Maladies of the mind
The Human mind suffers from certain naturally unnatural problems. If one has to master one’s own mind, one must find a remedy for these maladies.
In the dream state, the mind perceives its own formations. It considers all of them as real objects. Only on coming out of the dream, can one discard them as imaginary. One realizes that it was just the same one consciousness getting superimposed upon by names and forms. One consciousness was being perceived as many thoughts. The real objects did not exist in the dream. There was only ignorance prevailing there.
On similar lines, ask yourself now, what were you seeing in your involuntary thoughts when you were doing the exercises. Your answer could be ‘my boyfriend’, ‘my office’, ‘my father’, ‘money’, ‘home’, ‘cheese’, ‘India’ and so on. Is it really so? Actually, the mind perceives thoughts only. Every direct and indirect perception the mind has is of thoughts only. Thoughts include word thoughts, emotions, mental formations, ego, intelligence, volition etc.
But, as in the dream state, in the waking state also, the mind follows the same myth that it perceives the real objects and not the thoughts. Though the perceiver and the perceived are the same—the mind itself—it is mysterious how the thought of a cow is taken as the cow itself.
On the macrocosmic level also, modern science has started to see eye to eye with the ‘unity-in-diversity’ concept of the religionists. Mass and energy have been experimentally proved to be interchangeable. On the subatomic level, everything gets resolved into more and more subtle energies. Physics and Chemistry are finding their way towards that one energy, which can explain the evolution of not only the material world outside, but also the mind, intellect, love and consciousness. And if that is the case, where is any scope for the mind to think with duality as granted? If everything is One, I and you and he and she and it and that—all gets reduced to that One only.
There exists an imaginary and constant need to fill up a mythical vacuum in anybody Mind creates an inexplicable connection between itself and matter. The whole humankind thinks alike and makes all the newcomers think in a similar way. First, a base thought comes, or is created, that, without possessing certain material objects, there cannot be any completeness, happiness and perfection. How such connection exists, it is impossible to grasp, because, no such connection exists. It is purely imaginary. Then, to achieve completeness and happiness, one starts an unending chase for acquiring material objects. As the whole concept is imaginary, the life long marathon ends in giving up of one’s life in harness for literally nothing. It is so fascinating to see how ingeniously man is working at and getting worked up over his ever illusory goals! It is strange how starting from a state of incompleteness, man does all kind of things to get to the state of fulfillment. In the end, he finds himself enmeshed in the same emptiness!
The sense of duality and the sense of incompleteness make the mind hop from one object to another to find that elusive completeness and happiness. It perceives and tries to grasp. It perceives and tries to reject. Certain objects become likable and desirable and others abhorrent. It all depends upon their seeming support to completeness and incompleteness respectively.
The involuntary storm of thoughts that you saw in the eight exercises, was due to this grasping and rejection of the objects. Once the base of the mind gets deluded, it will keep on giving out involuntary thoughts about grasping and desiring or rejecting the material objects. Perception, which is such a mechanical exercise, then, gives rise to attachment—inability to detach the thought from the object. Attachment gives rise to desire—the possessive connection between fulfillment and the material object. Then arises a storm of thoughts related to the fulfillment of the desire and the undertakings—physical and mental—apparently leading one towards the object. In this state of complete blurring of objectivity, the mind forgets that it was looking for fulfillment and happiness all the while. Instead, the object becomes so important that it becomes literally blind in its chase after the object. Strangely, not getting any durable sense of fulfillment and happiness from the objects, the mind does not learn any lesson from its own experiences. From one object to another, sometimes several objects simultaneously, it hops. It is this perpetual hopping that keeps us busy all our lives.
Furthermore, liking and attachment give rise to the desire to keep the objects always in one’s grasp. There arises a sense of insecurity about the future as one knows, though unconsciously most of the times, that everything is transient. What will happen if possession of the object is lost in course of time? Now, the sense of time gives rise to the sense of insecurity, which is exactly the feeling that one always wanted to get rid of! Is not insecurity directly opposed to fulfillment?
Alas! This vicious circle! One thinks that one is enjoying the objects, but actually, one gets dissipated and worn out in these enjoyments. Instead of enjoying every moment of one’s life, one passes away slowly—faint and haggard due to the nonsensical running all the while.
Nature has its own peculiar ways of teaching us. One day, it gives us a chocolate cake, we feel happy. The next day it gives us a kick in our back, we feel unhappy. One day, there is a financial loss, the next day there is a gain. An unconscious—of-itself mind gets tossed about by these ups and downs. In the downs of life, nature expects us to learn about the impermanent nature of joys associated with the sense objects. We sometimes pay heed to it, straighten our priorities. But this straightening does not last long. Only a few hours; at the most a few days. Gradually, we tend to slip back into inertia and sensuality, forgetting the lessons that we ourselves learnt from nature. The sense stimuli overpower rationality and intelligence. We forget again and again. Nature keeps on giving hammer blows again and again.If we want to enjoy eating apples, we have to first learn to be aware of the activity of eating apples. The mind must live in the present. This running into the non-existent past and future must stop. The involuntary marathon of thoughts must get replaced by the voluntary enjoyment of every moment of life. We must get healed from the above mentioned diseases of the mind.
If we want good mental health, we do not move on to the next chapter. First stop. Not just here. But in your ever running life. Take a closer look at your mind, at your priorities. Just see if what is mentioned in the last two chapters has any relationship with your life. If yes, ask yourself once again whether you want the real happiness and peace or you want the objects titillating the nerves temporarily. If the former, continue on to the third chapter. If the latter, it is practical to close the book now and move on with your priority in the present.