A Critique of “Stillness of Mind”

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posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 07:28 PM
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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 bliss” 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 form of 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)




posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 07:44 PM
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I get the impression that you're saying stillness of the mind, is not thinking.

I wish people who espouse this notion would cease, as it gives the wrong idea. And I cannot think for one moment how not thinking or pushing thought away, is beneficial to anyone. Whoever tells you this is living a pretense, but if it does work for them, well, so be it, all the best to them!

I see it difrferently. I see it as accepting thought. All thought. but not judging it, not letting it take you to the past or the future, and acknowledging it for what it is; a story your mind is telling you, neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, a simple story.. that is what I believe was the intention of non-English speaking practitioners.. but western minds think of clearning the mind as removing all thought.

And you cannot do that. You struggle to do that and in frustration you give up. You increase stress when you cannot reduce thought.

But accepting your thoughts in a non-judgmental way, with compassion towards your feelings and not struggling against it all.. letting the struggle of engaging with it go and just being with it, is nothing but beneficial. It give syou room to breathe and focus on what you really value and see the path to achieve it. And having said that, the path is not set in stone. The end may change. Ultimately, the path ends when you stop breathing. Why run to the finish line when you're not in a race? Walk the path, smell the flowers, as long as you are walking towards your goals, how can it be wrong?

To me, it's not removing any thoughts but realising that it is our choise to attach positive or negative emotions to mere stories. It's realising that your mind is a brilliant story teller. That it wants to engage you in distraction. And we often allow it to, ruminating on the past, or fretting about the future. we hate people from 20 years ago because we didnt act a certain way, or we hate someone in the future because we anticipate they will react to us a specific way.

You can't change the past and the future hasn't happened. They are mere stories.

So, being present in the moment, and acting right now on things that lead you towards your values, in a positive way, is all you can do... and in that, being present, not following thoughts but accepting them for what they are, is all you can do... pushing thoughts away? You're expending energy acting on things that do not matter. and it doesn't work. Does a breath you took 5 minutes ago matter now? Or will a breath you take in 5 minutes time, be any different?

So when people tell me to clear my mind.. I hear someone who has no clue about what they are asking. Clear it? It's full of things I need. But focusing on what is important and acting on those thoughts right now in a meaningful way, is far more effective than dwelling on the past or future - both of which are stories that are unimportant to right now.

Ahh lets all go hug a tree. god damned hippies... Who is this fool, sounds like a drunk.
edit on 27-9-2013 by winofiend because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 08:06 PM
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reply to post by NiNjABackflip
 

Our focus increases in everything we do when the distracting thoughts are kept to a minimum.

Our mind has weeds and fruit. When we calm and silence our minds we are killing the weeds, the invasions and distractions by thoughts that we don't want.

Then, in the normal course of our day the good thoughts (fruit) we want are bolder and stronger because the weeds and distractions are gone. This leaves the brain with more power going towards uplifting thoughts, inspiration, love, and encouragement.

The Word says we have to constantly RENEW our minds. Also, birds may go over our head but it's our fault it we let them make a nest in hair. The birds our thoughts not our own, but that will often sound like it's from us, BUT IS NOT.

In other words our mind is a spiritual BATTLEFIELD. Real Talk. The enemies trick is to get us to think the temptation is the sin. Every human has had thoughts planted by devils this is fact. We still have the free will to decide to listen to it or not. The word says we have to be tempted first before we can sin. The more we take every thought captive to Christ, the less these invasions will make it into our mind. When we entertain negative thoughts it cultivates more chatter in our brains which creates stress and fatique.

A clear focused mind is much stronger than a distracted brain. Smart phones are a big part of the problem! The average person looks at their phone every 5 minutes. If that isn't mind control I don't know what is.



posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 11:07 PM
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reply to post by winofiend
 


I enjoy your outlook.

