Our mental homes.

March 15, 2016 § 2 Comments

Barnston Island 0002

At the start of spiritual practice, ordinary mind is like a house built on thought and experience that over the course of time has come to be seen as our natural state. Even if the weeds are encroaching and the powers been cut off we are often reluctant to leave this house because it feels like home.

We construct our mental homes to serve our individual needs. If the need is to acquire, then the house is designed to amass what it desires. If the need is self-protection, then the mind operates to keep us safe. If we desire approval, then the mind seeks approval. But in doing the one, the mind necessarily rejects the other.

The mind that seeks approval, for instance, will shy away from disapproval. Over time it may come to find that avoiding disapproval becomes more important than finding approval. In abstract terms we may think of this as the mind rejecting a negative to obtain a positive, only to find all it’s energies becoming consumed in the negative.

For example, a person seeking harmony may find him or herself spending the rest of their life avoiding anger. Or one with low self-esteem who may originally have desired acceptance comes to find him or her self focused only on their self-defined unworthiness. This is obfuscation at its worst yet many of us believe that this is the way to stay safe and achieve our end goals!

The ordinary mind as just described is not our natural state but we do not see this. Our true state is open and boundless but over years of obfuscation we have become closed and constricted. This condition is compounded by a tendency to select bits and pieces of the outer world to confirm our false beliefs.

In meditation we come to see how the ordinary mind asserts the world to be one thing by infusing it with “evidence” it finds in the outer world. Someone who believes the world to be a violent place, for example, will point to scenes of violence in the news. Another who fears being judged will cling to memories of those times when they were criticized. There is no doubt that this evidence is real but it is selective. It ignores contrary evidence and, in so doing, locks us into a false view of the world and ourselves.

Through the spiritual practice of just observing the ordinary mind we come to know its obfuscations. As we see them more and more clearly we learn to stop following these thoughts. In doing so, we start to awaken from false belief and come to know mind without restriction. This is not something that magically happens but comes about through continued effort and courageous self-honesty. This is true practice that leads to enlightenment.

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