The lower mind has long been the peril of human consciousness.
Born into a state of ‘living in the moment’ or the ‘now’, humans quickly develop lateral thinking and come to rely on past events for information about the future, and tend to live in either the past or the future, but seldom here and now.
Animals mostly live in a state of ‘pre-thought’, most humans live mostly in a state of ‘lower mind thinking’, and some humans live in a state of ‘post-thought’, or ‘mindfulness’, or what has colloquially become known as a ‘zen’ state of mind. This ‘post-thought’ state of mind is the ideal for humans and is acquired using ‘mental discipline’.
Ultimately we need mental discipline to be free of the lower mind. The lower mind helps us to navigate most of our daily lives, but because it is the least intelligent part of us it can only guide us with low grade intelligence. Mental discipline frees us of that holding pattern with the lower mind and allows us to see clearly other ways of being aware in, and navigating, the world.
Think of the lower mind (that we use for most mental activity) as the deckhand on a large ship. It’s job is to perform menial tasks, such as mopping out the lower decks, laundry, running errands and other tasks ascribed to it. Sometimes it will make lists and populate calendars, with tasks and birthday reminders, and sometimes it will write journal entries or maybe an academic paper. It’s job is essentially an admin person, with occasional janitorial and academic aspects assigned to it. It thinks laterally and retrospectively. It cannot know beyond what it has already experienced. Very advanced lower mind thinking can be open to the possibility of what we do not know, but it cannot know it.
Having this low grade intelligence navigating our lives for us renders us at the mercy of that level of awareness. It’s not bad, but it’s not ideal.
Ideal, instead, is the shutting down of the lower mind for navigation purposes and the opening up of the self to ‘higher mind awareness’, or ‘no mind’, or a state of ‘wordlessness’.
The lower mind is ideal for making grocery lists and reminding us to pick up the laundry but it is useless when it comes to knowing how best to guide our lives and advise us on how to what is best for our soul.
Think again of the deckhand on the ship. Ordinarily, he is kept in his position by necessity. There is nowhere else for him to go. However, if the true Captain of the ship is missing, or sleeping in the back, there is an opening for lower mind and he will take it.
He doesn’t know the names or jobs of all the other staff on the ship, or how to use the navigation instruments or how to read the maps or know the overall purpose of the journey. But that doesn’t deter the lower mind because his limited intelligence affords him arrogance and, ultimately, the close cohorts of the ‘lower mind’ are ‘wounds’ and ‘ego’. ‘Lower mind’, ‘wounds’ and ‘ego’ hang out together, they go get coffee together, exchange notes and navigate life using whatever they have between them to steam ahead. ‘Ego’ steps up and reassures the lower mind that the position of Captain is exactly the right job for him and encourages him to go for it. ‘Wounds’ chips in that it wasn’t fair that he didn’t get a better job before now and surely it’s his turn now. ‘Lower mind’ has only backstory, memories and lateral thinking to guide him, so he agrees and sees it as a logical step.
Having this low grade intellect guiding the ship (the mighty potential) that you are is perilous at best and disastrous at worst.
Old wounds get recreated repeatedly in an unconscious effort to clear them. Tragedies that befall others become potential pitfalls for us. Everything becomes personal and projections become normal. We lose sight of who we Truly Are and that is the worst of all. When we lose sight of our True Selves, we forget our purpose. Lose that, and we lose meaning in our lives and despondency sets in. The downward spiral is never ending.
Stepping out of lower mind thinking revolutionizes our relationship with life. ‘Getting out of our own heads’ helps us to ‘feel’, not ‘think’, and that is a much more accurate barometer. Getting into the body and feeling what is there is a much more accurate guide to the truth about one’s life and how to live it, than living in one’s head. Living in our heads is a recipe for ‘always-wanting’ and never knowing fully where we are, or how far we have yet to go to feel bliss.
Ways to get out of the mind are these: Staying in the moment, staying present by reading, singing, body movement, unusual physical experiences such as standing in a very strong wind, meditation, consciously dis-identifying from the mind, recognizing that our thoughts are not us and do not reflect who we are, owning our own process and stopping projecting imprinted internal dynamics because of unprocessed wounding, breath work, noticing life force shifts in the system, telling the mind to ‘stop thinking’.
Getting out of the mind is one important step in achieving mental discipline. The next is to supplant the lower mind with another awareness; ‘higher mind’ or the ‘silent observer’ or ‘mindfulness’. Staying ‘fully present’ has no expectations, projections or attachments to outcome. This state of awareness allows full exposure to experience, rather than hiding behind a perception of analysis. Therein lies the experience of bliss in this state.
The state of bliss is the human default state. The identification with thought and the lower mind has robbed humans of that bliss but it can be achieved again with a simple switch of perspective.
The past can hold us if we have wounding and the future can keep us preoccupied as we anticipate what the future might be, with both states ever lost to the reality that now is all we’ve got. You can’t leap-frog over the wound clearing (you still have to do your own personal work) and you can’t deny your urge to fulfill your potential in the future, but ultimately, the only carriage that will take you to clear your past to live mindfully in the present and to facilitate you reaching your potential is the present moment.
Mastering mental discipline will achieve that.