Want Your Mind to Cooperate? Stop Trying to Discipline It.

In a culture which is obsessed with disciplining, controlling and manipulating the mind in a number of ways, this may seem like a very counterintuitive idea.

We are under the common assumption that the only thing that holds ourselves together from insanity, purposelessness or evil is the very rigid discipline that we assign to it.

Despite the popular rhetoric, the mind isn’t your enemy. Nor is it your saviour. What you call ‘your mind’, when examined closely and honestly, is nothing more than a stream of thoughts that arise and disappear in awareness.

Loose language use and a lack of investigation has resulted in many of us believing that there are multiple selves inside there. We believe one rhetoric to be our genuine self. We believe another set of thoughts to be a ‘weak’ version of ourselves, and so on…

But when we try to discipline the mind as we’re so often told: Who is trying to control what? Who is trying to discipline who?

We think it is “us” that is disciplining the mind. We believe “us” to be a mixture of willful and involuntary thoughts, and “the mind” to be any subset of involuntary thoughts.

When we look closer, we realise it is thoughts trying to discipline thoughts. The mind trying to control the mind. The ego trying to kill the ego. All the while, our actual self is the background which sees all of the commotion.

After all, are you not there to witness a peaceful mind as well as a conflicted mind? Are you not in there when the mind is playing ball as well as when it is acting up?

As is always the case with our ‘personal’ problems, we confuse ourselves with our mind and whatever it says.

As Ramana Maharshi once said:

“To ask the mind to kill itself is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained.”

The mind trying to discipline the mind.The mind scorning the mind. Thoughts trying to get rid of thoughts. Thoughts judging the involuntary arising of other thoughts. Who stays in charge? What grows in power? Can you relate to this process?

After many years of life, failure to see this process in action makes every day require extreme discipline. Without investigating not just the content of our mind but the actual nature of it, we can spend a lifetime wondering why trying to coerce the mind is such a struggle, and one that seemingly needs to be done daily.

All without realising that so-called “disciplining the mind” is nothing but thoughts becoming more dominant over your life. And not just positive or negative thoughts: any and all thoughts.

The mind naturally falls into place as soon as we stop trying to interact or meddle with it. It is not peace of mind we should aim for, but rather peace from mind. A little known secret is that once you leave it alone, it leaves you alone.

Life then doesn’t fall apart as we like to believe. The mind becomes a tool that can be used sparingly when needed, rather than a complete dictator in our lives.