As the great Zen teacher Alan Watts said: We all need to go out of our minds at least once a day. When we go out of our minds we quickly come to our senses.
Have you ever wondered how extraordinary the mind is? How it can reach from the sublime heights of intellectual ecstasy to the depths of suicidal despair, from piercing clarity to confused schizophrenia?
This same mind longs for that sumptuous chocolate cake or stunning outfit, then wonders afterwards why we ate something so rich, or lets the clothing go unworn in the closet, feeling guilty that we bought it in the first place.
The mind is capable of understanding the most intricate scientific and mathematical theories and can make complicated corporate decisions, yet the same mind can get caught up in endless trivia and nonsense, becoming upset or even unglued over a seemingly harmless remark.
The tragedy is that such mental play is considered normal. We become exhausted maintaining dramas and thinking patterns—”my mind is so busy it’s driving me crazy!”—as if this were some sort of achievement.
In order to reinforce these patterns we surround ourselves with people who think the same way. It’s a basic human need to feel loved and that we belong, so as long as there are others out there supporting and agreeing with us we must be fine.
There is no denying the importance and value of the mind—there’s great brilliance and beauty here—but there’s also great absurdity. Thinking is not wrong at all, but are our thoughts constructive ones or do they generate further confusion? The mind is a perfect servant but a terrible master!
For no matter how intellectually astute or creative we may be, this aptitude often has little or no effect upon the habitual mind and its repetitive patterns: fear, guilt, anxiety, neurosis, shame, and self-centeredness.
We usually take offense when someone says: “Are you out of your mind?” But what if that was actually the coolest thing to say? What if being ‘out of our mind’ actually means we aren’t disturbed or annoyed by the madness of our mind and are more in touch with our heart and our freedom?
Humankind has come a long way in terms of physical evolution; we’ve developed our world beyond any other known life form and have achieved enormous technical advancement, like going to the moon, but there’s still a long way to go in the evolution of consciousness.
Evolution takes us from the gross to the subtle, while involution takes us from the subtle to the sublime. We have yet to touch the depth of our authentic self by turning within instead of outside ourselves.
Mindfulness is being present with what is, occurring in the inner quiet that is always there, beneath the discursive chatter and distractions. Like the water in a lake, when the mind is still we can see the depths below but when the mind is disturbed it’s easy to get caught up in the waves.
In meditation we watch whatever arises, like waves, and as we pay attention so they’re unable to take over and run the show.
When we get out of our mind we’re freed from insecurities, worries, judgments and self-centeredness, from everything that keeps us confused, scattered and fearful, free from the dramas and stories that reinforce who we think we are.
We find who we really are instead: we see our limited nature more clearly and discover the vast, unlimited depth that lies within.
Then the mind, emotions, and intellect are our means to live in this world, they serve us instead of driving us crazy.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise