Taming the Monkey Mind

By Keith Sherwood

Masters of Yoga are fond of saying that the human mind is like a monkey who got drunk, fell out of a tree and, after hitting its head on a stone, was bitten by a snake. The Buddhists are no less sanguine when they state that it’s easier to conquer seven cities than to conquer the human mind. Though the mind may be difficult to control, Yoga and Buddhism agree that it must be tamed in order to achieve self-realization. Pantanjali acknowledged this when he wrote, “Yoga (which in Sanskrit means union) is stilling the waves of the mind.”

Yoga teaches that three steps must be mastered in order to control the mind. The first step is dharana, concentration or single-mindedness. In dharana, the aspirant learns to focus or fix their mind (citta) on one point or one particular quality and-or object. The second step is dhyana, meditation. In dhyana, the aspirant learns to detach themselves from the individual mind and ego (lower manas) so that they can experience the essential quality and-or qualities of the object or attribute on which their mind has been focused. In dhyana, the mind flows in an unbroken current to the object and-or quality. The third step is samadhi. In samadhi, the aspirant abandons attachment to the individual mind and ego completely and comes into union with the object and-or quality on which their mind has been focused.

For someone living in a modern, technological society with all its distractions, mastering dharana can seem like a fanciful goal. And going beyond dharana to discern the subtle variations of energy that differentiate one quality from another, which is essential in dhyana and samadhi, can seem like a hopeless quest.

Don’t Abandon the Ship

In spite of the difficulties involved in mastering dharana and dhyana, don’t give up – at least not yet. The ancient masters of Yoga were well aware of how difficult it could be to master the “monkey mind.” And in what might be considered a Yogic ‘coup d’état,’ they developed a system of techniques to subdue the mind by simply going around it. One of the most useful and accessible tools they developed is known as the “Shri Yantra Meditation.”

The word yantra comes from the Sanskrit root ‘yam,’ which means to sustain or to support. And from the suffix ‘tra,’ which means instrument. Its original meaning quickly expanded to mean any sort of machine or instrument used in architecture, astronomy, alchemy, chemistry, warfare or recreation.

The use of Shri Yantra (see figure 2) as a spiritual tool goes back to the 10th century and continues today in South India. Its origins lie in the advaitic, non-dualistic tradition of Kashmir Shaivism and is closely associated with Shankara, the famous advaitic master. We are told that Shankara had Shri Yantra established in temples throughout India so that no one “... should face the dearth of vibrations harmonizing both material and spiritual wealth.” According to the “Tantraraja Tantra,” there are 960 yantras. The Shri Yantra is considered the most highly esteemed.

Structure of Shri Yantra

The Shri Yantra is constructed of nine intersecting triangles. Four triangles are pointing upward and five downward. The four pointing upward are associated with Shiva, who represents Universal Consciousness; the five pointing downward are associated with Shakti, who represents energy with universal qualities. The interplay of these triangles creates an imbalance which makes this particular icon the most dynamic of all yantras and therefore the most powerful.

Its power supports the organs of perception and the central nervous system as well as the free radiation of consciousness and subtle energy through the subtle field. That in turn allows the authentic mind to emerge so that the aspirant can experience the truth of ‘something’ by coming into union with its qualities.

An important aspect of the Shri Yantra is that the absolute (the oneness at the center of the multiverse) is not depicted symbolically... nor can it be, since it has no individual qualities – nor is it an object of knowledge. It is represented by the Bindu, the receding point at the center of the yantra, which leads the aspirant inward to the unique experience of the absolute.

The Symbol of Eternal Life

Like the Shiva-Shakti images in Tantric iconography, the Shri Yantra symbolizes the dual aspects of life; both universal and individual synergistically uniting with one another to produce unity. The five female triangles expanding from above and the four male emerging from below signify the continuous process of creation. Like an uninterrupted series of lightning flashes, they delve into each other and mirror the eternal procreative moment – a dynamism nevertheless exhibited in a static pattern of geometrical repose. This is the archetypal Hieros Gamos, or ‘Mystical Marriage’, represented in an abstract diagram – a key to the secret of the phenomenal mirage of the world.” (“Consciousness”, by C.O. Evans & J. Fudjack p.72)

Tradition suggests that Shri Yantra can be approached in two ways. In the ‘Outward’ approach, the aspirant begins at the center of the yantra by focusing on the bindu. Once the mind is fixed on the bindu and the meditation begins, the aspirant expands their awareness to take in the smallest triangle which surrounds it. The aspirant continues by taking in the next two triangles, and so on, slowly expanding their awareness outwards through the sequence of triangles to the outer shapes which surround the bindu.

 “This outward contemplation is associated with an evolutionary view of the of the universe where, starting with primordial matter represented by the bindu, the aspirant focuses on increasingly complex organisms, as indicated by increasingly complex shapes, until reaching the very boundaries of the universe from where escape is possible only through one of the four doors into chaos.

The inward approach to meditation, which starts from a circle and then moves inwards, is known in Tantric literature as the process of destruction.” (ibid. p. 72)

In this approach, more complex shapes give way to simpler shapes, and the more complex qualities associated with the manifest universe give way to the ultimate simplicity of the Singularity at the root of the phenomenal universe represented by the bindu at the center.

Meditating with Shri Yantra

In the following text, you will overcome the monkey mind by taking either the inward or outward approach. After you’ve made your choice, find a comfortable position with your back straight. Then place the Shri Yantra in front of you so that you can see it clearly. Close your eyes next and breathe deeply through your nose for two to three minutes. Continue by counting slowly backward from five to one repeating and visualizing each number three times to yourself. Once you’re relaxed, you can activate your heart chakra gate by mentally affirming in words not thoughts, “It’s my intent to activate my heart chakra gate.” Your heart chakra gate is located on the right side of the human heart and extends from your spinal column to the front of your breast bone. When the chakra gate has become active, you will feel a subtle shift in your consciousness and a vibration at the back of the chakra gate that moves forward.

After you’ve activated the chakra gate, you will center yourself in your heart chakra field – a vast field of prana connected to the chakra gate – by mentally affirming, “It’s my intent to center myself in my heart chakra field.” As soon as you’re centered, more prana will radiate through your subtle energy system and you will feel more stable. Take five minutes to enjoy the effects. Then continue by performing the Shri Yantra meditation.

The Inward Approach

To use the inward approach, focus your eyes on the outer edge of the Shri Yantra. Once your eyes are focused, move your awareness inwards, letting the intersecting triangles lead you ever closer to the bindu, the point at the center of the yantra. Once you’ve reach the bindu, let your mind go even deeper until it reaches Universal Consciousness at the center of your being.

The Outward Approach

To use the inward approach, focus your eyes on the bindu at the center of the yantra. Once your eyes are focused, move your awareness outward from the bindu letting the intersecting triangles lead you ever further from it. Once you’ve reached the outer triangles, melt into the complexity that is the essence of Shri Yantra and the diversity created by the evolutionary process. Resist the temptation to busy your mind with thoughts and images. Just let yourself experience the Shri Yantra directly while you detach yourself from the movie of your mind.

You can begin by practicing the Shri Yantra meditation for about twenty minutes a day. When you feel comfortable, you can expand the length of time you put aside for this remarkable meditation. In either case, Shri Yantra will become a trusted and valuable tool enabling you to go to deeper and healthier levels of consciousness and to free yourself from the domination of the monkey mind.

The End

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Mental Disease is Contagious

By Keith Sherwood

A healthy mind is dependent on three things, space, stability and silence. This doesn’t mean that I’m disregarding current research suggesting that genetics and environment play their part. What I am suggesting is that the root of mental disease can be found on the subtle levels of energy and consciousness – which means that people and non-physical beings can make you mentally ill or even steal your soul if you let them. So, don’t let them – as Bob Dylan entreats you.

That said; let’s start by debunking some bogus ideas about mental health that have been widely accepted by both the medical community and the lay public.

Bogus Idea # 1

The first bogus idea is that you’re a physical being with a big brain, who evolved from more primitive ancestors.

Sure, your physical-material body has evolved on this planet, and you do have a big brain. But you’re not exclusively a physical being and never have been. You’re an inter - dimensional being whose soul and spirit have been around long before your physical-material body became a vehicle for an advanced soul.

Your sentience is not unique either. You share the multiverse on both the physical-material and non-physical planes with many other beings.

The truth is that the multiverse is teeming with life because the life force animates everything it touches and serves as the medium that connects everything that lives together. It follows that the ubiquity of the life force is sufficient to animate your soul and spirit, which means they don’t require a physical-material body to exist. It also means that you may have incarnated into a physical-material body many times before your soul and spirit arrived on Earth, and some of your earliest incarnations may have been on other planets. In addition, given the fact that you’ve lived many times, it’s unlikely that your mental health has been influenced exclusively by the condition of your nervous system and the chemical interactions that have taken place during your present incarnation.

It’s clear that many factors influence your mental health, including your karmic heritage, attachments, subtle interactions on the levels of energy and consciousness, with other beings, in this life and earlier incarnations on Earth and other planets, as well as your relationship to Gaia and Universal Consciousness, the original source of your existence.

Bogus Idea # 2

The second bogus idea that I want to debunk is that you’re an individual being that communicates exclusively through touch, body language and the spoken word. This bogus idea doesn’t fly any further than the first for good reason: you’re not an isolated individual living on a small orb circling an unremarkable star. You’re a universal being because of your connection to Universal Consciousness – and you’re an individual being because you participate with Shakti (energy with universal qualities) in the evolving and involving multiverse of consciousness, energy and matter.

It’s because you’re connected to both Universal Consciousness and Shakti that you have the capacity to interact and communicate with other sentient beings on the subtle planes of energy and consciousness, even if you’re largely unaware of these interactions and the influence they have on your mental health and well-being.

Bogus Idea # 3

The foundation of mental disease can be found in the nervous system and chemical imbalances in the brain and physical-material body. First off – mental disease isn’t exactly a disease – and even if it was, it certainly isn’t caused exclusively by chemical imbalances. That’s because cause and effect relationships connect the physical-material world with the non-physical world of energy and consciousness. This means that your mental health can be influenced by negative projections and intrusions of subtle energy and consciousness as well as attachments created by people and non-physical beings. It also means that interactions between subtle energy and consciousness can create chemical imbalances in the physical-material body the same way stress does.

What’s more; like everyone else, you have two minds, an authentic mind of awareness and perception, which is life-affirming and has the capacity to radiate pleasure, love, intimacy and joy, and an inauthentic mind composed of the ‘I’, ego and fields of energy and consciousness with individual qualities, such as size, shape, density and level of activity that are self-limiting and interfere with the functions of your authentic mind.

Attachment to the ‘I’ can prevent you from experiencing bliss; attachment to the ego can prevent you from forming a strong, life-affirming identity, and attachment to fields with individual qualities can create blockages and self-limiting patterns as well as the internal dialogue – the incessant mental chatter that interferes with insight, intuition and discernment. In extreme cases, when the individual mind and ego has usurped enough space in your subtle field, it can become difficult, if not impossible, to express your feelings, engage in intimate relationships and participate in the normal activities of life.

The Three Aspects of Mind

Beside accepting bogus ideas, both orthodox medicine and classic psychology have been unable to create a model of mental health that is valid for everyone regardless of their gender, race, status, religion and nationality.

Fortunately, we can succeed where they’ve failed by expanding our view of the world to include non-physical dimensions and the myriad of physical and non-physical creatures that inhabit them.

Our model of mental health begins with the life force because it’s the foundation of energy, consciousness, time-space and the diversity of life that inhabits the multiverse.

It’s also the foundation of the authentic mind, which is composed of three essential elements.

On non-physical dimensions, the authentic mind is composed of the subtle field of energy and consciousness, their organs, cavities bodies and vehicles – and the energy and consciousness that nourish them.

On the physical-material level, the authentic mind is composed of the brain and nervous system and the chemicals in the body, including hormones and enzymes that influence their structure and activities.

