“What is non-self, Anatta? It means impermanence. If things are impermanent, they don’t remain the same things forever. We should learn how to look at life as streams of being, and not as separate entities.You of this moment are no longer you of a minute ago. There is no permanent entity within us, there is only a stream of being.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh


In Buddhism, that thread of energy which moves from life to life is called the “mindstream”, and represents the continuum of consciousness that arises moment to moment, dependent on causes and conditions, and thus persists in a state of perpetual flux.

Most are by now familiar with the concept of “stream of consciousness”, popularized by the philosopher William James in the 19th century, but the Buddhist concept of mindstream precedes it by several thousand years. The concept itself has undergone various permutations, as different traditions within Buddhism have each interpreted it based on their own level of understanding.

Certainly, the nature of consciousness itself can be investigated to see if it is real, but the consideration on its dream-like quality has been explored in previous essays, while this particular post will concern itself more with the mechanics of the mental continuum as it is commonly understood.

The traditional Buddhist teaching is that the mindstream is not a permanent entity, but rather a series of impermanent moments. However, by habit we tend to think of these moments as successive moments in a stream of time which have some kind of substantial reality to them, a kind of permanence. We tell ourselves stories about these moments and we project these stories into the future. This is how we construct an identity of an enduring personal self, an entity with a past and future. Nevertheless, from the Buddhist perspective, these stories are simply karmic productions, and do not even amount to a permanent self-entity. They contribute to the creation of expectations regarding the “way things are” and “the way things will be” and then when these expectations are met or not met the experience of happiness or sorrow follows. Altogether, it may constitute an illusion-like phenomenal dream, but for we who are still asleep the suffering is undeniably real.

The mindstream carries certain concretized fixations with it, called “karmic imprints” (Sanskrit “Vasanas”) from birth to birth, and these imprints are either compounded further by life and relations or dissolved, depending on how one takes responsibility for them. For example, the selfishness born of grasping and avoiding causes us to engage in negative actions, which in turn place negative imprints on the mindstream. On the other hand, seeing through and discarding selfish motives has the opposite effect, and is comparable to dropping off extra baggage, rather than accumulating it. As the baggage of the self-contraction is released, we become “lighter”, and the mindstream is freed up of those karmic imprints that have trapped it in a vicious cycle of craving and fear.

As the afflictive states spawned by negative karmic imprints are recognized, seen through, and released, liberation becomes a possibility. However, since we are by nature immortal Spirit, always already free, what kind of liberation are we talking about? Well, we are talking about liberation from the binding effects generated by our previous negative actions while in material form.

According to the traditional Buddhist rationale, the force of those actions keeps drawing us back to incarnation on this relatively low-level war planet (Samsara) so that we might resolve the traumas and complications our less than skillful behaviors have created in prior human adventures. As the late Sage Ramana Maharshi noted, “Only after the vasanas have been destroyed can one attain liberation.”

Furthermore, one additional stumbling block to “clearing” the mindstream that is not as much acknowledged in this regard is the tendency we have to cling, not only to negative fixed imprints, but also to positive karmic “fruits”. However, any imprint, regardless of how appealing, is ultimately extra baggage and must be surrendered, if one is to realize their prior freedom and move on beyond the human limitation and its associated web in which one may have entangled themselves through these various imprints.

There is an aspect of the mindstream that is its fundamental basis, or ground. It functions like a storehouse in which the habitual tendencies and karmic imprints of past actions caused by our emotional reactivity and errors in judgment and appreciation are all stored like seeds. It contains all the traces or impressions of the past actions and all good and bad future potentialities. When the right conditions arise, they germinate and manifest as circumstances and situations in our lives. In Buddhism it is called the 8th Consciousness, or “Alaya-Vijnana”.

If we have a habit of thinking and reacting in a particular pattern, positive or negative, then these tendencies will be triggered and easily provoked. They will recur and continue recurring. Within the loop of constant repetition, our inclinations and habits thus become steadily more entrenched, increasing and gathering power, even when we sleep and dream. This is how they come to determine our life and death, and how they contribute to our rebirth in realms such as this one in which we currently find ourselves.

As mentioned earlier, the karmic imprints or energetic impulses, when activated, create the illusion of a solid and enduring self, which exists just on edge of the storehouse consciousness where the karmic imprints reside. They bind us to the sense and belief that we are a substantial and independent human person, separate from Source, rather than the limitless, indivisible Spirit that is our true identity.

Indeed, this is why our traumatic hurts and such feel so real and personal, and why they end up ruling our lives if we are mindless and unaware of their power to negatively influence our choices, relationships, work, and ability to cultivate mental and emotional well-being. Karmic imprints and their attendant conditioning have the potential to determine the nature of the world we inhabit. That is, whatever we experience externally is a projection of what is internal, although few of us ever bother to investigate the implications of that projection mechanism.

As the noted Tibetan master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche wrote: “Our belief that the mind is a real entity is a conclusion based on insufficient investigation. We believe a river we see today to be the same river we saw yesterday, but in reality a river never stays the same even for a second — the water that made up yesterday’s river will surely be part of the ocean by now. The same is true for the countless thoughts that run through our “mind” from morning to evening. Our mindstream is just a succession of instantaneous thoughts; there is no separate entity that you can point out as being a mind.”

