Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Mind: Trained Dog or Open Sky?

Yesterday I was sitting outside enjoying some sunshine when a neighbor came out with one of his dogs. He was taking out a bag of trash and when he opened his front gate his dog ran out into the street, circling around wildly. The owner would call the dog's name and have him come back by his side, only to see him back in the street, circling and running haphazardly, a few moments later. The owner would call his name again and upon hearing it the dog would, again, obey and run back over to his master. After dropping the trash off my neighbor opened the back of his SUV and his dog instinctively stopped what it was doing, sniffing the ground, jumped in the back, and assumed the position. The position was the place and manner in which the dog was to lay when going in the car for a ride. My neighbor shut the door and the dog remained, unmoving in it's spot. Watching this 45 second reel I couldn't help but see that dog as most of us human beings, trained, obedient, subservient, comfortable, and generally unaware of the position it finds itself in.

From the very first moments of birth, for most of us, we are already referred to by a name and taught, just like that dog, how to act and how not to act. We are rewarded and punished in the same manner as the dog, rewarded for actions deemed 'good', 'appropriate', or 'safe', and punished for actions seen as 'bad', 'inappropriate', or 'unsafe'. And just like the dog, the mind is molded according to the master's wishes in order to produce a 'well-trained individual'. This seems to have been humanity's way from the beginning, we train each other exactly as we train our domesticated animals, to behave, to conform, to obey...and most of all, to need that sense of unconditional love that is currently being withheld, for the sake of training. Withholding attention is the punishment and giving attention the reward, and so we all learn quite young that love is something that one must work for, strife to have, behave in certain ways to secure, and most importantly meet the right conditions to deserve it. And since love becomes a training tool to be given out or taken back, we eventually become willing subjects in the manipulation of mind according to an other's fancy. Until the day we are said to have graduated. From that day on, we are on our own, with the training we have absorbed, because just like the dog, an age comes when the brain is more or less set and the mind has taken the form of its conditioning. Now, the conditioning of said mind never ends, but the foundation from which all further conditioning is interpreted and understood, is set. Kind of like, 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' The human version sounds a little more like, 'I am the way I am.'

This is the same conditioning model most of us here in the states learned about in school being performed on dogs and mice in laboratory's across the country. Where were those animals free will when the bell rang, or the light turned on? When you and I believe we are our conditioning, we are behaving no different than that trained dog across the street. Obviously free will is of a different nature, so what about mind as an open sky? How does the mind of a trained dog become that of an open sky? Maybe you're not interested, you have a nice master, a warm bed in the back of the SUV, you're fed on time, and not just dry food but moist, delicious 'wet' food. Your surrounding conditions may be good enough to not want to disturb but what about the conditions you keep hidden, within yourself, those you are aware of only when you're honestly listening to the content of your consciousness, what about those conditions? Are they 'good enough'? The gift of our human lives lies in the ability to be totally aware of the trained dog within. I'm not sure if the dog across the street has that ability, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you and I do. So, in being aware of the trained dog within, totally, not accepting some aspects and hating others, but just to be totally and simply aware of the entire movement, which naturally occurs in one's natural awareness, you may discover you've been looking down and sniffing the ground this entire time. And then, well, you just look up and there is the open sky above you, right? Have you got it?