A Look at a Child's Mind & The Purpose of Practice

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A Look at a Child's Mind & The Purpose of Practice

Postby Rick » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:12 pm

From the book "A Path to Christ Consciousness; Non-Conceptual Awareness Practice as a Doorway to the Infinite" by Robert Harwood

"A spiritual practice, as understood by a mystical spiritual tradition, is a repetitive activity used to cut through the habit of reflective thought in order to realize unity of mind, body, universe and God...In the words of Ram Dass, a writer about this subject, spiritual practice is the attempt to "be here now"...

To understand how practice unites us with reality, it helps to compare the difference between how little children and adults perceive and interact with the world. Little children do not interact with the world as observers; they are psychologically unified with the field of their being. They have virtually no self-concept nor self-image. They do not regard themselves abstractly, as observing subjects, and therefore do not imagine themselves as independently-existing entities operating in an external world. The reason they have no sense of selfhood is that they spend most of their time non-conceptually interacting with the world around them. A little child, for example, can watch a column of ants marching through the grass or clouds changing shape in the sky for thirty minutes or more without thinking anything at all. Few adults can replicate that feat!

However, as their ability to conceive and manipulate abstractions matures, children spend more and more time imagining what they see. They begin to spend more and more time conceiving themselves as if they were subjects observing a world composed of objects. By the time they have become adults they have unknowingly exchanged the habit of non-conceptual perception for the habit of imagination and reflective thought. As adults, they spend enormous amounts of time mentally talking to themselves about what they experience. As they learn to live increasingly in their heads, they cease to see what Is; instead they see what they imagine. The difference between these tow states of mind is enormous. In "The Gospel of Thomas", a collection of saying attributed to Christ, Jesus uses the metaphor of a woman carrying a jar of meal to describe how we lose the kingdom of God:

"The kingdom of the father is like a certain woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on the road, still some distance from home, the handle of the jar broke and the meal emptied out behind her on the road. She did not realize it; she had noticed no accident. When she reached her house, she set the jar down and found it empty."

In other words, we lose the Kingdom of God so gradually and so subtly that we are not aware of what is happening. Unlike the woman in the parable, we almost never notice that the jar has become empty! If we consider our adult state of mind while involved in some activity, such as washing the dishes, we can see what causes us to lose the kingdom of god on the way to adulthood. We see that our body pursues the activity while our mind is far away. Our hands may be scrubbing the dishes, but our mind is reflecting upon a past conversation, worrying about something that may happen in the future. solving a problem, repeating some gossip, or thinking about any number of other countless things. Whereas the mind of a little child is present and unified with its body, the mind of the adult is absent and separated from its body. Unconsciously we practice keeping ourself separated from the dynamic activity and living truth of what is.

By watching our mind in action, we can see that our body usually operates on a kind of auto-pilot function and only periodically checks back to make sure that everything is Okay and the body is not in physical danger. This checking back usually occurs every few moments, but occasionally a long lapse occurs that shocks us when it ends. Most of us have had the unnerving experience of driving on a highway and suddenly realizing that we haven't seen the road or anything else in the physical world world for 20 or more minutes. We often wonder how we were able to drive our car without being conscious of the road. In fact, during those 20 minutes we were watching a movie in our head projected by our imagination while our body operated on auto-pilot. We don't realize that almost everyday of our lives is lived in the same unconscious manner. Usually we aren't aware of it because the duration between our check-backs isn't so great. A spiritual practice is pursued in order to close such gaps, unify our body and mind, and help us live consciously in the real world rather than our imagination. Practice is pursued in order to discover the living truth that exists in the present moment, a truth that can only be perceived by a unified mind and body.

Those of us who pursue a spiritual practice often compare our body to a train station from which trains of thought regularly depart. Unless we practice direct perception we often unknowingly allow our consciousness to climb on board and be carried away with a thought-train. One moment we're in the train station and the next we're metaphorically riding a thought-train to some distant city. Spiritual practice is the practice of learning how to stay in the train station without being carried away by trains of thought. When we first begin practicing mindfulness, it seems difficult because we are trying to change deeply ingrained mental habits, but if we practice coming back to the train station again and again, we gradually develop the ability to stay in the station and watch the trains of come and go without jumping on board. It is in the train station itself that we eventually discover everything of spiritual importance."
Daily life IS spiritual exercise.
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