An untrained mind can accomplish nothing.
The mind is the platform from which we experience everything in life. It is the basis of every decision we make, the bedrock of every relationship, and of every contribution we make to the lives of others. It is the cornerstone of how we respond to every emotional stress, every physical pain, and every situation we may encounter. It is the groundwork of our self-concept, the keystone of our personalities, and the software that houses our beliefs, questioned or unquestioned, true or false. It is the memory bank of every thought, imprint, feeling, and of every judgment ever accumulated. Our minds determine the way we perceive the world, both in wakefulness and sleep, whether in awareness or unawareness, fear, or love.
The quality of our mind is the quality of our experience.
Given this, wouldn’t it then make sense to look at our mind and examine how we are holding it?
We live in a time where we have more comfort and convenience than ever before but when it comes to being happy and living well, we are one of the most unhappy generations of people. There isn’t anything in the world that we don’t suffer. We suffer when we are married, lament when we are single; complain when we are poor and then rail against taxes when we become rich. We agonize over not having an education and grumble at receiving one.
We chase symbols that we think will bring us happiness only to see that there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We spend as much money on medicine as we do on food and we are constantly being inundated by more information than we care for. But that doesn’t keep us from habitually going after the bait.
Suicide rates these days are particularly alarming and more so among the young. When our children can see the entire cosmos and their relationships on the screens of their cell phones, it also gives them a false sense of security that they can know everything at the swipe of a finger. Such delusional confidence keeps us bored and grasping at straws. Unfortunately, this is a game we can’t stop playing, even as adults.
A new unprecedented level of neurosis has emerged because of the faith placed on likes, hearts, and views. We have become a generation of people obsessed with “being liked”. And when digital perception is more important than being involved with the people around us, this is a proven path towards isolation and depression.
This is not a statement against technology. After all, our mind is THE most sophisticated gadget to date. The outward expression of this software can be messy and riddled with facebook love affairs, neurotic self-doubt, and endless violence, but it is actually a very highly coordinated, intelligent, and organized activity. We see this in the tremendous cohesiveness neurons are firing in our brains, in how our emotions are consistently guided by our thoughts and in the myriad magical but painful ways in which we are still being dictated by conclusions made when we were little. We see how decisions can be made, unmade, and remade, creating a mental impasse that leaves us feeling less than happy, even when things seem to be going well. Whatever seed we sow, our minds have this supernatural uncanny ability to churn it out in countless permutations and combinations of identities, emotionalized beliefs, and theories of life.
The journey from imagination to actuality can be lined with bodies or decorated with flowers. Happiness, like misery, is a choice. That is what we must ultimately come to understand. The power of decision is our own and when we can conduct our minds consciously, it is anything but victimhood.
The Nature of Suffering
As human beings, we have the most evolved neurological system on this planet.
So why is it that our mind which is the most miraculous possibility for happiness, health, and success has also become a stress manufacturing machine?
This is simply because we have not taken charge of this tool and in the process become deeply and blindly identified with something that we are not. And in quick forgetting, we have also misplaced the user’s manual, misunderstood ourselves to be a bundle of thoughts, and lost sight of our authenticity.
This amnesia-induced distorted perception permeates every aspect of our psychology. By assuming a limited identity we mistakenly believe that our destiny is being shaped by something other than ourselves. We become practiced at pointing fingers and making others the cause of our pain. And by placing the power of causation outside of ourselves, we also innocently in ignorance, abandon all responsibility as to everything that happens in our lives.
There is truly no golden or barren harvest. There is only the harvest we are responsible for.
Understanding this spiritual law is empowerment. We may have been born into victimhood and this need not be. We may have placed a huge investment in our shabby self-perception and this can be withdrawn. We may feel that we are at the mercy of our situations, and this can be investigated, forgiven, healed, and surrendered.
Spirituality provides us with the answer because it is all about self-accountability.
Thoughts Shape Our Destiny
The world you see is what you gave it… It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive.
To change our thoughts is to change our world.
Can it be that simple?
Yes, with the caveat that simplicity is difficult for twisted minds that have purchased the idea that there is some mysterious force out there dictating our choices. If we so desire, we can cordially say “No thank you. I made a mistake“, return the receipt, and open to another way of being that that sees no good, bad, right, wrong, fair, unfair, holy, unholy or opposite.
There is only the script we write, either consciously, accidentally, or in ignorance.
We have all grown up believing in a script that there are powerful people, powerful corporations, powerful countries with a powerful military, and maybe even an all-powerful God that plays favorites. So for us to do a 180 and to become aware that all power resides within is quite the reversal, a feat impossible for the unwilling, abstract to the arrogant and offensive to the capricious ego.
