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Meditation on Spiritual Mind Control


This note is about Buddhist meditation as the path towards control of one's mind to effectively function in society as an individual. I do not endorse any speculation on religious cults as mind control, for most people willingly choose to follow their spiritual path as they see fit. First I will introduce my philosophy about mind control, use consumerism as a way of explaining how cultural lenses work, and then focus on Buddhist meditation which liberates the mind and the individual.

The Post-Modern Conspiracy Theory of Mind Control

In my personal philosophy, I find the post-modern conspiracy theory of mind control as antithetical to the spiritual form of mind control called meditation.

For mind control in the media arises from mental and behavioral negativities of people in authority which distract from the positive benefits of meditation. Indeed, the popular forms of mind control instill fear in people. This fear is rooted in loss of freedom, individual will, and control over one's own life.

Yet as a cultural meme popularized by the media, one only need to think of movies with mind control as the theme, and the numerous newspaper articles sensationalizing the horrible aftereffects of religious cults (Jonestown).

At the root of mind control is abuse of power by people in authority who are trusted by their followers. For there actually is an element of choice involved in the popular conception of mind control. The individual chooses to give up control over his life to serve the needs of the group.

In serving the needs of the group, the group chooses a leader who has authority over them. If the leader is able to control his desire for more power, then the group prospers. If, because of corruption, the leader abuses his power, the group may still prosper but at the cost of ruining group harmony. Using the ideology which all of the group believes in, the leader justifies his abuse of power. The group may split up into factions over such an abuse.

In the media, mind control supposedly occurs when people in authority "brainwash" the individual against his will. Actually, the individual still has the will to choose to follow the dictates of people with control over his life or to continue to resist efforts (torture) to break his will.

However, I am skeptical of the concept of "total mind control" since most people who "submit" to mind control choose to become willing participants rather than continue to resist the torture, both mentally and physically.

Seeing Through the Cultural Lens of Consumerism

To test this truth, I submit that most people are willing participants in what may be loosely called consumerism.

In consumerism, one is educated from cradle to grave. Through education, one is inculcated in the belief that acceptance in the consumerist society is determined by compliance to the rules of that society. For each person's goal is to be a consumer. To attain that goal in that society, each person must be a productive member of that society. Through the consumer's eyes almost everything is product to be consumed. Indeed, in the ideal consumer society, everything is product.

If one's only purpose in life is to consume product, then one is almost like an automaton. Yet most people who are consumers are willing participants.

However, that's the vision of an ideal world in which consumerism is the ideology. In reality, various aspects of consumerism are internalized by us without most of us realizing it.

Through the lens of consumerism, it's possible to view medicine and religion as product, for both are derived from abstract concepts about the mind and spirituality. If you want to be happy, take a pill. If you need a religion, you can go to church on Sunday or worship in a temple on another day. Yet both the mind and the spirit are intangible objects.

So, a pill does not address the reality of the individual's mental development, nor does a religion address the individual's spiritual development with respect to the mind. All medicine can do is improve a person's health by relieving illness and sometimes preventing death, while religion serves our spiritual needs by giving spiritual purpose to life, relieving anxiety about the afterlife, adding a social dimension to one's spiritual life.

Both the development of the mind and one's spirituality is the responsibility of each of us, not as consumers but as people with free will.

The Effects of Buddhist Meditation

Since Buddhist meditation teaches one to be mindful of one's mind, one's view of life changes.

Rather than see the world through the lens of consumerism, I see the world and myself clearly because of mindful practice.

Careful study of Buddhism helps to see the relationship between all beings as interconnected. Thus the mindful Buddhist knows full too well the folly of controlling others. Instead, he chooses to teach the willing about Buddhist meditation, and lets them decide what they are willing to accept.

Buddhism helps me to see that my choices affect both myself and the world through thorough understanding of Buddhist teachings about the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and dependent origination, both through careful study of the Buddha's teachings and by direct experience to validate what he said.

As a result, Buddhist meditation helps to see the mind as a process in each being.

At the root of Buddhist meditation is liberation of the mind from the ego. For meditation helps to understand the nature of the mind through direct experience and reflection on the Buddha's Teachings specific to each person's practice. Once liberated, one is able to control his mind effectively.

As the Buddhist sage Takuan Soho once wrote, "Of the mind, do not be mindless" which echoes the Buddha's last words, "Strive to seek your own salvation with diligence."


Steve said...

Within the context of no-self, spiritual mind control without ego implies that one uses Buddhist meditation to appease one's ego.

Even though this is contrary to Western ideals, it is more useful to conquer one's mind than to conquer the world.

For in conquering one's mind, one realizes how to truly live.

Steve said...

Shambhala's Buddhism Basics on
The Four Truths and the Eightfold Path: