Thursday, February 17, 2011
Awakening the Mind: The Intellect Knows Its Place, Internal Waters Still
The Mind Like the Ego: Just a Tool
I've said before that the ego is just a tool. So too is the mind. They get mixed up together. I see the ego as a grouping of personality traits. The mind is the record that repeats those traits and stories to the ego to reinforce it. They've worked pretty succinctly together, but now they're being turned to service of spirit. That's what they should have been doing all along, but things have been screwed up. We're all coming together to fix that now. In so doing, the mind is being returned to its rightful place as a tool. It's back to being a hammer guided by the hand instead of hitting the hand and everything else around it. In so doing, it becomes an invaluable tool to rebuild yourself and our world.
The Keen Intellect and the Rise of Discernment
As the ego drops away and genuine intuition, love, and understanding grow, discernment arises. Discernment is different than judgment. Judgment is viewing a situation and placing your personal filter on it. You see a girl start crying after a guy walks away. You think, "Well, he's a jerk" or "She obviously deserved it." You have no idea. However, with discernment, you can see it more clearly. Details become sharper, clearer. Perhaps you notice the diamond ring in his hand and her shaking her head, "No." Perhaps, your intuitive awareness can feel how rejected he is. Or perhaps, you can feel how un-ready she is for the commitment. It's very interesting what discernment will show you as you let go of your own need to categorize and define a situation.
The broader context is that you're going to be smarter about a lot of situations in your life. You're less reactive. That's crucial. In all the places where you react via an old mental program, you can learn from that. You can learn from that reaction because that's where your ego is still in charge. That's where your mind is just replaying a learned program that says, when this happens, I should respond like that. But without the ego trying to play those games anymore, when something happens in your personal life, work life, or any other aspect of your life, you may find yourself meeting those situations with more curiosity and the ability to choose your responding actions.
Curiosity: A Natural Mental Aspect
In many ways, the spiritual path takes us backwards into our childhood. Back there is where we remembered to play and to be with what was. In all of that, most all of us had this insatiable curiosity. To me, that's the mind enjoying the unfolding in front of it. It's saying, "What's this?" The exploration around that question is genuine, and the mind appreciates what it finds. The child isn't trying to stuff the experience into a box to store away in its head, although being able to loosely categorize experiences is helpful. The awakened mind doesn't strip away all mental functioning. It's starting fresh. It's coming at this with a looser grip on mental constructs and logic. You use them where they're necessary, like balancing your bank account. Then you put it aside and just explore your life and the world around you.
That's half the point of being alive; to just explore and enjoy the amazing opportunity it is to be human. Anywhere the ego is holding the mind hostage, it's less effective. The mind can't use all of its tool to discern and to discover. Subsequently, you're still looking for a specific result and a way to explain things to the satisfaction of your ego. This desire will fall away on the spiritual path. As you go down this road, all that kind of control is breaking apart. Let it go. It's not necessary. You won't be a brainless mess; you'll actually be in charge of your life for the first time.
I know your ego can't believe it. But it's true. With your original ego still in control, you haven't been in charge of your own life. You've been lost to the programming and the control. So now, you're getting your life back. You're getting your mind back.
For those who've gone further, you know where the still point is. You're accessing it more readily. From this point, thoughts still arise. You can choose to act on them or not to act on them. They're much less layered in fear, guilt, and desire. You no longer need to be motivated that way. And because you no longer need to be moved to action through those old karmic triggers, the stillness in your mind deepens. This is a profound thing that arises as you let go even more deeply. You can't make yourself stop thinking, but you can face all the things that you didn't want to think about. You can release them, and you can stop energizing old thought patterns. They've run their course.
Many things run their course in spiritual awakening. You can see how almost all pain has simply wanted to be acknowledged and released. In acknowledging pain, you have one of the greatest powers of the mind on the spiritual path. The mind sees the pain, and it knows it. In knowing it, you can release a lot if not all of it. Some types of pain require other tools as I've mentioned in this blog, but the mind is now serving its deepest function of healing at this junction. In so doing, it's coming into the space of awakening where all thoughts come to stillness and the waters of thought move with the deeper, sacred currents of life.