From the point of view of our meditation life the mind can be a blessing, but, if not properly trained, a profound hindrance.
Its main feature is its malleability. This is also its problem. It can be made to believe anything. Indeed, it can even believe that it is in charge. It is programmed by its own thoughts, its own creation, and the more a thought is repeated the more likely it is to be believed.
The mind is a master of habit. A habit is a thought pattern that requires no decision making process. For a computer this would be called a program. We program our mind by repetition. Just reflect for a moment how powerful this is. Just by repeating a thought pattern over and over, firstly it becomes a habit (so we no longer make decisions about it) and most often it becomes a belief, no matter how wrong it might actuality be. It is as though the mind is on ‘automatic’ and it programs itself by the things we repeat to it. It’s actually amazingly ingenious.
With this very same process it creates an ego, which is really nothing more than a bunch of habits and repeated thoughts about what has happened - our past, and what might happen - our future. The ego exists only in the mind’s past and future. Whenever we observe the mind we see this play of time. The ego does not understand what exists in the now.
"Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking." - Steve Jobs
The mind has very little to do with the flow of love in the present moment. However, the heart is completely in the present moment, which also contains within it the entire universe and all of time, i.e. eternity. From the present moment the heart in the flow of love projects out through the mind in intuition, inspiration and creativity.
The mind and ego should really be a mouthpiece of the heart, but most often it gets so carried away with itself and its own noise that it completely shuts the heart out. It tries to make us believe that it is the only reality, and attempts to do this by always keeping us thinking about the past or the future, and never experiencing the present moment where it does not understand who it is.
Charles lived on the earth a little over four hundred years ago, a professor of science. The greatest minds at that time had concluded that the world was flat and that it was quite possible to simply fall off the edge of the earth. He had no reason to doubt this. Indeed the confidence and certainty of the collective wisdom of the scientists around him had convinced him, but somewhere deep inside him there was a nagging feeling that something was not as it should be.
For years he lectured about the dimensions of this principle, of how the earth stretched in flatness from horizon to horizon. But then one day, a new paradigm emerged. A visionary, Galileo had seen a different version of the world and even though his peers scoffed at the thought of a round planet (‘why aren’t we all sliding off’) Charles felt the immediate truth of his theory. He knew it was right. It would still be many more years after Galileo that the world would come to see the truth of his vision.
This same ‘programming’ we are encouraged by our minds to do on a minute by minute basis. It is the basic way we construct our sense of self, our ego. Just as the globe is not flat, our ego is not us. We are not our repeated thoughts. We are not the patterns of our mind, we are something much deeper.
"No one in the world was ever you before, with your particular gifts and abilities and possibilities." - Joseph Campbell
This is again why meditation is so important. Meditation can be a time where the ego is observed and we can come to appreciate the fickleness of its constructions. Meditation is the best vehicle to travel the habits of our mind and actively deconstruct those unfortunate paradigms that at their worst, imprison us. The role of meditation is to centre our awareness back at the point of perfect balance, when we are in our heart and our mind is its instrument.
Please imagine yourself as an observer of your mind. Sit to the side of your mind and just watch your thoughts. Not to criticise or condemn your thoughts, or even to analyse from where they might have arisen, but just simply to watch.
See them in this present moment and realise that thoughts from the ego are always time bound in the past or the future. If a thought is about something you have done or you will do it is most likely coming from the ego.
Remind yourself again, that the voice of the heart is in the now, and always about the flow of love.
See if you can see some of your habits. Watch what you dismiss. Look at your labels. And if they are negative habits really deconstruct them. We deconstruct by reprogramming the mind with repetition.
Take your time. We have spent a lifetime on automatic.
Realise that the ego’s existence depends on the past and the future, anything of the now it has ‘automatically’ programmed into us to believe has no place.
But remember who you really are is not the ego. Who you really are exists in the vast space that is the present moment inside the heart.
When you are ready, begin to feel the real nature of the present moment. This is where your heart is, where the flow of love is, where peace is, where creativity springs from, where inspiration flies – feel your real self, for this is the real you. Not the imagined construction of a million trillion repeated thoughts.
Spend time here. This is real meditation. Breathe in and out the flow of love and feel it all in the now. Don’t imagine yourself better in the future or happier in the past, feel yourself perfect now. You are!
Then when you are ready and you are coming out of your meditation, please spend some time with your ego. Imagine that just as we hit the ‘reset’ button on a computer, you are wiping all of your past and future and reloading that which serves you. If your anxieties and doubts and fears do not serve you than do not reload them. It is not that we are hiding from our past, the events still exist, but it is we that decide whether they are blessings or curses. If we look at our past with regret or anxiety or even sorrow, than that is the ego that we will create, conversely if we are able to see each event as gifts, then you can see the difference.
We all must realise that it is we that have created our egos, we are completely responsible for our thoughts and those that we repeat. We are completely responsible for the programming of the patterns of our minds. So it is for us, and only us, that must go through the process of moulding and sculpting our egos in a manner that will serve us. As instruments of our real self, our heart.