Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Conscious Mind's Limits


The message of Vernon Howard is that the ego-mind is God. It is limitless in power. It can, if you are "psyched" enough, do anything, he claims.

I read several of his books, way back in the 1970's. He enthusiastically yearned to believe that the conscious mind (ego) was all-powerful. Many metaphysical schools make this same error, including Christian Science and many Unity groups. Science of Mind has tried largely to shake off some of this "egomind is God" misunderstanding, and partially return to the Way of true mysticism.

Here's the difference: In the genuine path, you trust the Mind behind the cosmos to do always what is right. So, you drop all worry, anxiety, and tense concern for "making things better" through your own willpower. This ancient Way is intercultural, but parts of it are represented most lucidly by Taoism, which says, "Try to fix the universe, and you will surely ruin it." It is the perfect faith that we need DO NOTHING, EXCEPT respond in Love to every person and event. Spiritual philosophers call this the "Supreme Way." It is living like the flowers and the birds, finding natural resonance with the cosmos, harmony within ourselves, and freedom from the ever nit-picking, manipulating ego. It is return to nature, to Eden, to satisfaction, to full relaxation. ("Perfect faith is perfect relaxation." We "let go" of everything.) Full liberation is impossible as long as a trace of the ego-will to "repair" things continues in the psyche.

The exception to this perfectly restful life arises, of course, when Love tells us to do something. We do not become dead when Love is awakened within us. Indeed, we become more alive -- more active-- than ever! But now, we can act to improve the world, to alleviate suffering and help living creatures, without worry, fear, or anticipation of "failure." For we are no longer the ones aiding personally, but have become the hands and Mind of Love.

It is not the "job-description" of the conscious mind to use "magic" to alter the cosmos. The conscious mind is not strong enough, does not have enough power, to change the external cosmos -- as all of these desperate, hopeful, starry-eyed philosophies claim. If you believe that you can do anything at all with the conscious mind, just try to change the color of one hair on your own head! Then, you will see the limitations of the consciousmind.

Of course, we all want to aid those who are ill, who need our support, compassion, and assistance. But Love is the only healing agent in the cosmos. Every act of Love is an act of healing. You heal a person much more by loving her than by a dozen "tricks" of words or altered thought-patterns. So, again, the cosmos does not challenge us to become "prayer-magicians," but, as always, to love sincerely and tenderly.

The "ego is God" is a very subtle, seductive, and attractive concept. It means, most simply, that you can get, or do, whatever you want, whenever you want. (It is a form of ego-idolatry.) How? By intense concentration, and by changing your thought-habits and -patterns.

Agreed that positive thinking is much more harmonious with Love than negative, still, we become delusional if we buy into the desperate idea that our personal thoughts rule the world! In psychology, this is a disorder known as "grandiosity," and operates through "Narcissism" or extreme egotism. So, it is not a neutral path; it is clearly antispiritual.

Jesus said it very simply: "One thing is necessary." Metaphysicists are always saying that you must do this and that, and they have an entire list of things that YOU must DO. But if you have "faith" in the God running the cosmos, you can relax all your controls, and attempts at control, and do your "one thing" superbly. That is, of course, Love.

The "conscious mind is infinitely powerful" idea has one major flaw: It does not work. It is very exciting on paper, and thousands wax enthusiastic about it! It is easy to get caught up in the "anything is possible for me" mindset. It is extremely attractive, especially to the fearnature. (I used to be a true believer.)

But let's take a case from reality: A hypochondriac, year after year after year, convinces himself that he has cancer. He reads many books on the subject, and becomes an expert. It is all that he thinks about, all that he believes in. He is utterly convinced. He goes to the hospital after having suffered, every day and night, for fifty years, and is found to be absolutely free of the disease. This scenario has actually occurred, several times.

Now, this man, although negatively, has done precisely what the "ego is God" people all say that we should, and must, do. But he has had no effect on his own biofunction or biostructure. Why? Because, although biofunctions can be affected by will, in bodymind activities, they also follow the greater and more powerful laws of biochemistry and karma. And the conscious mind, committed though it might be, and utterly convinced, does not have the power to overcome those overriding laws.

Why? Because those laws exist at a very deep level of Mind, called the "collective Unconscious," and it easily overrides the merely conscious (aware) mind.

Another small example: A young girl truly believes that there is a "monster" in her closet. She thinks that she hears it, sees it, even smells it. She believes this with all her heart, for over thirteen years. But there is not, has never been, a "monster." Why? Because all her passionate and total belief, her utter conviction, reinforced even by powerful fear, did not create the power necessary to change reality.

More examples could easily be given.

But why are people so terrified to believe that the conscious mind is so weak? Because they fear to trust. They do not trust the Fathermind/Mothermind/Lovemind of the cosmos, the cosmic Mind, to do what is right for them. They think that they know better. And the "bad things" that could happen to them scare them silly.

The mystic embraces the world as she finds it. She is the ultimate "realist." She refuses to get caught in reality-denial and indulge in fantasies. She embraces reality ("truth") as it is. She does not waste timenergy in reality-denial. She is convinced that Godmind is perfect, and that her ideas of "the way things should be" cannot be superior. For the Dreamermind that dreams up the cosmos knows billions of factors, karmic and otherwise, about which we know nothing. And it takes so much megadata to create a world that is "perfect" for the average person, for it involves centuries of karma.

That "perfect" world is not always fun. Taking tests at school was not always fun. Having fun is a viable reason for living, but not the only reason. We also live to learn, and must take tests or exams to grow. Sometimes, we must learn things that we do not want to learn. But this course is "perfect" for our soul's learning; and this learning is infinitely more important than "good times." That is the real reason why we are born on earth. To try to avoid "bad" things is running away from the classroom! And that is no way to graduate!

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