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!) The fear is
irrational or extreme.
"Nothing is a threat to the spirit!"
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
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 the 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
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.
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
- 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
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:
- It does not mean laughing when we are sad and
- It does not mean 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!
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 more fully and
happily, attaining our goals for the benefit of all. We will also have removed some of the
impediments to spiritual development.