“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” William Blake
Living a Life in The Middle
I consider myself very fortunate in the way I was raised, which was to live in two different worlds. I spent my early years living between a land of cowboy hats and ostrich boots in Mexico, to the fast paced city life surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. Without my conscious awareness my environments put me in a position to develop the art of observation of myself and the world.
Without my choosing I constantly felt in the middle of my surroundings. When I was in Colorado I was a Mexican trying to integrate into the American way of life. In Mexico others saw me as an American or someone who was a little different than the rest. My American friends wanted me to teach them Spanish and learn about my culture. My Mexican friends would want me to teach them English and tell them about the land of the free. In the beginning it was a challenge learning to adapt and live in two distinct worlds. Later on I grew to embrace it because I realized it gave me a wider vision to perceive the world.
What I learned was that much of the world’s population lives in extremes; they are either all the way to the right or all the way to the left on a myriad of fundamental human issues. What are the implications of living in extremes? What I observed is that you are not really able to learn, which is to see something clearly, in its entirety, free of your conditioning and prejudices, to really observe something objectively.
Why do people not realize they are living a life of conditioning?
- Everyone around them because of tradition and cultural norms seems to live the same type of life, so it appears normal and acceptable. For example in Mexico cock fighting is a tradition that is quite popular, especially among the men. To them it is something that is perfectly normal because it’s tradition. Traditions become part of your unconscious mind, so you never question them. If they brought enough awareness into it, and stepped back to really observe what they where doing, they might see the absurdity of it. They might even question whether they should continue this tradition.
- People don’t understand their emotions. It is important that one learn to observe ones emotions. You will see the importance in learning not to express negative emotions. Just notice that each time you are expressing and consumed with your emotions that you lose yourself, you forget your sense of “I am”, you don’t remember yourself. But if you have an alert mind you can observe this inner movement taking place and have the awareness to not become identified with it.
The fact of the matter is that most people are asleep and live very mechanical lives because we are operating from our conditioned unconscious tendencies. Until you become aware of what those tendencies are and begin to struggle with them, understand them, there is very little hope for change.
You need to develop discipline in studying ones self, to understand your mind, the nature of your thought. To be able to see that all thought is simply a response from memory, which is always old. To have a sincere desire of enquiring into why there is conflict within you. This is to say that you need to learn to observe yourself, only then will you be able to question your conditioning, if you don’t question you don’t internalize.
One of humanity’s greatest problems is that we are constantly trying to become something. We look at each other and say that things should be this way or that, taking old thought and projecting our ideas of the future. Life is always new yet we approach it with old ideas. We neglect looking at things as they truly are which is to look at something with new eyes, free of conditioning. Becoming always implies that things will take time to change, hence our conflict.
How To Really Change
If we truly want to change we need to observe what “is” not “what should be”. To be able to see what “is” you need to have a mind that is:
- Psychologically free of the past or future. This means that you need to have an extremely quiet mind.
- Capable of perceiving that the observer is the observed, that they are not separate. That the thinker and the thought are not separate. The problem is that we see these internal manifestations as being separate, this is where conflict arises. You observe thoughts of anger within you and you say “I hate that person, they always treat me bad”, and think that this thought is separate from the part of you thinking it.When you see this you say “I don’t like being angry, I need to do something about this”. Then we proceed to suppress, distort, and escape.
You will see that when there is an observer separating himself from the thing he observes, there must inevitably be conflict. In observing this internal movement as one and not separate you will see what “is” and the conflict will cease. You will see that you “are” anger and what “is” changes instantly, you are beyond it. No effort in trying to become, no using your thoughts to change or rationalize. This is very difficult to describe, you must observe these movements in yourself.
It is an individual process to develop a sensitive alert mind that is able to remain unattached yet very attentive. But this is the type of mind you need to have to see things as they “are” not “what they should be”. To see something in its entirety ends conflict, no more effort in trying to change, a whole new dimension of action.
Practicing Meditation for a Quite Mind
Once you have a certain level of understanding of your mind, meditation can be your tool to perceive and live in a space that is free of conditioning. The more you meditate and understand what meditation really is, you will create more inner space to witness and observe all your contradictions. In that observation which is to see the contradiction in it’s entirety, the whole internal movement, your direct perception of it will give you understanding into the causes of it and therefore be free from it. You will become less and less contradictory.
Meditating does not mean to only concentrate, pure concentration makes you more closed and your mind duller. Meditation is something that is allowed to happen, a total relaxation, to be a witness of your internal world who remains passive and unattached. As you develop a knack for it you will see that the number of thoughts come down on their own accord.
Trying to control your thoughts still involves thinking, this is very subtle, you simply need an alert yet passive awareness, I know this sounds paradoxical and it is. Life is paradoxical. It is very difficult to describe a state of being that you need to discover on your own, because my description is not going to be the described. Its like asking someone how chocolate cake tastes, you can describe it but unless you eat it you will not know.
I can only point the way; you need to walk and get to know the path yourself. But this is the only way you will understand your mind and see how insubstantial thoughts are, look at a thought directly and see how it dissolves. Look at your thoughts of anger, don’t run away from them, be with them entirely, they will fade and loose their grip on you.
So summing up, living a life in the middle is to be balanced, to be in harmony, to be in the position to freely observe. I just want to thank you for reading my article, hope it helps in some way, this is a very tough topic to tackle and very difficult to explain, so forgive me if I did not do an adequate job. Just know that I am always observing myself and the world and will report what I learn along the way. Much love to everyone. Ivan Campuzano
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