I like to think we can learn from the reflections on the past, and by gauging the possibilities of the future. I cannot see how employing this skill can be a hinderance to anyone. It seems that in modern education we teach the young too much what to think, and not enough of how to think. Maybe the reason we dwell upon and worry about these reflections is because most do not know how to think about them. A little practice couldn't hurt.



posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 11:14 PM
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reply to post by winofiend
 


It is impossible not to think the best we can do is focus the thinking in a very limited set and hopefully manage to achieve oneness this is the core of every hypnotic phenomena the creation of a trance state. It is easier to achieve by relaxation and physical stillness and directing thought, there are many ways to go about it even by a reversal, to get so ecstatic about a very limited set of sensations, even simple feelings, that your mind is zoomed into them and absent to/from all else...

edit on 27-9-2013 by Panic2k11 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 11:16 PM
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reply to post by StopThaZionistWorldOrder
 





In other words our mind is a spiritual BATTLEFIELD. Real Talk. The enemies trick is to get us to think the temptation is the sin. Every human has had thoughts planted by devils this is fact. We still have the free will to decide to listen to it or not. The word says we have to be tempted first before we can sin. The more we take every thought captive to Christ, the less these invasions will make it into our mind. When we entertain negative thoughts it cultivates more chatter in our brains which creates stress and fatique.

I don't think this is true in any rational sense. There is no such fact that thoughts are planted by devils. There is no temptation except perhaps from ourselves. There is no outside invasion upon our thoughts. And not entertaining negative thoughts because they are negative thoughts is actually quite meaningless, as thought has no such polarity, no negativity or positivity, no matter how much we say it does. It is simply someone thinking, nothing else.

A man can entertain the worst possible thoughts ever imagined and not change a single thing by doing so. Sure it may offend or arouse the one thinking it, but because that is where inspiration arises. It is how one acts and expresses his thoughts that affects the world around him.



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 01:21 AM
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reply to post by NiNjABackflip
 


Do not speak to a fool for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.

1 Peter 5:8- Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

James 1:14- But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

James 4:7- Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Corinthians 10:13- No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

Mark 14:38- "Keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

The fear of the Lord is fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.


edit on 28-9-2013 by StopThaZionistWorldOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 03:22 AM
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reply to post by StopThaZionistWorldOrder
 


Matthew 6:5-6 ESV / 351 helpful votes

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 04:43 AM
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NiNjABackflip

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.

Every mind recoils in horror to the idea of stillness of mind. It is not going to be pleasant for the mind to hear that it will be silenced, be forced to shut up. When the mind hears these things it will shout, kick and scream. The speaking mind cannot be forced to shut up - it is impossible to silence the mind but it is possible to notice what the mind appears in.


One such cure they offered, as if I was somehow infected by some non-existent disease,

Are you always at ease? Do you have a constant deep down feeling of okness no matter where you are?
If not you have 'existent dis - ease' - and will be seeking to rid yourself of it - looking for something to make you feel ok.
edit on 28-9-2013 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 06:47 AM
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NiNjABackflip
I couldn’t help but wonder how the desire to attain such states of bliss were different from any other

It is not about desiring a state - if it were then you are correct, it is still seeking.
It is about discovering the true nature of all things.



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 07:48 AM
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reply to post by NiNjABackflip
 


Interesting post although I disagree, especially due to personal experience.

Human mind is extremely complex and we are having a very large number of thoughts every day, most of these do not provide any value though.

If you have had experience or interest in electronics, you have probably heard of "noise", unwanted random additions to the signal, which do not provide any value are simply unwanted by-product of the signal, which can deal lots of damage to the original signal - that is what I would compare a large number of human thoughts with random noise which just happens without any particular reason, but interferes and disturbs the quality thoughts.

That is what meditation, the stillness of the mind is about - controlling your thoughts better : when you are trying to focus on something, the less random thoughts, the less disturbing factors and noise, the easier it is. For me personally meditation and the same principle have had tremendous effect. Focus is much-much easier and I can pay much longer my attention on something.

It is not ignorance, when you want to clean out the random pointless thought and focus all you attention on the particular subject you are dealing with.



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 11:11 AM
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"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?"

There is more than just the pool. If it were a single island on a planet in an existence only inhabited by yourself it would be the ocean vaporizing under the heat of the sun and being moved to fall down as rain filling that pool. Or rather a river of the clearest water. But in your case I would suggest follow the scent of that thought which makes you believe your pool would be contaminated, since the spirit is clean and unblemished, unless you were lead to believe it would be otherwise.



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 12:41 PM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 





Are you always at ease? Do you have a constant deep down feeling of okness no matter where you are?
If not you have 'existent dis - ease' - and will be seeking to rid yourself of it - looking for something to make you feel ok.


