Tag Archives: two minds

Chuck’s Place: Spirit is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Spirit in the flow of everyday change…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Every being upon this planet is exposed to the identical pressure of Earth in radical transition. The term transition highlights the growth potential that accompanies the obvious destructive side effects of these far reaching changes.

This pressure, or egalitarian touch of the Spirit, offers all beings an opportunity to evolve. How we interpret this pressure will determine how we respond to this opportunity, which is presented equally to all.

As individual humans we are beings of two minds, the mind of everyday life and the mind of the Spirit. The everyday mind is largely of extrinsic origin, being the product of  the internalized forces of socialization. Though experienced as deeply personal, this is the judging mind of the internal dialogue that tells us who we are and what is what, according to our deeply internalized party line.

The fixation of everyone’s everyday mind is an overarching concern about the self, or by extension, me and mine. That mind interprets the world through the narrow narcissistic lens of being offended, or validated, by all the actions of others, or simply by the world-at-large.  At present, the world is being treated to a mighty reflection of this everyday mind, as mirrored by world leadership.

As the Earth proceeds along her mighty path of transformation, it becomes increasingly obvious that the dominance of the everyday mind is headed for extinction, at least in its current form. How can this self-serving approach to reality possibly survive the absolute necessity of a more comprehensive concern for the survival of the entire planet?

The mind of the Spirit is directly linked to the deeper truth of Earth’s profound transformation. However, this knowing of the Spirit is largely veiled by the mind of everyday life, with its fixation of total energy and attention placed upon its self-centered, worrisome, everyday concerns. From its perspective, my survival, regardless of altruistic verbiage and activity, is as far as it can really see.

The mind of Spirit speaks softly but honestly beneath the dense layers of the everyday mind. Shocks in the everyday flow of life, such as the tragic untimely death of Kobe Bryant, offer glimpses of Spirit.  The far greater outer calamities of the Earth are also messengers of Spirit, inviting a wider audience to hear its truths, as evidenced in the current coronavirus.

Fascinating to watch how quickly the everyday mind restores itself following its rupture by knocks of the Spirit. In Piaget’s nomenclature, assimilation that refuses to accommodate the greater truth is not real adaptation. At best, it’s a temporary sand fortress, soon to be dissolved by the next wave.

Finally, Spirit offers the highest form of adventure. To ride honestly, with knowledge of our transience, and being respectful of our temporary home, while we simultaneously thoroughly take the journey of preparation for the next leap in our journey, is the true path of heart.

This is the call of our Spirit now, our true evolutionary destiny. And Spirit is an equal opportunity employer. All who turn to it in earnest are immediately hired, on a true mission from the Universe.



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: 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,