[Freeing the Mind]
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Free Your Mind - Free Your Life.

Escape entrapment by developing:
thought emotion, and communication
.
Clear out your mental garbage and
Develop new ways of thinking
.
Avoid being overwhelmed -
by your emotions or by another's
.
Be in control of your feelings and be in control your life.
Renew your mind and renew your existence.

We are trapped within our minds within our universes. Like the maker of the computer who becomes controlled by his creation, we as spiritual beings have become entrapped within our own creations - our minds. Developed, like the computer, to free us from the tedium of routine existence, our minds have become our masters. Made originally for us to control, they now control us.

Minds full of junk

As beings living now, we have minds filled with junk - perhaps from many aeons ago. And ways of doing things that belong in the days of tooth and claw! We need to both clean out our minds, and remake new, more useful programs to help us live effectively and to continue our spiritual quest.

Our minds contain thoughts, procedures and images - pictures, sounds, feelings and taste-smells. We think by following procedures we have developed - but probably long forgotten and long been unaware of.

For example, in a phobic situation, we see something which we associate with some emotions and consequently behave in a certain way.
In the phobic state the emotion is fear and the behaviour is probably escape or attack. In a phobia the thing we are afraid of is not a threat to the body.

"Nothing is a threat to the spirit!"

  (Nothing is a threat to the spirit!) The fear is irrational or extreme.

Even if we do not have phobias, the principle affects all of us.

The way we think in phobicly does not help us at all. At the very most it is a relic from some past threat. Phobias are not usually big issues with many of us, but their principle affects us all, when we think of irrational nervousness in situations where there is no physical threat.

And the same mechanism works whenever we loose control of ourselves, either due to extremely pleasurable or painful emotions. We react with too much emotion and overwhelm ourselves.

When we hear speech in a certain tone, for example, and we note certain actions we might conclude that the other person doesn't like us, and we think we should get our own back. Mental program:

... When someone speaks like that in that sort of situation, it means they don't like me, and mean me harm. And whenever people intend to harm me I must get my own back ...

Because, for example, our parents used a particular tone when they did not approve of what we did, does not mean that the person in our present life who uses that tone is thinking the same way as our parents did.

 

It certainly doesn't mean that they have theOldProgs.gif (3914 bytes) same powers and threats which our parents had! Yet our mind continues to use these old procedures, with their inappropriate response. We might suddenly become silent and nervous, unable to speak or feel extreme rage and throw a temper tantrum. With our parents this might have worked or have been wise, but it is less likely to work in our adult lives.

Our bodies remember the Age of Tooth and Claw.

In a primitive existence, where threats to life are common, it is wise to set up procedures which give us advanced warning of danger and which present us with fearful mental pictures or sounds, which motivate us to escape or attack before the real threat emerges. If these procedures are so powerful that

  • they shut down the conscious, thinking mind and work our bodies like a reflex -
  • independently of our conscious thinking and will - and
  • automatically put us into a fight or flight mode
  • with all the fear and panic that gives us energy
  • then this may a small price to pay for survival.

That is, it may have been helpful in caveman times. In fact, it probably was.  Even if this meant we have lots of false alarms. Because of the danger it is worth it. It's better to jump a few times a day than be devoured by tigers! Notice flocks of birds, how they panic many times a day at the slightest sign of danger. But for us, in modern society, such responses no longer needed. They may even prevent us from attaining what we want, and reduce us to mere automata. In fact, they probably do.

Freeing ourselves of these ancient or childish ways of thinking and acting and remodelling, we can learn to respond better. If a hungry tiger suddenly appears, and looks at us greedily, then a split-second reflexive response with extreme fear (to energise us) and fight, flight or feigning death would be appropriate. If the boss looks at us fiercely, this panic response, designed for tigers does not help. Bosses do not normally pounce on people and begin to eat them! And under these circumstances we need to use our brains, not our emotions! By keeping our heads and communicating wisely, we would certainly do better. What worked in the jungle, does not work in the modern office!

Clean up the mind

By clearing out this mental debris and developing more appropriate ways of thinking, we can free ourselves  and regain mastery of our minds. Like the computer designer who has succumbed to his machine, and realises that he must free himself of its control, we need to free ourselves of our obsolete mental procedures.

"If you don't know where you're going - you'll end up somewhere else!"