I'd say most of the time I am at ease. I mean, like everyone else, I am human and there are ups and downs like everyone else. I'm not quite sure what "okness" is but I'm usually in good spirits. I am actually free of disease and quite healthy.

No cure is needed for a disease that doesn't exist. Yet my friends offered these techniques anyways as if their were applicable.



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 12:55 PM
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reply to post by Cabin
 





If you have had experience or interest in electronics, you have probably heard of "noise", unwanted random additions to the signal, which do not provide any value are simply unwanted by-product of the signal, which can deal lots of damage to the original signal - that is what I would compare a large number of human thoughts with random noise which just happens without any particular reason, but interferes and disturbs the quality thoughts.

That is what meditation, the stillness of the mind is about - controlling your thoughts better : when you are trying to focus on something, the less random thoughts, the less disturbing factors and noise, the easier it is. For me personally meditation and the same principle have had tremendous effect. Focus is much-much easier and I can pay much longer my attention on something.


To you and many others, the noise of thoughts is an unwanted by-product of thought. To me, it is a necessary occurrence of a thinking being. One should learn to utilize the noise than to simply disregard it. For me personally, out of this noise is where my best creative ideas come from.



posted on Sep, 28 2013 @ 12:57 PM
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reply to post by Dragonfly79
 





There is more than just the pool. If it were a single island on a planet in an existence only inhabited by yourself it would be the ocean vaporizing under the heat of the sun and being moved to fall down as rain filling that pool. Or rather a river of the clearest water. But in your case I would suggest follow the scent of that thought which makes you believe your pool would be contaminated, since the spirit is clean and unblemished, unless you were lead to believe it would be otherwise.



I don't try to still my mind. I agitate it. Make it work harder. If I had to stick with this analogy, my mind would be a waterfall, always moving, never still.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 02:09 AM
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reply to post by Panic2k11
 


I can practice being in the moment while being active. I don't need to be still physically to have my mind focused on what is important.

It allows me to be responsive, as opposed to reactionary.

I don't always follow that rule, sometimes I allow my mind to be entertained. There is no problem with it if it's something you allow. as far as I am concerned.

There is a stillness that comes with it though, being present. It's not something I look to find, because that's not the point of it and it does not always happen. TO rely on it is to inevitably become frustrated. But when it finds me, I accept it.

It's not necessarily focusing on a narrow set of thoughts. it's knowing what thoughts are important. Some people think it's disengaging from thought, the reality of them, and living in ignorance - but it's the opposite. It's embracing what is important, and giving yourself room to live towards it.

I read someone's idea of how I think it is once, and it seems rather apt;


Observe your thoughts like this: imagine you are sitting down and looking at a pond of freshwater. From time to time, other creatures (the thoughts) will come visit the pond to take a drink. Some will be big and beautiful - a deer or kangaroo, some a little dangerous, some a little scary, some just annoying (perhaps a mosquito or loud buzzing insect) and some will be almost meaningless (like a little fruit fly). Just observe. Don't resent them coming to visit, don't chase them away, but don't rush over to play with them either. Just accept that they will come, stay awhile, and leave in their own time. Observe without interaction.


I do this in everything I do these days. From writing to washing, walking to listening. It's an amazingly powerful ability that has .. hippie talk.. saved my life, to be honest. There is no removing thought, no directing thought, no dismissing thoughts.. just accepting them for what they are.

Sure, some days are coloured by a negative background emotion, and they can be particularly hard to manage.. but any beautiful painting, if set to a smudged and dirty canvass, will appear less than it should be.. but it doesn't make the painting any less beautiful. you just have to realise that the canvass is presenting it differently and that the colours and the design are still perfectly as the artist had intended them.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 02:15 AM
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NiNjABackflip
reply to post by Dragonfly79
 





There is more than just the pool. If it were a single island on a planet in an existence only inhabited by yourself it would be the ocean vaporizing under the heat of the sun and being moved to fall down as rain filling that pool. Or rather a river of the clearest water. But in your case I would suggest follow the scent of that thought which makes you believe your pool would be contaminated, since the spirit is clean and unblemished, unless you were lead to believe it would be otherwise.



I don't try to still my mind. I agitate it. Make it work harder. If I had to stick with this analogy, my mind would be a waterfall, always moving, never still.