By dis-identifying with the body-mind-self (through the practice of non-dwelling, for example), and turning attention back to its source, we can begin to systematically observe the arising of the impulse to follow our habitual karmic tendencies, and so choose to no longer be an unconscious victim, at the mercy of uninspected forces. Such conscious recognition of the actual nature of our own thoughts and emotions allows one the internal freedom to choose a skillful response to life tests anytime we are present and mindfully aware.

Such a conscious investigation can also break the spell of the separate self-sense we habitually believe ourselves to be. As Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche notes: “Despite the fact that we are a ceaselessly transforming stream, interdependent with other beings and the whole world, we imagine that there exists in us an unchanging entity that characterizes us and that we must protect and please. A thorough analysis of this reveals that it is only a fictitious mental construct.”

It is futile to dwell on the past. The best we can do is live with integrity here and now, eliminating all traces of the poisons such as greed, envy, hatred, and ignorance/arrogance whenever and wherever they appear. Remember, the discipline of silence is potent. It allows us the freed-up attention to assume the witness position, recognizing the arising of the ego-mind before it has a chance to sink in its tentacles and seduce us with the belief in the reality of the person we have mistaken ourselves to be — that mental fabrication composed of various conditioning factors and programs deeply embedded as karmic imprints.

In other words, we need to learn to refrain from submitting to the “Architect” – the ego-mind itself. Instead, we can dismantle its architecture brick by brick by observing it in action, recognizing its effort to confirm its existence, and subsequently no longer granting it reality by playing along in its game. As mentioned in previous essays, engaging the practice of non-dwelling is an effective expedient means in this regard.

Since we are not living in the past, we cannot become mindfully aware in the past and go back to change errors. We can only become aware in the moment when the tendencies are arising, and it is only in this moment when we actually have the power to choose to indulge negative habit energies, or refrain from doing so. By our choice in the moment then, we determine our future. What we are now is the result of our past choices, and if we want to see how we will be in the future, we need only observe the choices we are making in the moment now.

Beyond even the expedient (though still dualistic) assumption of the witness position, we can eventually recognize that what never changes or moves is the awake aware (knowing) space in which the stream of being appears, transforms, and disappears. Indeed, the mindstream is not our identity, but our display — a creative projection of consciousness into the virtual reality playground of space-time. Radiant emptiness momentarily reflects itself as the “me-experience”, in the same way our subconscious manifests dream characters that are also called streams of being.

In the midst of all this, it is especially important to remember that the greatest solvents for karmic imprints are humility, forgiveness, gratitude, and love. The cultivation of selfless compassion (Bodhicitta) serves to transform the mindstream and benefit all, and it is just such an attitude which is the foundation of the Buddhist Bodhisattva ideal, in which one sets aside their own personal welfare for the welfare of others.

Thus, it can be said that a transformed mindstream self-liberates through the power of love, and ultimately, it couldn’t happen in any other way. Released of its accumulated burden, the unfettered mind falls into its Source, also called the Heart, and shines there, at home, at peace.

“At first your karma is like a river falling through a gorge;
In mid-course it flows like a gently meandering River Ganga;
And finally, as a river becomes one with the ocean,
It ends in consummation like the meeting of mother and son.”

~Mahamudra, Tilopa


See also:



About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/1heart Essays on the Conscious Process: https://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: http://feelingtoinfinity.wordpress.com/ Verses and ramblings on life as it is: https://writingonwater934500566.wordpress.com/ Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: https://themindthatneverwas.wordpress.com/ Verses on the Play of Consciousness: https://onlydreaming187718380.wordpress.com/ Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: https://themysteriousexpanse.wordpress.com/ Poems of the Mountain Hermit: https://snowypathtonowhere.wordpress.com/ Love Poems from The Book of Yes: https://lovesight.wordpress.com/ Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: https://travelsindreamland.wordpress.com/ Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: https://freetransliterations.wordpress.com/ Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: https://westernmystics.wordpress.com/ Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: https://spiritguidesparrow.wordpress.com/ Thank You!
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31 Responses to Mindstream

  1. jencistory says:

    I really like that Bob. I tend to avoid discussions around the word Karma as I find there is a lot of conditioned beliefs about what it is thought to be rather than what it is. You wrote about it well – it is certainly how I would interpret it to be.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thanks Jen! Yes, there is a lot of misunderstanding of the subject. The popular notion most are familiar with is colored by a westernized (Christianized) conception of some kind of punitive element, which of course is a projection derived from the parental deity model (discussed in the previous essay on the stages of human spiritual development). The actual reality behind the various notions is that we ourselves are responsible for how we are going to be, and that we can create either heavenly or hellish conditions — it is in our own hands.

      Moreover, as powerful immortal spiritual beings, we can choose incarnational circumstances that might appear to be challenging from a conventional human perspective, but which are in reality perfect opportunities for exploration and deepening self-awareness, so it is futile to judge and apply human measurement to any other’s situation, assuming they are being punished, for example. Alternatively, what may seem like good fortune from a human perspective may actually turn out to be quite the opposite, so it is futile for us to speculate on such matters, given that we do not have all the necessary information to make a qualified assessment of the play of karmic mechanics.

      Rather, the best approach is to mind our own business, and make the kinds of choices in our own lives, right now, that will serve our true purpose in being here, which is to grow in integrity, love, and wisdom.


