Transforming the Mind: De-Programming Mental Conditioning

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There are times in our day-to-day life when we experience ourselves acting or thinking in ways we wish could be different. Sometimes, it can seem like our thoughts are running on auto-pilot, and whoever is doing the driving is not the most qualified person for the job. These thoughts then lead to actions which we regret later. The reason for this is that we often have un-conscious mental and emotional programs running our lives. Maybe these programs are fine for going about our daily interactions with the world, but what happens when they are no longer helping us to live our lives to the fullest?

The First Step: Uncovering That Which is Hidden

Since they are subconscious, these programs do a good job of staying hidden. Consciousness is not something which can be seen or touched, so it can be difficult to pinpoint disharmonious patterns within it. What are the signs that a subconscious mental program is affecting us? Fortunately, these programs leave traces that they are indeed there. These traces come in the form of negative thoughts, or that nagging little voice in the head. Knowing this, we can follow the breadcrumbs of thought to the root of what is running them.

Thoughts can be likened to bubbles in a lake. We can observe the bubbles on the surface, but where they come from is deep down at the bottom. Likewise, thoughts appear at the surface of our mind, but where they come from is deep down, in the realm of emotions. Thoughts are the surface signs of emotions.

We can begin by examining the inner voice we hear in our head, as well as the outer voice coming out of our mouths, and just observe them.

It can quickly be seen that thoughts occur all on their own, spontaneously, like a radio station continually broadcasting into space. If we tune into the mental stream, they become the central focal point; however, try shifting the dial of focus to the space in which these thoughts are occurring. As you do this, you will discover that the thoughts become blended into the background of awareness.

Now, from this space outside of thought, try observing the content of the mind, just don’t get pulled into it. What do you hear? What is the common theme around which the mental chatter is arranged? Is the voice angry? afraid? guilty? Take this chance to be radically honest with yourself – this is not a time to be squeamish!

Step Two: Removing Identification With the Mind

Understand that these thoughts are not even yours, so you do not need to identify with them. Just like a radio tower, the mind is continually broadcasting thoughts. It is what the mind does, continuously and automatically.

To prove that the mind is not even yours, try this: tell the mind to stop thinking and see what happens. The mind will probably just go right on thinking, against your will. If the mind was really yours, you could tell it what to do and it would listen, right? On the contrary, the mind is an impersonal aspect of our human nature.

Bringing humility into our understanding of this is very helpful. It can be very frustrating when one first comes to meditation and realizes how strong the monkey-mind chatter is, but remember: there is nothing wrong with it. It is only doing what it knows how to do. Just because you have negative thoughts does not make you a bad person. You are not your thoughts! This is part of the collective (un)consciousness of humankind. Everyone else has these same kinds of thoughts too; they truly are impersonal.

Step Three: Surrendering the Temporary Emotional ‘Payoff’

Dis-identifying with the mind makes it easier to go further inward to the source of thinking itself: emotions. Subconscious programs are fueled by our emotions, so addressing them from the emotional level is the key to canceling them.

The reason that these dysfunctional programs are running in our consciousness, despite our desire to be free of them, is because they offer us a hidden payoff. They create the illusion that we are getting something beneficial from them, a ‘juice’ if you will. This may not be apparent at first, as one might think, “How is there a payoff from being angry?”

The ‘juicy payoff’ is the emotional reaction; the feeling that moves through us. There is a part of us that finds a temporary pleasure, or satisfaction, in the feeling of anger, guilt, pride, etc. The part of us which feeds off of this juice is commonly called the ego.

The ego easily becomes addicted to the emotional payoff of negative emotions, and in turn feeds off of the juice. Since the juice is only a temporary satisfaction, the ego must seek more of it, thus perpetuating an endless feedback loop. With each infusion of ‘juice’ into the loop, the addiction becomes stronger and thus harder to break free of.

With this realization, it becomes clear that in order to undo negative programming, we must let go of the temporary payoff gained from negative thoughts and emotions. When this payoff is continually let go of, the unconscious program loses its power and influence. The juice becomes less and less interesting to us.

The next time a negative thought or emotion arises, ask yourself, “What is the juice I’m getting from this?” and “Is it worth the price?” If the juice is found to make you feel anything other than peace and tranquility, it is a sign that it needs to be let go of.

In this light, there is no need to fight or suppress anything, even fear and hatred itself. In fact, we can begin to let these emotions just be as they are and run themselves out. We no longer need to be afraid of emotions because we are no longer controlled by the temporary ‘pleasure’ of them.

