Breaking the Identification With Mind
Human life, as we now know it, has become largely an exercise in futility and diversion. Our culture, while at times colorful and intriguing, misses the mark, in that it glorifies our biological functions and completely ignores the spiritual essence of who we are. It glorifies our bodies and our biological instincts (such as the instinct to mate). And most predominantly, it glorifies our minds.
One of the most powerful realizations we come to on the spiritual journey is the truth that human mind activity is a biological function of our created makeup, nothing more. This is in direct contradiction to what we have been taught—that being that mind stuff is the best that we humans have to offer and that if anything can turn the earth into a utopian paradise it will be our intelligence and ingenuity. Thus we have all come to identify with the workings of our mind in an attempt to align ourselves with this collective view and reach our highest potential as a species. This has been a crucial mistake, however—one that needs correcting on the most fundamental level.
As we progress on the spiritual journey we not only come face to face with this discrepancy; at some point we must also correct it in our own lives and put mind in its rightful place. We must break our habitual identification with our mind and attach it to where it rightly belongs—that being our spiritual consciousness. We must come to recognize that our mind, much like our body, is but a biological function of our created makeup. As such, it was meant to serve us, not the other way around. It was meant to be a tool for our evolving spiritual consciousness, but by identifying with it as our true self we have made it into our master.
This mandate of correction is by no means an easy task, but it must be done. Mind must be tamed, and we must do the taming. Though we might see ourselves as being too much of a spiritual neophyte to accomplish this, we really have no choice. No one else can reach inside of us and bring about this rightful reordering of our inner world. The masters who have gone before us can show us the way, but they cannot do it for us.
To try to ascertain why this mistaken identification with mind has become our collective reality is not truly edifying and can become a diversionary pursuit in its own right. Many have gone down the road of attaching moral significance to our predicament, portraying it as a fall from grace, etc. But in the long run this is neither of great importance; nor is it very helpful. Suffice it to say that we are in this predicament as an outworking of our collective consciousness evolution.
A far more edifying question to ask ourselves is: how? How did this condition befall us? To best answer this question we must once again get clear about the kind of creature we were created to be.
We human beings are wonderfully made. We are biological creatures, like every other species inhabiting this planet. But simultaneously—and this is what sets us apart—we are spiritual beings with an innate spiritual faculty that we call consciousness. Our biological functions are earthy and temporal and tend toward decay and dissolution, while our spiritual faculty is transcendent and eternal.
Our consciousness does not actually change or grow, but we, as we work out our karma on this plane, change and grow in our degree of spiritual realization. In other words, rarely is a human being born who is already fully realized in this regard. Rather the vast majority of us must grow in realization, and this tends to happen gradually over time through learning from our experiences. There is nothing inherently moral about this—no shame or sin. It is simply the reality of what-is.
It is also a given that most of us will be born into total unconsciousness. No matter how many lifetimes we have lived on this plane before or how much progress we made in those lifetimes in relation to spiritual realization, the biological functions of human nature tend to be dominant throughout our years of infancy and childhood, while our consciousness effectually waits in the wings. But this is usually only a temporary condition. For most of us it resolves itself in our teenage years, when we not only awaken to our spiritual faculty; we also make fast progress in bringing our level of realization up to snuff—that is, to the level we had achieved in our last lifetime.
What many do not understand, however, is how problematic those unconscious years of infancy and childhood can be. To be alive on this plane and yet completely disconnected from our spiritual consciousness renders us extremely vulnerable to the natural elements at work on this plane. We become quite defenseless in this regard, to the extent that those elements can and do readily come in and have their way with us. Especially problematic is the influence of world culture, on account of the errors that it is moving in. What happens then is that without our even being aware of it the error of the collective invariably becomes our error as individuals. Again, this need not be a permanent condition. But unfortunately, once error has gotten a foothold inside of us, it is not very easily dispelled. It can be done of course. But it may take many years of spiritual work and practice.
As we have already seen, one of the primary errors inherent in modern human culture is the exaltation of and identification with mind. So when we are looking to answer the question of how we ended up in this condition, we need look no further. It is the combination of our defenseless unconscious state during our early years coupled with cultural indoctrination and conditioning that turned the trick. We each were taught to identify with our minds when we were young and utterly impressionable, and that orientation then became imprinted in a biological function of mind that psychologists call the subconscious. After this happens to us, our challenging task becomes that of opening our subconscious vault and purging it of its erroneous imprints.
While these imprints of error first beset us in our early years, they can remain active within us long after we become adults. Also we must understand that any erroneous imprint is going to affect us negatively. So it is that for most of us a veritable plethora of deleterious effects issue forth from the deep hidden source of our subconscious mind. This is where many of our health problems stem from. It is also the source of negative patterns in the realm of relationships and finances.
Generally speaking, we must be cognizant of our spiritual faculty for many years before we come to realize the true source of our dilemma and what has been causing our suffering throughout our lifetime. It takes a high level of realization to even recognize the true nature of our problem, let alone be able to solve it. Eventually, however, we do hone in on the culprit, and when that happens it is not uncommon for our fortunes to improve dramatically.
But even after recognizing the culprit, the task before us is not an easy one. Our subconscious mind patterns can continue to pose a formidable oppositional energy in our lives. Fortunately, we have the tool we need to make things right, and that tool is at our beck and call twenty four-seven. It is inside of us—an inviolable aspect of our created nature. It is our spiritual consciousness.
There is then no mystery about what we need to do. The tool that will fix all that is wrong with our lives is easily accessible within us. But like any tool, it does not use itself. We are the ones that must use it. To do this we must familiarize ourselves with our consciousness. We must practice, develop, and grow in self-realization.
In practical terms we begin by practicing mindfulness as often as we can. This will increase our awareness of what is going on inside of us. One outworking of this increased awareness is that we will begin every so often to encounter some of those erroneous imprints from our subconscious mind. How do we recognize them? They are those thoughts and emotions within us that we can feel ourselves identifying with as self-defining. On a more subtle level they are thoughts and emotions that are bound up with our ego. And what is ego? It is the misdirected impulse to identify with mind.
Awareness of these encounters is not, in and of itself, enough to make a stubborn subconscious pattern dissolve, but it is a great start. It definitely gets us heading in the right direction. What must follow in order to complete the job is the authoritative replacement of error with truth. In the case of the error pertaining to wrongful identification with mind, the truth is that mind is not our master but was created only as a biological function of our being. It was not created to be our master, but rather our servant.
Identification with mind is a learned behavior. As such, it can be unlearned. But since it is a deeply ingrained habitual behavior, it may require authoritative persistence to root it out. The good news is that our spiritual consciousness is not a learned behavior; neither is it a biological function of our created makeup. Its eternal quality makes it by far the most elevated and dominant aspect of our being. So its authority in this case is rightful and assured. It can quite easily correct a learned behavior, in the same way that the voice of a human being can command a dog to sit, heel, fetch, etc. Also our consciousness thrives when moving in the truth, thereby increasing its authority even more.
The more we use consciousness in this capacity, the stronger it gets. So it won’t be long before we begin to see results. When this happens, we will not lack for incentive to stay on top of things and finish the job. For, not only will our inner world come into the order it was created for; the entire polarity of our being will begin to shift—from negative to positive, dark to light, troubled to joyful, etc.
Identification with mind is an erroneous, dysfunctional orientation to life. Mind was never meant to function in this capacity. That is why it makes a lousy master. It is incessantly troubled and disturbed, and when we unconsciously identify with it we ourselves become troubled and disturbed. So using our consciousness to dethrone mind and restore the rightful order to our psyche is yet one more instance in which consciousness works to set us free and make peace of mind a very real and tangible reality in our lives.