  2. jencistory says:

    The problem with the idea that some have that karma is a punishment or judgement for deeds done is that it creates fear – fear of the judgement and the punishment – which actually is creating more karma. Underlying all of our karmic imprints like envy, greed, desire – is actually fear.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Fear of consequences for their (mis)deeds was an expedient tool given to primitive peoples to teach them about making choices between desirable and undesirable acts, in much the same way threats are sometimes used in child rearing to teach the child to avoid certain behaviors, etc. However, once one advances towards adulthood, both on a personal as well as a societal level, fear becomes counter-productive, since it depends upon an external authority, rather than the individual taking responsibility for their own life and relations.
      On another level, the salient characteristic of the ego-mind is the vicious cycle of craving and avoidance, which is grasping and fear. Breaking that self-reinforcing loop is the stepping stone to real freedom, and the resolution of the karmic knots.


  3. marcel says:

    What I do find a conceptual “mystery” (over here in this imaginary point)
    in the play of the 5 elements we have this conceptual map layed out for us regarding, mind-stream, repository consciousness etc.
    That the person(ality) is not reborn is clear (for obvious reasons)
    Thus rebirth/karma shout then logically (oeps) refer to the points or bubbles in consciousness (body/mind) or perhaps just easier said, [the sense of] individual consciousness.
    When that is seen for what it is [the sense of individuality] where is the question of rebirth?
    Where the hell should space go? We brake a bottle and the bottle and the sense of I/other which was only within the container [due to reflection], space merges into space. Rebirth then [unspent energies] should be like a cloud in the bottle, when the bottle breaks, a cloud is released into space. Just babbling

    Karma is only a store of unspent energies, of unfulfilled desires, and fears not understood. The store is being constantly replenished by new desires and fears. It need not be so for ever. Understand the root cause of your fears -estrangement from yourself; and of desires -the longing for the self, and your karma will dissolve like a dream.

    Most of our karma is collective. We suffer for the sins of others, as others suffer for ours. Humanity is one.
    ~Sri Niz..

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    “Karma is only a store of unspent energies, of unfulfilled desires, and fears not understood. The store is being constantly replenished by new desires and fears. It need not be so for ever. Understand the root cause of your fears -estrangement from yourself; and of desires -the longing for the self, and your karma will dissolve like a dream.”

    Hello Brother!

    While I can certainly appreciate the sentiments expressed by Sri Nisargadatta above, they can also be misleading, if one believes that a mere intellectual reckoning with one’s self-image is enough to dissolve the accumulated heaps of stored reactivity and such. Certainly, the understanding he points to is an expedient step, but the discursive mind itself is rather impotent in regards to the subconscious, where the subtle and causal energies continue to engage the activity of contraction, producing the various afflicted states i.e. dukkha.

    A Friend recently addressed this very issue in a recent blog post when she wrote:

    “For “enlightenment” to happen, there has to be a removal of everything which is driving the sense of individual “I” into incarnation, so it is not just a case of removing thoughts and emotions on the physical level but the subtle emotional and mental bodies need to be cleared and the causal body’s sense of “I” has to let go, right back to the original thought which came into existence in the universal mind. Sometimes this original thought is called the core story or contraction; the one which is driving it all.” ~ http://jencistory.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/a-story-of-life/

    In other words, in order for space to merge with space, as you put it, or for the original “I”-thought to merge with its source, something more must happen then simply breaking the shell, since what might have seemed to be the outside of the egg to the chick might just turn out to be the inside of a larger shell.


  5. Bob OHearn says:

    No discussion of “Karma” would be complete, in my opinion, without also considering alternative viewpoints. Among the voices I give credence to, both Nanci Danison and Natalie Sudman (two of the most insightful and articulate reporters of profound near death experiences currently writing) have both indicated that the traditional view of karma, such as relayed in both Buddhist and Hindu philosophies, is not at all accurate.

    Natalie puts it this way (in her book “Application of Impossible Things”): “The belief structures of karmic law or religious punishment have no place in this process or in fact in my entire experience [of expanded consciousness]. Even now I can return to those states [experienced during her nde] and in looking for such structures, find them only within the physical dimensions as structures created and maintained purely by the very belief itself: thought taken form. The beliefs are not cosmic law or rules under which the expanded consciousness operates because consciousness exists already beyond them. Consciousness can simply slip between these ideas or step past them.”

    Nanci gives her understanding here:

    Consequently, I offer these two views, not to confuse the issue, but hopefully to enrich the consideration. We are so used to viewing such themes solely from the limited human perspective, and although it might be challenging to expand our focus to allow for a much broader and more comprehensive angle of vision, doing so can certainly deepen our appreciation of the Mystery.

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    From a dialogue with Nisargadatta Maharaj in “I Am That”:

    Q: What I am is the result of my karma.

    M: What you appear to be, you are not. Karma is only a word you have learned to repeat. You have never been, nor shall you ever be, a person. Refuse to consider yourself as one. But as long as you do not even doubt yourself to be a Mr. So-and-so, there is little hope. When you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown?

    Q: I imagine karma as a mysterious power that urges me towards perfection.

    M: That’s what people told you. You are already perfect, here and now. The perfectible is not you. You imagine yourself to be what you are not. Stop it. It is the cessation that is important, not what you are going to stop.

    Q: Did not karma compel me to be what I am?

    M: Nothing compels. You are as you believe yourself to be. Stop believing.