With this practice of continually surrendering the juicy payoff of the negative emotions, a peaceful state naturally emerges. Peace is what prevails when all of our negative programs have been let go of. In this sense, it can be seen that Peace is actually a choice. When we choose Peace instead of the juice of the ego, our emotional dependence on negativity diminishes. When done continually, this Peace stabilizes and becomes our natural state, undisturbed by the passing temptations of negativity.

About the Author

Ryan Brown is a meditation teacher, energetic healer and writer. He has studied shamanic traditions of the Amazonian Basin and strives to integrate the ancient wisdom teachings of both the East and West in a way that is applicable to modern living. You can learn more about his pursuits at www.wayruna.org

Waking Times 

The Dalai Lama and Buddhist Science

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Gene Hart 

Why does consciousness seem to complicate reality? – A question that arose in my mind upon hearing that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was coming to England to spread his teachings of non-violence. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, was visiting Manchester to share his wisdom and knowledge, something which he has dedicated his life to doing around the world. Despite leading a life of peace, he has had his share of drama, being in exile since 1959, due to the Chinese government taking over Tibet. Since losing their country, Tibetans have stayed loyal to the Dalai Lama, claiming that they feel alone without him – a bond between a leader and his people we rarely see today. Both have been pleading honorably for Tibet’s independence. Furthermore, the Dalai Lama has been trying to establish a democratic system of governance, speaking with countless world leaders. Parallel to this His Holiness works for the promotion of moral values, harmony and respect for religions throughout the world; not preaching on Buddhism, but teaching how to promote inner happiness and Buddhist science, to which many people take an interest. I had the pleasure of participating in several talks by His Holiness over a period of four days.

I joined a news conference on the morning of his arrival. It’s not every day you see a Buddhist monk being exposed to apprehensive press taking 100 pictures a second. However, like a true Zen master, he seemed barely distracted. I thought how, if every person in the room was of a calmer nature, this would have given him a warmer welcome to a more enlightened country, but then this country thrives off media consumerism.

Immediately, he expressed the purpose of his visit: to spread his message of non-violence, the value of dialogue, universal responsibility and expressing his views on modern education:

“We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness by teaching scientific moral education not based on religious beliefs. This has the potential to bring harmony to the basis of human life on all levels. Furthermore, I will be talking about the nature of reality; such as what is really happening in any situation at a fundamental level.”

Why does consciousness seem to complicate reality? – A question that arose in my mind upon hearing that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was coming to England to spread his teachings of non-violence. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, was visiting Manchester to share his wisdom and knowledge, something which he has dedicated his life to doing around the world. Despite leading a life of peace, he has had his share of drama, being in exile since 1959, due to the Chinese government taking over Tibet. Since losing their country, Tibetans have stayed loyal to the Dalai Lama, claiming that they feel alone without him – a bond between a leader and his people we rarely see today. Both have been pleading honorably for Tibet’s independence. Furthermore, the Dalai Lama has been trying to establish a democratic system of governance, speaking with countless world leaders. Parallel to this His Holiness works for the promotion of moral values, harmony and respect for religions throughout the world; not preaching on Buddhism, but teaching how to promote inner happiness and Buddhist science, to which many people take an interest. I had the pleasure of participating in several talks by His Holiness over a period of four days.

I joined a news conference on the morning of his arrival. It’s not every day you see a Buddhist monk being exposed to apprehensive press taking 100 pictures a second. However, like a true Zen master, he seemed barely distracted. I thought how, if every person in the room was of a calmer nature, this would have given him a warmer welcome to a more enlightened country, but then this country thrives off media consumerism.

Immediately, he expressed the purpose of his visit: to spread his message of non-violence, the value of dialogue, universal responsibility and expressing his views on modern education:

“We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness by teaching scientific moral education not based on religious beliefs. This has the potential to bring harmony to the basis of human life on all levels. Furthermore, I will be talking about the nature of reality; such as what is really happening in any situation at a fundamental level.”

Everyone laughed when he used an example of the press, saying that they may all seem pleasant, but at a more fundamental reality, they could just be looking for gain and money.

“I am not here to popularize the Buddhist religion but to respect all religions. The 20th century was one of violence; the 21st century should be one of dialogue. Why do we not see the world as one entity rather than separate places of people… wouldn’t this diminish the violence?”

