Mastery over the mind - A great secret
The mind functions at its best when it is under the control of our conscious awareness. This is a great secret of the mind. Just as a purposeful hand movement is an action preceded by an impulse from the brain which in turn may be triggered by a thought of moving the hand; the mind is also preceded by a force that can trigger it to function in a purposeful manner. That force comes under our control whenever we are able we consciously observe the mind just as a third person would. When we are able to closely and consistently observe the mind without interfering with its activities, we regain the power to positively influence it through silent suggestion. A small shift in our awareness can ripple through the mind. For this to happen, however, awareness must rest in a highly concentrated state. Ordinarily, awareness is highly diluted through daily interaction with thousands of thoughts.
Once we breach the boundary between “us” and the mind, we lose the power to influence the mind and make it function in accordance with our terms. This boundary is like a dam that holds a tremendous amount of water with immense potential energy. If such a dam is breached and water gushes out, the accumulated potential energy is quickly lost. Similarly, the power of concentrated awareness is lost once we start to indulge in and freely mingle with thoughts. Concretisation of our awareness begins when we stop our interaction with individual thoughts and make a conscious retreat from the mind to a neutral witnessing state. Just as a judgment from an impartial judge will stand any legal scrutiny, any suggestion to the mind that comes from a neutral witnessing state will be universally obeyed by all thoughts in the mind. This form of autosuggestion falls on the mind like raindrops from clouds high above the ground and has the capability to regenerate the mind in an entirely new direction. A single raindrop, however, cannot help a plant grow, but a constant showering will eventually soak the soil and feed the roots of that plant. Similarly, one instance of the suggestion offered to the mind from a neutral witnessing state given to the mind may not always work. This would have to be an ongoing process, at least initially. Once the roots of a plant have burrowed deep enough to access other sources of water, they may not be as dependent on raindrops. Similarly, once the mind is set on a beneficial course determined by us, it becomes a loyal ally irrespective of whether or not we continue to send it silent suggestions.
As an ally, a person, country or an entity maintains independence and will not interfere or cause trouble, but when there is a genuine need, an ally spring into action. Similarly, when awareness in a neutral witnessing state, the mind becomes passive and there is little need for the mind to constantly function. Furthermore, the mind continues to maintain its independence. Just as there is no need for a salesman to expend energy and use his skills to sell anything to the owner of a store where that salesman works, the mind which is under our control has no need to justify its existence to an awareness in a neutral witnessing state. When we become “customers” in search of thoughts that we end up retaining, the mind begins to pounce on us. Using aggressive sales tactics to sell us additional ideas, thoughts, and experiences which we may not need, the mind is able to effortless drag our awareness away from the powerful position of a neutral witnessing state. Without our active involvement, the mind will, in course of time, tire of continuing to justifying its existence through continually a continuous operation of passing judgment on our every movement in thought, word, and action.
A neutral witnessing state is associated with inner silence. Most of us are uncomfortable with deep silence. Therefore we put up with a busy mind, however noisy it may be. A noisy mind may be compared to disorganized sound waves. But those same waves when rearranged in a meaningful manner may be enjoyed as beautiful music. Musical notes, however melodious cannot be truly appreciated unless interspersed with silence, which forms the bed on which those notes are planted. The mind is also planted on a bed of inner silence. When thoughts proliferate and take over, they become like weeds that eventually outgrow the flower bed which allowed them to take root in the first place.
When the mind receives no direction and it is forced to forge an independent course, it begins to thrive on begging from the past and borrowing from the future. From the past, a foundation of stability is created and through a cleverly projected future, fear and doubt are artificially removed. This process creates a certain buoyancy which in the short run may make us feel like we are winning the game of life, but time will prove otherwise. Just as glaciers shift and melt, the mind also shifts from one version of the past and future to another. Believing the mind, we are left stranded on a melting island, represented not just by an abstract amalgam of thoughts but also by the physical body. Keeping one leg of our awareness on the mind and the other on the body becomes an uncomfortable dance that eventually sucks the joy out of life.
Striving for bodily comfort is a quality of the mind. As long as a mattress is comfortable, we don’t think of what it may be stuffed with, whether cotton, foam, feathers, coil springs etc. Similarly, when the mind is stuffed with thoughts, for a time being it may appear to be a “comfortable” bed on which to rest our awareness. The body and the mind offer support for each other. Whenever the body is tired, a retreat into the mind keeps us occupied through dreams and experiences culled from the mixture of the past and the future. When the mind is tired, the body obligingly shuts down and when the activity of the body and the mind are suspended, we call it deep sleep.
The mind recedes when there is full awareness of the present. The present is ever flowing and cannot be held back and accumulated. The moment we try to hold onto the present, it becomes the past and the mind bounces back into play. When we choose to let the present flow but begin to direct where it flows, it brings us right back into the mind as we begin to “get ahead” of the present in order to project a future.
The past has already been planned and executed and the future is in the planning stage and yet to be executed. Both are qualities of the mind. Imagine viewing a rare jewel on display in a museum. When looking at such a display, our attention is not on the glass enclosure housing the jewel or the pedestal on which it stands but the jewel itself. Once the jewel is taken off display, there is not much value attached to the glass enclosure or the pedestal. The jewel is like the present, the supporting pedestal may be compared to the past and the glass enclosure to the future. The past is opaque and full, it cannot be changed. The future is transparent and the mind is free to bring in a kaleidoscope of experiences which can keep our awareness constantly engaged. As if we are great scholars studying valuable artifacts, we find it hard to leave these projections.
The mind is its own curator, manipulates what is shown to us. It is always careful about drawing our attention to whatever keeps our awareness trapped within it. Whatever the mind shows us is like a hologram, lights, and shadows we can see but cannot touch or feel. They seem real when we are in the mind, but their evanescent nature will be apparent from the vantage point of a witnessing state. Awareness that is concentrated in a witnessing state can then become the switch that turns on and off the hologram we call the mind.