This subject is very tricky to understand, it is simple, yet difficult to grasp because it is so simple. For this reason, there will be many discussions about it in different ways for you to have the variety of concepts that one may reach your understanding. Although there will be many lessons on the same topic, they may be seen as parts of one long lesson, but in truth, you could grasp the concept from not only any single lesson, but even from one line of one lesson.
The essence of Mind is like air. As the air has no fixed shape of its own, but takes the shape of its container, so does the mind. It may be easier to picture with water for now, but once you grasp the water analogy, let your mind go further with using air, which is closer to mind than water.
Water is very malleable in its liquid state. But place it in a container and freeze it, then tear apart the container and the water has now taken and retained that shape, it has become fixed rather than fluid.
Such is the same with the true nature of mind. In its unformed state, as before you where born and when you are still an infant, it is relatively free of concepts, but when fit into an image of what the world is supposed to be like, it takes a fixed form. Then you are stuck with that form and try to make the whole world fit to its shape.
Taking the water frozen in a vessel one step further. Let’s say that the vessel had a solid rod in the center. Then the water would be formed as a cylinder with a hollow center. So the mind now has not only been fixed in its shape, but it also tries to make everything it encounters fit into the shape of its hollow center. Now it has two restrictions on how it deals with life. It requires life and the world to be a certain way so it can fit in, then it demands everyone and everything it deals with to fit into its fixed shape of its concept of how they should be.
Since a square peg does not fit in a round hole, reality cannot fit in the formed frozen mind. And because of this, reality is missed and life is difficult. Acceptance is impossible.
This solidification, rigidity, is never noticed since the mind thinks itself to be free or at least to be what it is supposed to be. Once it has fixed itself in a form, like cement, when poured is almost liquid, but when dried becomes solid without the chance of ever becoming liquid again, and so believes itself to be what it is for the rest of its life, the mind takes on that attitude as well. This is by believing our body and personality to be what we really are, rather than just a vessel that we are temporarily placed in. Fortunately, the mind has the chance of returning to a liquid or even gaseous state. But this process would require placing the ice on the fire. As the Sufis say, one must be cooked.
There is a simple practice that can be done at any time to melt the ice. When you look at a distant object, consider that your mind is not separated from that object, whatever it may be, and that your mind, the essence of your mind, the god that you are a spark of, and the object you are contemplating, is also a spark of that same original fire. Allow your mind to release itself from the location of your body and expand as air would leave a balloon when the opening is released.
The true mind is the essence of the perception of sight. It is not a thing, it is an essence of a thing, the essence of the physical ability of sight. This is why we relate it to air or water as the comparison of fixed to malleable, from: ‘a thing versus not a thing’.
When you do the above exercise, once you start to get a feeling of connection, take it one step further and try to notice the essence of the perception of sight.
Let’s go step by step;
1 Look at a distant object, let’s say a mountain.
2 Contemplate that your body and the mountain, as well as the air in between, are all made of the same thing, atoms. This may take some time, perhaps ten minutes or longer. Consider that you and the mountain, as well as everything in between and touching you both, i.e. air, is all the same thing in essence, atoms. As your hand touches something, your hand is not your sense of touch, that is a faculty of your brain, but the hand makes the connection from the object to your brain. This is the same as the air between you and the mountain, this is the essence of the perception of sight, there is no separation.
3 When you feel a shift in your perception or state of mind, it is sort of like a door opening or the relaxation of a tense muscle, (this could take many times of practice before you get this, so keep trying as often as possible until you get it) then keep the sensation and move to the next step.
4 Try to notice who is looking and thinking about the mountain and your body. Or it could be that you try to notice how you are perceiving the mountain and your body.
5 When you feel how you are looking or what is seeing, you will find the nature of your true mind in the essence of the perception of sight.
Let’s expand on the second point. As your hand touches something, your hand is not your sense of touch, that is a faculty of your brain, but the hand makes the connection from the object to your brain. As an example, if you are touching a piece of cloth, perhaps the finest silk, it would give you one feeling. Then if you are touching a persons skin, that would give you another feeling, especially if the person is alive or just recently deceased so the body is still warm, and then again if they are of the same sex or opposite, and if they are family, or of significantly different ages, in all possibilities. Further, if you where touching the arm or the face, that would again give different reactions to your feelings.
Let your mind explore the possibilities and notice how the surface of the object you touch is not the only cause of how you interpret what you are touching and how it effects you. Think about how much effect the mind has in your physical senses. How much the mind differentiates depending on what you are touching, and what part of your body is contacting what you are touching, your hand or the back of your neck.
It is very important to see how much the mind and emotions actually interpret and therefore control our experiences of the physical senses. Once you have taken enough time to let this sink in, then you may start to see how your programmed thoughts are limiting the possibilities of you developing the full extent of your capacities.
You know (even if you want to say you believe you can), that you cannot walk through walls, or float in the air, or have the ability to know the future or read peoples minds. But the truth is that we can do these things, since other people can do it, all humans have the capacity. What prevents you from doing these things is the formation of your mind, in its presently solidified state.
The way to melt the mind so it can develop all its capacities is to destroy its concepts. This lesson teaches you to re-evaluate your senses and their validity. Not only have I taught you to doubt your thoughts and beliefs, now you are being told to even doubt your physical senses. This is melting the ice of the fixed form of the mind. But before you can put yourself on the fire, in the heat of the barren desert where you will face great challenges in changing your formation, you must first prove to yourself by practices that everything is in your mind and nothing you believe is actually real as you believe it to be. We are destroying the limitations of our beliefs. If you do not break them down first, you will never be able to allow the full potential of your being to emerge.
It is all the same as holding the heavy bags and they are burning your hands, but when you put them down, your fingers cannot open. Just try this for three minutes. Clench your fists as tight as you can, and just keep gripping tighter and tighter for three minutes on the clock. At the end of the time, just relax them, stop putting in effort, and you will see how they have retained their position. DO NOT just open them forcefully and fast, that will hurt your hands, allow them to open naturally and notice how long it takes for them to fully relax.
To grasp the teachings in this lesson, you must allow your mind to relax the same way you have let your hand open again. You know how long your mind has effectively been clenched tight holding onto its beliefs, it will take time for it to open, and the only way is to simply let it relax, stop thinking.
Here is an easy way to let your mind relax. When you are faced with someone who is adamant about something and you disagree, or it doesn’t seem right to you, (I am not talking about murder or crime, but about some simple thing that is a matter of opinion) notice how your mind has clenched tight in the process of defending your opinion (you may even use this on something you are adamant about like abortion as an example. Something that you are certain there is no other way than what you believe).
Notice how your brain is actually tensing up. Then use the dissolving practice and allow it to melt, let it relax slowly like you did with your hand. Whether you agree or disagree at the end of the conversation is irrelevant, who is right is not the point here. It is an opportunity to practice letting your mind melt and relax, open. This is just another way that you can develop your being without taking time out of your normal life, and find ways to practice at any moment in the day.