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Life with an Open Mind
From Open Ajar to Wide Open
To have an open mind means to be detached from it and so to allow it to serve as it's instructed. Someone said: "Mind is an obedient servant - but a cruel master". Let us put it this way: it's all about how high this conscious observer is on the scale of the inner hierarchy of our mental forces that makes the whole difference.
It is this cultivated ability to divide attention between perceiving the outer reality and monitoring our responses to it. However, above all it is about being able to consciously choose our mindset with its thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and beliefs, while not staying fixated on any.
What Do We Call "Mind"?
However, what is "mind" in the first place? We are using the word all the time quite loosely, but the chances are that our definitions are not entirely agreeing with each other. So, let me give you my definition of it so that we are clear about what I am talking about in this article.
It's the sum total of all information available to us from our inner resources - whether it comes from acquired knowledge, skills, learned behavior, or our selective and unique patterns of perceiving factual reality.
We might as well ask ourselves: "Who in us is choosing our next thought? How did it get there?" Well, for the most part, our thoughts are automatic results of our interpreting the current situation by associating it with similar experiences from our past.
They follow each other in a single file in form of an inner chat, each trying to get our attention. When they get it, they can be said to dominate in the way that we are likely to respond to our situation - meaning emotions attached to them and attitudes.
Self-Deceived about Their "Free Will"
One of the most significant facts to be mentioned is that our mind is a part of our automatic nature and it's enjoying its autonomy - as long as we allow it to replace our conscious choices. In other words, when we don't choose our experiencing and our behavior, it will do it for us.
So we can't go wrong by calling our mind "automatic pilot". Let's face it, folks, the great majority of the mankind spend their entire life switched to their automatic pilot, while completely identifying themselves with it. That's what I am calling "closed mind".
Without them noticing it, situations are triggering a garden variety of "life roles" in them which present complete programs, so they are totally oblivious how their whole life is being run by a "life script" composed of exchange among those well played-in roles.
In that respect, we could freely say that they are not living their lives - it's "happening to them". Identified with their automatic pilot they may even deceive themselves how they are "choosing out of free will" - not realizing that their will is at service of that automatic pilot in them.
From those most ordinary folks to some very educated you may hear how they rationalize their emotions and attitudes as "theirs", whereas practically all of it is a carbon copy of their role models, parents, their religious idol, or - generally "someone else".
Religiousness Is Not Ego-Free
When it's about ego, somewhat similar examples we could find among religious folks. Possibly not all of them, but most of them. Their ego is brainwashed into strong religious convictions about a deity, evil, sin, and the whole package. Why am I calling religiousness a part of ego? Simply because it contains strategies for living - especially because they are including an afterlife.
It's a close-minded belief system that doesn't leave anything for re-examination or questioning, which makes it qualified for a typical recipe for survival. Of course they all prefer seeing it something more dignifying than that, and without contradicting myself I can say that they are right.
Namely, beliefs are what we make of them, they don't insist on accuracy, and it's all right for people to believe whatever they please. If that was not so then there wouldn't be so many religions, but the whole world would be forced to believe in the same facts, same evidence, same logic.
Ego doesn't belong to the terminology of religion but psychology. For religious folks to deny it would be the same as to deny facts about anatomy. So here I am saying it again - on the level of human mentality religiousness is in the domain of ego.
To further support this point, I'd like to remind you how much time they spend appeasing their ego with competitiveness, judgmental attitude, playing a patronizing role, being normative, and even emotionally prone to flare-ups of intolerance and condemning those who dare to believe differently.
Ego - Director of Our Drama Called Life
In charge of this automatic pilot is none other but our precious ego. Again, for sake of agreeing upon what we shall call "ego", here is my short definition. It's our social self-image composed of strategies of psycho-physical survival in the herd, pardon - society.
It's what we "believe" about ourselves to be true and what strategies and behaviors are necessary to protect that "truth" - meaning pride, confidence, show-off, greed, and sometimes arrogance, even violence.
Ego loves its labels, those that we intimately and publicly call ourselves - whether an American, democrat, republican, patriot, Christian, Moslem; also a father, a spouse, a professional of any sort. These labels, when passionately carried around may parade as our very reason for living.
So, ego is that decision maker in all our behaviors and interpretations of what's going on in our world, dictating to our automatic pilot what memories, thoughts, emotions and attitudes to apply. It's our guide in life - as long as we agree to be pushed around by a bunch of never questioned, never challenged rules, some of them stemming from our childhoods.
Intelligence May Not Be a Sign of an Open Mind after All
As I was thinking about all this, at first it came to me as a little shock when it dawned on me that intelligence does not necessarily mean an advantage, while it's basically catering to the real decision maker in our mental hierarchy.
Meaning that it could equally be in service of our highly spirited consciousness, or our automatic pilot, which may include those animalistic urges of greed, territoriality, arrogance, all the way to a mentality of a psychopath. After all, Napoleon was quite intelligent, and so are some of the current world leaders posing the global threat to peace.
Also, we could talk about a garden variety of highly educated academics whole egos are messing up their marriages, relations with their kids, and even giving a character to their role in the academic community. That's why we have to make this distinct difference between someone being intelligent, or even a genius - and who in them is using it.
Now, what happens when we open our mind after having cultivated our conscious awareness to stay on the top of our experiencing life? Do we forget any of those many things that we normally do automatically? Do we have to drive our cars consciously again, like when we first were learning that skill? Of course not.
It's only that now we can amplify those experiences that we like, and quiet down or remove those that are making no sense - usually stemming from our knee-jerk negative responding to life. We gain an enormous sense of inner freedom to think out of the box, to examine our beliefs and update them, not stuck or fixated on anything that intuitively doesn't belong to our chosen mind style or life style.
Open Mind Leaves Past Behind
Once we reach that level of open-mindedness, we qualify to call ourselves "spiritual". Life stops just "happening to us", we feel in charge and responsible for every aspect of our intimate reality. Also, we give our past a right place in the new dynamics of computing our experiences - as it stops having a grip over our emotionality.
Nothing in the past is any longer dictating our present model of being, as we are letting it stay back there in time where it belongs. It's an enormous step forward in personal evolving, this realization that our former layers of development are not really "ourselves" enough as to give us a counsel, and their level of emoting doesn't deserve to be our valid response to life.
My teenage memories may be dear to me, but that teenager has no say in how I choose to see my present reality. The same goes for the times going even further back to my childhood. That's where Freud stops making sense, as our awakened spirituality with an open mind means our detachment from those formative years. To give them any significance in who I am today would be the same like giving my toilet training any significance in my self-identification.
Those Who Inspire with Their Open Minds
Why do we call certain individuals "highly spirited"? Because their spirit glows through everything they are, they stand for, and they do.
We can sense their conscious intent, their choice to put some sense into every moment of their life, instead of merely being like unconscious reactive automatons. And we know they have no interest, no emotional payoffs to judge us, but to help us open our own valve of happiness, love, peace, and harmony.
I hope this article succeeds to provide some inspiration to anyone with a mind open ajar and whose heart wants it to be wide open.