“Change your thinking, change your life.” — that’s a common message and mantra in our new age soaked modern world. Let’s unpack it. There may be some truth to this statement but it’s also far more complex than most people understand.
Anyone who has done any amount of serious meditation will have come to know that we don’t control our thoughts. We don’t control our thoughts or our feelings. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from trying!
When we start paying attention we see that our mind is a wild monkey gym and then some. If we are lucky we might start coming to actually KNOW what we think and feel. That is already well beyond what most people are able to do. If we’re lucky enough to come to know what we think and feel, can we also change that? It does seem that as we come to see and ALLOW what we think and feel that some of it changes….the thing is we’re not in control of how it changes and a very common occurrence once one sees what one thinks and feel is to be horrified and thus adopt some other, more comfortable belief system…unfortunately more comfortable belief systems can also be delusional and destructive in the long run. Converts of all kinds are often dogmatic and inflexible in ways that impede honest discovery and growth. (this can be true in religious and spiritual circles and also dietary and physical fitness, etc etc) Conversion from one system of thought or habit to another, then, is often only a first step. How does the newly adopted thought system still keep us in the dark? How does it create spiritual bypass? How does it keep us from further discovering our own still buried dysfunction?
When we start to KNOW what we think and feel we can continue to watch the parade of the mind/body/consciousness…it’s always there.
Generally once we KNOW, the trajectory greatly varies from person to person. What we think and feel are deeply ingrained in our bodies. If we’ve had significant trauma those habits are ingrained more deeply than our conscious capacity to instantaneously change things. Thus we find that we can watch, see, recognize our own unskillful actions even as we are doing them! Sometimes this does lead to a capacity to change the behavior too, but not always right away. It takes time at best.
So, once we come to know, (this to is a process…it can take years to come to understand all we’ve absorbed in the way of belief and conditioning) we can start to watch ourselves and practice compassion in all the ways we still think, feel and behave in ways that fall short of being skillful.
Becoming conscious can be quite painful when we discover how little control we have over any of it at all. Unfortunately new age inspired spiritual nonsense permeates all spiritual discourse now. (including that which is often considered more conservative like mainstream religions of all sorts.) Yup, thinking that we can control our level of consciousness and skillful behavior is a common foundational belief now that leads to widespread spiritual bypass of the kind we see everywhere these days.
Simple humility, giving up, surrender is the only way to become clear. We are not in control. It’s scary and sometimes it hurts and that’s the truth. Let us all deal with this honestly that we might not destroy our ecosystem with our hubris. We are children of the universe. Wee tiny cogs in this beautiful, vibrant and alive wheel of consciousness. We must take our proper seats at the table and not imagine we are more than what we are. Perhaps our out of control hubris will not allow that. It’s not looking good. — there are so many different flavors of hubris. So many. (see: Reality tunnels, or what flavor is your delusion?)
If we can wake up to our individual lack of importance we might wake up to our collective wealth which might be endless and beautiful. Can we see ourselves in every single human being? Not yet? Then we’re not there yet.
- Choice and emotion: a short essay with some musing
- Is there choice involved in “letting go?”
- Healing isn’t a choice for me — it’s an imperative; my body is in charge
- There is nothing wrong with you
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