Tag Archives: foreign installation

Chuck’s Place: What Your Mind Does Is Not Your Business

When a frustrated student asked how to contend with his mind, whose meanderings had undermined his attempt at meditation for three hours straight, the teacher replied, sternly, “What your mind does is not your business!” *

Put attention where it matters most... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Put attention where it matters most…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

The guidance was simple: let the mind do what it wants; place your attention on your breathing. You are not responsible for your thoughts; they have a mind of their own. However, you are responsible for where you place your attention. Hence, every time you notice your attention drawn to a thought, gently return your attention to your breath.

The fact is, we are of two minds: the mind that generates the thoughts and the mind that decides where to place its attention. Don Juan Matus explained it like this: “Everyone of us human beings has two minds. One is totally ours, and is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose. The other mind is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict, self assertion, doubts, hopelessness.” **

Our meditation student was being coached to develop his true mind’s ability to place its attention on the breath, to withdraw its attention from the thoughts generated by the foreign installation, the mind that is truly not “his business.”

The objective of meditation, as well as the shamanic practices of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, is to free the true mind from the dominance of the thought-story dramas produced by the foreign installation that, like the true reality portrayed in the movie The Matrix, steals our vital energy for its own sustenance.

However, the battle to free the true mind must be carried out with utter gentleness lest it be caught in the clutches of a foreign installation trap that absolutely thrives on inner conflict. The foreign installation mind catches us by feeling offended, inadequate, inappropriate, unworthy, unloved and unlovable, etc., all the myriad of ways the self has failed or been failed by others. There is no end to the stories generated by the foreign installation to trap our attention and feed off the energy of our ensuing inner conflict, as we sit captivated and live through the intense thought-story drama generated for our entertainment and attachment.

The foreign installation mind cannot be fought directly. The wisdom of the guidance—that this mind is not your business—is the freedom to not worry about it or pay any attention to the fact that it exists. It’s not about trying to control or change it either. It’s simply about taking attention away from it and placing it where we choose.

In the shaman’s world, it is this behavior—the refusal to engage in the dramas of self-importance generated by the foreign installation—that ultimately frees the self from the dominance of the foreign installation.

Simply put, when we don’t attach to the dramas of self-importance, our energy is withdrawn from the predator’s grasp, that is, the foreign installation that feasts upon our frantic energetic reaction to its thought-story dramas.

This is the true meaning of mindful detachment, as we learn to place our attention on being fully present, freed of attachment to the dramas that generate inner conflict, the product of the foreign installation mind. “Your” mind is not your business, but where you place your attention IS your business.

Fully present, in the moment... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Fully present, in the moment…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Fully repossess your own mind. Do it calmly, with no judgment as to the number of times your attention is drawn to the wares of the foreign installation. That mind will continue to carry out its business, while you simply begin to more fully realize that you don’t have to shop there any more. Eventually, that merchant will move on, as you refuse to fund it with your vital energy.

Have no attachment to how long or short it takes; focus on placing your attention calmly where you want it. It’s as simple as that!

Freeing the mind,

* Excerpt from: Journey of Insight Meditation by Eric Lerner, p. 80

** Excerpt from: The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Castaneda, p. 7

Chuck’s Place: The End Of An Era

The shadow of death is always right behind us... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
The shadow of death is always right behind us…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

I most humbly and with deep gratitude borrow the title for this blog post—The End of an Era—from a section heading in Carlos Castaneda’s final work, The Active Side of Infinity. As I look about me and see the signs of endings everywhere the phrase “end of the story” comes to mind, but I refuse it. It’s not the end of our story; it’s the end of an era.

I have just finished reading to Jan the chapter entitled Death as an Advisor in Castaneda’s early work Journey to Ixtlan. As I look over my left shoulder—where death, our faithful companion sits perched about an arm’s length away—I don’t feel the chill up my spine, the sign death delivers to show us our time is up. The sign is neither there for myself nor the world, and so our story continues.

Nonetheless, death delivers many signs on the world stage, countless atrocities, beheadings and the like. With these signs death advises us to awaken from the daily trance we live in, generated by our complacent minds—the foreign installation the Shamans of Ancient Mexico taught us about—our true antagonist in this chapter of our world’s story.

The storyline of that foreign installation—our mind—is to focus on the pettiness of self-importance and greed, the matrix that keeps us distracted from the real precipice we are perched upon, our survival dangling in delicate balance.

Death broadcasts its message in dramatic voice. Yes, we are in the throes of transformation, one era melding into another. Death advises that we cut through to the bone of the illusions we have clung to, the cornerstone of the era we are leaving. That era has been dominated by the mind’s attachment to greed in all its myriad forms. Greed is a virus unsustainable in the New Era. Our next chapter is immune to the virus of greed.

I do not fault greed, the product of what don Juan called the Flyer’s mind, another term for the foreign installation that challenges us and has held us so tightly in its grasp. Don Juan states:

“We are energetic probes created by the universe…and it’s because we are possessors of energy that has awareness that we are the means by which the universe becomes aware of itself. The flyers are the implacable challengers…They are the means by which the universe tests us.” *

Here don Juan identifies our ultimate reason for being in this world. Through our journeys in this life we become the apparatuses of consciousness that enlighten our World Soul. We are the active side of infinity. The flyers, or foreign installation, that have taken root in our minds are the agents of greed. The dominance of greed has let us sit back in the Matrix** and pretend all is well. Death, our faithful advisor, shows us that the gig is up; wake up!

Like the snow squalls,  a New Era too will blow in... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Like the snow squalls,
a New Era too will blow in…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The flyers, monstrous as they may be, are the necessary antagonists that force us to shine a brighter and brighter light on the truth. This is how the universe challenges us to become aware of itself: The light of consciousness shines through all the veils of illusion to arrive at what really is. Evil—those flyers, the foreign installation that controls our mind—is actually challenging us to wake up, to burn through the illusions and deepen our alignment with the truth.

This is the basis of our New Era, a world that aligns itself with right action, a world that corrects its course and allows Earth’s story to continue in new balance. Of course, this New Era will have its own new antagonists to contend with. And someday this New Era will also end. But the truth is that this Earth story is such a good one that it’s just not allowed to end yet, though someday it will.

All things have their era and then they eventually end because that is the imperative of consciousness, to grow and adventure in this, the ever-deepening, active side of infinity.

World without end, Amen,

*Quote from: The Active Side of Infinity, p. 229

** Reference is made to the movie, The Matrix.

We also note the synchronicity of this day: today is Ash Wednesday, a New Moon phase, and the eve of the Chinese New Year, all endings, and beginnings of new eras.

Chuck’s Place: Human Change

Are you ready to enter the portal of change... To consciously take the necessary steps? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Are you ready to enter the portal of change…
To consciously take the necessary steps?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

All life is subject to definite laws of change. The I Ching or Book of Changes, is a collection of significant archetypal scenarios that highlight those points of inevitable change. However, the I Ching also points out that though change is inevitable, we are free to make choices that set in motion their own flow of changes.

Freestanding water in an uncovered pot will eventually evaporate into the atmosphere. Such is the inevitable flow of change for this substance. I, in turn, could ignite a fire beneath that pot of water and thereby hasten an inevitable change by my intervention.

We are all beings who are going to die, this is inevitable. However, the choices we make in life may serve to shorten or lengthen the duration of our life, as well as determine the quality and fulfillment we will experience in human form.

Our animal contemporaries utilize the deep roots of accumulated archetypal wisdom to survive life on this planet. Animal decisions are rapid and automatic, involving little if any conscious deliberation. The human animal, with its latest development, the neocortex or rational brain, has, at least on the surface, parted ways with its internal instinctual animal knowledge. Google has become the warehouse of and vehicle to archetypal knowledge—one click away for conscious consideration and choice.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico, warn that this neocortex is not to be trusted as a worthy arbiter of decision making, going so far as to suggest its functioning has been commandeered by a foreign installation. We’d be hard pressed to argue that the decision making of the modern brain isn’t under the influence of some aberration, as it has so quickly put us on the brink of destruction!

Perhaps we are at a stage of evolution where our new cog, the neocortex, needs to run its course before it finds its rightful, modest place next to the archetypal wisdom and instinct we inherit largely from our animal selves.

We must also appreciate that life itself spawned this new possibility of effecting change more creatively by growing a neocortex to begin with. Life wants consciousness to participate alongside archetypal wisdom and instinct. We are at the stage now of discovering how to do that responsibly, hopefully before we destroy ourselves.

On an individual level, we are all charged with taking control of our lives with consciousness. We are change agents who must learn about and respect the ancient wisdom we inherit in our bodies—wisdom that guides decision making through image and emotion. To be responsible, we must, with consciousness, discover why our animal selves might react with fear, anxiety, attraction, or aggression. We must face, as well, habits we have fallen into that mollify but don’t truly satisfy our deepest needs.

We are often confronted in dreams by the images of powerful or weakened animals that reflect and communicate the reactions of our instinctual selves to daily neocortex decision making. If we take seriously these reactions from our deepest human nature, and apply them to the decisions and habits of our waking lives, we are free to introduce changes that could realign us, placing us in good balance to hasten boiling the water of our own spirit/body selves and facilitate our own transformation.

Such are the possibilities of human change!

Chuck’s Place: The Mind Is A Great Thing To Lose

Forced out-of-body... - Art by J. E. Ketchel
Forced out-of-body… – Art by J. E. Ketchel

The term out-of-body experience, also known as an OBE, is specific to an energy body state where consciousness is separate and away from the physical body. The physical body might remain in full view to the energy body during an OBE, or the energy body might travel away from the physical body to the ends of the earth, though remain tethered and fully capable of snapping back into it in an instant. This separation of energy and physical body is quite natural, especially in dreaming. It can also happen volitionally in waking states or involuntarily under the impact of trauma.

Traumatic separation of physical body and energy body is considered a dissociative psychological defense that occurs when overpowering physical or psychological events—events that are too much for the body to process—send consciousness into refuge away from the body.

As opposed to an OBE, dissociation can also occur within the body, in an in-body experience. In contrast to a separation of energy body and physical body, this dissociation involves a separation of mind and body where the mind dominates as an in-body energy center that preoccupies our attention—or consciousness—with an incessant internal dialogue that judges, critiques, and compares us to others without pause. This nonstop stream of chatter can so absorb our awareness that our bodies are completely rigidified and fatigued by the emotional energy generated by these internal messages. In fact, our internal messaging systems, like the texts and pings we constantly hear on mobile devices as we walk, sit, talk, sleep, and drive, completely dissociate us from the location and action of our bodies in space and time.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico called this dominance of the human body by the mind, a foreign installation—an aberration that grossly limits our humanness and the fuller realization of our true human potential. Pragmatic practitioners, those shamans realized that they could not fight the mind with the mind. They discovered instead that they could find inner silence, the shutting down of the incessant dialogue of the mind, by practicing bodily movements that required their full attention in order to be performed successfully. Toward this end those shamans saturated their lives with these physical movements, which they called Magical Passes. With full attention placed on doing these bodily movements, they were able to achieve increasing moments of inner silence that released access to their fuller potential as navigators of infinity outside the limited confines of the mind.

I encourage the practice of movements such as tensegrity, yoga, martial arts, or any physical activity that when practiced mindfully— with full awareness of the body experience—separates the practitioner from the meanderings of the dissociative mind.

Awareness, in full association with body, unleashes our true potential as human beings and frees us from the bondage of a mind-driven dissociated life, which is the current fixation of our species. The mind in this fixed state is a great thing to lose, as awareness is then freed to fully coordinate with the wisdom and action of the body in alignment with our unlimited potential.

Always moving,

Chuck’s Place: Being Of Two Minds

Beings of two minds...
Beings of two minds…Art & Photo by Jan Ketchel

Ever since we left the Garden, we’ve had to rely on stories—be they myth or fairy tale—to provide us with a description of reality to orient us on how to be and behave. Prior to the Fall, as unthinking beings, we had the surety of our animal instincts to guide us with direct knowledge of the way things were and how to act appropriately. After the Fall we became beings of 2 minds, split into the mind that knows without thinking and the mind that thinks incessantly, generating newer and newer myths and stories—descriptions of reality to live and act by. The dominating myths of our times are created by Science, with its descriptions of reality that are believed to be objective and true.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico went so far as to call the thinking mind a foreign installation, an actual entity that has taken up residence inside us for its own nourishment. Like all descriptions of reality, this description too is a story, the foreign installation a metaphor highlighting the impersonal nature of our chattering minds. That foreign installation has generated its picture of the world based on stories inherited and constantly generated by the internal dialogue within us.

We are a species addicted to our stories. We constantly crave stories—in books, movies, or oral traditions—to provide us with a sense of security, an identity, a framework, a world within which to grasp and live the totality of what we are. In turn, we are constantly catered to by a worldwide web of stories—news that frames and organizes our world—our dissociated instinctual selves finding outlets in the latest tales on the world stage or the latest thriller in the theatre. The spin doctors weave their tales, like salespeople catering to our need for a story to bring us peace and order, or an outlet for frustration, boredom, and depression.

In the healing field of psychology, clients are encouraged to build new narratives to find meaning in their lives. Unprocessed experience, like trauma, is fit into a narrative to make it more palatable, digestible, as if a new story can put the raw truth to rest. However, not all experience fits neatly into a story.

The fact is, our species is in peril because our stories simply aren’t true anymore. In fact, I believe we are at an evolutionary crossroads that demands that we step beyond the story and into full exposure and reconciliation with what is—without story, without metaphor. Look to the recent exposure of sexual abuse cases of children, and how we care not to know the full details. Instead, we hope they are not true; we hope that a different story will emerge. But healing will only come when we learn to accept what is.

President Obama steps into his second term largely freed of the need to uphold stories, dated myths of who we are and where we are. He can now point to the truth of global warming, the legitimacy of social programs, the real needs of woman and gay people, and the true inequality of our financial system. We need to be a world that can stand in and be with the truth now. We need to allow ourselves to reconnect with our ancient minds, the mind that speaks softly and dispassionately, with dead-on accuracy. This is the mind that can be in the presence of the full truth, that can guide us to healing, without story. In the groundlessness of direct experience, as we face our old stories and myths, the knowing that emerges is not just another story, but a documentary of the truth. In the groundlessness of no story we grasp the real truth and allow it to be fully experienced, fully known, and then finally filed away in the annals of life lived, tension fully released and resolved.

We've left the Garden, but...
We’ve left the Garden, but… Photo by Jan Ketchel

We have the opportunity to resolve our wounded psyches and bodies in the same groundless, storyless manner. In the case of trauma, we must allow ourselves to encounter what was, as it was, without framework, without the story we’ve always told ourselves. Our present self must be able to stand in the full presence of the traumatic event and breathe through it, without shutting down, allowing the full experience to be admitted, our personal docudrama acceptable for what it truly is. Our knowing mind leads us to full healing as the old myths fall away, no longer needed to hold us together. In the presence of this knowing mind, the adult present self merges in love with all its formerly splintered truths. We evolve into beings no longer needing two minds. We emerge as journeyers of one true mind, fully equipped for the adventure, without the weight of story.

Is that not Buddha beneath the bodhi tree at the moment of enlightenment—a being with full awareness without story—launched? Is that not the Shaman on the precipice of the definitive journey into infinity—a fully recapitulated being without attachment to story, a being with continuity and full awareness, perched for flight? Is that not like President Obama turning back to look out over the crowds at his inauguration, taking in the truth of a sight he will never experience again? Standing in his own truth, while others stream past him as if he were not even there, he releases that story and, having completed his backward glance of recapitulation, turns to face the future.

We all have the opportunity to face the truths of our two minds, to release our stories and stand in the truth of what is. Traumatized or not, it’s time to heal in a new way.

Recapitulating without story,