Theme of the Month: From your small mind to the big picture
by Kevin Sahaj
At the end of the year, we asked our students to share their intentions, questions, and needs for the upcoming year with us. Out of these intentions, we shaped 12 themes to guide our community throughout 2021. We invite you to join our online Monthly Satsang and online Ayurveda Sangha for more inspiration, connection, and spiritual direction.
Becoming bigger than self absorption is love and connection
There is a way of looking at ourselves in the Zen Buddhist tradition that shows us that we have two minds. One mind is called “the small mind” and the other is called “the big mind”. The small mind is the egocentric self obsessed mind that is always looking at life through the lens of “ what’s in it for me?”. The small mind always is searching with the obsession of what it likes and what it doesn’t like. Everything is evaluated based on a personal self that exists independently from the rest of life, a sort of centre of the universe that everything else revolves around. If you look really honestly you will see that we have a fundamental perception of ourselves as this body, this person, this personality, etc. We are the very centre of the universe and everything revolves around us. Of course this perception is false as we are all deeply connected and nothing exists separate from the whole, nevertheless this Me, Mine, I person is very real to us and our life decisions are based on this small separate self and its likes and dislikes.
The big mind is something very different that the small mind of our self obsession. The big mind is something like the cosmic mind or the universal mind. The very intelligence that created the stars and the moon and our bodies. The intelligence that makes the whole universe sentient and that which gives birth, creates and destroys in the cosmic cycles of life. This big mind is the mind of peace, the mind of connection , the mind of love and wisdom, and the mind that never dies. It is sometimes called the the awakened mind, or the Buddha. This big mind is our essential nature, it is that which we are all looking for; freedom, love and deep connection.
Our small mind is something like a survival tool, there is nothing wrong with the small mind, it is part of being alive in a body. The only thing that goes wrong is that we completely identify with separate self and this total identification with the small mind is what creates suffering in our lives. If we look at life only through the lens of self cherishing, then we can see we are like in some sort of battle with life, desperately clinging to pleasurable circumstances and violently opposing that which we don’t like or don’t agree with. And in the end old age sickness and death are chasing us, which to the small mind is the ultimate rude and scary end to a life of struggle. So the small mind chooses not to see the reality but to maintain its kingdom of self absorption to stay safe and controlled.
We can have security or we can have freedom. Small mind is security, Big mind is freedom.
“Ok”, you might say, “it sounds great, but how do we abide in this Big Mind you are talking about?” “I have bills to pay, relationship issues, kids, unfulfilled desires and dreams to chase!” With all the practical things we have to take care of it seems that the Big Mind is just a fantasy or only for monks and nuns in a cave in Tibet somewhere. But how are we going to some to this state of universal love mind in this normal world we live in?
Essentially The Big Mind is only a matter of getting bigger, of seeing the big picture. It isn’t difficult but it does require attention and presence in order to live in the Big Mind. A mind that is waiting someday for all the circumstances of life to correspond to its desires is a mind doomed to failure. This has to be realised in the depth of our being; that life is going along just perfectly as it is, and our small mindedness essentially is just noise and interference.
We have to get out of the way and trust
It is like we are being taken on a ship made of light across the universe and we are walking up and down the aisle on the ship thinking we are actually walking somewhere! We love to claim doership, in the meantime life keeps flowing along with or without our agreement. How about trying something really new, really radical just to see. How about trusting life? How about trusting that everything is perfectly imperfect and just let go…
An exercise in Big Mindedness:
For one day, when you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night, see everything as perfect. When you have your morning coffee and it was wonderful, say “perfect coffee”, when you go to work and you have a disagreement with the boss, say “perfect disagreement”, when you go to the yoga class and find out it was cancelled “say perfectly cancelled yoga class”, when you come home and relax on the couch, “ perfect couch relaxation”. So what we are doing it training the mind to see all circumstances as fundamentally ok. If it is a “good” circumstance we say perfect, if it is a “bad” circumstance we also say perfect. This is really a revolution in the mind because the mind that is not resisting or evaluating the circumstance as good or bad, is the Big Mind. Of course during the day we have many thoughts, likes and dislikes, this is all included in the Big Mind. In the Big Mind there is room for everything in our lives; sadness, love, pleasure, disappointment, health, sickness..it is all contained in the Big Cosmic Picture Show.
Try this practice, don’t let it just remain a concept and a good idea, really do this Big Mind practice and an expansion will happen in your mind, where the small mind just remains there as a small voice but your being has expanded to the size of life. Trust is easy when you don’t have an agenda, let go and trust, all is perfect..
Thus the great chant of perfection from the Upanishads tells us:
Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate
Puurnnashya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate ||
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
Aum! That is perfect, and this is perfect.
From perfection arises perfection
Taking a part of perfection out of that which is perfect,
Perfection still remains.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace!
In addition to our Theme of the Month blog post, we are bringing the theme into our Monthly Satsang for Delight Sangha Special Class guided by Satya & Sahaj and our Monthly Ayurveda for Delight Sangha Special Class Guided by Victoria Raven Hyndman. A spiritual community (Sangha) is very important to feel connected and supported, particularly when we are going through more challenging times, individually and collectively.
Sunday 17 October Special Class: Monthly Satsang
Thursday 7 October Special Class: Monthly Aurveda Sangha
Kevin Sahaj is a dedicated yoga practitioner who has been studying and practicing yoga for 30 years. His approach to teaching is eclectic and draws from many different methods and teachings to help students align their lives towards awakening.