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August 2021 / More

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Convictions & Concerns

TAT members share their personal convictions and/or concerns

The Mind: Friend or Foe?

So about 2 weeks ago I wanted to open an old zip file that I had password protected a few years back. This zip file contained a retrieval pass phrase (consisting of about 42 words in sequence) which I could use to retrieve a hardware crypto wallet if I ever got locked out. I was trying to set up the hardware wallet on a new laptop (my old laptop was kaput, and I had left it a long time to set the wallet up again on my new laptop), so I needed to pass various layers of security to get it operational.

At one point in the set-up process, I was given an option to enter my pass phrase to proceed. It seemed that the set-up may not be going as smoothly as I had hoped, so it was looking like I may need the 42-word retrieval passphrase in the password protected zip file, which I couldn’t access, to get it set-up.

I knew that the password I had used on the zip file was the same password that was used on the zip files on the old reports when I was in the email accountability group, but I had stopped participating in the group maybe 18 months ago, so I hadn't used that password in a long time. 

When I tried to remember the password to open the zip, I had a vague recollection of the structure: I thought it consisted of two words in some form. As I pondered on this, I remembered what I thought was the first word, but I struggled with the second word. I could see the mind processing very quickly trying to recall it and then bits started to come in.

The second word took shape as an animal of some kind. It too then became clearer as I settled on a particular animal in my mind, or at least I thought it was right. So, I thought I had the two words that were involved. However, I knew I was still missing something. There was an awareness that numbers were also involved, but how and what they were, I couldn’t recall.

I decided to postpone my efforts in the wallet set-up process so as not to do anything too hasty. There was no immediate rush, so I thought trying the set-up process again with a fresh view in a day or two could be a good idea. I was also pretty sure I had left physical copies of the passphrase in secure locations for just such an event as this, so I stepped away from it to consider the potential problem. I could see what seemed like little neuro-messengers of the mind shooting out in various directions, looking for ways to resolve the potential problem.

I forgot about it and a couple of days later, out of the blue as I was going about my business, the question of the password for the zip file popped back into my head again. The mind randomly brought that specific aspect of the problem back into conscious view and I could see it trying to process things, to figure out / recall the answer. At this point, I had settled on the two words, but the numbers involved still were not clear. I still could not remember it. I got what seemed like a status report and then it disappeared from conscious thought again. On reflection, to use a metaphor of sorts, the motion of this was like a whale or some other sea creature coming up from the depths for air or a look around of sorts. It rose up from the depths of the mind unsummoned, brought the current status into conscious view, and then disappeared back into the depths again.

At this point, I didn’t really need to get into the zip file anymore. A couple of the other neuro-messengers sent out to resolve the problem, had returned positive leads. In short, the mind had figured out how to get the information I needed another way, so the urgency of remembering the zip password had lessened.  With the wallet set-up and the main urgency gone, I forgot about it all again with a distant idea to contact the guys from the email accountability group at some point to get the password. 

Two weeks later, I happened to watch a YouTube video on using an OM mantra in meditation. I have never really explored mantras, so I was curious about it. So, I decided to sit down and meditate for 15 minutes using the Om mantra as demonstrated in the video. Now, I do not do sitting meditation regularly much anymore, although I used to. So, this was just a notion I took based on the YouTube vid I watched, which seemed to come out of curiosity more than anything else.

So, I got settled and I did the meditation using the Om mantra. When I finished the meditation, as I stood up, it was like a bang! The password for the zip file came back into my mind in a crystal-clear image, front and center. The two words confirmed, but with the missing numbers, of which there were two, also added in the sequence.

I was surprised at this as I had not been thinking about the password at all in the last two weeks, nor that morning. This simply was not in my conscious mind-stream at all. I picked up my phone and emailed the password to myself. A couple of hours later, I was on my laptop and tried the password on the zip file and sure enough, it worked!

I thought this was an excellent example of something being fed into the computer and it working on it, in the background, and retrieving it at the most unexpected time, when not thinking about it at all.

I have heard some of the finders in TAT, and I think Rose talked about this, too, that if you feed the big question of self-definition into the mind on a regular basis, it will work on it in the background. The answer can't come from the mind, but it seems a fair bit of groundwork needs to be done in that domain first, and perhaps the mind has to come to fully reach that conclusion, exhausting possibilities and looking under every stone. That is, it somehow realises that it cannot figure this out and perhaps then, there is more opportunity for something else to be seen / realised—transcendence of the ‘mind’ I guess.

This is all surmising on my part of course, but there is no doubt in 'my mind', that the mind is a very powerful tool. This was a good reminder for me of the rider and the elephant idea. The level of chitter-chatter in day-to-day conscious view is small potatoes to what really goes on under the hood, out of conscious view most of the time. The mind has many, many aspects too of course e.g., cognition, perception, imagination, emotion, instinct, intuition, etc.

The mind can get a bad rap in this work sometimes I feel, but I get the sense, and I can only speak about this particular mind which seems to be linked with this particular body unit, that this mind, or at least large parts of it, wants an answer, too. At this point, there has been enough inquiry put forward that it knows its once stable ground is shaky at best. There is a sense I have that comes with that, that this mind wants to know its proper place in the grand scheme of things.

I would hazard to propose that perhaps the mind can be an ally in this process, not necessarily a foe that stands in the way. Again, I can’t really demonstrate that, it's just a sense I have sometimes and, of course, the experience of ‘the mind’ is unique for each individual, and there is no doubt a mind can also be very problematic. However, in the limited toolbox we have at our disposal, it seems a large part of what we have available to work with, one way or another.

What are your thoughts / feeling on this? Is your mind a friend or a foe in your search for self-definition?


Editor's note: Thanks to Colm H. for sharing this experience and his thoughts about it. We've used his ending question as the Reader Commentary question for next month.

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TAT Foundation News

It's all about "ladder work" – helping and being helped

Downloadable/rental versions of the Mister Rose video and of April TAT talks Remembering Your True Desire:

"You don't know anything until you know Everything...."

Mister Rose is an intimate look at a West Virginia native many people called a Zen Master because of the depth of his wisdom and the spiritual system he conveyed to his students. Profound and profane, Richard Rose was not the kind of man most people picture when they think of mystics or spiritual teachers. Yet, he was the truest of teachers, one who had "been there," one who had the cataclysmic experience of spiritual enlightenment.

Filmed in the spring of 1991, the extraordinary documentary follows Mr. Rose from a radio interview, to a university lecture and back to his farm, as he talks about his experience, his philosophy and the details of his life.

Whether you find him charming or offensive, fatherly or fearsome, you will not forget him, and never again will you think about yourself, reality, or life after death in quite the same way.

3+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

2012 April TAT Meeting – Remembering Your True Desire

Includes all the speakers from the April 2012 TAT meeting: Art Ticknor, Bob Fergeson, Shawn Nevins and Heather Saunders.

1) Remembering Your True Desire ... and Acting on It, by Art Ticknor
Spiritual action is like diving for the Pearl beyond Price. What do you do when you don't know what to do or how to do it? An informal discussion centered around the question: "What prevents effective spiritual action?"

2) Swimming in the Inner Ocean: Trips to the Beach, by Bob Fergeson
A discussion of the varied ways we can use in order to hear the voice of our inner ocean, the heart of our true desires.

3) A Wider and Wilder Vision, by Shawn Nevins
Notes on assumptions, beliefs, and perspectives that bind and free us.

4) Make Your Whole Life a Prayer, by Heather Saunders
An intriguing look into a feeling-oriented approach to life.

5+ hours total. Rent or buy at tatfoundation.vhx.tv/.

Return to the main page of the August 2021 TAT Forum.

Did you enjoy the Forum? Then buy the book! Beyond Mind, Beyond Death is available at Amazon.com.

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