A talk by Michael Barnett
Now, to get back to my Zen quote: “If you leave the mind alone the mind will leave you alone”. Take that as an absolute truth, although it may be still just a theoretical truth for you. So let’s put it this way: your mind will rule the roost, or sit on the throne, as long as you let it.
Then the question comes, “Why, would you allow this troublesome, tantalizing, ...interfering mind to sit on the throne if you have a choice?” Given that you have a hidden choice, why would you do that? Why would you do that!?
I mean, you have said a lot of negative things about it, but underlying all your negative remarks about the mind something in you believes in it, allows it to sit on the throne. Why would you do that? Guess!
Seminar Participant: “It helps to function in the world.”
It helps to function in the world, so the world must also be similarly arranged. Minds rule the world, minds achieve, minds analyze, minds discover, minds explore, minds reach conclusions, minds find –often – the causes of illnesses. All Science is the work of the mind. Scientific discoveries are always with the mind; even though great insights don’t always come through thinking, still they still come through the mind. So we live in a world where the mind matters.
And yet people like me, spiritual teachers, enlightened people, can say ‘The mind is the one in the way’, and you as a student of this process can say, “My mind is in the way, and despoiling everything.”
However we still believe that our primacy in the land of living things is based on the fact that compared with a cat or dog or donkey or fish, or even a chimpanzee, that we are conscious and we can do all these things: find new cures, discover how the universe works, find out how the world began; all sorts of incredible discoveries made by the mind. We live in a world where the mind is considered to be, not only a part of us, but the highest part of us.
The mind can come up with these marvelous things, but it doesn’t signal when it is about to do that – not like when you get an email and the computer goes 'boing'.
The answer to these significant questions could come at any moment. Sometimes it comes in the middle of the night, and we wake up and go ‘Fuck! What was that I was dreaming? I got the answer there. Let me go back. What was that dream? It was definitely informing me of something absolutely spectacular which was going to transform my life.” And then we get angry because we miss what the mind said. But during the day we are waiting for the inspired statement from the mind, and so we have to leave the computer on all the time and we have to be listening all the time.
Sometimes when I am running a group I have a fantastic idea and when I get out of the group I say, “What the hell was that now? It’s completely gone.” So I’ve lost the inspiration, because I made the group more important than this marvelous thought. I should have stopped the group and written it down, because it’s going to transform my life and everybody elses life and the whole world, and everything else. We don’t want that kind of thing to happen, so we have to keep listening.
We both distrust the mind and we have, at the same time, a deep trust that it now and again will inform us of something that is absolutely vital, powerful and of great help to us in our lives: “Aha, Got it!”
How to escape from that?
I only know the way I escaped. And when I escaped, I escaped forever. I’m not saying my mind is quiet, but I can shut it up and throw it off the throne at any point with no trouble at all. How did that happen for me? (I don’t know if will work with other people.)
My mind was as active for many years as anybody’s here. Maybe even more active because I was a very clever guy. My mind had given me many achievements: a top-class degree at Cambridge and many other things when I left University and started work. I could talk with friends non-stop for 10 or 12 hours.
Then at a certain moment in my life, about 25 years ago, Michael Barnett had a realization. I realized, “My mind is a very smart mind (Thank you, God, for that) but - smart as it is - it is not capable of giving me what I want in my life.” I saw that the mind could give me many things, but what I wanted was, symbolically speaking, to be able to tell people how to get out of their wretched minds. I saw that my mind could not give me what I wanted. And from that moment it was finished; it was all over.
My mind would work and I would say, “I am not interested.” I would turn away into the meditative areas, open spaces, searching in what was Real. I found myself in the Here and Now - there was nowhere else to go. My mind was relegated to its proper place – to be used when I needed to work something out, but was never again in the forefront - Never again, since then. Sometimes I just say, “Enough,” and I blank.
I am leaving the mind alone, and then the mind leaves me alone.
So it is a question of priorities.