The TAO of Clarity of Mind
Tao wisdom is human wisdom, and Biblical wisdom is spiritual wisdom. The art of living well in this contemporary world requires both. But neither is easy to come by. Why? Because Tao wisdom requires an empty mind with no preconditioned thinking of conventional wisdom, while Biblical wisdom requires the suspension of disbelief. That is to say, both require clarity of thinking, which is not easy to attain, except through meditation and concentration, that is, focusing the mind on the present moment.
Your mind is incessantly alternating between the past and the future, going back and forth without consciously knowing it.
Say, if you are watching TV at the present moment, your compulsive mind is continually retrieving both conscious and subconscious thoughts and memories from the past directly or indirectly related to what you are now watching on the television screen, as well as projecting them into the future. Your mind never really stays in the present moment, although you think it does because you are watching the TV.
To illustrate, you are watching a CNN report on an accident on the freeway involving many cars due to poor visibility. A subconscious thought from your own past experience of driving under similar poor visibility immediately comes up and is projected into the future, to be stored in your subconscious mind to warn you in the future to drive more carefully if a similar situation occurs. Your body is presently watching the television screen, but your mind does not stay in the present moment. That is the reality. It is only a mental illusion that your mind is staying presently on the TV screen. Other subconscious thoughts may also occur at the back of your mind: “I am a more careful driver than those people”, “I hope that will never happen to me” or “I would not know what to do in a similar situation.” All these thoughts are stored in your subconscious mind.
Remember, you compulsive mind is thinking non-stop without your conscious awareness.
Because your mind does not voluntarily stay in the present moment, constantly shuffling back and forth between the past and the future, the only way to stop the thinking mind is to direct it to the present moment. When your mind stays in the present moment, it stops its thinking process of the past or the future—at least for the time being. To make your mind remain in the present moment—even though for just a short moment—you need acute awareness and deep concentration. To do that, you need constant and regular practice to focus or re-focus your mind on the present moment.
Once you can stop, at will, your mind from thinking, you have control over your thinking process, you are no longer a slave to your thoughts, and your mind becomes once again your friend, instead of your enemy. Learn to switch your mind on and off, just as you do with your computer.
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau