by Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D
Human Mind is a wonderful masterpiece that has immense potentials. Most of the potentials, however, remain unused at most people, since it is not us who are in charge of things, but our Mind takes control of us. Our Mind is rushing through life with us like a car running without a driver, causing us constant suffering and sorrow. But if we were able to control our Mind, our life would change completely. This mad speeding would change into a beautiful, creative dance, giving us happiness, instead of pain. The question is therefore, how we are able to take control over our Mind?
The Nature of the Mind
In order to control something, we first need to know the thing concerned¸ so we must know our Mind so as to be in charge of it. The most important thing we need to about our Mind is that it is not something that exists separately, individually, like some inanimate object. The Mind is not an object–it is a process. The process of constantly streaming thoughts. This stream of the thoughts is what we perceive as the Mind. When these thoughts disappear, the Mind disappears with them, as the two are only able to exist together. The very basic nature of thoughts is that they are in a constant move, and this motion, almost automatically, creates the Mind.
A characteristic feature of our Mind is that it keeps roaming, wandering; it operates in something like an automatic mode. Thoughts come and go all the time. If we attempt to suppress them, it is only possible with considerable efforts, and even then to a short time only. In most of our waking time, our Mind wanders either in the past or in the future, in our thoughts we deal with our experience of the past, offences we suffered in the past, or with our future plans, goals and fears.
Another characteristic of our Mind is that it constantly evaluates things. It means that we do not simply live through our experiences, but we also categorize them as good or bad. We judge everything that happens to us and everybody we meet in our lives. This permanent categorization may easily lead to a distorted perception of the world, as we evaluate our new experiences in these categories. If we find an experience negative, we will tend to keep–and reinforce–that category for similar experiences in the future. Our perception will therefore be selective, and we will only accept the stimuli that reinforces our categorization, and we tend to ignore those that fall outside our usual categories.
The third important characteristic of the Mind is that it permanently produces stories. These stories often have a disastrous end. For instance, I suddenly try to remember whether I locked the door of my home or not. The Mind immediately fabricates a whole story around the idea: I did leave it open, a burglar came, my valuables have been stolen, and the police, instead of chasing the thief, will harass me with their questions. We often experience the ends and emotional consequences of these stories. Another type of stories deals with us, who are we, what are we like, what we should do or should have done. The entirety of these stories comprises our personal histories.
A Foolish Game
Most people tend to identify with their thoughts and personal histories, that is, with their Minds. A lot of us are not satisfied with what we are, and we would like to have a better and more beautiful personal history. That is why we create a mental image of our desired personal development, and the ways of making the work of our Minds more effective.
In order to achieve the mental image we ourselves have created, we embark on a foolish game, as we attempt to bring our Minds under our own control, and be the masters of our own development. Since we do not know the nature of the Mind, this venture is destined to failure right from the beginning.
This game is foolish, since in fact one half of the Mind attempts to bring the other half under control. Our Mind itself deems our own mental image of our personal development good. At the same time, this half of the Mind deems the other half, the one we wish to change, bad. Mental images fight against each other, trying to overcome each other, using the weapons of selective perception and story fabrication. The struggle goes on, with changing luck, all through our lives. Sometimes we believe that we are making some progress, we are improving, and a few weeks, months or years later we drop into the abyss of despair.