Why does the mind resist change?
Without inner change, there is no lasting transformation
Through identification with thoughts, we make substantial investments in the mind. It grows as time passes, and as we have new experiences. With any investment, we expect good and stable returns. The mind is no exception. The gains we expect are primarily related to happiness, from which we hope to derive peace and contentment. Just as we save money for the future, we also keep in our memory thoughts and experiences that bring us joy. They become part of the mind’s wealth. Having spent so much of our valuable time and effort accumulating them, we hesitate to give them up easily. Just as we like to cling onto external possessions, we hold onto the mind and all its contents. We may change everything on the outside, but unless we change our habit of holding onto thoughts and experiences, there cannot be lasting inner transformation.
We may change everything on the outside, but unless we change our habit of holding onto thoughts and experiences, there cannot be lasting inner transformation.
Inner transformation is not an accumulation of knowledge or changing how we think. These are related to the mind. Real change comes about when we can be near the mind, and all its complexities yet remain inwardly free. It is like carrying an oasis of silence within while we are in the midst of a busy marketplace.
Real change comes about when we can be near the mind, and all its complexities yet remain inwardly free.
We may ask why we need to change or transform in the first place. Unless there is complete satisfaction and total acceptance of life as it is unfolding, there will be a hidden impetus from within for change. Complete satisfaction and full acceptance of life can only come about where we are free of desires. It may be impossible to find anyone free of desires. Even the wish to be free of desires is a desire. The nature of consciousness is to be completely free. When it is mind oriented, it is not free. There is an inward push towards freedom, and it comes through the urge to seek happiness.
The nature of consciousness is to be completely free. When it is mind oriented, it is not free. There is an inward push towards freedom, and it comes through the urge to seek happiness.
The first step in inner transformation is the acceptance that all our mental possessions can be discarded. We are afraid that if we give up our mental possessions, we may be at a disadvantage in the world. This fear makes us hold onto thoughts and memories. Paradoxically, we try to cling to thoughts which by their very nature, are the very embodiments of change. Once thoughts disappear, we continue to keep their contents in our memory.
The first step in inner transformation is the acceptance that all our mental possessions can be discarded.
Transformative change does not have to be a radical rethink or a dramatic shift in how the mind operates. A change in perception and perspective is more important. However, it is not easy as long as the seat of perception remains within the mind. Since there is a rapid turnover of thoughts, and the place of perception cannot change as rapidly as thoughts, the mind creates a false self that appears to be changeless. Every thought operates with respect to this false self. Since it is the product of the mind, the false self remains within the mind. It creates an impression that there is nothing beyond the mind, and the mind is all there is to explore.
The false self remains relatively changeless throughout our lives. Through this false self, we positively identify with some thoughts, which then results in a temporary surge of happiness. We also negatively identify with thoughts, and that may result in a temporary dip in happiness. An undulating pattern of a decline and rise in joy is a common phenomenon that everyone experiences.
This pattern is tightly interwoven with the world we inhabit. There exist deep connections with objects of the world. They may bring happiness, or they may take it away. Such relationships also exist with thoughts and memories of the past. There is a continual effort to maintain a steady-state of happiness, and we work towards building onto that foundation of joy. The false self cannot provide this happiness on its own. There is a drive to accumulate external objects that bring happiness. Also, we keep thoughts and experiences associated with joy close at hand, and we keep going back to them.
The drive to accumulate is an endless cycle and is an unnatural state. It is not sustainable in the long run. We may get fed up with what we have accumulated, but unless we know of an alternative, we continue the habit of collecting. New possessions replace the old, and the pattern keeps repeating over time. At some point, the mind will get saturated, and disillusionment may begin to creep in. When this happens, we may go from chasing happiness to chasing away negative thoughts.
Positive and negative thoughts do not readily mix, even though they are made of the same mind matter. They share the same space and compete for our attention. Rather than enjoying the experience of living, we become referees sorting out the differences between negative and positive thoughts. We pull positive feelings towards us and push the negative ones away. It is hard to hold onto positive thoughts, and even harder to discard negative thoughts.
Positive and negative thoughts do not readily mix, even though they are made of the same mind matter.
We frequently associate inner change with moving away from negative thoughts towards positive thoughts. However, this is not the goal or the end of the inner journey. Recognizing this polarity and making an effort to hold onto positive thoughts is only the beginning of an inward transformation. A part of our investment into the mind is vested through identification with negativity. A return from this will come our way, whether we like it or not. It comes in the form of unwanted negative thoughts that keep surfacing even though we don’t invite them.
There is a chance of a lasting inner transformation when we recognize the actual seat of perception, which the false self mimics. There are some fundamental differences between the actual place of perception and the false self. The false self appears changeless; the real seat of perception is changeless. We cannot separate the false self from the mind. Without thoughts, it cannot exist.
The false self appears changeless; the real seat of perception is changeless.
The actual place of perception is not part of the mind. It exists independent of the mind. It is there, regardless of whether or not there are thoughts. It remains when thoughts die down, and noisy chatter of the mind is replaced by profound silence. We are not separate from that place of perception.
Observing the mind from the real seat of perception does not inflict any harm on the mind. On the other hand, the mind is given considerable freedom. The mind needs our active involvement. Otherwise, it ceases to have meaning. Just as a wave eventually subsides and becomes finer and finer ripples, the mind also stops its constant activity and finally settles down when we don’t interact with it as before.
Observing the mind from the real seat of perception does not inflict any harm on the mind. On the other hand, the mind is given considerable freedom.
From the seat of actual perception, the mind is one window, not the whole picture. When the activity of the mind settles, and we continue to remain alert, we find ourselves bathed in deep inner silence. This is the dawn of thoughtless awareness. This is a place of no further change or transformation, and it is the source of happiness we are continually seeking.
When the activity of the mind settles, and we continue to remain alert, we find ourselves bathed in deep inner silence. This is the dawn of thoughtless awareness.
There is an excellent clarity of perception when there is no interference of thoughts. Through such changeless awareness, we perceive all change, yet we remain unchanged. Initially, we may have fleeting glimpses of thoughtless awareness, but once we get a taste of it, we gain the motivation to explore inside further. We then intuitively proceed towards the discovery of the changeless inner being.
The mind and body are temporary, but instrumental parts of the changeless inner being. When we are in thoughtless awareness, there is conservation of the mind’s energies, and this sharpens the mind. When we want to use the mind, it remains available to us, ready to act. When the mind and body are no longer a disturbance, we are in paradise. Even the mind will enjoy its newfound rest and freedom from having to work for our happiness.