beyond the natural mind – a 21 day manifesto

Day Eight

“Today I will give my brain a rest from endless thinking & as such make my world a quieter place”

We have sometimes described people as thoughtless, but does that mean that there isn’t a thought going on in their brain? Does that mean that their mind is quiet? No, it generally means we believe they are not showing consideration for others.

So perhaps thoughtless is a bad word to describe being inconsiderate, for I would like to use the pure form of “thoughtless” to mean no thinking, but it’s not going to be an easy task, no sir!

We are engaged in thinking from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep, and sometimes our brain wakes us up to do some more thinking!

So what do we think about? Well, have a look around the world and you’ll see. Everywhere people are thinking about jobs, education, status, relationships, money, bills, debt, justice, respect, cheating, murder, hatred, love, cars, household appliances, music, television, children, exams, jealousy, greed, holidays, happiness, fitness, fatness, sadness, health, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, today, tomorrow, yesterday, next year, next life, and on and on…

People can’t help it. They just have to think about something! They may take time out for quiet time, but that is usually external quiet time. Inside there is still a mind storm raging! So we try everything to quieten our minds including meditation, but even meditation isn’t quiet, although externally it may appear to be so.

So how do I quieten my mind without years of buddhist meditation techniques? How is it possible that I can stop thinking, even for a moment? Well, the simple answer is, it’s complicated!

Our minds have no off switch, we cannot decide, through will alone, to stop thinking, even for a moment! So what does that tell us about our minds? Does it tell us that even though we “think” we are in control of our own minds, there is another force at work? Does it tell us that our mind is divided between two controllers in direct competition?
Do you find this strange?

“Determine the behaviour or supervise the running of ”

Right now ask “yourself ” a question. “Who is in control of my brain?” What is “your” answer? Was it “I am” or “you are”?

Whether “you are” or “I am” the one thing that should be apparent, is that you are one person, yet there seems to be two of you upstairs!

Who is watching who? Who is master, who is servant? Who is god, who is the lower being? Who is talking, who is listening? Who is worrying, who is calming you? Who is battling who?

So many questions, it’s enough to fry your already over-worked brain, and you thought there would be a simple matter of flicking a switch. But do not worry, help is at hand from your friend and foe – your brain.

Divided at birth?

So when did this division start? Was it a genetic error? Was it pre-ordained by god in order to torment us during our long arduous life on Earth? Or was it something which developed in line with our physical development? One thing’s for sure, the constant thinking, questioning, discussing and arguing that goes on between our ears does not help us, nor the world around us, live in quiet.

So what is to be done with our brain? Should we have it removed? Extreme and impractical it may be, but a definite improvement on what we have now!

All jokes aside; like any animal of great power, learning to understand it, rather than dominate it is the best way to tame it.

“A wild ocean may cause death to those who ride its waves, or try to have power over it, but those who watch from the shoreline may experience great serenity.”

So how do we tame the lion with two heads? How do we understand our minds in such a way that they naturally quieten without resistance?

The answer lies in the mind itself.
Once the mind knows our intention is merely to watch, to understand, without any threats of dominance it lets its protective guard down. Who is it protecting, you may ask. Why, it is you! Owner and user of this extraordinary machine.

hello brain, I’d like a chat…

Me: “I want to understand. I want to know why I keep thinking all the time”
Brain: “What do you think about?”
Me: “Oh you know, the usual stuff, money, relationships, oh I didn’t get the promotion I wanted and I hate the bloke next door, he’s always playing loud music.”
Brain: “Those seem like very normal day to day issues, why consult me?”
Me: “Because I keep thinking all the time. I can’t stop it. Sometimes I get really bad thoughts. Is it you doing that to me?”
Brain: “I am doing nothing. I am the repository of information, the interpreter of all you perceive, I am the diary, the alarm clock, the reminder…”
Me: “What do you mean, reminder?”

Brain: “Ah, I see where you’re going with this. Ok, let us look at a scenario shall we? Your neighbour plays loud music, right?”
Me: “Right…”
Brain: “Who does he play that loud music to?” Me: “I don’t know.”
Brain: “Well I’ll tell you. He plays the music to himself. He likes to play it loud for several possible reasons: a) he likes it loud b) he is trying to impress someone in the house c) he is inconsiderate d) he deliberately wants you to become annoyed. Maybe there’s something else but that’ll give you something to go on.”
Me: “Right, well he definitely does it deliberately. He knows I’ve got to get up early, and he deliberately plays music so bloody loud. Honestly, I could strangle him. All I keep thinking is shut up! Shut up! The things I’d like to say and do to him!”
Brain: “Ok. We’re getting somewhere. What else do you think about?”
Me: “Well, I was supposed to get this promotion and then they went and hired a new guy for the job. They knew I wanted that job. I’ve been at the company for over ten years. I could do that job standing on my head!”
Brain: “So why didn’t you get it?”
Me: “They said they needed someone younger with a degree. This new bloke’s got three years experience against my ten, and he gets the job just because he’s got a degree! I’ve threatened to leave. They won’t know what to do when I’ve gone. I practically run that place!”
Brain: “What else?”
Me: “My wife. She’s always moaning. She’s always complaining about money, and how she wants a new television and carpet but can’t afford it, because I’m not bringing in enough money. She drives me mad. She does nothing but look after the kids all day. She doesn’t realise the pressure I’m under.”
Brain: “So we have three scenarios here to look at. One is a neighbour who plays loud music. The second is the promotion that you wanted but didn’t get. The third is your wife who complains. Let me ask you this, ‘do you think these people are doing all this to you, deliberately?’”
Me: “Of course they are. The bloke who plays his music loud knows it pisses me off, but does it anyway. My boss knew I wanted the promotion but gave it to someone else. My wife knows I work hard to earn money for the family but she still complains.”
Brain: “And why do you think about these things all the time?”

Me: “Because all of these things really piss me off.”
Brain: “But you want your mind to be quiet. You want a rest from all this thinking?”
Me: “Absolutely, it’s driving me mad.”
Brain: “Yet still you hang on to these thoughts?”
Me: “I can’t help it. I try really hard but I can’t block the thoughts.” Brain: “Remember the story of the wild ocean?”
Me: “Yes, but how do I apply it here?”
Brain: “Remember I also told you that I was a reminder, like an alarm clock which drew things to your attention that needed to be dealt with?”
Me: “Yes.”
Brain: “Well, I’m here to remind you of three things. One. You must deal with the neighbour with the loud music.”
Me: “What, do you mean like go and sort him out, give him a talking to?”
Brain: “The neighbour is just a man living his life, running his life the way he wants to. Do you think his mind keeps him awake worrying that he may have upset you with his loud music?”
Me: “No I’m sure he doesn’t care.”
Brain: “Never presume to know the content of another’s mind.” Me: “So what should I do, just ignore it?”
Brain: “On the contrary, you must notice how it makes you feel, and write down that feeling.”
Me: “Then?”

Brain: “Then you must calmly go to your neighbour and explain how the loud music makes you feel.”
Me: “What if he doesn’t turn it down?”
Brain: “You asked me how to quieten your mind, but we cannot tame a whole ocean in one day.”
Me: “What else?”
Brain: “I only remind you of things you know you must deal with, but remember it is your feelings about unresolved external events we are talking about here. Whether your boss gave your promotion to someone else because he doesn’t like you is nothing to do with you, it’s your method of dealing with the feeling of not being given the promotion we are talking about, not the external to your mind. Your mind, me, is magnificent, but we must learn how to communicate with each other, in the same way, you must learn to deal with others minds.”
Me: “So what you’re saying is, my wife isn’t actually angry with me?”
Brain: “No, I am saying that until you understand how your wife feels and she understands how you feel you will always have unresolved thoughts. That is why I keep reminding you to deal with them.”
Me: “Will this make my mind quiet? I already told you that this is all driving me mad!”
Brain: “Listen to how you feel, write down how you feel, try to understand how others feel, and resolve whatever is making you unhappy with the source of that unhappiness. You.”
Me: “So it’s all about me? Not the others?”
Brain: “Of course it’s all about you. How you perceive and experience the world is your choice. You know that.”
Me: “You’re right. I need to resolve each issue as it comes up and not let it trouble me so much.”
Brain: “The world external to you is like a raging ocean, but how we let that affect us is up to you. To quieten the mind, all we must do is not allow the external to dictate the movement of our internal ocean. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like a rest from all this constant discussion with you. I suggest you do the same.”
Me: “I understand.”


by alan macmillan orr


Chinese (Simplified)