Friending Your Mind

If your mind has its own Facebook account, what will it be like? What’s the profile picture? What “Activities and Interests” does it have? I have friended my mind, and here is what I have learned so far.

1. My mind creates thoughts, and the awareness of thoughts comes a bit later. There is a nanosecond of time different between when a thought occurs and when my awareness captures it. Many thoughts are not captured by awareness at all. Thoughts and awareness are independent from each other, and they are both a part of the mind.

2. The relationship between thoughts and awareness is like the relationship between a horse and its rider. Thoughts are like a horse, a crazy one. It likes to run wildly and does not always follow the rider’s instructions. Awareness is the rider. He tries to guide the horse on a certain direction, but does not always succeed. Sometimes, the rider falls asleep on the horseback and is carried to some wonderland by the crazy horse. We dream and daydream. But with some practice, the rider and the horse could develop a very good partnership.

3. I can never lay claim to my thoughts because those thoughts come and go. They are products of my mind. I might dream of the most wonderful idea, only to forget it the next day. To use another analogy, my mind is a house. In that house, my thoughts are the travelling guests and my awareness is the host. Some of the guests are geniuses, and their presence in the house brings fame and wealth. But guests are guests, they will leave. And we should be reminded that the glory belongs to the traveling guests, not to the house itself. That’s why we should not be attached to “our ideas”, let alone the glitter of them.

4. The mind has strong habits, just as each house has its uniqueness. The habits of the mind influence the production of our thoughts, just as a unique house attracts a certain type of guests. Some habits of the mind are carried over from our past lives; some are formed in this life. Luckily, the host can change the design of the house, just as we can consciously reform the habits of our mind.

5. The host of the house can not force guests to come, nor can it force guests to stay. The only thing the host (awareness) can do is to make the house welcoming and comfortable, so that more genius guests will come and stay. This means that we should consciously improve the health of our mind so that more wonderful thoughts would occur. What’s more, just as geniuses attract geniuses, if you have a welcoming house and a critical mass of geniuses living in it, more geniuses will gravitate toward the house. Soon your mind will be full of wonderful thoughts, and it just gets better.

6. How do we improve the health of the mind? We go to fitness clubs and gyms, but how often do we attend to the well-being of our mind? We feed organic food to our body, but how do we feed our mind? The lack of attention to our spiritual well-being is a serious problem in the modern society.

To keep the mind healthy, we should feed it healthy intellectual food --- don’t watch too much TV, don’t waste time on Facebook, etc. We should let the mind rest so that the crazy horse could catch a breath. We should exercise the muscle of the mind and even challenge its extreme by deep contemplation and serious thinking. We should liberate the mind from its old habits by meditation and self-critique.

7. If we are especially lucky in the sense that we seem to have a profound and sharp mind, we should be reminded that this is a gift, not an entitlement. We have a powerful mind maybe because in previous life, we have proved ourselves to be trustworthy, so in this life, we are endowed with more capacity to do good.

However, it would be a great violation of this trust if we develop any sense of superiority. We are only the keeper of this endowment in life, not its owner. We should avoid self-importance and self-righteousness. Remember the “Manifest Destiny”?

So, I tell myself that if I appear to be twice more capable than the average, then I should work three times harder and be four times more self-critical. This is the only way to be fair and to maximize my gifts for the benefit of all, which is the only way for me to be happy.

8. There is no difference between selfishness and altruism because no matter which principles we adopt, we will arrive at the same conclusion. This is what it means: the only way for me to be happy is to make others happy; the only way to make others happy is to be happy myself. There is no difference between your happiness and mine. This is compassion. It might be a result of natural selection, but I am grateful that compassion is selected by Nature.

The same is true for enlightenment. I have realized that I cannot achieve full enlightenment without helping others to achieve theirs. So is the relationship between material and spiritual world: without attending to the spiritual world, we can not manage the material world; understanding the material world will strengthen our understanding of spiritual world.

9. In the first 20 years of my life, I have achieved some internal clarity. I have come to term with my mind and self. For the next 20 years, I will achieve some external clarity. I will understand how the world works and make my contribution. The internal wellness is my source of peace and creativity. The external achievements will give me a bigger platform to benefit more beings.

Let the universe be my temple, and the humanity my meditation.

10. The above realizations give me both urgency and calm. It’s urgent because I understand the challenge of the tasks. I can not afford to waste a second. I also feel calm because I know it’s going to be a life long journey, and I should pace myself. Even if I don’t accomplish my tasks in this incarnation, I will come back again to continue my work. This balance of urgency and calm propels me forward.

Finally, all the above are just guests in my house at this moment. They might decide to leave the next moment. I might change my mind any second --- Or, the mind might change me.

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