Good day, good people!
Below you’ll find a response to some questions I was asked recently which may be interesting to you. Enjoy! The questions and my answer are below.
Be well and take really, really good care of yourself!
Q: You talk about conditioned mind as if it’s a person, like it’s a living thing, but surely you’re not saying that we have some kind of entity living inside our heads. If that’s not what conditioned mind is, then what is it? You talk about it as if it’s a bad thing. Is it a bad thing? Isn’t it just trying to protect us and keep us safe? How do you make it go away?
A: Really, really great questions! Thanks a ton for putting that out there. Here are a few things for you to consider as you figure this out for yourself:
A good analogy for conditioned mind is a parasite (or a virus!!!!!). A parasite is something that has latched onto a host and lives off the energy of that host. It is not the same as the host, but it shares an energy system with that host. Conditioned mind is the same way. It is not you, and yet it has access to your thinking capacity and it lives, we might say, off of your energy.
Conditioned mind is not alive. We talk about it as if it’s a living thing–like a person that is out to get you–but that’s really just the function of language. In fact it is more like a machine than a living, intelligent being. Imagine something like a lawn mower. The lawn mower is not alive, but if it has gas and it’s running it sort of acts like it’s alive. Same with conditioned mind. It responds automatically to the things going on in our minds, but without any real creativity or intelligence. It’s gas is our energy, our life force.
Conditioned mind comes out of our socialization as children. It’s really just a collection of false beliefs about who we are and what the world is. We are taught to believe all sorts of erroneous things, the most fundamental of which is that there is something wrong with us that we have to somehow overcome. We take these things on, then we spend the rest of our lives (unless we get lucky and learn how to escape from those beliefs, which is one of the functions of spiritual practice) repeating those beliefs to ourselves in our minds to make them seem real. The process of maintaining those beliefs we’ve received we call “conditioned mind”.
Yes, it is trying to protect us and keep us safe. It just has the wrong information. It doesn’t see how things really are, and it’s defending us at this point from things that are not here. Someone who is identified within conditioned mind is surviving a fiction all the time.
The trick is not so much to make it go away, but to be aware of it and through awareness let it go. That’s a completely different thing than trying to make it stop or get rid of it. If we can be aware of it while it does what it does in the background, then we can see the choice we have to let it go. From that place we can also see the alternative, which is the joy of just being our true selves.
Thanks again for the question! This is good stuff and helpful.