Afterwards, questions were asked by the press. To my curiosity, the questions all came off the topic of what he was talking about. All the questions were about economic problems and the conflict between him and China. Although these may be concerning issues in mainstream modern news, I felt that they could have found the answers they were looking for through the objective attitude that the Dalai Lama was displaying. Nevertheless, every answer was expressed in a highly detached manner:

“Despite being in a world of tough economic times each must lead a life of compassion.”

Afterwards, he came down to have a handshake with the press. As he approached me, he gave me a two-handed handshake and looking at my dreadlocks, he asked what kind of hairstyle I had. Everyone laughed. Noticing my appearance he asked where I originated from; I replied that my mum came from the Philippines. He remained silent for a moment looking into my eyes. I felt a tranquil presence come over me, and then he proceeded. The intellect and true power of this man was apparent. I was very excited for the next three days of his upcoming teachings to the masses.

The first event was free to ages 15-25. It filled over 10’000 seats in Manchester’s MEN Arena. The Dalai Lama was presented to the stage by actor and comedian Russell Brand; the Dalai Lama entered with a happy, humorous nature and received a lively loving audience. He was impressed with the amount of people who turned up. During his talk, he touched on many subjects including: the reason behind why our species is lacking from compassion and happiness, “Most unhappiness comes from the sense of self-importance and self-centeredness;” how to use dialogue rather than violence; and the relationship between thinking and emotions. Moreover, he expressed how we can perceive ourselves and everyone else on different levels of identity and significance. Using himself as an example, he said that on one level, he was a cellular human. However, on the subsequent level, he is a man, then on the next level, he is a Buddhist Monk, and finally, comically expressing – he is the Dalai Lama. In the laughter of the audience, I felt anyone who was expecting a boring preaching session was in-fact delighted to find such an amusing and honest man. He spoke about things which we could all relate to as human beings.

“For us to live harmoniously we must live and conceptualize compassionately with the ‘human level’ of experience. In this way, we cultivate an authentic realistic way of being, expanding consciousness to finer levels of experience, moving us away from a level of consciousness that emotionally attaches itself to identities, for instance, thinking of ourselves as being greater or inferior to others, which can limit deeper levels of relationship.”

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He emphasized the importance of cultivating an ‘analytical mind-set’ to develop our sense of skepticism about all things and to think reasonably, scientifically and morally. He went on to say there are two types of meditation. Firstly, stabilizing meditation – which focuses on nothingness, awareness and healing. This allows you to become devoid of mind, which is known as ‘clear light’ or ‘luminosity’ in Buddhism. This purity of mind is Nirvana and gives way to expanse of mind and consciousness. The other type of meditation is analytical meditation – which he explained is the key to understanding, and we do it as part of our nature such as when we are studying or contemplating life. This certainly shed some light for me on distinguishing the types of awareness in everyday life.

“However, it is easy to misinterpret reality. The analytical mind can come to a distorted way of knowing. At the root of all distorted perception is ignorance. An example of this would be of people who perceive impermanent things to be permanent, i.e. material objects. In doing so, we can become attached to things whether it be material or thought forms.”

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An interesting fact which struck me: a scientist, with whom the Dalai Lama spoke, said that there are an estimated six billion different perceptions about the world, all defying each other. So how can we know which ones are factual? He said to cultivate what he calls the ‘ultimate perception of reality’, we must question and contradict every view we have with defying ones to come to a more realistic, natural way of knowing.

Another event with the Dalai Lama was named ‘Being western – being Buddhist’ and included a panel of 5 western Buddhist practitioners. This was a Q&A event about any aspect of Buddhism. The panel was surprised to find such a large audience. They only expected a few hundred people to turn up but over 4,000 participated. It is obvious that Buddhist interest is flourishing at an accelerating rate in the western world. One of the answers which caught my attention was from a man who told a story that he once took a group of Monks through a prison where he worked. As they walked through, the prisoners hurled abuse at them, and the man said to the Monks that this must be the worst place to practice Buddhism. In fact, they replied saying it is a perfect place to practice, adding that the best place to practice is in a place of suffering, and the prison was abundant in suffering. A significant message I thought. We conceptualize spirituality as different from everything else. It seems that we are unable to learn vital information from all things. As long as humanity continues to identify all experience as separate, we ignore the fact that all experience can be our spiritual teacher, not just school, books or going to see the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama had also expressed this when he said:

“We should pay particular compassion to people that we wouldn’t usually take a liking to, i.e. criminals, people who get shunned in community. As well as this we should see close relations (who give us pain and suffering) as spiritual teachers in order to analyze experiences. For example, during an argument, check to see if there is any intelligent thinking going on rather than just defensive emotion.”

