I’m bathing in shame, followed by self-loathing and some more shame.
Shame for publicly making a fool of myself (if I believe my reactive mind).
Today, I want to dive deeper into my biggest current source of shame.
And turn my mind inside out.
The Monkey Mind on Social Media
The other day opening my Facebook app, the first thing I read was shocking news about a gang-rape. In the wave of emotions, I shared a post about this which resulted in emotionally loaded comments from friends and from me. The discussion soon slid into a different emotionally charged topic which may have been related, but also may not; about certain religions and cultures possibly supporting or normalizing acts like rape and violence against women.
I was part of that sliding of topics happening.
My current shame comes from:
- judging fellow humans on the basis of hear-say and external influence
- contributing to the aversion, resistance and blaming of groups of people, contributing in the conflict of the mind mirroring out into external conflict, violence and war
- not seeing clearly, just allowing the mind to run free in its monkey business
I see my mind making this connection of gang-rape and culture. It seems to have some truth to it, but also not. There are many other aspects to the problem.
I remember how I used to hold or want to hold the completely different view, staying away from generalizations and judgment of other cultures. At that time, my experiences, and the stories that I heard were not the same. The external world as I perceive it has changed. And I doubt I was less judgmental before, rather more. I probably had less insight into my own shadows.
My mind was just like now, but less consciously, reacting with aversion, judgement, resistance and blaming. A war within.
At that time, my mind hadn’t been exposed to the same ideas as I was part of expressing on Facebook the other day. I see how easily my mind adopts viewpoints. Which is good in some way, I can change my mind. But it makes my mind vulnerable to external influences.
This is not true for everything in my mind though, but certainly for politics and what’s happening in society. The conflicts of society scare me. Looking at the external conflicts makes me feel angry, tired, sad and downhearted.
So I have chosen not to read or listen to news these last 10-something years. The news that reach me come through articles that friends post on Facebook, when I overhear someone listening to the news in the background and from what people close to me telling me about their view of the world.
So my analysis of what’s going on in the world is more based on rumor and the view of the world I’m served from people close to me. Not a wide perspective to hear different viewpoints and make my own analysis.
No better than the rapists
Speaking bluntly: I’m so full of shit. I’ve always been, but not seeing it.
And also, I’m not. Or rather: both.
I guess we all are, maybe that’s the natural ingredients of human beings.
It may look like I’m better than a rapist, because I haven’t raped anyone. But imagine what I would do if I had been exposed to a lot of violence, humiliation, fear or poverty during my life. I guess I could have done the same kind of awful acts. I’m assuming a person don’t use violence against others if you haven’t been a victim of the same kind of violence or taught or forced to be violent. But that assumption may be wrong. I remind myself to question my thoughts.
I’m privileged to have been living in a rather peaceful environment, in more safety, with more love, respect, food and health so my mind is less chaotic and doesn’t create the same violent expressions. That’s my current point of view, but maybe it’s not that way.
Seen from the perspective of the ingredients of a human being, I’m not better than the rapists. We’re both human.
I’m sure we can see this from other perspectives too. The mind may have an infinite number of viewpoints, at least as a collective of human minds. Some thoughts and minds are hard to change and one mind can’t see all of the viewpoints.
Widening our perspectives
Seeing my mind expressing itself like it did the other day on Facebook, I realize the importance of questioning my thoughts.
As a friend of mine it put it: “Is there any other way to see this?”
A more detailed and revealing method where we question our thoughts is “The Work” by Byron Katie.
It uses four questions to question a thought you have about someone else:
- Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Based on the insights of this inquiry, you look for “turnarounds”; different ways to put your original statement, different viewpoints and ways to look at the other person or the situation. Turning your original thought around may change your interpretation of reality in important ways.
Check out the entire process here.
Having the outlook of not believing my thoughts (as in fixed viewpoints) makes me more humble and open to the present moment. It creates more tolerance and less conflict.
Byron Katie puts it beautifully:
“Until you can see the enemy as a friend, your Work is not done. This doesn’t mean that you have to invite your enemy to dinner. Friendship is an internal experience. You may never see the person again, you may even divorce him or her, but as you think about the person, are you feeling stress or peace?”
It’s all MIND
Everything I write is creations of the mind. Judgments.
Every idea of the mind is a viewpoint, not a truth. An attachment, a creation.
All of this is mind, the conflicts and fluctuations of the mind.
The internal conflicts, the shadows of the minds of all of us who are not enlightened. Also the seemingly “positive” aspects of mind create conflict; the wishing, the wanting, the attachment to ideas of how to live, of what’s right and what’s wrong. All of this is mind.
I see how the mind creates suffering for the individual; thinking, feeling and believing her thoughts. And suffering for others when the desperation of the mind, the stress, the trying to break free from oppression, the trying to feel powerful and worthy, makes its way into violence, shaming and oppression of others. The internal war expresses itself externally.
That’s why I find it so important to learn to observe and understand the mind, in order to handle the mind well. To use the mind with as much clarity and consciousness as possible and not let the mind use me.
I still have a lot of work to do, but every step forward is valuable.
Free your mind
So why even write this, why create more of mind? Because I hope I can use my mind as a tool for change. In myself and in the world.
I want to use the mind to free myself from it.
Writing this I remember the lyrics of the En Vogue song:
“Free your mind and the rest will follow
Be color blind, don’t be so shallow”
Beyond the mind
To free myself from the enslavement of the mind, I need to learn to settle it. So the peace beyond the mind can be experienced.
I need to use the mind to go beyond the mind. I need to become more aware of the nature of the mind and the rest of my internal body-mind landscape.
For me, it sure is an alluring thought, to escape the stress and confusion of the monkey mind by going beyond it. But I know it’s not easy, and it’s not comfortable.
And it’s not possible to reach beyond the mind by escaping it. The only way out is through.
What good does that do for the world?
I believe it creates peace. Internal peace creates external peace. That’s why I find yoga such an important practice.
Because I need it.
Because the world needs it.