Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Mental Map

Anne Emond
I've never been to Europe. I've never been anywhere outside of the country besides St. Croix and the Dominican Republic. But I have been to all the places above - hundreds and hundreds, even thousands of times. Currently am in some of those places. But the place I'd really like to be (yes even more than Europe or in the warm ocean of Jamaica) is the floating down the River of Pleasure in the Small Things... always. And do you know what? it's possible to be floating along that river MOST of the time. I'm still trying to figuire out how. But last night in yoga I got to experience a taste of it.

My teacher began the class with an allegory from a story in the Upanishads (which are, basically, ancient Indian texts full of stories that try to figuire out what the "true self" is) and it goes a little some like this (insert a little rap jingle here)...

The allegory is that the SELF (*not to be confused with your mind's conception of your "self" or your ego)  is a rider in a chariot. It does nothing but witnesses and enjoys the ride. The Body is the chariot in which the Self rides and resides. The Intellect is the charioteer. The Mind is the reins. The five Horses are the five senses.The paths of the chariot are the sense objects.

This means that the charioteer/driver (the INTELLECT) is in control of the reins (the Mind.) Sometimes it feels as if we don't have control over our minds or the thoughts and feelings we have but we do. The intellect is something deep within us. In school I thought the word "intellect" meant the same as the word "intelligence." This is because I overused the synonmym button on Word to write papers faster and according to Word's synonym button "intelligence" and "intellect" were the same and whenever I overutilized one, (see what I did just there?) I would use the other word to look smarter. I thought that since intelligence was something certain kids were, like Scott who, poor guy, had elastic at-the-bottom fake jeans but who was absolutely brilliant in science because he knew EVERYTHING in our textbook, then intelligence was something you had to work at. Intelligence/intellect meant studying history, writing papers, doing algebra etc. etc. But intellect isn't something you learn in a textbook. You can't memorize intellect. It's not a matter of being "smart enough" to have it and it isn't something that someone else tells you.

The Intellect is something deeper than the concept of intelligence that I thought it was and is, in this case, closer to wisdom. It is an intuitive knowing and internal compass that rests at the bottom of our spines and knows all, understands all and is good. We can trust our Intellect (or whatever word you would like to describe it - intuition may work better for you) to control our minds from thinking negative, fear-based, untrue thoughts all of the time. Sometimes when I become distrustful of myself it's because I don't think that anyone is really in control here. I feel like I am just this body and then separate from that I have this crazy mind that produces thoughts. And my conception of my "self"? Well it's just images that my mind churns out, images from facebook, images/feelings/thoughts from childhood et cetera. But the SELF is beyond the mind. The mind can't grasp the Self because the Self is much deeper. The mind tries to make words and images to understand the Self but the Self is wordless, image-less and greater. The Self is beyond anything the mind can produce.

Always remember that a deeper wisdom beyond your conception is always in control. A good wisdom. A knowing wisdom. A wisdom you can trust to control your mind. A wisdom that wants you to enjoy the ride of life. So what are you fighting against? Go with the flow of life, float on the river of pleasure in the small things.

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