    Q: We were told about karma and reincarnation, evolution and yoga, masters and disciples. What are we to do with all this knowledge?

    M: Leave it all behind you. Forget it. Go forth, unburdened with ideas and beliefs. Abandon all verbal structures, all relative truth, all tangible objectives.

    Q: I find that the thought of death frightens me because I do not want to be reborn. I know that none compels, yet the pressure of unsatisfied desires is overwhelming and I may not be able to resist.

    M: The question of resistance does not arise. What is born and reborn is not you. Let it happen, watch it happen.

    Q: Why then be at all concerned?

    M: But you are concerned! And you will be concerned as long as the picture clashes with your own sense of truth, love and beauty. The desire for harmony and peace is in eradicable. But once it is fulfilled, the concern ceases and physical life becomes effortless and below the level of attention. Then, even in the body you are not born. To be embodied or bodyless is the same to you. You reach a point when nothing can happen to you. Without body, you cannot be killed; without possessions you cannot be robbed; without mind, you cannot be deceived. There is no point where a desire or fear can hook on. As long as no change can happen to you, what else matters?

    Q: Somehow I do not like the idea of dying.

    M: It is because you are so young. The more you know yourself the less you are afraid. Of course, the agony of dying is never pleasant to look at, but the dying man is rarely conscious.

    Q: Does he return to consciousness?

    M: It is very much like sleep. For a time the person is out of focus and then it returns.

    Q: The same person?

    M: The person, being a creature of circumstances, necessarily changes along with them, like the flame that changes with the fuel. Only the process goes on and on, creating time and space.

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    (from I Am That, Nisargadatta Maharaj)

    Q: On several occasions the question was raised as to whether the
    universe is subject to the law of causation, or does it exist and
    function outside the law. You seem to hold the view that it is
    uncaused, that everything, however small, is uncaused, arising and
    disappearing for no known reason whatsoever.

    M: Causation means succession in time of events in space, the space
    being physical or mental. Time, space, causation are mental
    categories, arising and subsiding with the mind.

    Q: As long as the mind operates, causation is a valid law.

    M: Like everything mental, the so-called law of causation contradicts
    itself. No thing in existence has a particular cause; the entire
    universe contributes to the existence of even the smallest thing;
    nothing could be as it is without the universe being what it is.
    When the source and ground of everything is the only cause of
    everything, to speak of causality as a universal law is wrong. The
    universe is not bound by it. It is a manifestation, or expression of
    a principle fundamentally and totally free.

    Q: Yes, one can see that ultimately to speak one thing being the only
    cause of another thing is altogether wrong. Yet, in actual life we
    invariably initiate action with a view to a result.

    M: Yes, there is a lot of such activity going on, because of
    ignorance. Would people know that nothing can happen unless the
    entire universe makes it happen, they would achieve much more with
    less expenditure of energy.

    Q: If everything is an expression of the totality of causes, how can
    we talk of a purposeful action towards an achievement?

    M: The very urge to achieve is also an expression of the total
    universe. It merely shows that the energy potential has risen at a
    particular point. It is the illusion of time that makes you talk of
    causality. When the past and the future are seen in the timeless now,
    as part of a common pattern, the idea of cause-effect loses its
    validity and creative freedom takes its place.

    Q: Yet, I cannot see how can anything come to be without a cause.

    M: When I say a thing is without a cause, I mean it can be without a
    particular cause. Your own mother was not needed to give you birth;
    you could have been born from some other woman. But you could not
    have been born without the sun and the earth. Even these could not
    have caused your birth without the most important factor: your own
    desire to be born. It is desire that gives birth, that gives name
    and form. The desirable is imagined and wanted and manifests itself
    as something tangible or conceivable. Thus is created the world in
    which we live, our personal world. The real world is beyond the
    mind’s ken; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into
    pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the
    universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do
    so, for the net is full of holes.

    Q: What do you mean by holes? And how to find them?

    M: Look to the net and its many contradictions. You do and undo at
    every step. You want peace, love, happiness and work hard to create
    pain, hatred and war. You want longevity and overeat, you want
    friendship and exploit. See your net as made of such contradictions
    and remove them – your very seeing them will make them go.

    Q: Since my seeing the contradictions makes it go, is there no causal
    link between my seeing and its going?

    M: Causality, even as a concept, does not apply to chaos.

    Q: To what extent is desire a causal factor?

    M: One of the many. For everything there are innumerable cause
    factors. But the source of all that is, is the Infinite Possibility,
    the Supreme Reality, which is in you and which throws its power and
    light and love on every experience. But, this source is not a cause
    and no cause is a source. Because of that, I say everything is
    uncaused. You may try to trace how a thing happens, but you cannot
    find out why a thing is as it is. A thing is as it is, because the
    universe is as it is.

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “Looking for causes and results is but the pastime of the mind.”

    ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

  9. Mark says:

    The more I see that I am infinite being of consciousness, bound to this physical world for a bit, the more my mind worries that I am going crazy (It’s mainly my mind having anxious thoughts about the possibility of being schizophrenic, despite having no real symptoms). Does anyone have any words that could perhaps calm me and help me continue my journey without fear of my own mind consistently telling me that I’m just fucked up?

