Minding the Mind
“Rise above the deceptions and temptations of the mind.” ~ Indian guru Sivananda Saraswatī
The reason that people live in ignorance is that they believe what their minds tell them – esteeming emotions and beliefs. The Collective think that they are mortal creatures who face a termination in death; the religious then aspire to a heavenly afterlife. These are just ruses which the mind has fed them, and which the gullible believe. If materiality is an illusion, so too is life and death.
Nattermind’s frequent mental intrusions are nothing but confusion: losing the thread of the moment for something which is either unimportant or can wait. Nattermind saps your mental energy, lessens your productivity, and reduces your enjoyment of life.
The search for reality is the most dangerous undertaking, for it destroys the world in which you live: substituting the comfortable ignorance of certitude for skeptical uncertainty. The compensation is that living becomes the adventure it should be, with no real jeopardy.
“Do no become stuck in what you were taught or what you have learned. Eventually, you will have to throw it all away.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
In theory, attaining enlightenment is easy: clear your head. In practice, attaining enlightenment is hard, as you have long had the bad habit of letting your mind run the show. Taking control of your life by taking control of your mind is an arduous endeavor. Fortunately, it only needs to be done one moment at a time.
The transition from ignorance to enlightenment is ultimately a change in state of consciousness. Assuredly making that move is a matter of unrelenting discipline.
You must best the raging beast between your ears: your mind. The difficulty of this domestication cannot be understated, as the mind is determined not to keep its flap shut. Your mind has long grown used to being the ruler of your life. Your taking charge is a coup d’état to which the mind will not sit still.
“The obstinacy of the mind must be curbed with resoluteness.” ~ Anandamayi Maa
You are either a slave to your mind or its master. If you decide to take charge, stick with it. Only with relentless determination will you succeed. Of all things, you surely can conquer yourself.
Even in ignorance, most mentation is subconscious. The difference in attaining enlightenment is only a matter of degrees: have the mind do all its work quietly, until called upon for an explanation.
There are only 2 valid areas of mentation: enjoyment and skill (which naturally involves problem-solving). Skill transpires subconsciously, even as its exercise requires conscious focus. Speaking is exemplary. Intention to convey produces speech. You don’t consciously think the words you say prior to speaking them, you just focus on the act of speaking. Learning also occurs subconsciously, albeit abetted by desire and concentration.
Merely desire knowledge or a solution to a problem rather than trying to figure things out. Leave your mind to do its job. Insist that the mind work mutely and relate only the answer sought. Then consider veracity.
“Automatic thinking causes us to simplify problems and see them through narrow frames. We fill in missing information based on our assumptions about the world and evaluate situations based on associations that automatically come to mind and belief systems that we take for granted. In so doing, we may form a mistaken picture of a situation.” ~ American economist Karla Hoff et al
Assumption is the laziest habit; an arrogance by the mind that it knows what is going on. You don’t notice assumptions which succeed by being correct. Only those which trip you up announce themselves – an heuristic of axioms gone awry.
Don’t foreclose discovery or let error slip in by assuming. Be alert to the uniqueness of every situation, and constantly frosty toward overconfidence.
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Learning is autonomic training: the mind absorbs what it deems significant. Conversely and contrastingly, analysis, which is the foundation of mental skill, requires interrogative evaluation. Acquire the habit of doubting your mind’s facile conclusions.
Better yet, draw as few conclusions as you can. The only thoughts you need to have are those which apply to the task at hand. Consider inferences carefully.
You have an innate inclination to believe what you experience as true; a built-in mechanism for ignorance. This natural gullibility extends to information from others. Quell this proclivity. Accept nothing prima facie.
Distrust generalizations, which are always simplifications. The richness of life is in details which belie categorizations and any generalities which may be drawn from them. Skill involves precision. The application of skill has no need of broad strokes.
“To generalize is to be an idiot.” ~ English poet William Blake
The subconscious mind decides its take on an event before presenting its evaluation to you. Enjoyment is merely a received reaction. If entertainment is not attained on first impression, demand a better perspective from your mind.
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“Though appearing to be intelligent, thought is unable to comprehend anything really.” ~ Indian guru Vasistha
The 3 principle hooks that the mind has to keep you ignorant are desires, emotions, and beliefs. You remain ignorant as long as you remain attached to any of those 3.
