Given two theoretically “perfect” mirrors facing each other, the only thing reflected would be light. In the absence of friction or other interference, the light would travel infinitely and eternally. If one were able to look directly at this, one would literally just see light, as far as the eye could see.
The above is from wiki.answers and I have not checked the scource or accuracy of this answer to the question – What does a mirror reflect facing a mirror? Given that this is a correct answer I play with the idea that this has something to say about enlightenment.
In meditation we practice looking into our minds with our minds. We have no other instrument at hand but ourselves, right. One could restate the assignment as – Trying (ooops) to have consciousness looking into itself. Now, it is proposed by J.R. Searle, and I agree on this, that consciousness is nothing but a reflection of more basic processes. It adds all available information as to “make sense of it”. In itself it is just a material based (as in the physical brain) event with the function of a mirror. It can reflect sensations like pain but also the occurence of memories and thoughts. This is not to be regarded as either “physical” or “psychological” because they are all physical as stated above. Usually we accept without hesitation the “physical” part while we seldom notice the “psychological” one. We are, so to speak, in our heads without knowing where we are.
In meditation we address this by taking the observers perspective on thoughts. Our consciousness is therby made to observe our thoughts. Cool, but immediately we ask ourselves – who then is watching the observer? If we could answer that, next question woud be – who is observing the watcher observing our thoughts and so on ad infinitum. Where does this infinite regress come to an end. Where do we end up in our search for the Ultimate Observer or the Highest Consciousness?
I have no deeper knowledge of buddhist thinking since I’ve just started to practice/learn, but maybe we could name it The True Self or Your Original Face.
Well, if consciousness has the function of reflecting physical events while being a physical event in itself, it’s easy to conclude that we’re talking about a mirror reflecting a mirror. If so, then “Enlightenment” may be a very apt description of what happens when we finally get our mind to reflect itself “In the absence of friction or other interference”. Meditation practice is, in that perspective, a way of clearing the mirror from interference so it can produce an accurate image of itself. When it does, and it can easily do that if it wasn’t for the friction/stains of exernal events, then we have, tada, infinite light.
Since I made up this Theory of Consciousness on my way home from work, there might be a bit of fine tuning left to make it waterproof and ready for the Nobel Pize. Like finding out that this is an idea as old as it is buried or that my train of thought derailed off the bat or that the wiki.answer was from a witty porn surfer filling dead time between downloads.
One thing I’ll ask my wife is how One Mind can split into Two Mirrors.
If nothing else, it was fun making it up. I’m surprised by the effect a whole weekend of meditating seem to have on my little mirror. Feels like it’s dancing on the green grass after a long cold winter in Head Quarters.
Side note: The zen story on the mirror and the bohdi tree states that ther is no mirror since all is void, but I think that is getting the concept of “void” wrong. I read in some buddhist text that “void” is referring to how things are when stripped of all our mental projections. That should read “void in relation to how we normally percieve them” and not “void in themselves” because if they were, there would be no form. And there is form, right? And therefore, everything is at the same time just as we percive them and nothing like we percive them.
Tomorrow I will explain why, contrary to common belief, being absorbed in activities like gardening and cross words are the opposite to meditation, unless you’re already awake or at least getting out of bed. When awake, every action is per definition mindful as we all know.