Oakville Zen Meditation

496 Mind: our conceptual prison March 24th 24

Mind: our conceptual prison

How easy it is for us to be trapped in our conceptual prison called mind, isn’t it?

“ I am right,” says the mind:

The human mind is a wonderful instrument, hungry for thoughts, knowledge, understanding, judging, and controlling, but too often, it will mistake its opinions, viewpoints, and mindset with genuine reality.

We believe our mind is telling us the truth because, being part of us, there is no reason not to trust it. 

We are “day sleepwalkers,” says Zen.

Cognitive, and analytic thinking is critical, however, most of the time, we are “day sleepwalkers” 

since the majority of our thinking is in fictional dreaming worlds. Few examples here:

 1- Our mind is rarely in the present moment where our body is but rather in the past 

 made of regrets, and guilt, and in the future made of anxiety, worries, fears, desires, aversion, and hope. 

 2- Our thoughts/ feelings/ understanding, being often personal and emotional, are not necessarily genuine realities of our interactions. Therefore they are called delusions in Zen teaching.                                         

Being trapped in our conceptual mind is dangerous:

Again, the mind is a wonderful, useful, and powerful tool when analytic, cognitive, and pragmatic thinking is necessary. But it is also dangerous when it takes over your life says Zen. Why that?

If you let your mind control you, you become a prisoner of your virtual conceptual thinking made of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and opinions about a person, an event, or a situation. 

It is called virtual and conceptual thinking because it is, usually, just a personal, emotional, often delusional egotistic biased mindset not necessarily based on strong factual realities surrounding you but rather on “false realities”.

What to do?:

Zen is teaching us not to get trapped in it but rather to try to keep an “open mind” all the time because self-identification with our virtual conceptual, fictional thoughts and feelings is a recipe for ongoing suffering and unhappiness away from serenity, equanimity, and Awakening.

What is Awakening?

Awakening, in its spiritual Zen sense, has 2 meanings:

  1. To wake up away from our thoughts /feelings/mindset when coming from our wandering fictional world, 
  2. and, as a consequence, discover that you are more than just your thinking.

Meditation is a great tool for achieving this skill.

When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of your streaming thoughts and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are. You open the door to equanimity.

Probably, the next step in human evolution will be to transcend thought. 

It does not mean to become stupid, but simply not to be completely identified with our thinking, when such thinking is dominated by virtual, fictional thoughts, feelings, and conceptual mindset.

According to Descartes, critical thinking is important, but being critical about our thinking in quantity and quality is as important, if not, more important.