J. Randall Stewart
24 - Energy in the Center - Part 3: Energy in the Mind
Updated: Jun 13, 2021
Just as the life energy of the universe registers in the heart knowing center as emotion, so the same energy registers in the mind through thoughts and images. Our minds have a kind of voice which speaks through verbal and image driven ideas. We are always thinking or imagining something in our minds. And, we often conceive our minds as the originators of this image/word driven data. But as I’ve tried to establish over several different posts, the mind is merely the organ which registers the data. This data then gets dumped into the Soul Being Center for sorting, but it is actually the Body and Spirit Being Centers which have the power to interpret and give this data meaning. I realize that this detailed process is not always readily obvious to us, partly because all these parts naturally flow into each other and work together, but also because we are so often asleep to the process of how external data gets internalized into meaning. But, if we are to begin to get more in tune with ourselves, and the world around us, we need to learn the difference between the message and the meaning. This comes through separation. We must learn how to differentiate between our three Being and Knowing Centers and their functions, otherwise the whole mechanism of how our being interacts with other beings will be blurred to the point of dysfunction, where we cannot tell what anything is, means, or what to do with it. We will become hapless reactors to the deluge of data from the world, merely struggling to keep our heads above water instead of learning how to swim. Swimming, as it were, means learning a deeper awareness of ourselves and the world around us, by letting go of the fruitless effort to control the input of data and simply letting things go in and out more freely. This can also be understood in terms of surrendering to God, who then becomes the ultimate processer of all this data for us, taking the role of giving meaning to our experiences instead of us. That’s why I think it’s helpful to say that the deepest reality of everything we experience in and through the world is best understood as energy. All of life is relating and reacting to the flow of the world around us. We don’t get to choose how the world is, or what it is. We only get to choose how to relate to it, to learn how to flow with it or resist that flow. We cannot choose how that flow works, only how we decide to work with it. That’s why surrender is the key to embracing what is life-giving, because we really control little else but our stance towards everything going on around us. So, how do we better understand and operate with this flow through our mind knowing center? Good question. Let’s get into it.
The mind is meant for registering thoughts, which can come in two ways. Thoughts come through verbal or image driven content. We have an inner voice and an inner imagination. But I think it’s important to understand that our inner imagination is the stronger of the two. That is, our imagination is better able to register the data of the world around us, because it sees a bigger picture. Words are merely symbolic, meant to represent pictures of things, which we can also call ideas. Words and images can work together, but words are meant to point to the ideas which images can convey, even without words. In a way, we’ve developed language in order to get ideas out of our heads and into the heads of others through spoken word, but the ideas themselves are the essence of the thing. That’s important to keep in view as we approach our understanding of how the mind functions. It’s also important as we learn the deeper function of interacting with this universal energy, because we can begin to learn a deeper connection that transcends words through the more direction use of images. This is what many mystics and prophets called a “vision”, because God was showing them a picture of something much bigger than mere words could reveal. Of course, they then had to try and put that picture into words, which was a struggle, but at least they got the picture in the clearest way they could, in order better pass it on.
When I experienced my three-day panic attacks, the first few weeks and months following were consumed by dealing with a mind largely out of control. My inner thoughts were overloaded with too much data. I often describe what happened to me through my breakdown as a sudden widening of awareness, like the lens of a camera being opened to full exposure. It was like all my filters were swept away, and I was suddenly experiencing everything at full volume. It was more than I could handle. I had all this thought data pouring in, like the breaking of a dam, and I didn’t know what to do or how to manage it. Of course, it forced me to do something with all this other than what I’d learned to do in the past. In the past I was able to adequately manage all the data, at least all the data I was consciously aware of. But after my breakdown, the ways I’d dealt with that data no longer worked. There was just too much coming at me. It felt scary, and devastating. Even the simplest tasks were daunting. In the morning, just walking into my closet to pick out clothes was overwhelming. I was already overloaded with too much data. Any added processing to this broken system just wasn’t getting the job done. I had to learn a new way to process, because I was desperately faced with the reality that my old way of processing didn’t work. To do this, I had to stop thinking. I just started walking into my closet and picking out clothes without any thought. I couldn’t think my way through it anyway. I had to do it another way. We’ll get to that other way towards the end. For now, this experience illustrates how ineffective our minds can become when we’re trying to think our way through things we’re not meant to. What goes into thinking? What was I trying to do by thinking about what clothes to wear? I was trying to take a lot of different data and put it together into a picture of what to wear, based on what? The possible data consideration can be endless. For example; what does my religion teach about modesty, what are the latest fashions, what will my friends think, how will that overcritical fashion Nazi at work judge me, does blue go with orange, will I be too hot, is this shirt really clean, am I dressed for the occasion, and on an on the processing can go. We can get frozen in the processing because we’re using our mental processor for the wrong purpose. Over analysis can lead to paralysis. The mental data coming to us is truly endless. We often learn how to filter it through preference, by adapting information to our own relative selection process, but a relative process merely produces a relative result, and can filter out good data just as much as bad, and no data is really bad. So, how is our mind meant to work, in light of seeing one of the problems created by how it is not meant to work?
I had to learn the hard way how my mind was not meant to work, by experiencing a breakdown of my thinking process. My own process was relative selection through personal preference. But this relative process actually creates a blockage of the flow of divine energy coming to me through my mental Knowing Center. It narrows the data based on my own personal, preferential filtration system, which leads to enigmatic, endemic discrimination. Relative discrimination of data leads to arbitrary discrimination of others, and the world at large. “I like blue” can eventually turn into “everyone who likes pink is stupid.” The ego-centric person will eventually turn any self-referential data selection into exclusion. That’s why Christians can hate Atheists, Democrats Republicans, Capitalist Socialists, and on and on. What we’re really doing is denigrating any data filtration system different from ours. The first step is learning to encounter the data free from such a system. That really equates to scrapping the whole system to begin with. The system itself is flawed. There is no good or bad data, no right or wrong input. There is only data, raw and unfiltered. Once we do that, we can begin to see that learning how to handle the data is much simpler and more streamlined. Instead of asking the question, is this data right or wrong, we can then ask, 1. Where is it coming from, 2. What does it mean, and 3. What should I do about it. For the sake of simplification, let’s go back to my clothing illustration. What was I really doing when faced with the decision about what to wear? I was asking the question, “what is the right thing to wear,” and trying to answer it through a series of irrelevant questions based on arbitrary preferences and values. The real answer is, “there is no such thing as the wrong thing to wear.” When I understand this, then I understand how I’ve framed the decision in the wrong way. Then I can leave that whole way of deciding what to wear, and simply ask myself, “what do I feel like wearing.” The answer doesn’t matter. There is no right or wrong choice. There are many choices concerning clothes which will be interpreted in many different ways, but when I can transcend my own and others arbitrary systems of value, I can free my mind from endless over processing in order to leave it to do what it’s meant for. And what is the mind meant for? It is meant for discerning love.
The main question the mind should be consumed with answering is, “how can I love the world around me,” which often gets simplified in any moment to, “how can I love this person or thing in front of me right now.” The mind focused on reinforcing arbitrary systems of value will never get to this question. It will always be attempting to cycle through a series of questions to which there is no real answer. The whole system is an illusion, and creates only illusive answers. This kind of thinking is wrapped up in questions like, “how should I value this or that,” or “why should I value this or that,” and never gets to the bottom of the real question, which is “what is the value this or that has.” When we ask that question, we understand that we have no real way of knowing the answer. We do not have the ability to determine the value of something. A system based on my own ability to value anything eventually ends in hate. A system based on attempting to discern the value something has, completely independent of me, will lead to love. That self-referential system of value doesn’t work because it seeks to create meaning out of nothing, based on whatever I want to base it on, but always on what it means to me. A system of value that comes from outside of me, based on something other than anything I think or prefer, demands that I look to something outside of me for that understanding. And that action will inevitably lead me to value all things, and love them as they are, because all things become lovely and loveable when we understand them as things created by the energy of Love. Only God can give anything value. When we replace God with ourselves, as the makers of meaning and value, we lose the reality of what everything is and the intrinsic value it really has. This is what the Christian story refers to as the "Knowledge of Good and Evil", and "The Fall". It's just another way of saying that we are not capable of assessing the goodness of things. When I determine somethings goodness, I determine it's value. But that value is relative to me. Things have value apart from me, not because I give it to them. When I determine that I can give something value, I take away the value of all things. Then I get caught up in an endless attempt to give them back some kind of value, based on very limited data. The end result of this process is not meaning, but meaninglessness, and that is the fullest result we have finally come to in this over-intellectualize, post-modern age. We are currently in a state that can be properly called nihilism, where nothing has any value, and everything is meaningless. But, as I’ve already said in a previous post, we will never accept meaninglessness. So, the endless cycle continues, where our very attempt to create meaning creates it's lack. We must find a way off this crazy Roundabout.
What this means, practically, for the operation of the mind, is that spiritual discernment, not independent thinking, is its proper function. Those ideas and concepts may be foreign to you, so let me explain. It is the minds function to discern the value something already has, instead of trying to place its own self-referential value on something. Back to my clothes example. When I’m deciding what to wear, discernment allows me to value clothes and fashion properly, while independent thinking can lead to all kinds of dysfunctional ideas and conclusions, which can ultimately leave me thinking I’ve dressed myself in a way that is right or wrong. Any time I think I’ve dressed myself “right,” I must then start observing others according to how close they have dressed to my "right way". When I think I’ve dressed myself “wrong,” then I usually just feel bad, guilty, or shameful, and can also translate the dysfunction of that shame to others. But when I discern the proper value of clothes, I can let go of any value based system of right or wrong and just enjoy what clothes are meant to be. Clothes are meant to cover my body and express my personality, without devaluing the same function of clothes for others. I know it’s a silly example, but easier to make than some of the more divisive social, religious, and political issues we struggle to see clearly. The thing that discernment does differently than self-referential thinking is determine the energy behind thoughts, whether negative or positive. This is not to say any thought is right or wrong. I’ve already spent a lot of time showing that thoughts are just arbitrary data, and we get sidetracked by attempting to place our own self-referential value on them. What I mean by the positive and negative energy behind thoughts is whether or not they flow from God or us. If you remember, energy has a directional flow. When we are trying to invent our own value system, we are reversing the proper flow of energy. How this works, with thoughts, is that the proper, positive flow of energy is from God and through us back to God. That means that every positive thought flows from God, even when it comes through others and ourselves. Thus, the proper flow is maintained. Negative energy is when we attempt to originate the flow from ourselves by using our own value system, which is always relative and self-referential. It may not seem like it, but this is reversing the flow of God’s energy because we are attempting to understand the value of everything as it pertains to us, therefore value is created by focusing everything back towards ourselves, which reverses the flow of meaning as it comes from God. The proper function of the Mind Knowing Center is to determine what is from God, and what is not. To do that we have to clear the mind of our own cluttered value system, which only understands the value of anything in terms of its value to us. Then we can begin to perceive the deeper energy behind every thought, whether it's from God or us. Every value created from us is negative, every value given by God is positive, because God loves all creation with the love he/she created it out of. Our self-referential value system is a negative energy because it robs all things of their true value and devalues them by claiming their only value is determined by me. Whether we realize it or not, we can begin to sense with our minds this negative and positive energy behind every thought we encounter. But how do we do that?
The simple answer is learning to listen instead of talk. In our minds there is a constant dialog, perpetrating upon the world our own self-referential meaning. It mostly sounds like this, “I don’t like that shirt, that skin color, that song, this flavor, that look, that person, this neighborhood,” and so on. It is a constant critiquing of all things based on how they please or displease me. We might dress it up in more educated ways, but it all boils down to personal, petty preference. We might say that classical music really is better than pop-rock, and we may site actually facts and data to affirm our view, but it is still just self-referential truth. Don’t confuse the truth I’m talking about with scientific truth. I’m talking about truth as reality, not truth as information about the way the physical world works. The truth about reality is the frame we use to determine what has value, and what kind of value it has. This is truth that can only come to us from God, and truth that we distort and destroy every time we try to produce it for ourselves. This is why Jesus told us to stop judging. It is this constant judging that puts us at odds with God’s perspective of the world, and equates to walking through the world talking instead of listening. Listening, on the contrary, requires that we put down our self-referential value system and start trying to hear the deeper message of how God values all things, by getting in tune with this God energy all around us. We do this by learning how to silence our thoughts, and once they have been silenced enough, for long enough, we will begin to hear the deeper, quiet voice of God. We will know we are beginning to hear this deeper voice when we find ourselves falling in love with the whole world, because the voice of God is always heard through love. God always affirms the energy of him/herself flowing to and through all things. And likewise, always resists the opposing energy of hate. God’s energy is always affirming the value of all things, because all things come from God. Any energy which differentiates between better or worse, more or less, higher or lower when it comes to the value of things, is an energy flow in opposition to God. We can say different things have different purpose and function. We cannot say God creates an order of value based on more or less. God’s value of things is always affirming. As we learn to stop pressing our own value upon things, and let our minds become quiet from this maddening mob of words and opinions, we can then begin to hear God’s quiet, loving voice in our minds.
Earlier I used the phrase, “over-analysis leads to paralysis”, but the better truth is that “self-analysis leads to paralysis.” When we’re functioning in our minds through our own operating system, it’s bound to get overloaded. It’s just a matter of time. What we need is a better operating system that can handle all of the data, and by doing so give us a true picture of reality. True reality is a God who loves everything. God is that better operating system. Our own operating system reverses the flow of energy by trying to control all things according to our purpose and meaning instead of simply receiving those things from the energy flow of God, which is already flowing to us. Anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, hatred and the like are all symptoms of the ego-centric self trying to control what it cannot, what it is not meant to. Our system of meaning and understanding is simply too small, and to inadequate to give the whole world meaning. It will make most of the world meaningless, because we will bend all meaning to what things mean for us, and give ourselves more meaning than we should, and everything else much less. This is what we could call an overly developed sense of individualism or separateness. We do not understand our connectedness to all things, because we do not see ourselves as a part of all things. Instead, we see all things as a part of ourselves. It puts us as the center of the universe instead of God. This is the essence of what religion calls “idolatry”, or trying to be our own god, and it creates 7 billion competing gods instead of one unifying God. It also puts all humanity at odds when we are pushing for our individually crafted value system on others. But when we all surrender to the only true value system of God, we all surrender to love.
Maybe none of this makes sense to you. I wouldn’t be surprised, and I wouldn’t fault you for that. It’s really a pretty crazy idea, because we’re all so well adjusted to ourselves as our own meaning makers. It’s natural for us to operate out of our own minds instead of the mind of God. The mind for us, I think, is the hardest to let go of. We truly won’t until we come face to face with the utter terror created by the dysfunction of our own mind operating in isolation. But I have hope. The growing levels of mental health issues means more and more people are experiencing the reality of what our human minds were not meant for. I’ve spent a long time in the negative, talking about the way the mind isn’t meant to work. I wish I had more time to paint the positive picture, but I’ll end by trying to do that a little. When we begin to live out of the flow of God’s mind instead of our own, it puts us in a place where understanding comes to us effortlessly, instead of having to work hard to work out our understanding of anything. The understanding we need in every moment begins to be sourced by God instead of us, which means that, instead of the constant dialog of what we think and how we must think through everything, we experience the mental quiet of simply waiting to be told. The contemplative life is a listening life, because we are ever waiting in the expectation that God will give us the understanding we need for every moment. After my breakdown, when all my thoughts were chaotic and out of control, I suddenly had the most excruciating desire for my mind to get quiet. It’s been a long journey, but here on the other side, I’ve come to experience a whole lot more of God’s voice in my mind, because I’ve been able to let go of a lot of my mental talking and get more quiet. The quiet is a double blessing. It brings peace to my mind, and gives me the inner stillness to hear the voice of God speaking to me in so many different ways. I’m also better able to really hear the heart and mind of others too. What that looks like, in every moment of needing understanding, is that I resist the knee jerk to come up with my own ideas, stay quiet, and let God answer in his/her way and time. What that looks like is ideas and images popping into my head, and the felt inner trust to know that this is truly the voice of God speaking to me through vision. I’ll end with this one example.
Years ago, when I was not even very tuned into God’s voice, I had this really neat experience at college. I don’t know when I realized it, but about halfway through my day of classes, cafeteria food, and friends, I discovered that I’d lost my wallet. I think just about everyone has had that frantic experience. Before cell-phones, it was the most anxiety producing thing to lose, and losing it really got me worked up. I was going all over campus looking or my wallet. In my room, in all my morning classes, in all my dirty clothes, everywhere. Finally, it dawned on me to stop and ask God for help. I simply prayed for God to help me find my wallet. A few minutes later, as I was continuing to walk around and look, an image came into my head. I just got this instant and clear picture of my wallet sitting in my student mail slot. So, I walked to the mail room, and sure enough, there was my wallet. That is how God works. What I’ve realized over the years isn’t just that God is able to speak to me in this way, but that I mostly miss it because of all the constant noise in my head. I’ve learned to hear God much better now, not so much because I’ve learned to listen better, but because I’ve learned to stop listening to so much else. Inner, mental stillness has made this possible. There’s a lot that feeds into that stillness and its lack, which we’ll have to delve into at a later time. But I want you to know that at least it’s possible, and in a much grander way than we could imagine. Everyday I strive to go through life listening for God’s voice and God’s understanding of everything around me. It’s really that simple. It can be a hard practice to develop, but the reward is worth it. As I work, as I relate to others, as I encounter struggle, fear, anxiety, opposition and oppression, I know better how to remain quiet and simply let God speak to me about what all these things mean, and what to do about them. That is the essence of a mind surrendered to God. It is a mind truly at peace, because it is a mind that has experienced the reality of a God that surrounds every part of our being with a love so consuming and fulfilling that we can know we are always okay, no matter the tumult of external circumstances. That may be hard to believe, but it’s not hard to see the immense value in that. It’s what we all want, if we could just let go enough to get it. I pray we can. It’s certainly a worthy goal to reach for. So, let’s keep reaching for it together, and let’s keep learning how to do that. God has so much good life for you. God really does love you. God’s not trying to tell you how bad you are, or keep you locked up in guilt for not being good enough. God’s trying to free you from that system of self-referential value which has created such oppressive guilt. Religion can be just another self-referential value system perpetrating the same abusive metrics of not measuring up. But that kind of system is not from God. God is a liberating energy in the world. Even if you don’t believe in God at all, or believe God to be evil, I hope you can begin to walk with me to a different view of a very different God, one who is love, and wants to love you back to life. That’s the God I’ve come to know, as I’ve learned to truly hear the voice of this God-love energy in the world. Let’s keep learning together how to hear God more.
Some pictures in this blog were provided by Emil https://kalibrado.com