Human beings are herd animals – some of my students don’t like being called herd animals so they have asked me to say we are social beings instead. Very few humans develop any real capacity to think intelligently for themselves. Most humans pretty much think and do what they are programmed to think and do by family, religion, school, government, business, media, the news, the internet and the Kardashians. Oh- yes! We mustn’t forget FaceBook.
There is a high price to be paid if you wander too far afield from the herd, questioning all of the accepted assumptions and beliefs. Ask Socrates, Mansur al-Hallaj, Jesus, King and Gandhi. Free thinkers have never been popular in society and often end up killed. Perhaps it is better to have what the brujo Don Juan Matus calls “controlled folly,” and become invisible within the herd. Just blend in so no one notices you can actually use the higher capacities of your brain above and beyond the lower brain’s on-going tennis match between fear and desire and the illusion of control.
Studies have indicated that we think about 60,000 thoughts a day. Over 90% of them we have thought before. And about 70% (42,000) are fear-based and negative. Maybe we are not herd animals. Maybe we are just frightened computer simulations constantly replaying the same programs over and over again, hoping to find some way out.
Everyone who comes to our Monday Night Meetings (MNM) comes by their own choice – as much as there is a choice. It is always suggested that everyone hold an attitude of open-minded skepticism. Everyone is free to agree or disagree with anything presented. Or to simply be honest and abide in ” only don’t know.” This is zen mind, beginner’s mind, shoshin. The great zen master Shunryu Suzuki said,“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Since we spend most of our time in silence at the beginning and end of each meeting, that tends to drive away the spiritual thrill seekers who are out shopping for more methods, techniques, beliefs and philosophies. Silence is the barrier gate, the gate-less gate one has to pass through to attend MNM. Satsang is silence.
What do you think about all of this? If in fact you do think and aren’t just running feedback loops in your head. By think, I mean using your intelligence and intuition to inquire deeply into the natural koans of our life. To question everything and look again with fresh eyes. To be prepared to live in constant awe and amazement.