I find that with the way I now live, I actively put myself into situations that I once ran away from. I'm testing my resilience. it's an empowering feeling, to want to engage in things that used to scare the crap out of me. Socially, emotionally, physically.. I used to run to the bottle.
"Save me mr Stolichnaya!" I'd cry and he'd always be there to make sure I fell over as I ran away from everything.

Ahh, I swear I've either gone completely mad, or the world has changed. And even better, when I see old patterns I don't go into automatic pilot mode. I seek answers to it, as if I've never seen it before. It's kinda groovy, having an insight into my own gulliver.

Billions would scream in despair at the thought of the inside of my head, but hurrah! It's roomy.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 03:27 AM
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reply to post by winofiend
 




I can practice being in the moment while being active. I don't need to be still physically to have my mind focused on what is important.


Focused is not the same as being in an alternated state of consciousness a trance is only achievable when your focus goes beyond your local physicality. As I said stillness and relaxation helps to enter a trance state but it can be achieved by the reverse by an ecstatic engagement of your motor functions...



It allows me to be responsive, as opposed to reactionary.


This goes against the norm, a high degree of focus is often seen as a lack of resposivness towards anything beyond what you are focused on. If you can attain high focus and still remain reactive to unrelated prompts to your attention then you are unique in that capability...



I don't always follow that rule, sometimes I allow my mind to be entertained. There is no problem with it if it's something you allow. as far as I am concerned.


An entertained mind is a empty of critical thinking it is often described as being mesmerized. Hypnotic phenomena are around you but your acquiescence is not required and you often aren't even aware of them...



There is a stillness that comes with it though, being present. It's not something I look to find, because that's not the point of it and it does not always happen. TO rely on it is to inevitably become frustrated. But when it finds me, I accept it. It's not necessarily focusing on a narrow set of thoughts. it's knowing what thoughts are important. Some people think it's disengaging from thought, the reality of them, and living in ignorance - but it's the opposite. It's embracing what is important, and giving yourself room to live towards it.


I think you are mixing many concepts focus and trance (trance being a high focus state where perception is reduced to a very narrow band of inputs). You also seem to equate mental relaxation (what some define as an empty mind) to being focused, to a point it can be so being focused in mind stillness but if you are ware of your effort you are not in real transcendental meditative state. Meditative states can also be defines as being highly focused in a specific problem but that does not imply that you are in an altered state of consciousness...



I do this in everything I do these days. From writing to washing, walking to listening. It's an amazingly powerful ability that has .. hippie talk.. saved my life, to be honest. There is no removing thought, no directing thought, no dismissing thoughts.. just accepting them for what they are.

Sure, some days are coloured by a negative background emotion, and they can be particularly hard to manage.. but any beautiful painting, if set to a smudged and dirty canvass, will appear less than it should be.. but it doesn't make the painting any less beautiful. you just have to realise that the canvass is presenting it differently and that the colours and the design are still perfectly as the artist had intended them.


This seems to me more a state of being that anything to do with focus. It is a state of oneness or emphatic oneness to what surrounds you in a way that you become acceptant that your interference may at times have unpredictable reactions and you re-frame yourself into a non intervening observer.

This falls in line with my own pantheist beliefs, I see myself (and any living creature) as a sensor of the divine mind, the primary function of life is to experience all, much like your senses satisfy the needs of your own brain, your brain is a relay to the superior consciousness above...



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 03:53 AM
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If you are capable of stilling the mind, it is a very relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Our lives are full of too many pressures and our minds have too many things to deal with on a daily basis.
Meditation can help clear the muddle, getting rid of useless information and putting useful information in a tidy place and out of the way.
By the way its not easy to do and takes much practice, as for getting rid of attachments that sounds like qi gong which is hard yards indeed.
I tried to study it a few years back all it does is open your life up to more struggle as through struggle you can attain gong / virtue. One of the ways is to release yourself of attachments, and to do that properly you cant
live in the modern world as earning money is an attachment, and you cant live in a city without earning money.



posted on Sep, 29 2013 @ 04:18 AM
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Here is a great video for anyone who wants to still the mind.

It is impossible to still the mind - you do not have to quiet the mind, you can notice the quiet that contains the mind.
edit on 29-9-2013 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)





 
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