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Waking up to Wisdom
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What You Have Given Your Mind to Do

--by Michael Singer (Aug 03, 2009)


If you mistreat an animal, it becomes afraid. This is what has happened to your psyche. You have mistreated it by giving it a responsibility that is incomprehensible. Just stop for a moment and see what you have given your mind to do. You said to your mind, “I want everyone to like me. I don’t want anyone to speak badly of me. I want everything I say and do to be pleasing and acceptable to everyone. I don’t want anyone to hurt me. I don’t want anything to happen that I don’t like. And I want everything to happen that I do like.” Then you said, “Now mind, go figure out how to make everyone of these things a reality, even if you have to think about it day and night." And of course your mind says, “I’m on the job. I will work on i constantly." [...]

By watching your mind, you will notice that it is engaged in the process of trying to make everything okay. Consciously remember that this is not what you want to do, and then gently disengage it. Do not fight it. Do not ever fight your mind. You will never win. It will either beat you now, or you will suppress it and it will come back and beat you later. Instead of fighting the mind, just don’t participate in it. When you see the mind telling you how to fix the world and everyone in it in order to suit yourself, just don’t listen.

The key is to be quiet. It’s not that your mind has to be quiet. You be quiet. You, the one inside watching the neurotic mind, just relax. You will then naturally fall behind the mind because you have always been there. You are not the thinking mind; you are aware of the thinking mind. [...]

Just keep doing this with all those little things that come up each day. It is a very private thing you do inside yourself. You will soon see that your mind is driving you crazy over nothing. If you don’t want to be like that, then stop putting energy into your psyche. That is all there is to it. If you follow this path, the only action you ever take is to relax and release. When you start to see this stuff going on inside, you just relax your shoulders, relax your heart and fall back behind it. Do not touch it. Do not get involved in it. And do not try to stop it. Simply be aware that you are seeing it. That’s how you get out. You just let it go.

--Michael Singer, from "The Untethered Soul"


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18 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jul 11, 2012 Manish shah wrote:
 Thank you very much.Just happened to chance upon this article.......and what a change it has brought about in me.......just practicing it for4 days!!!!!!!!! Thank you god once again for guiding me to this page. How do I stay in touch with the author?

On Sep 7, 2009 Govind wrote:

Very Good Article. Keep it up bro. A good mind opener too :-)



On Aug 10, 2009 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I love you all... After reading the passage and listening to some of our siblings in the sharing circle, these thoughts/feelings came through me. I'd love to share with you 3 points: 1. A recycled radical thought. 2. A message from the Buddha. 3. A personal story about the importance to not focus on the "what", but in the process, the "how". 1. A recycled radical thought. Being In Receptive Silence (BIRS) is a radical political move for it involves a deliberate change in the human heart. There are many ways one can practice BIRS. The one that has worked better for me is meditation (particularly, the Vipassana technique) but one can also practice silent prayers or contemplation of Nature.   2. A message from the Buddha. Once the Buddha said: "More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does a greater harm. More than your mother, more than your father, more than all your famil  See full.

My family calls me Pancho and I love you all...

After reading the passage and listening to some of our siblings in the sharing circle, these thoughts/feelings came through me. I'd love to share with you 3 points:

1. A recycled radical thought.
2. A message from the Buddha.
3. A personal story about the importance to not focus on the "what", but in the process, the "how"
.


1. A recycled radical thought.

Being In Receptive Silence (BIRS) is a radical political move for it involves a deliberate change in the human heart. There are many ways one can practice BIRS. The one that has worked better for me is meditation (particularly, the Vipassana technique) but one can also practice silent prayers or contemplation of Nature.
 

2. A message from the Buddha.

Once the Buddha said: "More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does a greater harm. More than your mother, more than your father, more than all your family, a well disciplined mind does greater good." That is, there is nothing worse than an uncontrolled mind and there is nothing better than a disciplined, well trained mind. And that's what we are doing here on Wednesdays [and hopefully the rest of the week!], we are training our minds.

3. A story about the "how" not the "what".

Lately, I've been very excited about the idea to start a Shanti Sena (a Peace Army) in the Bay Area. So, I contacted a brother who has being a key witness, for many years, in many of the shanti sena-like stories in East Los Angeles in the 1990s and other parts of the World. I called him to learn more about these inspiring actions. I introduce myself and he greeted me with wonderful news: he just became a father the previous week and he wanted to give full attention to his newborn for the next couple of months. That meant no Shanti Sena talk for today, or any time soon. I was very happy to know that a new soul was brought to this World in such a peaceful environment, and for a fraction of a second, my learning-in-process mind jumped and said: "but what about the stories?". I swiftly recovered from that self-centered idea, and I decided to drop the purpose of the call and to focus on connecting with the new dad. That is, I remembered that our means are our ends, and that the "how" is more important than the "what".