Let's go back to basics. What do we mean by developing or clearing our minds so we can start again with a fresh new mind and a fresh new life? We know that when we feel good, our world appears bright and cheerful. And when we feel bad, our world appears dull and threatening. When our minds are bright, so is our world. We know also that computers and Minds are useful things, when kept in their place. Yet both work on the Garbage-in-garbage-out principle. A mind full of false computations is just as useless as a computer with false data. When we realise that much of the data and procedures in our minds was put there during childhood or before, then we realise we need to clear up our minds if we are to clear up our lives.

Suppose we do this. What will be different? Let's just look at a few things:

  • We will be better at communication
  • We would be able to understand life better
  • We will be more able to control our emotions
  • We will be happier
  • We will be more effective
  • We will make spiritual progress

"If you don't master your life, someone else will!"

Why a good communicator? Perhaps this is best answered as saying what would you be able to do if you were a good communicator.

  • You could put your views forward in the best possible way.
  • You could deal with situations so you aren't a victim. For example:
  • You won't be overpowered by emotions - yours or another's. You won't be side-tracked.
  • You can think clearly without being side-tracked by mental tricks.
  • You can help others

Well, we are getting somewhere. Let's do the same with understand life better. Suppose you understood life better. How would things be different?

  • You'd understand people.
  • You would know what's going on.
  • You'd be more sensitive to people's needs
  • By knowing what people need and want you could relate to them better and attain your goals.
  • If someone wants something that is not in the best interests of all concerned. You can understand what they really want and bring about a solution that suits everyone. This is called negotiation.

How would you do that?

By understanding that we all have needs and motives, you can find out what the other person's motive is and satisfy that motive.

Say someone wants you to go and work abroad with them, but it could be any difficult communication. You don't want to go abroad. You find out their real motive or need. Say this is a fear of being alone. You can sometimes satisfy that need in a way other than going with them. You might suggest how they might go with someone else. You might suggest other ways of dealing with their fear of being alone. Yet if you had not determined his motive or needs, you wouldn't be able to help him in the best way you could. You might have gone with him, when you didn't really want to go. You might have refused outright, when you didn't really want to be abrupt. You might have made suggestions that were intended to help, but were way off the mark. By knowing we can be more human and more helpful to those we care about. We can also handle those we don't in a humane manner!

Also we are often so interested in our own needs and wants, that we do not realise the other person is using these needs and wants so they can achieve their own ends which might lead us where we do not want to go!

So by understanding our motives and the motives of others we can better live our lives - and help others live theirs better too.

When we talked about communication, we mentioned not being overwhelmed by our emotions or those of others.

Clearly we need to learn about and control our emotions. This does not mean we suppress them, or manipulate them, but we become master of them so that they are not master of us and do not lead us where wish we hadn't gone!

We need to stop being our emotions!

Again, we do not wish to be happy all the time. It would not be appropriate to be happy under all circumstances. In Zen, it is said that the goal is to be completely natural.

It does not mean being unnatural:

  • laughing when we are sad and
  • crying when we are happy!

It means being natural:

  • laughing when happy and delighted or
  • crying when we are sad.

Yet we know that our emotions are affected by our thoughts. If we think that someone is trying to deceive us we may become angry. Yet without that thought, we might be amused or entertained. By changing our thoughts about something we can change our feelings about it too. So by changing our thoughts we can change our feelings. If we have extreme thoughts then we have extreme feelings!

Pictures in the Mind

One type of thought is a mental picture. If we think of a frightening picture when we experience something in the world, we will be afraid of that thing in the world, even though it is harmless! Like automatic procedures, set in place long ago, and now done habitually without awareness, these mental images can be automatic responses to certain situations. We can react strongly to a given situation because we have a powerful image, yet find recalling the image afterwards extremely difficult.

During Freud's early days, he had a patient who fainted in a certain situation. She could not recall the image she made in that situation - that frightened her so much she fainted. So Freud sent her back to that situation, with the instructions that she should remember the image this time! By becoming aware and confronting the image, the girl was able to overcome her fainting attacks!

Making Progress

In making our progress we need to clear the mind of old, useless thoughts. We need to be aware of them and deal with them appropriately. These thoughts can be mental images, sounds, etc, and also language. Our minds can generalise and the troublesome thinking might be extremely abstract generalisations.

By clearing the mind of this debris and replacing old, useless procedures with useful ones we can begin to make spiritual progress, and begin to learn about our true nature. Minds are useful, but not minds filled with garbage. The answer isn't to throw out the mind, but to clean it up and put the right data in it this time!

Freed of our fears and our excitements, we can begin to live live more fully and happily, attaining our goals for the benefit of all. We will also have removed some of the impediments to spiritual development.


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