Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world. My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful. I use no magic to extend my life; Now, before me, the dead trees become alive.

–Kuòān ShÄ«yuÇŽn

A Little Piece on Mind Control

What do you allow your­self to think about? What do you keep from aware­ness? As your con­scious­ness moves over an array of pos­si­ble sub­jects and options, accept­ing some and deny­ing oth­ers, are you notic­ing its famil­iar habits?

This is an expe­ri­ence of your own mind as both con­troller and con­trolled, an expe­ri­ence of how you rein­force your­self and your core think­ing pat­terns and also how you dis­tract your­self from cer­tain places in your own mind because you want to avoid some­thing there, such as pain, embar­rass­ment or anx­i­ety. These efforts to con­strain, avoid or force your think­ing may very well yield all but invis­i­ble back­ground con­flicts. Tak­en for grant­ed, they become almost unreach­able. You no longer expe­ri­ence how your own con­strained think­ing is lim­it­ing your being.

Sup­pose you are proud of your life and your accom­plish­ments and you like to review — per­haps, as you go to sleep — your “wins” for the day. You car­ry that off right up to the moment your mind drifts toward also review­ing the day’s “loss­es.” Or per­haps this for­mu­la is reversed. You go over every bad moment but then feel guilty if con­scious­ness selects the good moments and good parts of you to con­sid­er, too. If your house must be all light or all dark­ness, you may not find the some of its most beau­ti­ful rooms.


F.V. Anto­nio, Aco­ma, N.M.

A few moments reflec­tive­ly watch­ing your thoughts emerge and dis­si­pate may be enough to rec­og­nize some of your own habits of mind, your per­son­al style of con­scious­ness, your uncon­scious ways of think­ing you.

Some­time, as an exper­i­ment, take the bri­dle off this “horse” and let it wan­der freely wher­ev­er it wish­es across the vast­ness of the land­scape. Just fol­low along to see where it goes with­out any aspect of con­trol. Does this fright­en you or excite you?

What you may dis­cov­er are hid­den mem­o­ries, bit­ter­sweet and dif­fi­cult moments, and blessed ones, too; ones that some­how have got­ten lost along the trail of your life. You may think about accom­plish­ments or fail­ures, about peo­ple you haven’t thought of in ages, about songs, images, smells from child­hood, scraps of con­ver­sa­tions, cir­cum­stances of all kinds, emo­tion­al moments, secret vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, grudges still held, mon­ey and the things you had or have or want, your fan­tasies big and small, the shape and design of your inten­tions — all crowd­ing in, as if to get more of your attention. 

The horse wan­ders into a side canyon of mead­ows and wind­ing streams, a place you’ve nev­er been or haven’t been for a very long time. There is bril­liant sun­light and the horse dips its nose to drink the cool water and to find ten­der shoots. There are dis­cov­er­ies, a recog­ni­tion, and a sense of wel­come. The Tree of Life itself grows up right in front of you.

You real­ize how dis­ci­plined you have been about guid­ing and con­trol­ling where you let your mind go, how direc­tive you’ve been, and also, per­haps, how old and tired your thoughts have become, how lim­it­ed they are to a few famil­iar “pas­tures.”

What dif­fer­ence does any of this make? It is your mind and yours to know well in its pure ori­gins and inde­pen­dent man­ner. It is you and also beyond you. It is a most won­der­ful and pow­er­ful horse, I’d say, and you may ride it home, freely. 

Some­time, let it wan­der away on its own while you walk to the mar­ket place, pass­ing out your gifts to every­one you meet along the way.

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