Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Right Mind

A common phrase to say about someone
who is crazy is: "They're not in their right

What is this right mind? What is sanity...
same question. We know psychosis is 
when someone sees their glass of water
as a glass of blood. Their perception is so
skewed that they can't see what's in front
of them as what it is. But there are many 
people that seem outwardly to be "sane"
that are not in their right minds. Ted Bundy,
for example, who hacked and bludgeoned
people to death, can be seen in interviews 
a rather charming person. Most psychopaths
are not serial killers. One study done, a 
test given to people in a wide range of 
occupations, to determine who had 
psychopathic tendencies, revealed that many
that tested positive were CEOs, politicians,
church leaders...in other words people in
situations where they could exert power and
control over others. These people may seem
socially acceptable, but they are not in the 
"right mind"...the mind that sees and relates
to phenomena clearly and accurately.

People in their right minds are not so self 
absorbed and self centered. They are 
interested in and sympathetic to the world
around them. They are not so concerned with
how everything affects "me". They don't dismiss 
the sufferings of others. 

In Buddhism, the ultimate right mind is the mind
of enlightenment. What are the characteristics of
that mind? Buddhism has many teachings about
enlightenment. One way of describing it is in 
terms of two qualities it has. The two qualities 
are "emptiness" and "compassion".

Emptiness means not being addicted to 
discursive mind, the part of mind that thinks. 
Ego, "self", is the obsession with "me", "this", 
which is fed and  maintained by thoughts and 
emotions; thoughts that have a lot of energy 
driving them. Wrong mind is to be obsessed 
with getting what we want, pushing away 
what we don't want, and ignoring the rest of it.
Wrong mind is the endeavor to solidify life into 
a  perfect state of pleasure and security...a 
goal that can never be reached. It is a complete
strategy of failure, but one that most humans
follow. Emptiness is the absence of this struggle,
absence of addiction to wrong mind strategy, 
freedom from discursive thoughts and emotions.

Compassion is realizing that suffering is 
universal. It begins to arise with freedom from
wrongmindedness. It is apparent in empathy
and sympathy. As we begin to turn away from 
"me", we begin to feel more clearly the suffering
of others. The more open and aware we become,
the more we cannot help but begin to feel
compassion towards others. It is said that one 
cannot attain the ultimate right mind for oneself.
It can only happen for the sake of all the others.
This is how the bodhisattva path arose in 

So, right mind is emptiness of self centered 
mind for the sake of others. This is the ultimate
philanthropy. It is apparent in all true art.

Even people who are not in right mind experience
glimpses of it throughout their lives. Many times
these glimpses have the effects of distraction or
annoyance. Some experiences of right mind stick
with people their whole lives as memories; that 
moment long ago in a canoe on the lake, watching
the sunset in the west at the same time the full
moon was rising in the east....the first time we 
made love...that one thing our parent said to us
that we'll never forget. These moments of right 
mind permeate our lives.

Right mind is our native state of mind. We can't 
create right mind, but it is always available. This
right mind is the only thing that always seems to
be missing...slightly beyond our grasp..the itch
we cannot scratch. It is the reason why we 
meditate, do therapy, take psychedelics. It is the 
basis of all spiritual paths and perverted religions.
It is the universal right mind, the only thing we
truly share as human beings. We cannot loose 
this right mind, because it is innate to our beings.
We can't create this right mind for the same 
reason. Right mind cannot be produced, but it can
be cultivated. It cannot be evoked, but it can be 
exposed. Like a diamond covered with rock, the
impurities that cover right mind can be removed,
leaving only right mind.

The only problem is that there is an obstacle to
experiencing right mind: the aforementioned
addiction to wrong mind; discursive thoughts,
the self centeredness that cherry picks reality.

The most effective way to give up our addiction
to wrong mind is to go cold turkey, which is the
practice of meditation. Many people who try to
meditate get quickly discouraged...they come
face to face with their addiction, discursive mind,
and they see its power and momentum and
feel they'll never get the clarity and peace they
assume is the object of meditation. What they 
are actually experiencing when they see their
minds simply for the first time in meditation is
the jones, the withdrawal symptom for their
addiction. It's much harder, takes longer to get
off wrong mind addiction than it does 
methadone. There are no quick fixes like ibogaine
to eliminate this addiction. It's manual labor 
and it takes time. There is no easy way.

But even after people have been meditating for
a short period of time...say a few months...they
begin to see that after that hour of meditation,
squirming that the time is not up, forcing 
themselves to sit until the end of the hour, even 
though the phone is ringing, when they get up,
they begin to notice a slight freshness, a slight
wholesomeness they begin to recognize. They
begin to get a sense that meditation really is a 
good thing to do, beyond the hype. It's not much,
but it is something. it is a blade of grass of right
mind, beginning to reveal. 


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