THE TRIBE OF THE CLEAR MIND
Updated: Dec 5, 2022
One of my most important conclusions, I feel - after a lifetime of devotion to the path of self knowledge and the exploration of the nature of reality - is that we need clear minds.
I know people say we need to "come down from the mind to the heart". I know what they mean and, generally speaking - I say the same. But that doesn´t mean we reject the mind. I believe we need clear minds because: what our minds believe conditions how we feel, and how we act. For example...
If I believe you are going to suffer excruciatingly in hell, forever, because you haven´t accepted Jesus into your heart - then I might feel fear for you, or feel compassion towards you, and I might attempt to restrain your unchristian habits. Or if I believe there is no meaning in the universe, only a bitter and vicious competition for dominance and self-glorification - then I might feel contempt for your sentimental and romantic moral notions, and pride in my own courage to face the pain of the empty truth, and I might feel no hesitation in trampling you underfoot.
Even the way we express our love is conditioned by what we believe. As a fundamentalist Christian, I might crush (what I consider to be) my child´s deviant sexuality - because of the love I feel for them. I might, genuinely, in my innermost heart, love my child. Yet being mentally convinced of the torment that awaits a lesbian or homosexual in hell - while feeling (quite literally) my chest aching as it overflows with love - I might take actions to curb my child´s instincts in ways that others would consider violent and hateful.
Or again, as a survival-of-the-fittest atheist for whom it is self-evident that those who rise and succeed and rule are amoral, above the moral codes of cowards - the lion-like, the tiger-like who do not flinch when called upon to tear others apart - I might crush my child´s tendency to gentleness, or inclination towards fairness, or spiritual curiosity - because of the love I feel for them. Utterly certain that these (what I consider to be) weaknesses will guarantee my beloved child is used and abused by those more realistic, braver and more ready to lie, exploit and commit atrocities then them - and wanting nothing more than to protect my child; my eyes burning with tears of love - I might whip and beat and punish my child, for their own good, over and again, for years, until they toughen up.
You get my point. There is no emotion, and no action, that is not affected by our underlying beliefs. However, in my opinion, both the fundamentalist Christian and the fundamentalist Survivalist/Atheist are examples of people with unclear minds - their clouded, disturbed minds resulting in clouded, disturbed behaviours.
How can I say that? How can I discriminate clear minds from clouded minds? By what criterion? What do I even mean by a ´clear´ mind?
A CLEAR MIND
My criterion is honesty. A clear mind is an honest mind. A clouded mind is a dishonest mind. And both the Christian and Survivalist/Atheist minds are dishonest. Why? Because they both assume to know the Absolute Truth about Existence. One says it´s the Christian God, who sent his only son to save us, and so on. The other says that reality is matter, and all meaning imposed due to our fear of facing the facts.
But if we pause to acknowledge that all we ever experience is our own experience - that (although, of course, we CAN connect with others) nevertheless, we all inhabit our own unique realities - in other words, if we pause to think honestly - then we are not so quick to make a claim to absolute, objective, universal knowledge. In fact, we immediately see that any claim to Absolute Knowing - whether Christian, Survivalist/Atheist or Anything Else - is thoroughly dishonest. "How could anyone make such a claim?" we ask ourselves, "How can a finite, subjective being make a claim to infinite objectivity?"
A clear mind is an honest mind. It is also a humble mind. It is an innocent mind. It is a mind that looks freshly - that can observe and assess without preconceptions. It is the mind we see through when we are not blinkered or encumbered by unresolved psychological issues. It is a scientific mind, in the purest sense of the word. And it is a mystical mind, because it is a mind that is free.
What does such a mind believe?
It observes the spectacle of the stars, the elements, the seasons, the species, the generations, the atom - and concludes:
(1) That we are an integral, inseparable Part of Existence, and yet
(2) That Existence is undefinable - a Mystery. That we do not know The Absolute Truth about Existence because of the fact
(3) That we all live within our own, unique Subjective Experience, and therefore, finally,
(4) That we are All Existential Equals.
In my opinion, these are not arbitrary beliefs. They are not dogma. They have no motive. They are simple, unpretentious observations. They are clarity....
Are we (1) Part of Existence? Well, obviously! We´re not outside of it!
(2) Can we define Existence, objectively? Obviously not - because we are inside it, and we´d have to be outside of it to be able to see it as an object, and define it objectively.
Are we (3) all within our own Subjective Experience? Obviously! Even if we feel we´re enlightened - we´re still within our own Subjective Experience of enlightenment!
