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September 15, 2017 at 4:23 am #5690
How can I control the mind or at least pacify it?September 22, 2017 at 4:24 am #5691This is a frequent question because many people seek to alleviate the anxiety caused by their constant mental activity. After arduous days of work, they hope to find peace upon arrivinghome, but the mental activity does not cease there. They yearn for their annual vacation, but the mental bustle does not stop even then. Even while sleeping, the noise continues in the form of dreams or nightmares.
Patanjali says in his Yoga Sutras: yogas chitta vritti nirodha or “yoga occurs when all mental activity ceases.” The mind is not a solid object but an activity; therefore, it is possible to dissolve it. It resembles a dance: when the movement stops, the dance simply disappears. Likewise, the mind is movement. The speed of thoughts makes it appear solid, just as fan blades seem to create a solid circle because of the speed at which they rotate.
If we see a crowd at a distance, we cannot recognizespecific individuals within it. Only when we get closer, the public disappears to uncover human beings. As we approach it, the crowd fades away and individuals are revealed. In the same way, if we look closely at the mind, we see thoughts in motionthat displace like waves in the ocean. By observing the mental content, a total disidentification of the thoughts takes place and we stop perceiving them as “ours.” Attentive observation of mental activity reveals our true nature as consciousness.
Thoughts are verbal reactions fromour memory to what is perceived. Because experiences are temporary, our memory tries to store the sensations that they evoke in us. For this purpose, it verbalizes experiences in order to retain, perpetuate, and communicate our emotions. At a certain point, verbalization replaces experience itself, just like those tourists who are busier with taking photosthan enjoying the panorama. I remember as a kid, we used to go on vacation with my uncles. My uncle used to photograph everything. It always seemed to me that he could only enjoy the sea and the trees through that little machine. While everyone was traveling to enjoy, he only wanted to take photos. I felt that he was exchanging sensations for a collection of photos. On many occasions, he only remembered places and experiences after seeing his photos.
Just like a camera can block the landscape, verbalization turns into thoughts that hinder the experience. So, what is important is not dominating the mind, but ceasing to verbalize our feelings, which is one of the main obstacles for meditation.
Generally, we only stop verbalizing in extreme circumstances. In dangerous situations, thinking loses importance and we experience life directly. Those who are attracted to extreme sports search for those moments when their lives depend on each tiny reaction; then, their thoughts are silenced and they experience the moment first hand. When we downplay the importance of the present experience, words manifest themselves. While verbalizing, we stop experiencing and start interacting with life from our memory. We live the present from our past. Staying in the present moment or reality requires mental silence.
Since the mind does not really exist, it is impossible to master it. Nor is there anyone beyond the mind who can control it. Whoever presumes dominion over the mind has not transcended it, but has succeeded in having one side, the ego, control the other. Ultimate reality is observation. Through it, the mind is not mastered, but disappears. From consciousness, we realize that all mental and emotional activity, like clouds crossing the sky, consists of only passing occurrences. In fact, what limits us is not the mind itself, but our identification with the mental content. When disidentification is born, no mental or emotional activity can limit us.
Whoever gets liberated from the mental prison has nothing to quiet. Instead of being the ruler of your mind, I humbly advise you to be the observer of it. To transcend the mind, you must settle into consciousness and from there observe everything that is observable. From the very moment that you observe, you are situated in your authenticity.
Get rid of everything that you see until only observation remains, which obviously cannot be rejected because there is nothing and no one to throw it away. Every effort to silence or dominate the mind consists of an activity coming from the outside. Always remember that all spiritual development happens from the inside out and never the other way around. Only observation establishes us in a transcendental position to all impurity because it is the source of all virtue. To observe or to meditate is to situate ourselves in our original nature. Through meditation, you will recognize yourself as an infinite and silent space.
וְהִסְתַּכֵּל בִּשְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים וְאִי אַתָּה בָא לִידֵי עֲבֵרָה – דַּע מַה לְּמַעְלָה מִמְּךָ,
וְכָל מַעֲשֶׂיךָ בַּסֵּפֶר נִכְתָּבִין:
משנה אבות ב א
"Reflect on three things and you will never come to sin: Know what is above you–a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and all your deeds recorded in a book. (Mishnah Avot, 2.1)"
Reality is not a story limited to space and time. To experience it, we must go beyond the body and mind and recognize consciousness. Our true nature is meditation; it is consciousness that transcends birth and death. When recognizing the presence of consciousness, identification with the objective reality of the body and mind ceases. We disappear as something or someone and we are born as the ultimate reality.
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