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 Shīyuǎn

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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