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It’s especially important during times like these, when emotions are running high and fingers are pointing in all directions, when everyone is desperately trying to make sense of a world that is clearly going insane, that we practice meditation. We must find that clear space in the midst of the chaos and take refuge within it. Only then will we be able to think clearly and not be carried away by mass hysteria.

Take a moment and consider the following: Most of the time, the thoughts we think are not our own. We merely re-think thoughts that have been around for thousands of years. Our brains have evolved around them, not for our survival, but so the thoughts themselves can survive. Because for the mind, consistency is more important than truth.

Our collective thoughts are a trap of our own devising — a box outside of which it is nearly impossible to think. Believing that you can think your way out of the trap (implied in the statement “you create your own reality”) is simply more of the trap.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.” –Albert Einstein

There is a way out, but it does not involve thinking. The trap is made of thoughts. Thoughts are the only way that the trap can keep itself intact. It is only by not thinking that the trap can be transcended.

But do not equate having thoughts with awareness. They are not the same. In fact, it is very difficult to think thoughts and be aware at the same time. Only a quiet mind can become fully aware. Once the mind is aware, the trap becomes obvious for what it is — limited and small.

The thoughts that make up the collective trap (the box the mind has created for itself) are logically consistent, but truth cannot be discerned by logic alone. Just because the thoughts that make up the trap are logical doesn’t make them true. Any premise, true or false, can be carried to a logical conclusion.

The mind is not the problem. A good mind serves awareness. But a mind held captive by its own thoughts can only impede awareness.

Throughout time, mystics have taught three methods for escaping the trap:

  • Concentration
  • Meditation
  • Contemplation

Concentration is mastering mental focus. It is the ability to think about one thing at a time, the ability to control your attention, to keep it where you want it to be.

Meditation is the intentional cessation of thought for the sake of enhancing awareness. It is the ability to be aware of both inner and outer states of being.

Contemplation is the ability to be aware and to have thoughts at the same time. It cannot be achieved without having first mastered concentration and meditation. Contemplation can only be achieved “outside of the box.” Merely thinking within the constraints of the pre-fabricated thoughts of the collective mind will only yield more of what is already there. Only through contemplation can anything new be revealed.

If quieting your mind is difficult, practice concentration.

Your mind is your most valuable asset. Take care of it. Don’t let others tell you what to think. Do your own thinking. But you can only think — I mean really think — if you can first not think. Only an aware mind can think its own thoughts. Be aware. Be awake.

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Michael Maciel
Michael Maciel is the author of the website The Mystical Christ (mysticalchrist.org) and two books on contemporary Christian mysticism--The Five Vows and World Priest. Michael lives and writes in Redwood City, California. Contact Michael at michaelmaciel@me.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Very nice article Michael. Especially on a topic that is in it’s simplicity, is more complicated of a topic/subject/energy that virtually anyone really recognizes or is able to understand.

    The topic of “thought is to think, think is to choose, choose is to learn”, which leads us right back to the “thought”. From this little statement the universe is still expanding.

    Contemplate all the directions possible from just 1 thought! That will keep you thinking!

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