ocean rising and falling

I am not playing word games: you can call it evolution, or biology or chemistry or whatever you want, and I am still going to ask you: is it not a form of intelligence? Is there not an order to it? We don’t have to leap into theology, which is just another abstraction. We can just stay with our observation of how simple life is, and how orderly, and how little it asks of us. It’s not about science and it’s not about narrative. It just is. And giving attention to it is a very liberating, very empowering gift.

If we discern between the activity of the brain and the action of life, then we are beginning to see that there is in fact another intelligence and that we are related to it. A Course in Miracles, like plenty of other spiritual paths, will point us in its direction but it cannot take us there. It is like the old adage: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. We have to recognize our thirst. We have to make the decision to slake it.

Giving attention to what is relieves our unfulfillment and restores to our mind the fact of its wholeness.

What A Course in Miracles calls the mind is not the same thing as the brain. It is something else. When we look into it, we see that mind is not readily measurable. It is not confined. It has qualities of the eternal and the infinite. Again, we don’t need to go into God and Heaven and all of that – that abstraction, that philosophy, that theology. All of that is fodder for conflict. But we can make contact with this intelligence, this energy, flowing through mind. It is the easiest thing to do because we are that intelligence. We are that flow.

“Flows” is the right word here. Mind is not an organ; it is not an instrument. It is more in the nature of a movement, a flow. It has tidal qualities, reflective properties. It is not concerned with survival or improvement or status. It is not ambitious or greedy. It wants nothing because it has everything.

These are just words, of course, and words are just symbols. They are not the thing itself but only relative approximations, always subject to error. It’s okay. We are not really trying to anymore to explain anything or even to understand anything here. We are trying to know the experience of peace and joy which naturally inheres in Creation and so naturally inheres in us.

We are moving beyond words, and beyond learning, in favor of experience. We are atoning. We are letting go our attachment to separation.

When I mentioned earlier the energy – the life – that infuses the sunlight which infuses the lilac bush which lights up my mind . . . That life or energy is not external to me. Nor, really, is it internal. Rather, it is me. And you, too. There is nowhere this life and energy is not. Its currents enfold everything and all things unfold out of it. Call it “ground” or “God” or “Brahman” or “flux” and what it is doesn’t change one bit. What a gift to know such stability and grace, to no longer perceive oneself as apart from it!

A Course in Miracles cleared a space for me in which it became possible to learn how to give attention and thus perceive that which lies beyond language, that which lies beyond form, and that which lies beyond perception. It related me to the intelligence that underlies the flow of life, teaching me that I am not separate from that life but rather flow with it and through it as it flows through me. You too.

So I am grateful, indeed, and my gratitude keeps me close to awareness of God. Nothing is disturbed, nothing is disgraced.

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  1. Hey Sean,

    Typing from my phone here, so I’ll keep it short. I saw someone on a forum ask the question if consciousness vibrates. I dismissed the question as new age speculation, but the first thing came to mind was that the mind moves. It’s not a static contained thing. I’m not talking movement as in monkey mind but of a flow. I then come here and read this. Pretty cool

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thanks for sharing. Synchronicity abounds, I guess. I was thinking of you the other day while biking. I hope you’re well!

      That is a nice distinction – between the movement implied by monkey mind and then the flow that mind is. This is a hard topic to raise sometimes in an ACIM-related setting, but I think it is valuable. Whether we call it Heaven or Christ of mind or ground of life or whatever, this encounter feels important to me.

      It is also not especially mystical but more practical and natural. But there is a lot of noise and ideology blocking the relationship or encounter, not the least of which is the hard time people can have agreeing what words to use and what they mean.

      Somebody posted on Google plus this morning: “unclutter your mind” with a lovely image of a a cloudy sky being lightened and I wrote in the comments: “discover its unclutteredness.”

      I meant well but then thought it probably came off more in the nature of a spiritual smartass.

      Anyway, hope you’re well. What did you think of Aurobindo?


  2. Hey Sean,

    I like that, “experience the unclutteredness.” As the course says, A cloud does not put out the sun.”

    So Sri Aurobindo. Well I have to admit, my attention span on books hasn’t been all that focused lately. About the same time I got Aurobindo, I got another book on Qigong. I started reading Aurobindo and actually rather enjoyed it, but I thought, “You know, I have enough concepts and words in my head right now”, so I set it aside (with the intention of reading it very soon) and picked up the Qigong book to put into practice. Besides, Sri Aurobindo’s book is quite the tome and like the course needs full attention to read.

    Not long after that, I stumbled upon Sri Aurobindo’s student Saptrem and his book “The Adventure of Consciousness or Sri Aurobindo”. I was immediately struck by this book, really enjoying it, but then I stumbled upon two authors who I have really enjoyed reading on just really practical applications. John Sherman and William Samuel.

    I have to admit, I am burned out right now on spirituality and in particular, A Course in Miracles. I shouldn’t say I’m burned out on the course itself, but I have yahoo groups that I signed up for and never deleted my account, so I still get emails from posts and replies from some of them.

