In today’s positive self-help society, there is quite an abundance of people preaching positive affirmations, positive reinforcement, positive thinking and sayings like “choose your thoughts wisely.”
Then you have the psychological principles like the conscious and the subconscious mind.
When we think of choosing, we think in terms of choosing to act, or not act, based upon the level of the mind.
However, I’d like to propose a new level of understanding when it comes to thought and the ability to choose consciously.
You could go on for weeks, months, and years about how the human mind has been conditioned for centuries upon centuries.
The mind is like that of a large vacuum, the speed of the air is going so fast it sucks in just about everything that you put in front of it.
Now, the mind is a lot more complex in that it takes in millions of pieces of information, and sorts, organizes, and cycles through this information.
It takes what is useful and discards what is not.
And yet, the mind is affected in some way, shape, form or fashion from the standpoint that it is taught what is useful and what is not.
So from the very start of life, the very mechanism that the mind works from is wired in a way from that of the liking of the circumstances that you are born into that being your family, schooling, media, culture, race, religion, ancestry…. etc.
The mechanism that is constantly being rewired from the outside, if not looked into and understood, is one of the reasons we don’t have as much power as we think in terms of choosing how we feel and act.
It is said in some Zen traditions that the mind in its most natural state is pure and uncontaminated, beginners mind is what is suggested.
However, this could not be the case from the standpoint that the mind is a collection of thoughts and emotions.
A thought in its most natural sense is something that is learned. Learning is essentially the basis of all conditioning.
The point is that the mind itself IS the conditioning.
This is not bad, nor good but if not looked into and understood, then you will never have the ability to choose, and thus you won’t realize that fulfillment that the heart truly desires.
So the states that most humans are currently in are being run completely by the conditioning.
This is to say, they only know what has been wired into the brain from the outside and nothing else.
The conditioning has chosen their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, essentially on autopilot.
“A greater part of most people’s thinking is involuntary, automatic and repetitive.” – Eckhart Tolle
What Tolle is saying is here is if all that someone knows is the conditioning (the mental training) ,then the thoughts they have are not theirs but the worlds around them.
Take it away again Tolle…
So where are the thoughts coming from?
They are coming from the conditioning.
So unless you find that way out of the conditioning, then you will never TRULY have the power to choose.
So how do we find the way out?
Disidentification with the mind
To think that conditioning is not necessary is to think that having a mind is not necessary, that’s just a part of being a human.
What will be harmful, however, is believing fully that who you are is the mind.
By believing that you are the mind, you are also believing that you are the conditioning.
When you believe in this absolutely, then the conditioning will run your life.
It will do the choosing for you. It will choose what your career is, who you associate with, what you’re interested in, how you react to situations emotionally and every other area of your life.
So then who are you?
You are the awareness behind the thinking, the non-thinking, the witnessing awareness that can see itself as separate from the conditioning.
So in this sense, there is no such thing as a purely unconditioned, unfiltered mind.
There is mind (conditioning) and then there is no-mind (awareness).
What Zen and other eastern teachings are pointing to when they speak of beginners mind is the same thing: the absence of thought.
The Mystery That Is Life
I have received a lot of messages from people on Facebook asking things like…
“Why does my family not understand me?”
“Why are my thoughts so much different than those of my family?”
“I feel like an outcast from society. why?”
Well, firstly, this is a sign that these individuals are starting to break through the hardening of rigid conditioning that society has tried to firmly place into them.
Secondly, you, as well as I were born into a random family, into a random place on planet earth, with a random race, culture and timeframe (ERA)…etc.
To think that your intuition (Fulfilling conscious awareness) which is infinite, eternal, not subject to the limits of time, should coincide and match with those collective thoughts of the random family that you were born into, would be like winning the lottery several times in one life time.
Being that thoughts are going to continue happening, and they are going to happen from the conditioning, you will only have the ability to choose the way that awareness lets you choose.
Consider this statement. “You will only have the ability to choose the way that awareness lets you choose.”
This paradox here is that the context with the way the word awareness is used seems like some phenomena outside of you is allowing you to choose.
It has a Godlike essence to it.
And yet, does someone who is unconscious have the ability to choose anything?
Some words that described unconscious are comatose, lifeless, ignorant and, most importantly, unaware.
So you see, this Godlike essence called awareness is not actually a part from you, because it is you.
Now when you disidentify with the mind, the conditioning will no longer have such a grip you, and then awareness can play a part of feeling itself as fulfillment.
This means you are no longer your mind, you longer take the mind to be absolute, you no longer take the mind very seriously…etc.
Let’s look at that statement again, knowing that you are awareness.
This means, of course, realizing the self prior to any doing.
You will only have the ability to choose the way that you allow you to choose. Moving forward, what does this mean?
The mind is still going to be a large part of the way that you interact with the world, this is not in any way bad.
Thoughts are still going to happen. (Not you choosing thoughts)
Conditioning is still going to happen.
Autopilot thoughts, emotions and behaviors are still going to happen.
At certain times, you will lose sight of awareness as your being.
Going forward, what will happen, though, is that you will learn the degree to which these have controlled your life up to now.
You will lesson the intensity with which the conditioning has run your life.
You will lessen the degree of intensity with which your life has been on autopilot, done for you.
And what will happen?
Awareness will start working through you as you. And what happens through the body is the sensation of aliveness, of fulfillment and joy.