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Calming the Mind

by Roy Masters

Pick a word, anyone will do. Now begin focusing your attention upon the sound until all of your troublesome thoughts fuse into white noise -- voila, the endless loop of worry fades. Now get into the sound as though you were stepping into a dream and float away into a false sense of peace apart from a troublesome conscience.

Before you decide to use this kind of meditation to reduce anxiety, better see what price you will have to pay for this kind of peace.

A recent Time magazine article on Eastern meditation is a cunning assault on our values. The abject poverty of many Third World nations is due to the numbing effect that their religious dictators sustain through generations of mantra-type meditations. I write to warn you of the dangers, as seen from my experience as a former and somewhat repentant professional hypnotherapist.

In my youth, I was quite the entertainer. On cold winter nights in a sparsely furnished Royal Sussex regiment barracks, I persuaded my comrades to do the silliest things. In addition, they cleaned my boots and my rifle and served my needs better than those of a very jealous platoon corporal. Looking back, it was not that funny.II was only 18 years old then. After 60 years of investigation, 51 of them counseling and 44 years of experience on radio, I am much the wiser.
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During those seven years of counseling at the Institute of Hypnosis in Houston, Texas, I discovered something about human nature that you need to know. You see, I never hypnotized anyone; rather, I simply activated a pre-existing conditioning established by previous (cruel) authorities to my super confident self. The subservient loyalty of lost innocence, due to the cruelty of early conditioning, tends to transfer power to those with the same overbearing personalities, especially when associated with a familiar string of traumatic events.

Strong-willed individuals are often successful because they inherit this advantage from their suggestible victims. Those with more sophisticated forms of such knowledge can acquire permanent, almost incurable control over the hearts and minds of the masses. Some authorities do not understand their own power. They cannot, or will not, set people free. My clients needed an antidote, not more of the same old traumatic conditioning found in life’s experiences. In order to trump the intimidating bully they needed the way back to lost innocence.

All through life, our collective problem has been to defer our subservience from one expert, lover or authority to another. I realized that most Eastern meditative paths also led from one ‘holy’ person to another, rather than back to a place of childhood innocence. We desperately need someone to show us that way, and the reading of books just does not cut it.

Academic knowledge has some value until faced with the imperfect sciences of religion and metaphysics. Sheepskin authority is especially dangerous because it requires a believability that only a personal journey of discovery can bring. A taught person can only be a Pharisee. The key to the way lies not in the right kind of knowledge, but in the right kind of believability. Academic influence is the same mindless transference that trapped people in the first place. The special person we need must be coming from a place of character. They alone can show the way. It is not so much what, but who, does the teaching.

The common problem has always been rebelling or conforming to external, wrong authorities, instead of the common sense of our own pursuing conscience. Unfortunately, we often see our own conscience as the punisher rather than the savior it is. Only the symmetry of a restored innocence can save us from the arrogance of those misguided parents and intellectuals.

Meditation teachers or gurus unwittingly mislead, even as they were misled. A gullible attitude on your part perpetuates that transfer. It is something like being divorced and seeking happiness in what later becomes a wake-up call, worse than the one before. Our habit of putting our lives into the hands of others works against finding answers. In the past, we unconsciously put others on pedestals hoping to elevate ourselves by association. Those disappointments intensify our blind journey through life.

Since there is deception and duplicity in experience, how then shall you choose the right path? From experience, you have realized that answers are not external. The true way is realized only in the right kind of stillness. I emphasize -- the right kind of quiet mind.

You have always known what is right without knowing why you knew. This, as long as it is trusted, is what you have been seeking: otherwise known as faith. Wrong authority is now in command of the relationship you should have with your internal self. This illicit bond happened through many strong, angry emotions, when you were too young to resist.

This internal witness has always been with you, but your emotionally programmed and childish trust in wicked authorities kept you from trusting your own common sense. By default, you are handed from one passive aggressive individual to another, until at last you became completely lost and fell into serious conflicts with your inner self and others. Now it has become a hurt-and-rescue game. One authority hurts and another comes to your rescue, first as a lover and later as a healer.

Through cruel harping and incessant pressures, bullies and authorities impose their wills. Like monkeys, we swing from branch to branch by our tails, from those who hurt us to those who appear to save us. It is a familiar pattern, just as common in religion and metaphysics as in our sensuous relationships. Before you embark on this or any metaphysical journey, you need to ask yourself whether you want to face this problem or bury your head in the sand. Beware: Any meditation used as a drug can delude us into thinking all is well, when our true state is far from well.

Eastern-style meditations produce a special kind of peace by blocking out awareness of your failing to deal with stress. This relieves the shame and pain of not knowing how to cope. Because you do not see your problems as problems, you do not react or struggle. That is why stress appears to diminish. This delusion leads you to believe that you are in control.

For example, let us take the endless loop of worry as the evidence of the unfinished business of failing to deal with pressure. Here, resentment lies at the root of overreacting and sustaining those negative thoughts. As a means of emotionally coping, you dare not block out the awareness of injustice around you with pills or with what amounts to “denial meditation”. Some forms of meditation do just that.

As with psychotropic drugs like Prozac and many others, escape forms of meditation are religiously addictive. New conditioning superimposed over old negative associations, along with new relationships, gives a false promise of future hope.

Predation wears two faces: One violates with cruelty and betrayal and the other soothes and nurtures what the old ‘hate face’ has planted. So, you may run away from a stressful situation to form a new relationship with a lover or perhaps a ‘glorious’ religious personality. Caught up with a new idol, old troubles fade into the background but never cured.

Rather than repeating the same old mistakes by leaning on those external authorities, why not turn inward and trust the intuitive knowing with which you were born? Learn to deal boldly with the suggestive power inherent in bullies who proceed into the world and make life miserable, least you remain a slave of endless tyranny. If the blind lead the blind, surely they will all fall into the same ditch. You must now become the good and noble cause of the effect upon them.

Just as there is a true and false of everything, such as true Christianity and a fake one, so can meditative approaches to wholeness of mind mimic the right path. These lead downward to that false sense of liberty and well-being.

It is true that TM-type meditations bring certain benefits. Stress is reduced, blood pressure improves, people become more relaxed, more focused, and their immune systems get a temporary boost. However, what is not apparent is a quiet but fatal flaw. Authorities, like it or not, continue to assume a role of power over you. That is why you cannot look up to any of them for your salvation. One authority gets you through resentment; another arises with sympathy to comfort the pain of it.

Consciously or unconsciously, wittingly or unwittingly, both nurture what hate planted. There is no real cure here. Consider this. Someone dents the fender of your car. You become upset and cannot stop thinking about it. To add to your misery you also become repeatedly upset thinking about the accident. Before the night is over, the mental struggle has had the stress equivalent of a hundred accidents. You go to the doctor, who gives you some narcotic on which you become gratefully dependent. The original stress continues to compound in the virtual reality of your imagination, so that the cure then becomes part of the problem.

Hypnotic meditation does the same thing minus the chemistry. It is not rocket science to understand that when you reduce everything in your imagination to a white noise, the stresses caused by over- reactions to the scene in the mind will appear to be relieved. The illusion of getting better can be flawless, and in one sense is true. However, the problem of failing to deal with stress remains. Problems pile up to become a serious disorder, but at a much slower pace. Fatal disorders may be discovered too late, if ever.

When I was a little boy, I had a bad cold with bronchitis. I felt so bad my mother called the doctor. As soon as I heard his knock on the door, I felt better. I thought to myself: “That’s strange. I am still sick.” Later on in life, I realized what had happened; I had two problems. One of them was that I was indeed sick, a condition made worse by worry, through the unhealthy focus on my discomfort. The sudden appearance of the doctor took care of that and gave me relief. Worry had simply complicated the flu symptoms. Similarly, worry exacerbates both real and stress-based diseases, for which reason recovery is either slower or never.

Constant worry could well be both the cause and the effect of a sickness compounding upon itself. With illnesses caused by stress, like that represented by the dented fender, eventual maladies will be rooted in a drugged state of living life, like driving with the brakes on or with the engine warning light disconnected. Guided imagery and other meditative methods may provide similar illusions of recovery.

Mantra meditation is just what the doctor ordered for those over-ambitious executives who enjoy living in the fast lane, freed to go about their lives, unfettered by a nagging conscience. In the end, they all pay dearly as serious problems appear without apparent reason. There are proportionately just as many drug addicts and narcotics on the top as there are on skid row.

Any good psychiatrist can tell you that the danger in meditation or with faith in any healer is a psychotic attachment. If the guide is inexperienced or the pupil’s motive is impure, there will be a vital misdirection and a precious crossing-over point will be lost.

There is a razor’s edge between the meditative state and life’s hypnotic relationship with everything and everyone. A highly intuitive instructor can lead a person back to common sense so that faith in one’s self becomes the tool to solve all one’s problems. Failing that, the loyalty of the student becomes one with the teacher rather than a full-circle completeness with The Creator. Unfortunately, such misguided students will think they are experiencing nirvana.

This and many other dangers lurk in the pursuit of truth. The main problem is transference, a permanent and disabling dependence on the psychiatrist, guru or religious agenda. This transference can lead to absolute control of our lives by various system “masters” who have no intentions or ability to give us back to ourselves.

The mantra

It should be clear by now that if you repeat meaningless phrases, or fake holy noises, you can reduce and displace an endless loop of worry into a stream of stress-releasing white noise. In that moment, worry ceases to exist. The immediate benefit is that your blood pressure goes down and you seem to function better. In fact, you are not really better spiritually, psychologically or, for that matter, physically. Living an unfulfilled meaningless life, minus conscience, guided by stresses, to become an animal in conflict with its human side, is cause for anxiety.

Improper relief from anxiety and conflict occurs as you submerge yourself in any distracting thrill, sounds or even annoying circumstances. Perhaps music has helped you float away from the awareness of your problems into that false peace apart from God. In the back of your mind, the band goes on playing in place of your bothersome conscience. With these and many other distractions, never will you be truly awake. Instead, you will be dying to the world, having never lived. This business of floating away works for some, but is incompatible with a sincere person seeking union with the Divine. What the sincere ones want is that certain state of consciousness that were you to live from it, would make life effortless.

The masses have always sought release from anxiety and guilt without ever having to face the reasons why. Because Eastern meditation is a drugless form of denial, it is potentially dangerous to the national awareness of our values. We dare not fall asleep at the wheel. Religious and political suggestions from subversive elements can have a profound effect on a ‘values neutral’ voting population. We desperately need to be in full charge in order to face deadly enemies. Pope John Paul II makes this point perfectly in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope. I quote;

“The ‘enlightenment,’ experienced taught by Buddha comes down to the conviction that the world is bad, that it is the source of evil and suffering for man. To liberate oneself from this evil one must free oneself from this world. This necessitates a break with the ties that join us to external reality — ties in our psyche, in our bodies. The more we are liberated from these ties, the more we become indifferent to what is in the world and the more we are freed from suffering from the evil that has its source in the world.”

Do we draw near to God this way? God is not mentioned in the enlightenment conveyed by Buddha; Buddhism is, in large measure, an atheistic system. Pope John Paul II continues: “We do not free ourselves from evil through the good that comes from God. We liberate ourselves only through a detachment from the world, which is bad. The fullness of such detachment is not union with God, but by what is called Nirvana, the state of perfect indifference with regard to the world. To save oneself means, above all, to free oneself from evil by becoming indifferent to the world that is the source of evil. This is the culmination of the spiritual process.”

Therefore, you see, Buddhism’s idea of perfect peace is denial. Theirs is a false peace derived through drifting away from the source of conflict while lost in one’s imagination, a gaggle of noises or being fused to a oneness with nature or the omnipotence of the universe. To the contrary, one’s journey should be in the opposite direction. One must meditate in such a fashion as to detach oneself from the Alice-in-Wonderland state of one’s thinking; to seek the soul’s salvation from its hellish descent into the bottom of our own ego universe. To put it more plainly: The journey is supposed to be upward and inward. The goal ought to be to stand objectively outside and above the endless loop of emotionally sustained thought. In this place of detachment, there comes freedom from conditioned thinking, and power to modify and resolve all post-traumatic and cultural thinking. In the ever-present here and now, God awaits to give you hope for the future, internal peace and, above all, fullness of purpose and meaning.

In this true kind of meditation, one moves toward the source of guilt and conflict, rather than running from it. This protocol of the repentant son’s journey toward the redeeming light is often painful. It is incompatible with those who stubbornly believe that their conscience is a bothersome appendage from some prehistoric past, a punisher rather than a redeemer.

There is a story from India of a poor farmer who heard that his friend, who lived 100 miles north of him, had discovered diamonds on his property. So he packed up his meager belongings, sold his farm and headed north hoping to make his fortune. Several years later, weary and broken, he returned home only to find that his former property had become a diamond mine. The moral of the story is obvious. You must first look in your own backyard. This is also true for you. What you have been seeking elsewhere has always been within you, waiting. I know; I have spent 60 years of my life rediscovering this lost knowledge.

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Articles by Roy Masters

Religion & Spirituality

bulletGetting Down to Basics

bulletStillness for All Seasons

bulletThe Moment of Truth

bulletDoubt: Faith's Dark Side

bulletPlagued By Doubt and
   Despair? The Surprising Cure

bulletFinding Forgiveness

bulletYour Secret Judgments

bulletGiving Up Excuses

bulletFinding Conscience

bulletA Force Called "Love"

bulletHypnotic Christianity?

bulletThe Blood of the Lamb Mystery

bulletGod Made Simple

bulletThe Passion

bulletEastern Meditation

bulletTime: Where Our Past Meets
   the Ever-presence

bulletToward Discovery: Swirling
   Out of Nothingness

bulletReligion and Spirituality

bulletMining the Message Behind
   the Word

bulletThoughts on Christmas Giving

bullet"Give Us Barabbas" - A Divided
   Country, The Cause and Cure

bulletRising Above Evil




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