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Want to know how the practice of meditation helps improve your confidence? Lynne Cardial explores the ancient Sanskrit concept of pratyay and shows you how to grapple with the complexities of the mind.
Mmd is a vast, subtle and complex field of consciousness. In Sanskrit it is called Pratyay. Defined sometimes as “mental perception' or ‘mmd space” I see this vast mind field as containing ideas, conditionings, expectations, illusions, fears and memories, like an infinite sky with numerous clouds of various sizes. This mind field is not very well understood; I often think that we don't give it the complete attention it deserves. If we agree that the world is in the mmd, then taking a good look at our mmd and its complexity would be of the highest value, as we could begin the weeding out of tendencies that are not useful and may even be hurtful to ourselves and others. What is striking when observing the nature of mind is that its basic mechanism seems to have been similar throughout the eras. If we look at ancient texts, dating back thousands of years, we will discover the same basic issues and problems. We find that even back then people had a similar fundamental sense of individual insecurity, that rested at the root of all minds and in all cultures; for they also had to deal with a more or less obvious sense of fear and helplessness Even Tolkien wrote an entire epic on the basic insecurities of human nature and how it sought power to gain ease and confidence.
Through meditation we come to realise this directly. As the time spent looking inward reveals greater sensitivity and awareness. We see that mental insecurity triggers decisions that affect us in ways that do not reflect our inner greatness. In our contemporary society, we have named it the inferiority/superiority syndrome. However, we are taught by various spiritual paths to be humble, as this is said to be the path to freedom, liberation, or even to the kingdom of heaven. Yet, doesn't this humility require that we take a stand of inferiority. Which just doesn't feel right? Superiority on the other hand usually seems more attractive, as it appears to be the path to power and success and yet it doesn't seem to provide us with complete satisfaction. Simply put; inferiority or superiority are the two sides of the same com and both are complexes.
Albert Ellis and Robert Harper co-authored a book entitled A New Guide to Rational Living (Pub: Melvin Powers, Wilshire Book Company) and I found their analysis of Intrinsic and Extrinsic worth particularly interesting. They explain that Extnn-sic worth is based on a sense of confidence and value which depends on others and outer circumstances. If we gain support and appreciation from others we feel great, confident and worthwhile. Of course the flaw here is that we are incredibly vulnerable to what others think and believe. Intrinsic worth on the other hand is based on a sense of confidence and value, which rests on the simple fact that we are alive and life itself is completely valuable and perfect as it is. Here we rely on our ability to identify with our inner Self as Pure Life and we draw from this self-identification a sense of confidence, ease and personal value. The latter is encouraged by Eastern Philosophies. Ancient texts confirm the fact that Self in its essence is formless and eternally free. Mind and body follow the flux; they are subject to change and therefore cannot be relied upon.
Freedom lies in realising that our Self is eternally free, no matter what. If we give a speech, our first objective becomes to remain free, not to give a good speech. It turns out that with this sense of freedom as a foundation, our bram usually functions better and our communication skills are greatly enhanced naturally. So, it does become a win-win situation. It would appear at the worst, that if our speech does not seem to satisfy the audience, we remain essentially free. We still would look into improving ourselves, but from a different perspec-tive, that of de-identification and freedom. This is one step in the right direction. Yet our ultimate objective is to transcend the pairs of opposites. This means we know that the categorisations of pairs of opposites; the good or bad, the worth it or not worth it. Are mental concoctions. Our spirit is beyond mind. Albert Ellis and Robert Harper also agree with this. If we think good, we are trying to avoid bad, and if bad comes we feel defeated. If we think Intrinsic worth, we are trying to avoid Extrinsic worth. And if we fail we are subject to frustration, depression or unease. Though they encourage a focus on Intrinsic worth, they also agree that our objective should be to go beyond mind, or its mechanism to constantly dwell on the pairs of opposites. Mental silence, or to remain established as the Observer (Drashtu) is the path of the Sages, such as Patanjali. Who refers to this frequently, though he also encourages positive thinking and the path of Intrinsic worth. Ultimately. When our meditation and our perceptions deepen we reach a level that does not rely on mmd, or on pairs of opposites.