I was listening to a talk given by Osho this week which caused me to pause. For those who aren’t familiar with Osho he was a controversial spiritual teacher from India who established a center in the US and taught throughout the world in the 70s & 80s. In this talk, Osho was asked to comment on the mind and confused states. I thought I would reflect upon his response and share my thoughts in this week’s blog.
In his talk, Osho said that the mind is always in a confused state. The mind’s role is to think, presenting varied views that are often contradictory. There is a randomness and spontaneity to the thoughts generated by the mind. The varied and abundant thoughts frequently create divergent perspectives leading to a state of confusion. We can channel these thoughts to create a sense of focus and clarity but there remains an alternate perspective in the back of one’s mind. Consider for a moment a decision you may have made recently. You will likely have had many congruent thoughts about the action to take but you will simultaneously have thoughts that present a different perspective. Hence the use of Pro and Con lists to help us weigh the mental thinking arriving at a decision point. Sometimes the majority side wins; sometimes our gut reaction wins.
In his discourse, Osho challenged the notion of peace of mind. Because the mind is in a constant state of confusion holding many perspectives, peace of mind is not possible. The view that we can achieve peace of mind is erroneous. Peace of mind can only be achieved when we go beyond the mind. True peace is found in those moments of stillness when the mind is a distant echo. Peace cannot exist in states of confusion. I have heard people say they have peace of mind but what I suspect they are saying is that they have come to a place of stillness where they have gone beyond the mental thinking. The battle of thoughts has ended and they have gone beyond the mind to a place of peace. We have also heard others being described as peaceful. In our interactions with these people, we notice that they have a stillness that goes beyond the mental dialogue. They are able to remain in a place where thoughts are distant voices in one’s conscious awareness.
What also occurred to me is the internal battle we have with our thoughts about ourselves and how we should be. There are beliefs that we hold about ourselves and our lives that are part of the constant conversations we have with ourselves. For example, we may believe that we should exercise more. In our thinking, there is an internal dialogue about whether we should go to gym or not. We might be telling ourselves “I should walk more“ or “I should go to yoga.” Our thoughts sway us this way and that. The mind will always present alternate perspectives but how we take action is by going beyond the mind, by ignoring this dialogue. This is where commitments and dedication become critical to doing anything. Without the commitment to “go to the gym” we probably wouldn’t get there, if we listened to all the reasons our mind created about why we don’t want to go. Unless we are dedicated to the path we see for ourselves, our thoughts will dissuade us from getting there. As you can see, we have to go beyond the mental thoughts in order to achieve those things we want. If we listened to everything our mind thought we may not do anything.
So the next question is “why do we do what we do?” Why do we study certain subjects? Why do we have the friends we have? Why do we act the way we do? There are so many varied choices in the world, why have we chosen the one’s we have? Our innate abilities and preferences have been driving forces in our lives. We have strengths that guide us in making choices. These strengths become positive reinforcements in our lives that guide the direction we take to be successful, to achieve things. In following these strengths we begin to create preferences about what we do, how we do it and who we interact with. We seek commonality and security through our interactions that shape our life. This conditioning we create for ourselves is directed by where we receive recognition, appreciation and love in our lives. We stay focused upon those things that we are praised for. We find reward in hearing appreciation for the things we do. We act and do things in a certain way because it makes us feel loved. Thus, many of the thoughts we have are shaped by the recognition, appreciation and sense of love we experience. When we experience these feelings we go beyond the mind. Our thoughts become less important and the feelings create a sense of happiness. In this way, we learn to channel our thoughts to focus upon those things that bring us happiness.
Yet, our conditioning is but one path in life. There are so many people and alternate journeys. We hold onto our conditioning so long as we believe it is serving us. When it no longer provides benefit, we will become confused again. We find ourselves having thoughts that say we are no longer happy. We are once again stuck in the cycle of searching for happiness. Yet, we can see that true happiness and peace can only be found beyond the mind. Beyond the thoughts that try to figure “it out”. Beyond the mind is a place that can’t be understood but rather experienced. It goes beyond mental comprehension to a place of observed witnessing of that which is. Only in the observation of what is will one begin to experience one’s unconditioned self and peace.