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Mark, the best advice would be to seek out a qualified teacher who could help you through these concerns in a face-to-face setting. In the meantime, you may want to consider the practice of non-dwelling, which I elaborate here: https://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/the-practice-of-non-dwelling/


      • Mark says:

        A qualified teacher of what? I’ve come through a lot of different ways, First Christianity, until I realised the stories where nice lies designed to control people, then drugs, now spirituality and consciousness thinking, aided by ‘Be Here Now’, as my sort of stepping stone into Hinduism, which is the way I’m leaning towards at the moment, as it makes the most sense right now. I’m 20 years old, but my whole life I’ve known I was a ‘soul’ or consciousness outside the defines of ‘age’. I’ve come about this journey, first through cannabis, then as I got older, LSD, and mushrooms, and other hallucinogenics along the way. My main problem with this constant ‘am I crazy, is this all an elaborate false reality created by my crazy mind’, began about 3-4 months ago whilst I was watching The Matrix whilst on hallucinogenics and also spoke to ‘God’ (whether that be a creator, or as I’m coming more to understand, just another layer of myself, I suppose doesn’t matter)…

        What has worried me since though, is that “speaking to God”, generally as a stigma as being something that only happens to psychopaths and therefore is a delusion, or whether it was real and should be accepted, is a source of constant debate within my mind, despite being ‘cleared’ (by my psychotherapist step-father, who does work with the sort of minds and is able and qualified to identify the symptoms of the sort of mind that I’m scared that mine is, my father, who has worked with these people too, more than one doctor, and my friends, all whom insist I’m pretty much fine and what I’m experiencing is normal anxiety.) it doesn’t seem to stop this constant, although quieting argument with myself.

      • Bob OHearn says:

        I was referring to a qualified meditation teacher (sorry I was not more specific in my earlier reply). Depending on where you live, you might start out researching on the net, where you can find sites that list Dharma center locations near you.
        Psycho-active substances are generally not recommended if you are seeking to awaken to your true nature, beyond the modifications of the mind.
        In the meantime, don’t believe everything you think. Just try stepping back and not identifying with the mental noise, but rather just let thoughts come and go without trying to do anything with them one way or the other. The best way to do this is in a relaxed setting, and just try it for a short time everyday, and you will begin to feel free from the fixations and moods that the mind dishes up. You might also try reading a good book on meditation. I started with one called “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind”, by Suzuki Roshi. I have heard that it is now also available on the net to read for free. It really helped me to get started with meditation, and it has served many people that way, although books are no substitute for a direct relationship with a good teacher.


  10. Mark says:

    Thank you!

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    Nisargadatta Maharaj: In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, making everything shine. Unperceived, it causes perception. Unfelt, it causes feeling. Unthinkable, it causes thought. Non-being, it gives birth to being. It is the immovable background of motion. Once you are there you are at home everywhere.

    Q: If I am that, then what causes me to be born?

    M: The memory of the past unfulfilled desires traps energy, which manifests itself as a person. When its charge gets exhausted, the person dies. Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the next birth. Self-identification with the body creates ever fresh desires and there is no end to them, unless this mechanism of bondage is clearly seen. It is clarity that is liberating, for you cannot abandon desire, unless its causes and effects are clearly seen. I do not say that the same person is reborn. It dies and dies for good. But its memories remain and their desires and fears. They supply the energy for a new person. The real takes no part in it, but makes it possible by giving it the light.

  12. Bob OHearn says:

    Hello Mark!

    I was quoting Nisargadatta in the passage above.

    In terms of my own recognitions, whatever I have discovered has occurred in the course of practice (Inquiry, Silence, Non-dwelling), which has mostly involved discarding all that I thought I knew, or having all that I believed I knew destroyed in a flash of insight. It’s those cracks in the edifice of the self-idea that make it possible for the light to shine through.


  13. Bob OHearn says:

    “We can formulate the following logical reasoning: Karmic actions and results are mere appearances devoid of true existence, because no self, no actor, exists to perform them. This is a valid way to put things because if the self of the individual does not exist, there cannot be any action, and therefore there cannot be any result of any action either.

    Someone might ask, “Isn’t it nihilistic to think that karmic actions and their results do not exist?” In fact, this is not a nihilistic view because there exists no self to have any nihilistic view. There can be a nihilistic view only if there is someone to hold it, but since there is no one to have any view, then there can be no nihilism. Furthermore, since the thought of nihilism neither arises nor abides nor ceases, there can be no nihilism in genuine reality.”

    ~Gyamtso, Khenpo Tsultrim

    • Mark says:

      It’s a nice premise but it seems to me that that seems to be a very convenient way of absolving yourself of all of your negative or hurtful actions towards other sentient beings. People do exist, whether or not we’re all offshoots of the same collective consciousness or whether life is just a big daydream of a infinitely big turtle, you have to have responsibility for your actions. You cant’t just logic your way out of taking ownership of your behaviour and how it may affect others, whether your doing it for selfish, karmic or undetermined motives.

      • Bob OHearn says:

        Hi Mark, and Thank you for your comments! Yours is an understandable reaction, and one shared by many, when confronted with such challenging information, such as the non-reality of the person, and the implications of that message.

        Some might answer that on the absolute level, it is correct that there is only one Source in the universe, wearing all the masks and performing all the actions. All the apparent beings in the midst of apparent suffering are nothing more than thoughts within the heart-mind of Source, allowing Source to experience Itself from every possible vantage point. In reality, there are no suffering beings, there never have been, there never will be. Nothing is happening now, nothing ever happened.

