Escape the prison of your own mind
"Only when one is free of the projections of the mind can one apprehend what is real." Buddha (Lankavatara Sutra)
It is early in the morning here in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. The sun has just come up and there is a spectacular thunderstorm going on.
My whole body feels the sound waves as they crack and rumble. It is a total, direct experience. It has passed now and I need to write a blog for the upcoming OM School Live.
I had an extraordinary experience. But I could have missed it.
I could have analyzed it, thought about how the lightning is static charge build up in the atmosphere, how the thunder is produced by a sonic boom. I could have consulted the weather on my phone to see how long it would last and if I would be able to get to the store later. I could have check a radar map to see the extent of it.
I choose to just open the door and feel it, smell it, hear it.
All of our analysis, our comparisons, our attempts to domesticate nature are an attempt to reduce the miracle of life to an idea, a picture in an album, a video on YouGoop. In other words, it is the habit of living in the mind instead of in reality.
It is never any actual circumstance in our lives that bind us. It is never some person, place, situation or condition. It is always the mind. It is always our beliefs about this moment that put us into that cage.
We cannot grow beyond our beliefs. They form the boundary of experience. We don't create beliefs. We acquire them, from family, friends, churches, schools and, tragically, from media, social and otherwise. And, while we do not create them we do ourselves enforce them.
There is nothing more powerful than a belief. They shape our perceptions and thus form all of our experiences and relationships. They determine the limits of what is possible. They create right and wrong. But once again I point out. It is we ourselves who are the guards in this prison in which we are held captive.
This is what Buddha meant in the quote above. "Only when one is free of the projections of the mind [our unexamined beliefs] can one apprehend what is real."
And it says in the Heart Sutra, "...take refuge in Prajnaparamita [what is real] and live without walls of the mind. Without walls of the mind and thus without fears"
In a world that is full of trite entertainment and where every event is reduced to a sound bite or a TikTok clip, learning to inquire as to what is real and what is a projection of the mind, is a rather radical undertaking. Challenging the convention wisdom and assumptions, whose fruit is obviously spoiled, takes courage and a new way of approaching our relationship with "the mind."
Shall we be its servant? Do we let un scrutinized beliefs create a wall of limitations around us? Or do we claim that utilize the momentous gift of human intellect which, when turned on itself, can break down those walls of the mind, dissolve the cell walls and walk once and for all into a freedom that is self-sustained.
Let me offer my definition of freedom that i think sums up what we all in our hearts desire.
Freedom is a sense of well being that is independent of all conditions and circumstances
Freedom, in order to be truly free, can depend on nothing but itself. You, in order to be truly free, must find the golden key within yourself that opens the prison gate. Then, as you walk through that gate you realize, there never was a gate at all. It was always a wall constructed by the mind and so you leave both the walls and the mind forever.
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