The combination of physical-material and non-physical elements creates the third part of the human mind – the network. All three elements have their own unique capabilities and needs.

The network is particularly important because it includes the subtle connections the mind has to its individual parts and to things beyond itself. These include consciousness and energy – as well as past-life attachments to other people and in some cases to non-physical beings that have the ability to influence a human being and their mental health.

The organs of perception (sight, sensation, hearing, etc.) are also part of the authentic mind. They can be directed inward into the mind itself or outward into the external environment. When they are directed outward, they can make contact with other networks and interact with them.

A Model of Mental Health

Because of the authentic mind’s inherent plasticity, our model of mental health doesn’t require any special external conditions. It only requires three things which are interconnected and apply to everyone during all stages of life.

Space: Without space on the subtle levels, suffering – the ubiquitous symptom of mental disease – is inevitable. In your mind, space is both structural and functional. Space is located in all your subtle fields and cavities, including your auric fields, your three dantians, domains and their associated cavities, chakra fields and resource fields. Space can also be found in the network because it contains vehicles of subtle energy and consciousness that can make contact with other sentient beings.

Without internal space, emotions and creativity will become stifled, and self-awareness will be severely restricted.

Stability: Movement in the mind is anathema to mental health. A healthy mind is stable, which means nothing within it moves independently. To remain stable, your mind must remain free from attachments to people and non-physical beings for good reason: Any sentient being that has become attached to you, via network interactions, can project self-limiting and anti-self thoughts, ideas, attitudes, emotions and feelings into your mind. These intrusions move erratically and unpredictably, which is why they inevitably lead to confusion, isolation and intense suffering.

Stability also requires strong boundaries. Boundaries in the form of thin membranes surround your auric fields, dantians and their subordinate cavities, chakra fields, energy gates and resource fields.

Pushing and pulling subtle energy and consciousness through these membranes and interacting with non-physical beings weaken boundaries and allow distorted fields and alien life-forms to enter your subtle field. Intrusions of this sort will weaken your personal will and identity and interfere with your ability to stay focused.

Silence: The authentic mind doesn’t think in words or try to understand anything; it observes till it knows. That’s why static in the form of the internal dialogue can disrupt mental health. The authentic mind, when functioning as designed, gains knowledge through insight, intuition and discernment – not through chewing on words, memories or ideas that are subjective and-or constantly changing. Persistently focusing your mind on cause and effect relationships and mental chatter in order to understand ‘what’s going on’ creates attachments to distorted fields and non-physical beings and can weaken your ability to stay centered in your authentic mind.

Why is Mental Disease Contagious?

There are three reasons why mental disease is contagious: Attachments created in this life and past life incarnations, subtle projections from other people and the influence of non-physical beings.

Attachments can make you look and feel like an African fetish doll. These dolls are carved in wood and then punctured by nails and other sharp objects. The sharp objects represent attachments, like those that can puncture your subtle field. Attachments will inevitably weaken your boundaries and introduce distorted energy and consciousness into the space occupied by your mind on the levels of soul and spirit.

The effects of attachments on mental health have been recognized by spiritual adepts for millennia. Yogic texts describe two types of attachments, samskaras (past life attachments) and vasanas (attachments created in this life). According to yogic texts, they both contribute to instability by disrupting boundaries and blocking access to the centers of pleasure, love, intimacy and joy in your authentic mind.

Projections

People can project distorted fields of energy and consciousness into your subtle field. Once these projections enter your field, they can create self-limiting and anti-self attitudes, ideas and core values as well as a myriad of negative emotions and feelings that support them.

The projection of distorted energy and consciousness explains how one person can influence another person’s physical and psychological health, how adults in authority can manipulate children and how autocrats can compel people to ignore their humanity and do what they’re told.

Non-physical beings can do everything that attachments and projections can do and more. Depending on their disposition towards humanity and their complexity, they can suck vital energy from your subtle field. They can badger you with anti-self feelings and ideas and in the worst case scenario they can violate your subtle field and take control of vital elements of your soul and spirit.

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