Thoughts shape our destiny. We have about 60,000 thoughts per day, most of which we endlessly spin on a disc of past negativity and judgment. In unawareness, we carry a miserable soundtrack that underscores a badly directed movie. We yearn for something new and yet habitually cling to the old. These are the ancient tendencies of self-deprecation and mentally running other people’s lives, and they stem from an unexamined and undisciplined mind. And in this impossible self-grasping, it’s no wonder we experience such a download of mental fatigue and upload of what doesn’t work in our environment.
All spiritual devotion, therefore, is breaking this neurotic cycle of negativity. It is cultivating an abiding awareness as to what we are doing with our minds, and more importantly, how we are holding it within ourselves.
In a tranquilized state, thoughts own us and we become entangled with the voices in our head. And they are the voices of our parents, teachers, society, caste, creed, and religion.
In awareness, we have thoughts and we can use them or hold them apart from us if we so wish. This is a monumental shift in identity and a whole different dimension of existing; a game-changer that completely changes the quality of our lives and the kind of choices we make. When we understand the power of thought and how our minds work, we will also recognize that there is nothing outside of us. We will create a world that works with and for us instead of one where we negotiate ceaselessly and compete mercilessly.
This shift can happen in an instant and the more conscious we are, the more we will move from an automatic way of living to one that is purposeful and inclusive. Course correction takes a great deal of devotion and discipline because of the past habits of passively condoning mind wandering and meaningless distractions. And as we are willing to open our hearts and liberate our minds, our world will also take on cozier shades of love, peace, friendliness and opportunities.
Deprogramming is not going to be achieved overnight. Nor is it accomplished by reading a self-help book, getting inspired, and then going back to the old ways. Conditioned beliefs are deep ingrained neurological pathways that need to be torn down and rewired to receive the new.
Mental growth does not stop at the whim and fancy of momentary inspiration. The art of present undistracted attention stands on the shoulders of our willingness to practice consistently and persistently with purpose
Skill comes from consistent and deliberate practice
If you wish to have a beautiful mind, practice giving yourself love and continually scan your mindscape to see how you are responding to any situation, irritation, or painful event. To react with resistance merely reinforces the pattern which we wish to correct. And when we can respond indiscriminately to everything with the quality that we wish to become, we will also appreciate the unconditional power to choose at any given moment. Awareness is our superpower. We decide how long we want to stay angry. We can get off the express train of endless thought and destructive emotions as we choose. This is freedom. This is liberation.
There is no deep hidden secret here. The concept of mind training is not any different from wanting to get into the best shape of our lives. Don’t expect to be playing in Carnegie Hall with just a few hours of pressing a few keys on the piano.
So at what age do we learn to have better conversations with ourselves and become our best friend?
At what point do we realize that unconscious thinking is what creates the perception of misery and problems?
Our mind is an instrument that we carry with us at all times. We should be able to place it aside and pick it up as we will. Yet this is not most people’s experience. And so it is with this sobering recognition that if happiness is to become a living reality, we must also see that growth is not only available but necessary.
A seed is a tree in waiting. And without the proper conditions of nurturing and paying attention, it will not take root, blossom, and bear fruit. There is no safety in stagnation. Our well being is guaranteed as we evolve to higher and higher dimensions of experience. This can only come about with having a concentrated and equanimous mind that is uninterrupted by fluctuations of past and future.
You can’t start the next chapter if you keep re-reading the last chapter
Meditation is the next chapter.
What is Meditation?
Most of the time you are thinking about life, not living life.
Meditation is a tool to self-correct, to unlearn stressful patterns of thinking, inefficient ways of operation, and to cease the many ways in which we hurt and make ourselves unhappy. Meditation is rooted in mindfulness; and mindfulness is a quality of mind that is undistracted, focused, open, and un-conflicted. It is the ability to notice sights, sounds, and sensations and the life around us in a way that is uncluttered, and not constantly meditated by judgments of likes and dislikes, pleasant and unpleasant, pain and pleasure. Meditativeness is the intelligence to observe the mechanics of the mind, have an insight into the nature of suffering, and the super ability to step out of the resistance patterns of the mind to become fully present.
In essence, the goal of all meditation is to unlearn misery so that we can live fully and freely without the compulsive need to mentalize our experience.
Very few people appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if anyone hopes to spare himself from fear, there are some things he must realize and realize fully. The mind is a very powerful creator, and it never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating and always as you will.
So can we change our minds? Yes, and it won’t happen by accident.
Thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains. It appears at first glance that to believe such power about yourself is merely arrogant, but that is not the real reason why you do not believe it. People prefer to believe that their thoughts cannot exert real control because they are literally afraid of them”.
Let us go beyond the chapter of just surviving into the next chapter of thriving and endless expansion.
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