Clear Mind

Rumi’s words, “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I’m wise, so I am changing myself.”, triggered a naive question in my mind: Who we actually are? 

Let me briefly explain my thought experiment on my friend’s cats. My friend has two cats: a mother and a daughter. The mother cat is introverted, she’s always distant to you, and barely lets people touch her. The daughter, on the other hand, is the opposite. She is so friendly, and enjoys being massaged. Although their characters seem quite different, if I show my angry face, and introduce stress with my voice to them, both hesitate to approach me. Even worse, they become like the mom and ignore me. Hence, in theory – luckily just in theory –  if they would have lived in a world with all faces full of woes, we might infer they are both introverted and have the same persona. Given we are in this hypothetical world, do you think this conclusion is real?

Let’s go harder within this thought experiment. Imagine a world where every human being – including you – works under extremely fastidious aliens. The aliens have the perfect ability to make human beings feeling useless in every profession. Yet, people have to work to survive in this world. Would you be the same as who you are now?

I like the argument of subjective experience inside the definition of reality from Jordan Peterson’s personality lecture series.  He argues that our reality is shaped by experience which is unique for every one of us. He further claims the perception of reality affects who we are.

My concern is can we purify our experiences to disclose maximum of ourselves even under pressure. I think the most critical part of who we are is our heart and intuition. Steve Jobs, in his talk, summarizes what I want to say about heart and intuition.

 “… Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary…”

Sometimes we can not feel our heart, and the intuition disappears. In my experience, most of those times what we lack is a clear mind. Okay, so if we can reach a clear mind in every scenario, our intuition could take responsibility. Unfortunately, we may be deceived by the idea of having too many different reasons not allowing our minds to be clear. However, I have failed to find more than five of them, and these are called five hindrances of Buddhism where you may check from my other post.

In short, maybe long pages of personality tests are redundant. Still, instead one only needs to follow their heart and intuition. Maybe the journey of looking for a way to make our hearts speak up, and give control to our intuition is fulfilling ourselves…

Five Hindrances

I thought there could be infinitely many reasons for us not to think clearly, or couldn’t find our intuition. Surprisingly, five hindrances seem like an umbrella to ground the blockage in ourselves.

In Buddhist philosophy, five hindrances prevent us to reach a clear or healthy mind.  These are Sensory desire, Ill-will, Sloth-and-torpor, Restlessness, and Doubt

  1. Sensory desire,

Do you remember the last time you really want that car or fancy shoes, and then you bought it. Guess what? You were still not happy because you wish to have a lavish house now. It is like a trap.  This trap is exactly what sensory desire is. It is seeking satisfaction through five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and physical feeling. I think we should not make materials as our purpose.

As Pet Shop Boys says in their song Love etc. , ‘Don’t have to drive a supercar to get far’…

  1. Ill-will,

It is the feeling of hostility against someone or something. One classical example is that you are not happy with your job because of your boss. Instead of looking for ways to fix your problem with the job, you constantly find yourself in negative feelings towards the boss. Here are my thought-provoking questions to you:

  • What is the point of having these negative feelings?
  • What does it bring?
  • Does having these emotions can solve real issues?
  • Would non-identifying these feelings help you to focus on a solution?
  1. Sloth-torpor,

There are some days in our life when we are reluctant to get out of our beds. We have neither physical nor mental inertia to do anything. It is kind of a depression.

  1. Restlessness,

It is an unsettlement in the present moment. Our monkey minds jump from one idea to another at the speed of light. Two simple reasons for that:

  • You keep questioning the past about what you had done, what was wrong, and why you did it.
  • You are worried about the future, and possibly having ‘hopeless’ insights about it.

If I were asked the definition of a lifetime, I’d say it is an infinite amount of ‘now’(s). Everything is connected with now(s). I know it is a cliché, but the future and the past are just illusions of ‘now’.

  1. Doubt,

Making a decision could be a nightmare sometimes. Your mind may be in doubt state if it has questions like these:

  • What will others say?
  • Can I do this?
  • Is this the right thing to do?
  • Can I find the best option?

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus truly paints how one’s life is irrelevant to the others. I think it challenges us in a sense that do the answers of the questions above really matter, or is it just living and being yourself? 

Last but not least, this Ted talk was very useful for me to better understand these five hindrances, maybe it helps you too!