The mind can be a frightful thing to behold.
On November 18, 1978, the charismatic cult leader Jim Jones successfully convinced hundreds of cult members of the People’s Temple to commit “revolutionary suicide” through the intake of a mixture containing, as one of the lethal ingredients, cyanide. Victims included more than 200 hundred children. Hence, it became known as the “Jonestown Massacre.” More information about this man-made tragedy can be found online, including audio recordings of the final moments before the suicide. However, I do want to caution you: they will be shocking.
The mind is an awe-inspiring phenomenon, beautiful yet terrible. It is the most dangerous weapon in the world. If wielded benevolently, it may lead to Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, the internet, or frozen yogurt. If wielded malevolently, it may lead to the Spanish Inquisition, the atomic bomb, or the Jerry Springer Show.
A mind which can turn evil and cause catastrophes is an extremity, but the core problem is the difference between what I call “the higher self” and “the thinking mind.” The thinking mind might also be called “the ego”, however there are so many conceptions and definitions, that this would be misleading. The higher self has spiritual connotations, which relate to the ideas I discuss in other writing, be it blog posts or books.
The thinking mind is a unity of self, or rather an experience of a consistent perspective of perceptions and concepts related to a sense of self and identity, which involves believing in the narratives told about this self.
The mind is what it believes it is, what it thinks itself to be. It is like an impostor, claiming to be the creator of its own existence and narrative, even if those narratives (science may have proven this) are derived from other people’s narratives about the applicable person.
The thinking mind:
- Acts like a “god” within, a divine “I”, originator of its own unique self and ideas;
- Takes credit for ideas which come from beyond the thinking mind, like a boss who writes his name under the work of an employee;
- Manipulates and deceives for gain like a con artist;
- Is self-righteous and charismatic, like the leader of a cult;
- Forcibly supresses opposition and brutally resists change like a narcissistic dictator.
The thinking mind, however, fails miserably, like a clown with Alzheimer, in perfectly performing its tricks. It suffers from biases, is fooled by optical illusions, falls pray to stereotyped and irrational thinking, follows flawed heuristics, has a low capacity short term memory, and an unreliable long term memory storage and retrieval system which is susceptible to suggestions.
Its powers are mainly derived by conviction and belief: as long as the higher self believes the (self-)narratives and identifies with the constructs of the thinking mind, it grows, like a totalitarian state with propaganda.
Unfortunate things may happen when beliefs are taken too far in the direction of glorification of the individual self, for instance when the spiritual, pantheistic idea of “everything is identical with divinity” leads the self to identify itself as a god, mixing intuitive spiritual experiences with individuality, a sense of self, and other dualistic ideas. That’s when the ego, the thinking mind, takes over as divine soevereign. That might even be the origin of evil, although this would be a very bold statement.
The higher self is indeed majestic, however, it is not a self in the sense of an individual entity with a clearly defined identity. It is not a godly figure, not the “divine I,” but rather something beyond the world of individual forms of manifested existence, the great indescribable mystery, or the void of emptiness in which everything dissolves, but from which everything also emerges, in endless possibilities of limitless conceptions, with infinite characteristics.
If you allow yourself to be sucked into that black hole of apparent silence, inertia and nonexistence, showing the willingness to sacrifice your noisy, pretentious souvereign called the thinking mind, including everything it is identified with, you will be struck with horror upon disintegration, after which you will reemerge integrated with a smile on your face, as you have then looked into the eyes of truth, the higher reality of your higher self.
Rather than being lured into a trap set by your thinking mind, allowing yourself to be convinced to consume the cyanide of ignorance, you will awaken with a clear awareness, steering clear of the manipulated realities and conceptions of the thinking mind, with absolute confidence.
Image: The Death of Caesar, by Jean-Léon Gérôme [Public domain]