        We may get so identified with a movie that we suffer the victories and tragedies of the performers, but when the movie ends, we see that it was just light cast on a blank screen.

        Still, on the relative level, there appear to be individuals who are linked from life to life by the fruits of their deeds.

        Regardless, Source is the one suffering, Source is the Bodhisattva trying to relieve suffering, and Source is utterly free of any suffering, simultaneously. Furthermore, Source Itself is empty of any inherent self or Self.

        This is all incomprehensible to the human intellect, which can’t help but thinking in terms of sentient beings, self and other, and worlds of karma, but all of that is not true. Of course, just saying all of this is nothing but another claim in the midst of claims, until it is realized. This is why it is said in the Upanishads: “They only know whom you let know, none else knows.”

        In my own understanding, both absolute and relative views are positions, and no position is ultimately true. Letting go of all concepts and beliefs is liberating. It is fine to ponder various notions, but in the end, the truth is not found in any intellectual position or claim, but rather is recognized through direct experience.

        My own sense of the matter of karma is very much in line with the description that follows in the next comment, by Sparrow.


  14. Bob OHearn says:

    The concept of Karma is one that has confused humans throughout history. Most commonly, we tend to think of karma as a form of justice in the universe, or even punishment. For example, we might imagine that the evil Nazis will undergo hellish results in the afterlife, as payment for the suffering they caused. Alternately, we might imagine that saintly types will reap desirable rewards. That is a very common attitude among those who profess a belief in karma.

    I have received a newsletter from a prominent near death experiencer and author, Nanci Danison, in which she addressed the topic. I will share a portion of her comments:

    “Supposedly Karma is balanced or satisfied when an incarnated soul personally feels the effects of its conduct in the former life. This is a common, and very human, misunderstanding of how we choose physical lives. There is a kernel of truth here, in that Light Beings do choose a series of lives selected to experience all aspects of the element of physical life they are exploring. But hidden deep within the concept of Karma is the human desire for revenge through punishment.

    Humans believe it is unfair for them to suffer anything at all. They judge pain to be bad and the source of the pain to be an enemy of sorts. They want that enemy punished in some way–even when the source of the pain is oneself. In extreme cases, this unacknowledged belief in punishment can lead someone to self-abuse or to live a life of extreme denial of creature comforts. Milder cases may result in the compulsion to confess ones crimes to the police or secret misdeeds to the injured party (like confessing an affair). Though the concept may be gussied-up with words like justice, fairness, or balancing the scales, its core is simple belief in revenge through punishment.

    Humans find it very hard to believe Source does not punish what they judge to be wrong. So they unconsciously project their own need for revenge and punishment onto their spiritual beliefs. We see it in the biblical phrase, “an eye for an eye.” And it appears in Karma as a thinly disguised form of self-punishment.

    Karma does not exist in the afterlife. Source lacks the human character trait of judgment. So, as Source’s mental characters, we do not judge our former human lives after we leave them. Without the judgment that something is unfair or bad, there is no desire for revenge or punishment. We characters within Source do not feel anything in one human life has to be balanced or punished via another physical life. Rather, we choose physical lives dispassionately from a sense of intellectual curiosity about a trait unique to the species we are studying, not human drives that disappear when the body dies.”

    Nanci’s comments certainly seem to be pointing to a more “enlightened” vision of the matter. Nevertheless, she herself noted in her books that one’s “life review” can be harrowing — that we keenly feel the effects of every act we performed, as well as their repercussions, and so indeed whatever we have done, both good and bad, comes back to us in that respect (although again, the only one judging us is ourselves).

    This hint at our essential interdependence with each other and our environment leads me to offer what I consider a much more profound discussion of the subject — perhaps the most comprehensive I have ever encountered — from my friend Sparrow. I will link his elucidation on Karma here for your consideration:


  15. Bob OHearn says:

    Do we reincarnate over and over?

    “Reincarnation is a foregone conclusion, and inaccurate. For some, this is their very first life as a human, for many have come from other planets, and others have never had a physical life in all of their millions of years of spirit existence. Most are just curious about the condition and only come here once, or will choose to return perhaps in another thousand years when great change has occurred. Yes, some choose to return after a few hundred years, but those are a specific majority who are doing specific work for their soul group associated with Earth or the species and its progress. Earth has, if you like, sort of task forces and groups/councils of beings from many origins in the spirit world who oversee the development of planet Earth. These group members tend to be those who return to continue their work or agenda. Most others have agendas elsewhere within other soul groups having nothing to do with Earth or human beings. You would be wise to discard this notion that you keep returning to Earth in this repetitious way, for it is inaccurate.

    A soul, or rather, your spirit, does not have to have a physical experience at all. The spirit that you are is perfect in every way, it remains so no matter how many incarnations you have. No matter the consciousness you create around it, your spirit always remains unchanged and as pure as it was since its conception.

    Those that choose to have a physical life do so, not because they must, but because they are curious as to the potentials it offers in terms of experiences. More experiences do not in any way make you more ‘ascended’ than anyone else, simply because your spirit does not change regardless of consciousness. The spirit is the essence of life, not the product of it. This is how everyone can be equal, and IS equal.

    Consciousness is what changes and develops, through the aspirations you create for yourself as a soul be-ing. This soul being embodies free will and independent character. It is this unique character that chooses whether or not to undertake a physical existence. But the physical existence itself is merely one potential for your soul to engage.

