THE BIG BRAIN THING
“In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should not be on concentration, but on attention. Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers.” J. Krishnamurti
The locals visit our Temple often. Some come on to the grounds screaming, crying, angry, depressed, or otherwise agitated. After a half-hour of talking with our Wisdom Professionals, the formerly forlorn usually leave smiling. Why do so many people come here to see the robe wearers, and why do all these visitors leave feeling so much better than they did upon arrival? Why are the residents of this Temple so much fun to be around? What makes the Monks and Nuns who they are? There must be some reasons I’ll never know, but a few are obvious.
The first is The Big Brain thing, and the team spirit it entails. The second is reincarnation — but this is certainly not the kind of reincarnation you are used to hearing about. These two factors meet at so many crossroads that it can often be hard to separate them, but let’s try to talk about one at a time, beginning with The Big Brain thing.
Everybody’s got a brain and a mind. Many people consider these to be different words for the same thing. Technically, the brain is just a biological organ while the mind is something deeper and more inclusive. But in case it makes you more comfortable to do so, we will use these words interchangeably here. It won’t hurt anything. The words soul or spirit might be more accurate, and consciousness is actually what we’re talking about — but some folks think of these terms as abstractions. We can use the more familiar words “mind” and “brain” for now. Many people seem to find those terms more familiar and easier to understand.
It is widely known that any human uses only a small percentage of his or her mind/brain at any given time. Exactly how much gets used and what those percentages pay attention to having always been very important matters.
The Monks and Nuns believe that each individual carries a deep responsibility to focus the greatest possible percentage of their mental facility on the best, kindest, most loving, and most wisdom-heavy attitudes and functions they can produce. Fulfilling this responsibility is not optional but mandatory for them, as it probably should be for all of us. They recognize this responsibility as a necessity because it affects individual, familial, societal, and planetary relationships — as well as our survival as individuals and as a species.
Directing the use of our minds toward constructive positive ends is not an esoteric or saintly activity to be practiced only by cloistered Wisdom Professionals. It is a very practical and logical activity that can influence every human’s personal life. Material and emotional satisfaction are most comfortably born from a base of mental satisfaction. Happy and compassionate people feel prosperous, regardless of financial income. They don’t often steal from or kill each other.
Whether conscious of it or not, we always think of an action before we do it. There are big advantages to thinking consciously. The residents here know that any action should be avoided if it doesn’t help and that blind emotions bubbling up unrecognized from subconscious depths lead many folks into destructive actions. There are no blind emotions here. By quieting their own mental turbulence, these robed folks clearly see what they are thinking, and then steer it. Everything they do is done on purpose. Nothing gets away from them.
The sub/unconscious type of thought, and the actions resulting from it, are usually fueled by instinctive reactions or habitually programmed mental-reflex reactions. These are all too often based on the memory of past trauma or fear of the unknown future.
The most basic sub/unconscious thoughts are survival instincts and callous self-interest — animal reflexes. All of us live partially under the direction of such instincts. Our DNA has carried these instincts since caveman days. They are a physiological part of us. They cannot immediately be erased, but with proper attention, the nastier parts can be transcended.
Our subconscious minds have inherited yet another batch of characteristics and instincts through the training and information we have been given by schools, churches, parents, governments, TV/media, and so on. These are the conditioned reflexes, the behavioral patterns we have observed and absorbed since birth.
These biological and historical patterns coexist as what can be called “the little brain.” A lot of human actions can more accurately be called knee jerk reactions. The subconscious mind has such an entrenched pre-recorded program of how-to-be and what-to-do in it that we often react to situations without giving any thought at all to our reaction. Many people spend most of their lives controlled by mental patterns that they are not even aware of.
But we have all floated into The Big Brain Thing on occasion. When you and a lover feel like one body, when you feel your child’s pain as if it is your own, when you display “superhuman” physical strength/perseverance/clarity of thought in an emergency situation — at these times we go beyond so-called normal human parameters of feeling and function. We wander semi-consciously into Big Brain mode.
The Monks and Nuns live there. Their conscious focus is on the mind and life that we all share in our involuntary coexistence with all other creatures — animal, human, and divine. They are of the opinion that the similarities and relationships between us all are more deserving of attention than the differences. They believe that the mutually beneficial goals that this Big Brained point of view dictates outweigh personal goals in importance.
Oddly enough, it often turns out that personal goals are much more easily attained when universal goals are given priority!
The concept that all of humanity shares a mutual existence and sort of a universal mind containing great power that properly trained individuals can tap into, somewhat resembles Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious theory — except with the Temple folks it is conscious, the idea had already been around for several thousand years before the great Mr. Jung was born, and it is considered fact, not theory.
The drop/ocean metaphor is often used to explain it. Most of us think of ourselves as an individual drop of humanity. The people here in the Temple think of themselves as an integral part of a vast ocean that contains all living things. Both views have some truth in them. This “ocean attitude” may seem a little esoteric or even a bit weird to many of us, but it has advantages. All individual problems and personal pains recede somewhat when you pay attention to the bigger picture. The freedom and security that the power of an all-inclusive ocean offers is much greater than the freedom and security available to a single drop of water, or a singular human.
Like most of us, the Temple residents have good intentions. But they are more committed and loyal to those intentions than most of us are to ours. They make that commitment functional by donating their motivation for achievement toward improving life for all of their fellow-creatures, as well as for themselves. They constantly work on improving their little drop (self), but that process is always based on how their drop can become a better drop in order to become part of a better ocean (how improving their lives can improve all lives). They are dancing on their own legs, but a much bigger force than any individual is always playing the tune. All ways.
To put it another way, these Wisdom Professionals have trained their little brains very thoroughly in the concern for all little brains. This keeps them tuned to the same wavelength as that bigger force that both contains and is concerned with the well being of all the little brains — The Big Brain. They have, through dedication and strong effort, actually become a conscious cell in and therefore a bit of a co-creating partner with The Big Brain. Call it God, or Dharma, or The Force, or the Collective Unconscious, or the Unified Field. Whatever you would call an all-inclusive divine resource, they are now part of it. Perhaps we all are, anyway! But they are aware enough of their inclusion in the bigger system, and practiced enough in that system’s processes, to be able to direct themselves to coordinate with it. They consistently, consciously practice moving their minds in an internal direction that benefits everything external as much as possible. Loyalties and actions are at least as concerned with the ocean at large as they are with their own individual drop. This affiliation with the Big Brain governs the lives of the Nuns and Monks and all the choices they make. It directs them as surely as any commander directs his or her troops.
About the Author
Doug “Ten” Rose may be the biggest smartass as well as one of the most entertaining survivors of the hitchhiking adventurers that used to cover America’s highways. He is the author of the books Fearless Puppy on American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense, has survived heroin addiction and death, and is a graduate of over a hundred thousand miles of travel without ever driving a car, owning a phone, or having a bank account.
Ten Rose and his work are a vibrant part of the present and future as well as an essential remnant of a vanishing breed.
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The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the Fearless Puppy website, where there are sample chapters from those books. Entertaining TV/radio interviews with and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not limited to Buddhist monks and nuns.
If you missed the Introduction to the new book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier or would like to see several chapters of it that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section. This is a book in progress. You will be reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story — and probably the only book ever written by and about a corpse journeying completely around the world!