I think people who participated in these events who had a general problem with religions were surprised to find the Dalai Lama talking about the negative sides of religious beliefs such as God. He also expressed his attitude towards his religion, which I found very viable for all religious people:

“I am Buddhist, but there is no attachment to Buddhism, if there is attachment you become biased; you start to become suspicious about other faiths and start to close your mind to other possibilities. It’s very helpful to have the ability to appreciate other faiths as well as your own.”

After three days of the Dalai Lama connecting, laughing, philosophizing, articulating universal energy, he went on to his next destination in the UK to spread his light.

Why must the Dalai Lama travel across the world discussing our problems? Why does consciousness complicate reality? Are we fooling ourselves for a reason, a purpose? Do we really know deep within ourselves the ultimate truth? Where does common sense originate from? An ‘all-knowing source’? If it is, then we surely have all the answers we need within ourselves. However, it seems evident that the human race currently lives through a perception far-off the ‘cellular human level’ as we tend to seek spiritual understanding from sources we regard as ‘spiritual’. You could say the Dalai Lama was not teaching, but reminding people of what we already know. How have we lost this simple universal wisdom that he was expressing? Are our habitual ego-driven minds holding us back from seeing the truth?

Did you know that there is an inherent nervous system within the heart made up of 40000 neurons similar to brain neurons? Research shows it can learn, remember, feel and sense independently. Maybe in this ‘brain in the heart’ lies the simple universal truth of compassion that the Dalai Lama was expressing.

During the first event, a video of a Mayan woman was played to the audience before the Dalai Lama was presented to the stage. She spoke about her people who predicted an era of peace and harmony around the year 2012. The possibility struck me that the Dalai Lama also sensed this shift happening. Is he going around the world to accelerate the process of the evolution in consciousness? Only time will tell.

After the four days, I was left with a great sense of admiration for the Buddhist religion. Cultivating a fully awakened mind benefits all fellow sentient beings, and as long as every sentient being endures suffering, the practice of Buddhism will remain to dispel and endure the miseries of the world. However, I think that once humanity reaches a tipping point in the awakening of the human psyche, it will flourish in a sense of connectivity, expansion, abundance and purpose.

“Whatever seems impossible now may be a reality in 100 hundred years.”Nagarjuna

About the Author

Gene Hart is a dedicated yogi currently studying Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. He is most interested in the multidimensional nature of the universe. Through extensively practicing meditation and out of body exploration, he investigates the links and relationships between the non-physical and physical; dreams, thoughts, emotions, and the root, or essence, of all reality and existence in its entirety. You can reach him at genephart@gmail.com.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

The Meaning of Peace in the Bhagavad Gita

Krishna
The superb Sanskrit text, The Bhagavad Gita, is an amazing guide and in my view the ultimate “user’s manual” for the human adventure. This ancient text is a dialogue between two mighty heroes: Krishna and Arjuna. Krishna represents the God within us all who is always waiting patiently to guide us – if we can listen. Arjuna is the greatest warrior of the time and Krishna is his charioteer in the battle of life. He will steer Arjuna through, if Arjuna hears and understands.

 

The entire dialogue takes place the middle of a battlefield where Krishna and his best friend Arjuna are getting ready to fight a monumental battle between the two opposing sides of the same family. Arjuna has lost his courage and cannot accept the thought that he must kill members of his own family and friends in this terrible bloody war. He has thrown down his weapons and is sitting depressed and dejected in the bottom of his chariot.

 

The Sanskrit word Shanti means peace, but what is Krishna saying in the Bhagavad Gita when he uses this word Shanti? Are there not many wars going on within us all, wars raging in our own hearts and minds? These inner wars cloud our thoughts, consume our energies and make us stupid.

Krishna tells his good friend Arjuna that no man can know happiness without peace (II.66). In fact the sequence of our compulsions is quite predictable. We start thinking about a particular thing and from those thoughts, we want it. If our desire for the thing is frustrated, we become angry. Once we are angry, our ability to reason and think clearly is skewed.

From this anger rises delusion. We tell ourselves all kinds of absurd things. We deserve that thing and we will do anything to get it, no matter what the consequences, no matter what our actions might do to our soul. We forget that perhaps the thing is not ours to have, or that we don’t deserve it; or that it may not be the right time for us to have such a thing, it might bring us harm.

Thus from anger arises delusion, and from delusion loss of memory – what we call denial – and from loss of memory we begin to lose conscious awareness of and contact with our own spirit. Krishna calls this the ‘death of the spirit’ which leads to real death.