Let thoughts, desires, and emotions go as soon as they come to attention. Command your mind to be silent. Focus on your environment, such as your breathing, whenever you are interrupted by nattermind. With practice, this becomes easier, as the mind will relent.
Abandon all beliefs. There are no truths, nothing worth believing. Beliefs create biases which blind you to a larger world which is more nuanced and subtler. Beliefs wash out the richness of individual experiences by seeing through stereotypic lenses.
“The last function of reason is to recognize that there is an infinity of things that are beyond it.” ~ French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal
Mundane moments of involvement are the process of everyday life. Beyond that, remain an unattached witness, and perceive clearly the world before you.
Distinguish between the facts in front of you and the attachments the mind makes of them. Discard the labels and emotional couplings and deal with the actual.
Detach from the fanciful notion that you control outcomes and just steer the best you can. Take your satisfactions from doing the best you can, whatever happens. The odds are always in your favor only if you favor what is and not what you mind tells you should be. If you flub, take satisfaction in being handed a learning experience, as well perhaps the opportunity to have a laugh at your own fallibility.
Be present in the present. That is all you have to do.
“Constipated thoughts clog the day.” ~ American author Richard Ratliff
The mind naturally tries to draw you in with daydreams: scenarios about what might be, or what might have been. Such daydreaming is as normal as the ignorance of the Collective, because the mind running the show is how ignorance is sustained.
The mind sinks its hooks into children with active imagination. Nattermind engenders ignorance early in life by generating imaginary worlds (paracosms) which obscure knowledge of one’s own true nature.
Never daydream. Stay focused on the present moment and the task at hand. As long as the mind is in control, you are at its mercy.
“Television is simply automated daydreaming.” ~ American jurist Lee Loevinger
Note your mind’s reaction if it is not what it should be, such as some bias or negative emotion. In such an instance, direct your mind to reevaluate and consider empathy or sympathy.
You cannot understand someone you reject outright, as your mind builds a shell of antipathy which thwarts analysis. Break the shell and tell the mind to subconsciously consider the point of view of the disliked subject: an empathic examination. Ask for specifics about what is disliked. From this you may better learn your own biases.
If you have some self-interest in the disliked person, have your mind analyze how your relationship might be adjusted through empathic communication.
If the situation with a disfavored person is untenable, keep the subject at maximum psychological distance, regardless of physical proximity. You may be back where you started, but the analysis gives you closure. Give it no further thought beyond putting that person in your past as soon as possible.
Be careful not to generate negative dynamics with others. You have noticed that people do not like to be criticized, so don’t do it. After all, if they had an inkling, there would be no need to suggest improvement. You cannot clear your path by trying to levitate the obstacles before you.
You can never teach what someone does not want to learn. However noble the desire, preaching is a futility.
In short, navigate your way to a higher plane of being by averting the shoals of negativity whenever they are encountered.
“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” ~ American guru Mildred Norman
“I have had just about all I can take of myself.” ~ American writer S.N. Behrman
You want to control your world and expect it to be predictable – oops. Expectation is the bastard of belief, sired by anticipation, the sibling of assumption.
“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” ~ Spanish actor Antonio Banderas
Life is a series of encounters. However seasoned in savvy that you might think you are, surprises are in store. The unexpected is what keeps life interesting… and manufactures frustration.
Every encounter is an expenditure of time. Rather than thinking you know the temporal cost of a task or activity, figure instead that the time toll is always a discovery process. What you think you know is only a statistical average at best, and the mind is bad bean-counter of time.
You may tend to view time or resources spent as an investment, even as a reward remains unforeseeable. Some things simply don’t pay back. Avoid the “sunk cost” fallacy of thinking in terms of outcome in lieu of enjoying the process.
Appreciate that the only guarantee that life offers is the prospect of learning, and that you are going to pay for your education. Frustration has no reward.
Throughout history, many techniques have been falsely advertised as paths to mental health. One to avoid which has become quite popular in the 21st century is mindfulness meditation. This ill-conceived scheme is contraindicated by its practice of indulging the mind by monitoring thoughts. The mind is full enough of itself without watching it run wild.
The label is a ruse. Mindfulness is not meditation.
“It is the mind that tells you that the mind is there. Don’t be deceived. It is the blank refusal to consider the convolutions and convulsions of the mind that can take you beyond it.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj