The Search: An Introduction

Written by Philip Walter on Dec 16 at 5:10 pm in iSPIRITself, The Search, weMINDculture

Live life to the fullest through personal spiritual transformations.

Now, what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. … No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may obey it.

Deuteronomy 30: 11, 14 NIV

I feel as though I am at the edge of a cliff. Jumping off would mean actually saying the word that is already viscerally in my mouth and in my heart. Turning back would mean remaining confused, being unauthentic. It would signify a failure to heed Bob Marley’s advice: “Get up. Stand up. Stand up for your right.” But just what are your rights? And even more difficult to answer, Just what is right?

William James spoke of a higher mind and a lower mind. For him, the aim of spiritual practice, and the pinnacle of spiritual or religious experience, was found in letting the higher mind win the war over the lower mind.

The higher mind is like your conscience. It is the presence that observes the world and your activity in it, knowing, in some mystical Jimminy Cricket way, what is best for you. It will forever reflect what you’ve been taught is right, always saying, in the tradition of Spike Lee, “Do The Right Thing.” The lower mind, however, is ruled by reptilian instincts and always prescribes to the instant gratification plan.

Most of us go back and forth between the two extremes on a daily basis. The idea of doing what seems best, of allowing our higher minds to win the battle even half the time can seem like a pipe dream. But I have seen of late that not only is this possible but so is increasing the scope and sensitivity of both extremities to such a point that what’s best happens spontaneously every time, enabling you to “Do The Right Thing” in every situation, even when it means letting the lower mind take over for a while.

See, William James was right that total immersion in the higher mind can lead to profound spiritual experience, but he was only half right. Most of the examples given in his The Varieties of Religious Experience are stories of exceptionally driven, even psychotic individuals. Most people, like me, can only dream of such single-mindedness, such innate focus. But I have found out recently that one can also know and internalize the flowing grace of profound spiritual experience by embracing both the lower and the higher mind in a sort of gracious understanding.

This, in fact, may well be the most practical way for many people to live in this light. What light, you ask? The light of happiness, of course. The light of childhood, of awe, and of perpetually unfolding understanding. It is the feeling that this big soup we know as existence actually makes some kind of sense and that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. “Our goal is,” according to Aldous Huxley, “to discover that we have always been where we ought to be.”

Feeling that way is not as easy as it sounds. But it’s actually happening to me. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to you most assuredly.

What, then, is this gracious understanding that might allow you too to decipher the myriad ramblings of your mind and free you to be sensitive enough to do what’s best at any given moment? And where do you get it? Well, that is to be the subject of this series of articles entitled The Search. Think of it as a commentary on my search for peace of mind.


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  1. […] This is Part 2 of a 6-part series of articles called The Search. Read Part 1 here. […]

    Pingback by The Search: Experiencing Depth | Brickhouse Bodymind — February 5, 2008 @ 1:11 am

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