Original Photograph by Mervi Eskelinen
There is nothing so disobedient or detrimental as an undisciplined mind~ Buddha
Humans are the most intelligent beings on the planet. Unlike any other creature, we have the luxury of choice—not instinctual choice, but real choice. The only thing that nature has over us is the inherent submission to ‘what is.’ I spoke about this in an earlier post. The difference is that animals and plants are unaware that they consistently operate in the eternal present. They don’t choose to BE. They simply are. The kicker is that we, too, simply are, but we consistently resist our being-ness. Our blessing and our curse is that we have this choice.
When we resist the present, our instincts kick-in. A part of the mind shuts down, and goes on auto-pilot. Our extremely advanced brain knows when we are not totally here and compensates accordingly. The result? A majority of the human world still operates by instinct—instincts that have done us a great disservice in our modern day. Think about this. When we were hunter-gatherers, we had one main concern: how are we going to survive? The answer was simple: find food, find shelter, don’t dwell in one place for too long, and above all, conserve energy (because we never knew when we’d need to outrun prey or predator). Today in most of the western world, the first three issues are no longer a concern. This leaves us with the last, and formerly most important instinct: conserve energy. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep an energy reserve, but we must not let it overtake our existence.
We are constantly finding new ways to make our lives easier, to conserve energy, to get what we want when we want it. As fantastic as they can be, these instant-gratification technologies have promoted massive spikes in unawareness. This unawareness or unconsciousness results in over-eating, complacency, mental synapses degradation, memory loss, slowed reaction time, anxiety, and the list goes on. It all boils down to one thing: choice (or lack thereof).
Most advertisements for cutting-edge technology and services would have you believe that their products expand your options and increase your individuality. I submit that the opposite is true. Their ultimate function is to limit your capacity for thought, specifically your power to choose. Take the iPhone for example. Everyone and their mother have one these days (I certainly do). With this tiny device we have the world at our fingertips; access to videos, music, books, restaurants, shopping, etc. With all that, what’s not to love? But there is a cost. This ‘thing’ becomes so integral to our existence that we believe it is an extension of ourselves. It is not. The result is a shift of awareness from the real self to the projected self. The projected self is limited, less-complex, and in many ways lacks free will. Our choices become constrained by whichever technological medium we are using. We are forced to operate within the bounds of this external entity.
Only when we return our consciousness to the body, mind and spirit can we choose the eternal present. When we live in the now, our options, our dreams, our possibilities are endless. No one can put boundaries on the capacity of your mind and spirit except you. So, today before you get swept into your habitual routine of activity, STOP. Before you have that cup of coffee, before you start playing angry birds, before you flip on the television, ask yourself: Am I choosing to do this or is it just habit resulting from boredom, complacency, anxiety? Check in. Notice the breath. Remember, you are alive. And you are the most intelligent species on Earth. You have the choice.
By Terence Stone
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.