And are we (4), all in the same position - and therefore, in an existential sense, all equals? Obviously!
Again - I believe these are not arbitrary assertions. I believe they are the observations of unobstructed seeing. I believe they are the natural conclusions of a clear mind.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF A CLEAR MIND
And next, let´s ask: if a clouded mind affects our emotions and behaviour in confused and disturbing ways - how do the beliefs of a clear mind influence our emotions, and impact our actions? What happens when our emotions and actions are conditioned by clear beliefs?
In my experience, clear beliefs provoke a sacred, respectful and loving way of being. We come to feel - not only that Existence is a Mystery - but that being part of that Mystery, as we all are - we are all aspects and embodiments of that Mystery. We look upon each other, and - just as we cannot say this-or-that is the Absolute Truth - we cannot pretend to know the absolute truth about each other. We see, feel and act towards each other with a sense of sacred respect.
And because we see ourselves as limited to our own Subjective Experience, we don´t hit each other over the head with pretended Absolute Truths. We say... as I do to you now: that all I have written here is what I have come to believe. That yes - I suspect it is true for all people, at all times, in all places! I do! I suspect it is objectively true! And maybe it is! But maybe it isn´t! I couldn´t say - because I am limited to my own Subjective Experience! All I can say is: this is what I have sensed and felt, and these are the conclusions I have drawn.
I share my unique experience. You share yours. And we see we are all in the same situation. We see we are all confined to our uniqueness. And therefore - we see ourselves in each other. We see our sameness: every one of us an expression of the identical, beautiful. painful, poignant human dilemma. And this results - not in loving family/friend/sexual relationships conditioned by dishonest, conditional beliefs (as in the examples above) - but in a love that has no terms or conditions. That doesn´t mean we don´t ever disagree. Let´s be realistic. But it does mean that we can differ and discuss respectfully - because we know our inalienable, underlying sameness. The clear mind evokes an impersonal love - in other words: when our minds are clear we love everyone!
STAYING CLEAR: EDUCATION AND TRIBE
And one final question: is clarity of mind a fixed state? Have you either got it or not? Does the weather ever vary in the mind of someone committed to clarity? Do clouds pass across a clear mind? Of course they do! Does a usually-clear mind sometimes pretend to know what´s best for others - thus (a) posing as knowing The Will of the Universe, and (b) stepping outside of its own Subjective Experience? Of course it does! And are there a thousand and one stormy, unmet needs in us - which sometimes come between us and the clear seeing of our clear minds? Are we sometimes overshadowed by the desire to dominate, or the need to belong, or the demand for recognition, or the urge for revenge - and so much more? Of course we are! Of course our ´stuff´ fogs our minds. Of course it´s not easy to stay clear!
So what to do? What do we need in order to be able to live with clearer minds? In my opinion: two things: we need education, and we need tribe.
We need to dedicate ourselves to educating ourselves - and I don´t mean intellectually. We need to devote time and attention to educating ourselves in FEELING the conclusions of our mental clarity - in deeply appreciating that we are an integral, inseparable Part of Existence, and that Existence Itself is an undefinable mystery. And we need to spend time FEELING what it means to live within our own Subjective Experience, as equals - alone, together.
Some people meditate, some "enter the zone" doing sports, some use therapy, others work the allotment. Whatever educational path or practice each of us chooses - it´s working if it´s strengthening our capacity to live our clarity of mind. A purely intellectual clarity is quite flimsy - but by FEELING what we feel when we think clearly, the mind matures, and becomes sturdy, and wise.
And secondly, I believe: we need tribe. We need help. Because it´s not easy to stay clear. We´ve been conditioned/programmed full of distorted ideas, and disturbed emotions. We struggle to live in clarity. So we need "tribe" - by which I mean: groups of friends, who are not just friends in the usual, loose sense of the word. We need groups of friends who are our "tribe" because (a) we have a stated, shared understanding of clarity and cloudedness, and (b) because we have agreed to support each other in living in increasing clarity.
As a tribe, we educate ourselves together. As a tribe, we agree to be-there for each other, when any of us needs help. As a tribe we agree to listen when someone feels lost to themselves. And as individuals we agree to listen to the tribe - if ever others feel our behaviour has become disturbing. We form a tribe with friends by uniting around our shared understanding - and then, by living and not-living that understanding, together. Then - over time - if we stay united - and committed to clarity - together: the tribe becomes a beloved, sacred family - bonded deeper than blood.
Mark The Mystic Activist.
Catalunya, September 2022.
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