Not only we spoke for 30 minutes or so, not only he shared the beautiful name of his daughter Leah Toyomi -sp?- (that means "full of beauty" in Japaneese), not only he shared intimate painful chapters of his wife's mother story (a Hibakusha = a Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivor), not only this kind brother asked me about my story, not only he shared 3 touching moving stories of brave women stepping up for their communities, not only he asked me to send him an email with the first/fresh ideas of the peace team, not only that... he was totally present with me, and without letting me know, he paused his dinner (fro 30 minutes!) to talk with me. That's right, this man pushed his compassion button for me and gave me one of the best gifts a father (or any human being!) can give: "attentive presence" (another name for "alert stillness").

That connection we made at the SOULlular level was only possible because we focused not in the "what" but in the "how". Hopefully, with a bit of more training, that is more BIRS, my mind won't have that fraction-of-a-second distraction and next time I'll be more sensitive to ask my siblings if it is meal time. I know Ken is on his way to become a remarkable father.

May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.

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On Aug 8, 2009 rashmi wrote:

these thoughts are so much like you want to be but so far off from what you are. It will take a lot of effort. \does it workl for ordinary mortals or does it work for me as well. whatever i want it to work for me



On Aug 8, 2009 pappu wrote:

Beautiful article! I read and read and read......



On Aug 7, 2009 Nontobeko M wrote:

thank you for this message. it has realy picked up my self esteem. 



On Aug 6, 2009 Somik Raha wrote:

I liked this thought very much. While it is a powerful guide to meditation, there is something important that precedes it - compassion. If I get angry at myself for falling asleep while meditating, then I might give up as someone not fit for it, and lose the opportunity to develop a good understanding of how my mind works. Therefore, compassion precedes understanding. However, when I understand that my mind is not me, and that it will do its own thing, my compassion for myself (and others) increases exponentially. Compassion is somewhat like solar energy - we need a significant initial investment, after which it more than pays for itself. I had an opportunity this week to "push the compassion button." A friend had come down after a long time and we weren't really connecting. I found the friend distracted and not interested in my responses to his questions. After a while, I noticed my mind starting to get annoyed, and that was a good time to push the compassion button. My fri  See full.

I liked this thought very much. While it is a powerful guide to meditation, there is something important that precedes it - compassion. If I get angry at myself for falling asleep while meditating, then I might give up as someone not fit for it, and lose the opportunity to develop a good understanding of how my mind works. Therefore, compassion precedes understanding. However, when I understand that my mind is not me, and that it will do its own thing, my compassion for myself (and others) increases exponentially. Compassion is somewhat like solar energy - we need a significant initial investment, after which it more than pays for itself.

I had an opportunity this week to "push the compassion button." A friend had come down after a long time and we weren't really connecting. I found the friend distracted and not interested in my responses to his questions. After a while, I noticed my mind starting to get annoyed, and that was a good time to push the compassion button. My friend kept talking as I beamed joy and kindness. And suddenly, the understanding was right there, like the veil had just dropped from my eyes. My friend had the worst conversation of the year with his boss, and it didn't go the way he'd hoped. I could feel the pain he was feeling and that doubled my compassion, and made me determined to create more space. Instead of talking, I listened, and only replied when he asked questions. The result was downright crazy - he resolved all of his problems in his own mind, and came down to a single question - he was working two jobs, one of which he really liked, but that was the one he was doing for free. The people in this place loved him, but didn't have the budget to hire him.

I don't know why, but I found myself saying the following, "You are like the flower - it has fragrance to give, whether or not there is someone to smell. Well, then, why don't you offer your services as a gift to the place you like, regardless of whether they pay you. And tell them that they are not obligated to you. You can work a couple more months like this, and if nothing changes on their part, you will simply move on, but until then, you will do what you love."

He loved the idea and decided then and there to follow this path. At my end, I found it fascinating that the conversation had begun with me thinking something was wrong with him, and by the end of it, I was clear that the issues were in my mind and I wasn't creating enough space. The "compassion button" is a powerful tool that helps facilitate the observations that Singer talks about.

 

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On Aug 6, 2009 faridaty wrote:

recently I have began receiving a course about reflective pratice. this required in my new job of inspection. io was afraid in the beginning . i thought I did not know anything. and I triecd to identify whose fault it is : was it my university teachers' of the 80s??!!; was it my previous inspector's? is it my present teacher's?!

but afterwards I I  had the courage to face myself. my previous career was based on reflective practice. I WAS PRACTISING RP WITHOUT BEING AWARE OF THAT!!! so what was wrong with me that made me unable to know that I knew? I must find the answer before going on with this course.

the questions :

what was wrong



On Aug 6, 2009 Susan Bradley wrote:

Driving to the weekly gathering there was traffic which would cause me to arrive late and my mind was so full - the events of the day and week were pressing on my mind.  All week I reflected on the inspirational reading and on how busy my mind is mothering two teenage girls, with my work, with my family and with all that I desire in my life.  I have a full, busy, active mind!  I arrived to our wonderfully quiet gathering space, to the warm smell of incense and the meditation had already begun; I'd missed the symbolic ringing of the bell. I peeked around the corner in to the mediation area and found an available cushion on the floor, sat, began to take comfortable breaths and to settle in next to my neighbors. But my mind would not quiet.  I continued to have thoughts of the day, of the week, of relationships.  I began to think of "love".  My mind continued to be active and loud and I giggled as I "thought" so much. Just then  See full.

Driving to the weekly gathering there was traffic which would cause me to arrive late and my mind was so full - the events of the day and week were pressing on my mind.  All week I reflected on the inspirational reading and on how busy my mind is mothering two teenage girls, with my work, with my family and with all that I desire in my life.  I have a full, busy, active mind! 

I arrived to our wonderfully quiet gathering space, to the warm smell of incense and the meditation had already begun; I'd missed the symbolic ringing of the bell. I peeked around the corner in to the mediation area and found an available cushion on the floor, sat, began to take comfortable breaths and to settle in next to my neighbors.

But my mind would not quiet. 

I continued to have thoughts of the day, of the week, of relationships.  I began to think of "love".  My mind continued to be active and loud and I giggled as I "thought" so much. Just then a very cold blast of air hit the small of my back!  My cushion sat right in front of the vent in the room!  I giggled loudly inside and felt like a child in church who just could not settle down!

I realized I'm new at this mediation that I need to learn the fundamentals, but where to begin.  I realized the difficult relationships just required my love; but how to love these difficult people?  

Then the ringing of the bell signaling the end of our hour of “quiet” and our evening guides read the weekly inspiration aloud and our sharing began.  In this moment as I sat and listened, I felt that God is great, the Universe is great and that I am given everything I ask for and need… and, all my questions during my "quiet" time were answered!

How can I love these difficult people? Compassion and understanding, my compassion and understanding of them!  And the icing on the cake, another reminded me to accept people where they're at in that moment, be present with them, compassionate and understanding of them. 

How to meditate?  Nudged by the sharing of another, Michael Singer's writing of the weekly inspiration just so happens to be a simple instruction on how to meditate!  Ohmygoodness, answers!

It is the whole of this experience, the daily reflection on the inspirational reading, the gathering with community in quiet meditation, the sharing of individual thoughts; I can learn, with practice, to find quiet and step back from my beautiful active mind. This is my gift from God and the Universe – a new found community in the generosity of a family opening their hearts & home and preparing space & nourishment for me.

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On Aug 5, 2009 patsy wrote:

GREAT reading! This really got through to me today. Thank you very much. I'm sure the concept of detaching yourself from your mind would strike most people here in the US as illogical - we are what we think -no? Well, no. We are what we are. Our concious thoughts are a part of us, also our physical sensations, our emotional uprisings and then that separate something that gets carried from one life to the next. After reading this I immediately flashed on the whole driving home and not remembering the trip thing. My mind is obviously still controlling my body to drive where I want to go, but I have detached. In my dreams I am sometimes living the story as myself, sometimes living the story as someone else, and sometimes watching the story from a detached place. All this helps to bring this home for me. The next time I find myself walking along, playing out a conversation or interaction in my head as a way of controlling my world, I will try to remember to just detach. Just l  See full.

GREAT reading! This really got through to me today. Thank you very much.

I'm sure the concept of detaching yourself from your mind would strike most people here in the US as illogical - we are what we think -no? Well, no. We are what we are. Our concious thoughts are a part of us, also our physical sensations, our emotional uprisings and then that separate something that gets carried from one life to the next.

