A Critique of “Stillness of Mind”
I have few friends who teach yoga, and therefor a few friends who always preach it.
Without my consent, my mind usually recoils in horror from
such dogmas, due to a constant suspicion of those who promote their own ideals over the ideals of others. So rather than being led by a leash through
their own brand of spirituality—as they tried through their words to alter my
spirituality—I sought to critique their preachings as any
sovereign mind would do, in perhaps the off-chance that such ideals couldn't stand among my own.
One such cure they offered, as if I was somehow infected by some non-existent disease, was “stillness of mind”, or the release of attachment as
they explained it, where I could exist in a state of peace once my wants and desires melted into a landscape of ever-presence. I couldn’t help but
wonder how the desire to attain such states of bliss were different from any other, or how one can desire to not desire, or how one can attach himself
to non-attachment; but perhaps this is exactly what they meant by “stillness of mind”, that I should leave my rationality at the door, end the
incessant chatter that both affirms and denies, and somehow not to worry about a thing.
There is another such philosophy—likely the most popular philosophy to date—that is similar in such desires. The old principle “ignorance is
which prevails throughout every society—to silence the mind, to not think about it, to not know, to forget—is the key to peace and
joy. It might not be in the best interest of my fellow spiritual seekers to note the comparison between the two principles, but it appears that the
only difference between them is one asserts it is being more spiritual, as it seeks to nonetheless acquire the same ends. In this case, that end is no
longer peace and joy, but ignorance.
There are many methods to still the mind. It appears that the most common method these days is through brute force, usually by inundating the senses
as much as possible through television, video games, social media, alcohol, narcotics, the various religious practices such as praying, chanting,
meditation and the like, and, most notably, a full-frontal lobotomy. It cannot be denied that “peace”, or at least some other
satiation or pacification, is indeed what is found through these avenues. However, I believe we are making a fundamental error by practicing this.
With these methods, thinking for oneself is suppressed, at least until the screen goes black or the effect wears off, but all the while, we are
suppressing a God-given gift and virtue, the most powerful force of man and even nature herself—our ability to think.
I agree that ignorance is comforting. It is an escape from which none of us can escape. I often find myself lost in a show or book, allowing the
creativity of another to guide me through the thoughts of their mind. There are many things I have forgotten about that I do not worry about any
longer. But is this something we should actively pursue, even training ourselves to do so?
As an analogy—which admittedly may be superficial at best—I think of my own thinking as water. So naturally, when I think of “stillness of
mind”, I think of a stagnant pool of fetid water that hasn’t moved since the moment it arrived. How can I quench my thirst in such water? Of
course, we are not water; but, as living beings, when we stop moving, we also stop living and vice versa. And why should I stop moving?
It is a natural fact that we think, and to suppress our thoughts is merely another instance of man suppressing nature, as is all too often the case.
Instead of allowing thought to overflow in abundance, all the while learning to use and control it, the void from where it comes is plugged, so as to
never allow the flood of creativity we have witnessed arise from the greatest minds who have walked the earth.
I told my friends after I made my points, “I appreciate your views and your spiritual path, for it is one that should be walked, however your desire
is not my own. I desire desire; I am attached to attachment; I will not stop what overflows from within me; for I will not cease what I am, a thinking
being, someone who loves to wonder, to learn, and to grow my creativity in the soil of the chaos from where my thoughts arrive. I desire that. I am
attached to that. That is my peace and joy.”
A softened voice, elegant words for added effect, and of course the subsequent laughter at my delivery. We drank and silenced our minds together.
edit on 27-9-2013 by NiNjABackflip because: (no reason given)