    I’m just burned out on the whole theology, the whole speculation, the whole religious talk about this is the absolute, here is this diagram about the separation and here is what happened in step 1., step 2., step 3, etc. I’m burned out on the circular logic that the person is only talking to themselves when they are talking to other people because neither one exists. I’m burned out on the sublime nihilism that seems to be spiritiuality or the solipsism and apathy that is the sign of the “advanced” spiritual practioner. I’m burned out on reading people speak from the Absolute perspective, when all it is really is speculation. I’m burned out on this spiritual bypassing passed off as practice.

    And that’s fine. I don’t doubt the sincerity of many of these people, though I think it is misdirected. But I have my own good intentions that are also misdirected too. I have my own spiritual bypassing habits I engage in, but there is a disillusionment or burn out happening for sure.

    I just want to be clear, I’m not talking about your blogs here. I rather enjoy reading yours, because of the engagement you speak about rather than simple dismissal on everything is an illusion, because one read it in a book. Even though I think even the term illusion has more subtle nuances than the concrete literalism I often read.

    Funny how my reply turned into some kind of vent. 🙂 but I think the nuances of the course are far more practical than most “teachers” are teaching them. I think the separation is far more practical. I think the non-duality that is often taught about the course is actually quite (unintentionally) dualistic.

    I think that’s why I’m enjoying reading John Sherman and William Samuel. Samuel’s language really reminds me of the course’s language, but a focus on the practical (well even though I do think the course itself does also). But unlike many course students that seem to try and disengage from the world and dismiss everything, including themselves as merely non-existent illusions, both Sherman and Samuel are saying one must be fully engaged with not only themselves, but with the world, with Life itself. It is only through this complete engagement will we see The Self-The Christ-God and I really think this is what the course teaches, though it doesn’t seem to be that popular that it does.

    I have been doing a practice I kind of stumbled on. It’s kind of a take on Maharshi’s Self Inquiry. Whenever I am upset or angry or whatever. I’ll ask myself, “what is it that is angry” for example. I don’t try and answer the question, but simply close my eyes and look intently for what is it that is angry. I’ve been having some pretty amazing results and insights from doing this. I feel I’m coming into more contact with myself or Self and Life itself.

    Hope all is well Sean, I do enjoy reading your blogs. I saw that you wrote one on Singh. That’s what I like about Singh, less theology more nitty gritty.


    1. Hi Eric,

      Your rants are always welcome. This one actually sounded wise and patient – not angry!

      I will look into those writers you mention. I trust your judgment in these things.

      I think the nuance that you are talking about are important. It is my sense as well that the course has been sort of forcibly wrenched away from itself – well, those are my words, not yours. But it has always struck me as very practical, and deeply encouraging of our lives in the world. I like very much your sense of “illusion” as having some subtlety to it, not merely being a black-and-white opposite to reality.

      Intentions are good, indeed. And I think the impulse to pretend one is awakened – or persuade oneself that they are – is actually not the worst thing in the world. It comes from a recognition of the need for awakening anyway.

      Talking about this stuff can be very tricky, especially at the theoretical level. It is so easy to lapse into just repeating what we’ve read or heard somebody say an not stay close to our own experience and mode of expression. I slip with this all the time and sometimes feel the only reason I write so much is to purge myself of the need to imitate others.

      Well, I learn as I write, too, so that is helpful.

      I am not really familiar with Maharshi but Tara Singh was moved by him deeply. He is on my list but I have often felt him to be such a powerful presence that I am a little scared of reading him.

      Anyway, great to hear from you – glad you are well – and enjoy Hawaii.


      1. Hey Sean,

        If you’re interested in the 2 authors, Samuel’s book, A Guide to Awareness and Tranquility is what I am reading. Sherman’s book, Look at Yourself is the one I read.

        As far as Maharshi. I’d actually recommend reading Nisargadatta Maharaj’s book, I AM THAT before reading Maharshi’s main book, Talks With Ramana Maharshi.

        1. Hi Sean,

          I was reading some of your blog this morning and then began to read some of William Samuel’s book A Guide to Awareness and Tranquility. I kept thinking as I was reading it how much I think you would really enjoy this book. The language is Christian, but like ACIM, the author is not dogmatic about this. The language and how it is used is very similar to ACIM and the teaching itself is the same IMO. It was written in 1967. It is simply a man talking about his experience and sharing it. I’m still only near the beginning, but I am finding this to be one of the best books on spirituality that I have read in a while. I highly recommend it.


  3. Word to the wise.
    The only sign (evidence) of an expression of Christianity. Or any other religion for that matter. Is that what is evident on TV channels today as I see it from my prospective anyway. And burnt out I am also. And was looking for an explanation that made sense. I feel I found it in your blog.

    Recently I read in a famous persons book chapra Chopa that if you turn your gaze away from the sun it ceases to exist. (If I interpreted correctly). But I remember getting a speeding ticket even though I was unaware of the camera’s presence. Needless to say I was perplexed. Until I read in your blog . Life exists without us. So thanks.

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