February 1, 2013: Musings: The Idle Mind as Heaven’s Workshop? Part I
Some people make sharp distinctions sort of between their recreational musings and their professional work. I don’t make that distinction very much. Whitfield Diffie
Kicking a can down the road can be a great way to spend a day. Author
As I’ve written before, the folks I know are busy people—I think kind of borderline dangerous busy. Learning takes downtime, and I mean enough downtime that one is truly invigorated and wanting to work. Good work is an important component of health, but without the appropriate time off, work is nothing more than avoidance of something (yes, if one is only idle, that is also avoidance of something, but I’m talking busy people here).
As I have also written previously, I think the phrase “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop” was coined by the devil in an effort to keep folks from figuring out we’ve duped ourselves and the result can be believing our mental/emotional maps of reality are the same as reality. A map is a representation of a place, not the place itself. It may take an “idle” mind to quit being so busy that it doesn’t have the foggiest notion about the center of consciousness.
What is the center of consciousness? What about the “place” where there’s balance, as in one is not thrown off because objective reality doesn’t go the way we imagined or expected? The center of consciousness is about the best we can do. That is not to say we cannot “land” on a premise or a map of what we think/feel, but we might want to use such a landing as a place to create or play, always checking in with our center if we find ourselves a bit out of control in playing or creating.
What follows are “Walden’s Pond” type of musings I personally think need some behavioral component. But to get from vision to action, sometimes we have to let the vision steep long enough so motivations have strength.
You might ask, “what’s up with this bonehead thinking in symbols and full of reinforcements himself to dare act like he’s onto something? Well, I’m a fellow Purgatorian, not some guru. But that doesn’t mean Purgatorians cannot stumble upon a gem or two. You’re not going to get hurt by reading and you can certainly stop. So, if you’ve all offended, try setting your offense down for a bit. It’ll be there and in the meantime we can go on a bit of an adventure. So, let’s get to kicking the can down the road and who knows, maybe we’ll stumble upon a gem or two.
Speaking of centered: We may be born conflicted, but we can learn to live and die being centered. Having consciousness coalesce into a physical body can feel a bit cramped. That’s likely to be felt as a conflict—think freedom and determinism. Perhaps conflict lets us know we are not yet finely tuned in this existence. However, even the conflicted have a non-conflicted nature, buried like a pea under a plethora of association-mattresses perhaps, but still there. What if we quit reinforcing the uncomfortable-ness and noticed the center of consciousness is always there? If we really want a dynamic balance in our lives, then being familiar with our center would be rather important. How do you find and practice that center? That’s what being off-center is about. Fun, if we can get away from all the dour, self-righteous folks who think being off-center is the devil’s work. Staying off center, maybe, but not being off-center.
Extinction is not the same as extinguish. The former is the process of losing past associations, the latter is to disappear. Letting go of associations, when appropriate, is not the same as physical death. Sometimes it’s the same as spiritual birth. Our associations have a life force, whether they’re traps or openings. Our associations can be very important. Being association-free can be important at times as well. I do not recommend driving that way however. Kicking a can down the road—well okay, as long as there’s no traffic.
Thinking about what could happen and being afraid of what could happen are two different things. There is realistic fear, as in standing on high ground during a lightning storm is a rather bad notion. But many of us spend much of our time dealing with neurotic fear, as in what if nobody loves me or what if I live and die ugly. Put neurotic fear first and you’ll get a cornucopia of it, with no way out, but letting it go. But neurotic fear wants us to believe without it, we’re never going to be well. Pretty funny that.
Innocence comes in at least two varieties: Naïve and intelligent innocence. If growing up means forgetting our sense of wonder and innocence, then I’m not in favor of growing up. If growing up means keeping our sense of wonder and innocence, but losing the naivety, I’m all in favor of growing up. Well, as long as I’m not getting ahead of myself—after all, we’re kicking a can down the road at the moment.
Innocence before guilt is much more than a legal directive—it is also a civil directive. Well, this is assuming the presumption of innocence means being empty of opinions. If the presumption of innocence means we’ve decided who someone is with only a smattering of data, then that sounds like a premature assumption. In any case, I am blown away by how many of us go right for the jugular in our relationships. It’s like the smell of blood is enough to make us lose our right (centered) minds. It’s as though the smell of blood means we’ve won (and what kind of winning is a carcass-trophy?). We might want to re-examine that bit of ancient input.
Being in a state of heightened consciousness and being impatient at the same time are like mixing baking soda and vinegar together. One can certainly come up on all the fear downloads in a variety of contexts. One can be incensed about those downloads and want to throw off the shackles. But feeling like one can fly free does not mean one should climb a mountain and leap off. It may be that there are biological limitations to take into account. That’s why some folks thought about building a flying machine.