    This engagement in activity is how the spirit, the essence, expresses itself through creation. First into soul refraction – the embodiment of consciousness, then through the journey of that consciousness. It is up to your soul to lay the path for your own unique journey in the multi-dimensional multi-verse.

    Ever since the physical multi-verse was created, many souls/spirits took great interest in this path and assigned themselves to develop it and create within it. Many souls/spirits were first observers and co-creators of planets and galaxies in the cosmos. They worked to develop the elements and the primitive structures of life. Spirit assigned refractions of itself into these primitive physical life forms. And on returning to the etheric world they brought stories or incredible sensations and experiences. As more and more of spirit refracted into different experimental life forms, different soul groups emerged representing different archetypical intelligence and character.

    Eventually human beings came into creation. And just as every other species and life form, they too held souls of their own and returned to their own soul groups to share their experiences. Each of them being recorded and logged in the hall of records by spirit.

    Many souls choose to simply watch, learn and create within the many vast realms of spirit in service to the physical multi-verse. They act as guides, friends, facilitators and channels of inspiration and creation to counterparts upon the planets.

    Many souls do not associate themselves with the physical realm whatsoever. Simply because they do not need to. Not because they are more evolved than anyone else, but because they simply choose to express their spirit in another way, through other means. Some work in other dimensions which have no physical structure whatsoever. Some work in dimensions which compliment both physical and etheric energies in creative harmony.

    With so many different paths, pursuits of work and avenues of potential, this is not to say that once you have a physical life you will then go on to have another. Choices vary between individuals within their own greater soul intention. The physical incarnation is simply a small part of a much bigger plan your soul is constructing.

    You will not have to reincarnate to pay back some karmic debt. Energy is resolved and realigned in the spirit world. For if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be able to vibrate at the necessary rate to reintegrate back into your original state prior to your physical life.

    Souls tend to reincarnate to fulfill a sense of un-accomplishment they felt after returning from one life. When passing, if they have not particularly achieved what they had hoped, there is a degree of returning desire to ‘have another go’. Some souls develop a sense that they let themselves down and did not do as much as they thought they could. This stubbornness and pride compels many to return to the same planet, to begin a new potential, a new hope.

    Perhaps it is they wanted to bring a new type of music to the world, or perhaps they wanted to bring a new democracy. Perhaps they wanted to bring their artistic talents or their healing knowledge. We all have our own talents and qualities to offer the world.

    There really is no rule in place regarding when a soul can incarnate. So the human sense of time between lifetimes will differ with each soul. There are many who claim that you must repetitiously return back to the physical Earth in order to ‘progress’ and either earn some ascension title or learn some lesson which obviously the spirit world must therefore be ‘lacking’ to provide for you.

    The home of your sacred spirit lacks nothing, it is the place from where all things come, and to which all things must go. It is a place where all questions are first born, and from where all answers may come. It is a place where all that is, all that exists does so to serve all else in the name of love.

    What can be accomplished in the physical realm is this very same act of service to all else. While the tools and props are different, as are the costumes we wear, the needs are one and the same. That need is the need for love. Love is what brings things together. Love is what reveals true nature. Love reveals true Self in all things. This is your purpose.

    While suffering and fear remain in the hearts and minds of men, souls will continue to migrate from the heavens to fulfil the balance and need for love. So shall the need for love continue in physical state, so shall those with a will to provide it continue to flock and flourish there.

    When the day comes when Heaven is a place on Earth, and the veil of separation between two kingdoms ceases to exist, will be the day human beings accept their true inheritance. Each day you remember more of your true Self, and each day you act True in the name of love, the physical domain becomes closer to Self-realization. You are part of that process. Not only are you the process, but you are the beginning and the end.

    It matters not what side of the veil you choose to walk, the original intention remains the same. All that exists is within a state of Self-becoming. You are upon the Earth to take part in the becoming of that which now is. The tapestry of the moment of now. Most souls do however plan their next life as best they can according to what they wish to achieve. This means the soul will undergo study of a particular talent, ability, quality, that it wishes to perfect and perform in physical life. Such as a certain type of music, art or healing. Any souls in the etheric world who specialize in such qualities will volunteer themselves as one of your guides for that lifetime. Though you will always have others as well.

    It is up to those in the physical world to awaken their seeds of remembrance as to what it is they came to Earth to do. Then do that with every breath, until death do you part. Generally speaking, in my observation and in my knowledge, those who chose to take on a human experience do so to fulfill some concept of expectation or aspiration. At the end of the physical life term that conscious being undergoes a significant reflection process which creates two scenarios. Firstly, they are satisfied with their encounter within that human state and feel they have sampled it, enough so, that they do not feel it necessary to return. In which case they will either act in service to those who remain or will move on to somewhere and something else. Secondly, they are dissatisfied with their encounter within that human state and feel it would be unsuited or a direction not to their preferred orientation, so they move on to something else. Due to the differences in original core vibration of soul groups and sentient beings not all visitors to the human condition find it very compatible to their true nature.

    Beings who share a human encounter tend to share it with other beings so that your human experience, once in the spirit world, becomes more complete. In a sense that, the experiences of those who lived at the same time as you, become your experiences as well. Understanding this will help you to see why it would not be necessary to return to play another scenario, for actually, you would eventually come into the awareness of the experiences of every other being you had encountered. In a sense, you would also have lived their lives as well as yours, making your human experience more complete and expansive. Understand that, while in the spirit world, you are no longer confined to a singular ‘unit’ of consciousness, and therefore are not limited to the memories or experiences of a singular carbon unit (human body).

