Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Resolving The Mind

Rubicon Estate, Rutherford, California, USA

July 27, 2011

This essay, Resolving The Mind, is the companion piece to Resolving The World.

She was clearly excited. She was speaking about a course she was interested in doing. I knew very little about it. I'd heard as much about it in passing as anyone else. Being interested, I ask her what she intended to get out of it.

It was obvious to me there was a lot on offer. She spoke in terms of attaining peace of mind, of learning skills to harness the power of the mind, of gaining an understanding  of the mind. She actually used the term "solving  the mind" - as if the mind is a kind of quadratic equation  to be solved algebraically in a mathematics class. I liked that analogy, even though it seems to me that "solving" the mind would be a bit like solving the riddle "Who's buried in Grant's tomb?". I asked her what attracted her to this course, and especially to its focus on the mind and on managing the mind.

There was nothing untoward about her responses. She had obviously put a lot of thought into her decision. It was clear to me she was impressed with the introduction she had received to the material. She said she wanted to control  her mind and have it be less intrusive  to her daily reverie. She said she wanted "less noise in her head". "That's actually not a bad way of saying it" I thought to myself.

She also said she wanted to learn how to control her reactions, how to have more choice in the matter when situations reactivate her. The course, she said, promised control over her reactions. It promised being able to direct the outcome of the mind's reactive machinery. Indeed it almost sounded like she was intent on taming  her mind's reactive machinery so that it doesn't simply "go off"  but rather follows her commands in much she same way as she commands her arms to raise and lower and / or her legs to walk on demand. When she'd finished saying what she wanted to get out of the course, she asked me what I thought of it - or at least what I thought of what she said about it.

I said "It depends on what you say the purpose of Life is.".

"Say whut?"  she said. "It depends on what you say the purpose of Life  is? What are  you talking  about?". I asked her to consider that the role of the mind in the life of a human being is to ensure survival. If she sees the purpose of Life as survival, then the course sounds like a good one for her to do. However, what if the purpose of Life isn't survival? What if the purpose of Life is experiencing completion?

The flash in her eyes told me I had her attention. If the purpose of Life is experiencing completion, then the only  thing to do with the mind is to distinguish it (which is to say to recognize  it), then leave it alone. If the purpose of Life is survival, then there would be some value in learning mind understanding and control skills - hence her course. I told her I'm not opinionated about which purpose (and hence which outcome) she should invest in. I did tell her, however, about that which I'm clear about for myself.

For me, the question of survival and the focus on understanding and controlling the mind, is moot. Like any of the other automatic and auto-nomic  human systems (digestion, circulation, nerve impulse transmission, etc), the mind is on full automatic. It's a machine. And it works perfectly. In fact it works best when you don't mess with it. To have it work best, keep your fingers out of the machinery. This, rather than understanding, taming, and control, is the appropriate discipline with regards the mind.

And what if the purpose of Life is experiencing completion? If the purpose of Life is experiencing completion, then the only muscle  (if you will) worth developing is the muscle which allows everything to be OK the way it is and OK the way it isn't - including the mind. When things are OK the way they are and OK the way they aren't, that's almost a dictionary definition of "experiencing completion". Understanding, taming, and controlling the mind isn't a path to experiencing completion. Letting the mind be ie keeping your fingers out of the machinery, is. Solving the mind like a quadratic algebraic mathematical equation, isn't. Resolving  the mind, like leaving it alone to be the perfect machine it is, like keeping your fingers out of the machinery, is.

The End Justifies The Means - Or It Doesn't

I never found out whether she did that course or not. I never found out whether or not she got anything out of it. So I still don't know if she learned to survive any better, or if she learned to create experiencing completion for herself - which is to say if she discovered she's already  complete. Perhaps one day I'll run into her again and find out. Perhaps not. But whichever way it went for her and whether she agreed with me or not, I'm complete with the conversation she and I had.

I've got no vested interest in her agreeing with my opinion about the purpose of Life. While in my opinion it's incredibly useful to draw a line between (which is to say it's incredibly useful to differentiate  between) the purpose of Life as survival and the purpose of Life as experiencing completion, I'm suspicious of all  opinions - especially my own.

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