After reading this I immediately flashed on the whole driving home and not remembering the trip thing. My mind is obviously still controlling my body to drive where I want to go, but I have detached. In my dreams I am sometimes living the story as myself, sometimes living the story as someone else, and sometimes watching the story from a detached place. All this helps to bring this home for me.

The next time I find myself walking along, playing out a conversation or interaction in my head as a way of controlling my world, I will try to remember to just detach. Just let it go. My only obligation is to breath, yes?

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On Aug 5, 2009 Sethi wrote:

Thank you for the powerful sharing . Something for me to quietly reflect upon , implement in my life and move on .



On Aug 4, 2009 Nomvula. wrote:

This messages encourages me alot! I like reading them everymorning after i pray.

I hope somday i will get to also encourage the people who wrote here.



On Aug 4, 2009 simple wrote:
  1. i learn to move on n my past
  2. i lerned 2 stand up 4 wat i believe 4
  3. i should not take advantage easily


On Aug 4, 2009 Nirali Shah wrote:

This is one of the most powerful 'Thought of the Week' I have received from your team. Thank you. May the infinite grace bless you always. Love/N



On Aug 4, 2009 ellie wrote:

its sounds goods more so to some vone like me who has suffered much ..i hqave decided to give it a try and see the outcome .



On Aug 4, 2009 Caz wrote:

I had just finished writing an email to a friend questioning whether I had upset him in some way - just once again my way of needing approval from everyone I come into contact with. Then as amazing as the universe is this profound reading pops up. It is truly enlightening for me and something for me to work on. I do not take time for myself never mind time for my soul to look and figure out what it wants and where it wants to go, even though I have been through alot and should know better. Thank you for this sharing thank you for this profound message and WOW miracle moment in my day. From Survival in Wales



On Aug 3, 2009 Liz, iJourney Audio Editor wrote:

My thoughts get me into the most trouble.  It is this work, to refine my thoughts that has helped to refine my purpose in this world.  I am aware that I have to make a conscious choice about which thoughts I participate in and which I disengage from.  A rabbi once used a great analogy of computer pop-ups.  He said just like those inappropriate or deviant pop-ups that come across our computer screens, it is the same with the thoughts in our minds.  We can click on the pop-up and then go to that site and become immersed with that negative material -- sometimes we can't even get out!  Or, we can just push the delete key.  When those "pop-ups" come in to my mind, I have to choose to delete. Not go there.  Let it go.  This takes practice and I'm getting better at it.  I am much happier and less exhausted.  Just the awareness alone is such a miracle.



On Aug 3, 2009 Prasad, iJourney Visual Editor wrote:

 There are two ways I mostly operate in life: Driving towards what I want and second, reacting to what happens to me. When I go for something and intentionally put all my energies into getting what I want, there is some excitement, passion and energy behind it. Unfortunately, at the end of the process — whether I achieve my goal or not — I experience a down cycle. On the other hand, when I react to what happens to me — both during my reaction and at the end of it, I am unhappy. Over time, my mind has taken over and plays games and I found both trying to control it or reacting to external circumstances does not give me sustainable happiness.  Over time, just like the passage mentioned, I found a third way. doing things without any attachment to end results allowing things to happen and not react. While these two choices look very similar to my two drives, they are different in one subtle but important way. I am not attached to both and do what is appropriate  See full.

 There are two ways I mostly operate in life: Driving towards what I want and second, reacting to what happens to me. When I go for something and intentionally put all my energies into getting what I want, there is some excitement, passion and energy behind it. Unfortunately, at the end of the process — whether I achieve my goal or not — I experience a down cycle. On the other hand, when I react to what happens to me — both during my reaction and at the end of it, I am unhappy. Over time, my mind has taken over and plays games and I found both trying to control it or reacting to external circumstances does not give me sustainable happiness. 
Over time, just like the passage mentioned, I found a third way. doing things without any attachment to end results allowing things to happen and not react. While these two choices look very similar to my two drives, they are different in one subtle but important way. I am not attached to both and do what is appropriate in the moment and not carry either intentionality or reactivity with me. Whenever I am able to be ‘mindful’ and stay completely in the moment, whatever results showed up gave me much more happiness than my two drives.
The key still is to being with my mind — not controlling it, not giving up on it, not reacting to it nor getting caught up with it. It is just observing it, allowing it, that allows me in a paradoxical way to find peace with my mind and myself...

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