    To validate with your own feelings whether you are orientated towards a specific cosmic heritage you have but to resonate with the information you know about it. If you do not have knowledge to resonate with, in terms of cosmic origin, then it is enough to resonate with your own innate characteristics, deepest desires and intuitive principles which dictate your sense of values. Being of this origin or that origin does not make you any more special or better than anyone else. It is enough to know you are a sovereign sacred spiritual sentient being, above and before anything else you define yourself to be.

    What else you must come to understand is that not all beings are upon the Earth for the same reason, same value system or same perception of what advancement, growth or enlightenment is. All are from different soul groups who have evolved within the spirit world from different thought processes and value systems. For example, do not presume Buddha and his way of life to be by default what is right or suitable for you, for this would be naïve in your own understanding and celebration of who and what you are as an individual entity. It is for you to understand that many beings who you revere from history would in fact take a different path if they were alive in your present time period today. This is because the perceptions of value available to them in their own time period was much different to what is perceivable, or practicable today. It is also to do with the current state of the world and many other factors which they observe from above which have changed their perspective somewhat since their life term on Earth. Some you would seem as peacekeepers and holy men would in fact take up arms to protect forests, plants and other animals from the abuse of human acts taking place in this present time period. You would not perhaps deem this as being enlightened, but in their own words, they would deem it justifiable and an important responsibility in safeguarding the future of the planet within the greater picture.

    It is a misconception human beings have that they must lay captive within a cyclical prison of reincarnation in order to ‘get it right’ and achieve some egotistical notion of hierarchical Self-value. This notion is very frowned upon by many within the spirit world who observe the implications of this mentality as damaging to the growth of individual character and life experience. This fear based mentality has no basis in truth as many discover when they choose never to have a physical existence again, yet advance beyond anything known in your current universe. This idea that souls keep on returning to Earth to re-experience the same limited existence through some fictitious reincarnation theory is religious myth. This is not to say you cannot choose to return, but to say most do not bother having already experienced it.

    We must also get past this notion human beings have that human souls ‘reincarnate’ as such things as lions, birds, bugs, trees and so forth. Not beginning to speak of planets. This simply does not generally occur. The reason it does not occur is because the soul group of each species is very different to the other, their very core consciousness is not very easily made compatible at the whim of a choice. The soul group of lion, of bird, of bug and tree has evolved into its current vibration over billions of years prior to Earth even existing. That compatibility within that species soul group has occurred over a very long period of time. A soul within human vibration would not suddenly evolve into a completely different species or incarnate as one. Yes you may find that souls do attract their vibration towards other planets and species, but this would only occur over a very long period of time and commitment. Very few beings in the spirit world ever engage or concern themselves with the physical plane to begin with. Even fewer still actually choose to ever have a physical manifestation as some sort of biological being because it is such a harsh environment. Indeed there are those who do nurture the evolution of life forms and who do take on forms of life the size of planets, but they would have steered their soul group energy towards that purpose and intention for a very long time indeed.”


  16. Canyon says:

    Bob, you spoke before about Earth being an elementary school where lessons have to be learnt. This essay has a different message,in my reading.


    • Bob OHearn says:

      Different levels of consciousness, different angles of vision. For some, it can be a school, for others, a boot camp, for others still, a tourist destination, and for yet others, a prison. It could be a bit of each, depending on what is going on in one’s life at the time. In other words, your perceived reality is what you create, based on your own filters or lack of same. Your soul attunes to different vibrational frequencies, or densities, depending on your energy state. In any case, at the root of it all is love.


      PS, from Sparrow: “In light of referring to this particular universe as a kindergarten, this is not to belittle anything. This relates to the fact that it is still very much within its early days of expansion and formation, next to a great many others which have, if you like, come to completion.”

  17. Pingback: The Conscious Process – Bob O’Hearn | Creative by Nature

  18. Bob OHearn says:

    In terms of the original subject, the Mindstream, it might be useful if we were to compare it to the notion of “soul”, as my Friend Sparrow elaborates here:

    “A soul is an embodiment of consciousness which the spirit wears as a persona within any given environment of time or space. The soul is a costume of transient identity and energy. It is something which comes into creation through the attraction of thought and feeling interactivity. It is, in a sense, like a space suit your spirit wears to immerse into different vibrational environments which are not natural to its own. Your human soul is a suit of energy consciousness your spirit is attached to in order that your spirit may have an interaction with the Earth vibration. Your human soul, or persona, is something you create through your thoughts, attitudes and deeds, and it is this persona you first perceive the spirit world with upon your physical death.

    Your soul is not who you are. It is a costume you create to experience your spirit in different environments and different intentions of activity. So then, the soul that is human, is a costume, a persona and a tool your spirit uses to interact with and experience itself as a physical being on planet Earth. When it returns to the spirit world, it will then, hopefully, though not straight away, relinquish this persona costume and simply be the beautiful spirit that you are. Unfortunately so many people get so attached to their costume that they refuse to let go of it and continue to play themselves out in it even after death. This is because they are afraid of who they will become when they give up all they have ever, seemingly known.”


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