Uncontrolled desire leads to death. Krishna points out the wiser way. Instead of allowing our desires to devour our peace of mind, the man of wisdom develops an evenness, a subtle intelligent detachment and disinterest in the objects of the senses. These objects are thrown at us 24/7 on our television screens. We are told we can only be happy when we have this car, or that cell phone and the latest techno-gadgets. We must be thin and young, we must endlessly consume products that will make us happy winners.

By the time we are in our 30’s most of us know that none of these things have made us happy. In fact we tire of them very quickly and must have more, more, more. Ah, the next thing we desire will finally bring us that elusive happiness we have been chasing. But it never happens.

Lasting happiness is not to be found in the external world. Temporal experiences of joy and suffering are in abundance, but real lasting peace and understanding are only found within. When Time makes us wise and weary of being fools, we turn within and begin to question everything.

We begin to understand how our unruly desires have run us, controlled us, made us act compulsively, and left us even emptier than before. We begin to observe this process. We see how our five senses have drawn us into this delusion and we consider the idea of practicing an enlightened control.

The continued practice of observing the reactions of the senses and controlling our own thoughts in the mind will inevitably lead us to inner peace. This is ‘the peace that surpasses all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7) and this Peace is our Home, the Source of our Real Self and the entire universe.

This is the Shanti that Krishna speaks of in the Bhagavad Gita. For as Krishna says, the mind that allows the senses to carry off his or her capacity for insight – literally looking within – is as helpless as a ship caught in a storm at sea.

Krishna teaches Arjuna how to act wisely and gives him the knowledge he needs to understand his place in the universe. Krishna tells Arjuna that whoever has purified his mind in the fires of Knowledge and mastered his senses will obtain this Peace (IV.39).

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The five senses make their contact with the external world and its objects, and send their information-impulses to our brain, allowing us to experience the polarities of pleasure and pain, sukha-duhkha in Sanskrit. These experiences are impermanent and are to be endured, for what is temporal has no ‘real’ existence and is unreal (Asat) in the sense that it is fluctuation and change (Bhagavad Gita II.14-16). While the real (Sat) always exists, as the 14th century Sufi poet Mahmud Shabistari says, ‘beneath the curtain of each atom.’

It is not that the external world has no value as some believe. However, its state of constant change makes it the unreal (Asat) in the sense that it is impermanent. The external reality is very real to the five senses, but there is so much more to our world than what we can see, hear, touch, etc. Everywhere there is the imperishable (akshara) that permeates, supports and sustains the temporal illusory hologram.

Without Knowledge of this eternal, immutable, imperishable Real – we are lost, floating on a sea of delusion and ignorance that tosses us around at whim and fools us into thinking that possessions and pleasure can give us meaning.

Krishna teaches his friend that this universe is pervaded by that which is indestructible and Arjuna has no power to kill that. The body may die, but the soul (Atma) never dies. It simply transmigrates to a new body, just as we get new clothes when our old ones are worn out. (II.17-22)

When our body is worn out we move into new forms that resonate with our thoughts, new data-collecting vehicles to expand our expression of the God within us all. The realization that you never die changes your entire attitude towards living and you have the opportunity to become less attached to the perils, failures, and successes of your current identity self.

There comes a time when in wisdom you will not care if you have been immortalized by the media. Your search for meaning will not be based on the approval or disapproval of others. You will care more about doing what is right, taking action with the greatest integrity and knowledge you have available to you in that moment, and that knowledge will always be changing as you continually reevaluate its worth.

You will ask yourself, not so much, what did I accomplish – but rather what consciousness was I in when I acted. When that time comes you will have Wisdom, you will have imperishable Peace.

V.Susan Ferguson

“If you become slave of Prakriti (The Matrix), you are gone. When you follow these, follow the movements of these five sense organs, i.e., five senses of cognition and five senses of action, along with the touch of these three gunas, you are just sheep, you are just carried by Prakriti. And this is that individual being who is governed by Prakriti.

“He creates this, he creates this universe. Because everybody has his own universe in his mind; you have your own world, you have your own world, you have your own world. And that world you have created by combination of these…by following your nature.

“When you command Prakriti, then you don’t create your world. Once you have not created your world, you are free, you have no rebirth. You won’t come…you won’t be entangled in repeated births and deaths.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

About the Author

V. Susan Ferguson is the author of Inanna Returns, Inanna Hyper-Luminal; her own commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and the Shiva Sutras; and Colony Earth & the Rig Veda. Her website is Metaphysical Musing.

 

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.