My confidence in the All Good is complete. My faith in the power of Spirit is supreme. I have no doubts or uncertainties. I know that my good is at hand, and I realize that no fear can hinder that good from making its appearance in my life and affairs. I know that my life and good are complete. Evil cannot touch or hinder my work. I rest in security, for the one mind is my complete refuge and strength. I am serene and confident.
You are the major obstacle on your path to learning and improving. Jayaram V
Mental rigidity is common to many people, which is responsible for many problems that we have in the world today. In some cultures, it is worshipped as an exalted virtue and a sign of trust, integrity, and reliability. People in such cultures do not like leaders, who change their opinions and consider them opportunists and weak-minded.
;When that belief becomes a cultural value or a social criteria, it undermines the importance of growing and learning, or of improving your knowledge and thinking to become a better person. In some cultures you will find that a scripture, a book, or an ideology becomes the guiding force, forcing people to declare their allegiance to it, suspend their free thinking and live in obedience. In today’s world of extremism and extreme intolerance, mental rigidity gained cultural significance in many countries as the voice of political correctness and moral policing.
Mental rigidity, thus, is a serious problem. However, before we go further into the subject, we need to know what exactly we mean by it, and how anyone can decide whether the problem applies to them. No one is completely inflexible. People remain fixated or opinionated only in certain areas of their thinking. Most likely, you have some areas in your mind that are frozen and some that are free and flowing. However, if you have not done any introspection, you may not know when you tend to become rigid and when you remain flexible. It is also important to know what causes it, and how it creeps into your thinking and attitude. Mental rigidity arises from many factors such as the following.
Social and cultural influences
Strong likes and dislikes
Friends and family
Your inflexible attitude arises from your thinking, as you attach fixed meanings to things and do not like to change them, even if contrary evidence presents itself. For example, if you are a rigid person and if you find a situation or a person distasteful, most likely you will hold on to that opinion, as you impart a negative or an unpleasant meaning or a label to that person, assuming that he may remain so forever, and ignoring any information that may not support it.
On the contrary, if you find a person who is friendly and to your liking, you may cherish that relationship and tend to ignore all the data that may suggest otherwise or make your feel uncomfortable. If you are inflexible, you will do the same with many things in your life, which may even sabotage your own chances of success and happiness. If you have musical ability but due to a fixed belief inherited from your parents if you pursue a career in science or medicine, imagine how it will influence your life and the extent of unhappiness you may experience.
Whether it is an author, writer, singer, actor, artist, town, ideology, profession, political affiliation, or faith, because of inflexibility you will stick with your opinions and choices and ignore the facts that speak otherwise. This is mental rigidity in short. It arises from selective thinking, in the absence of reason, due to conscious or subconscious influences, as you attach fixed meanings to things and become their guardian philosopher justifying them to yourself and to others as part of your worldview, self-expression, and self-image.
Mental rigidity is synonymous with mental stagnation. It limits your growth and your opportunities to know and learn. In people it manifests in numerous ways as habits, routines, likes and dislikes, fear, prejudice, reluctance to listen, and irrational behavior. As they become attached to their past and live by rigid choices, they dislike to change, move with time or acknowledge their current reality. It is as if they have created an arctic tundra inside their minds and frozen their memories and thoughts in it.
Having opinions, conclusions and preconceived notions is part of your mind’s heuristics. It uses them to save you time and effort in making sense of the world and respond to it with appropriate decisions and actions. They give you stability, and help you deal with the problems and challenges in your life. Your mind uses them as mental shortcuts to deal with the complexity of the world, and improve your survival and chances of wellbeing.
Mental rigidity is not about having opinions, but having fixed opinions and fixed patterns of thinking that are hard to overcome. In most cases you may not be even aware of them as they become a part of your worldview, instinctual thinking, personal identity and individuality. You continue to act under their influence, despite your good education, knowledge, and wisdom, because in most cases you find acceptance from your friends and peers who hold similar opinions.
Unfreezing your mind
The truth is, while you may remain stuck in your thoughts and choices, the world moves on leaving you behind to your unconscious illusions and frozen beliefs, and limiting your choices, relationships, chances of success, and the quality of your life. If you do not attune to the reality around you, you will remain prone to assumptive and authoritarian thinking, which in turn makes your life rather unpleasant and conflict-ridden. You can resolve the problem of mental rigidity in many ways. The following are a few important approaches.
1. Awareness: Becoming aware of your rigid thoughts and beliefs and how they are influencing your world view is the most important. Without it you cannot overcome the problem. Become aware of how people and the world are influenced by various social, political, and cultural biases, irrational and rigid thinking, and how many people refuse to think for themselves and blindly depend upon role models and public figures for their worldviews and opinions.
2. Listening: Learn to listen and appreciate other people’s opinions on any given subject that interests you as a learning experience and to expand your own awareness. Especially, listen to those opinions that you dislike or disagree with, and to those who are not afraid to speak their minds. When you interact with others, listen with an open mind for learning and introspection.
3. Questioning: Learn to ask questions and seek answers. A person with a closed mind does not ask questions. He either accepts or rejects information based upon his likes and dislikes, or emotions. By asking questions you can keep your mind open, rational, and free from judgment and bias. It will also give you an opportunity to examine facts and draw your own conclusions.
4. Challenging: Challenge your own decisions, conclusions, and judgment to find the rigid beliefs, assumptions, and biases that are hidden in them. You must constantly challenge your surface beliefs, thoughts, and ideas to find the best in you. It helps deal with the distortions and cognitive bias your mind creates in response to the world and events your perceive, and gives you a better perspective about them.
The solution to mental rigidity is openness and maturity. You cannot practice them without honesty, truthfulness, humility, and detachment. Maturity means having opinions and conclusions based upon your experience and observation, rather than what you have been taught by others as true, unless you have subjected it to rational verification. A mature person relies upon his observation and experience, rather than blind submission to authority. He listens, learns, improves, and adapts to changes and challenges, keeping his emotions under control.
Importance in spiritual life
Spiritually speaking, detachment is the best antidote to mental rigidity. Detachment is a virtue. It starts with your thinking. To free your mind from rigid thoughts and find freedom within yourself, you must overcome your attachment to the world and the likes and dislikes you form with it. You must keep an attentive and open mind, willing to embrace the reality rather than your rigid beliefs and opinions.
Open-mindedness is especially important in spiritual practice. Spiritual people can become rigid in their thinking and attitude as they develop attachment to their faith, methods, masters, and beliefs. As they open their minds for learning, they may also succumb to conditioning and blind submission to authority. If you practice spirituality, you must open your mind to the realities of life, and free it from the illusion of fixed opinions and rigid thoughts about the things you like or dislike. The mind is prone to delusions. Hence, you must remain attentive, and stay tuned to the current reality. Practice detachment. It is the best way to stay free from the delusion of your own mind and the walls it builds around you.
Today is a day to focus on safety. I will remove from my mind any ideas that make me think I am not safe. There are many beings and circumstances in the world that affect me and my surroundings. I cannot control them, but I can protect myself from them. I can deflect their negative energies and impulses. I am aware that I am protected by all of the forces of the universe and have no need to fear.
I know I did my best today to focus on feeling and staying safe. Tonight I will rest knowing that myself and my loved ones are always safe and protected, and that I will not give in to believing or feeling otherwise.
-From the book ‘A Daily Book Of Pagan Prayer’ by Megan Day
“Mysticism teaches cosmic laws and principles by which we are brought into closer consciousness of our divine power. The mystical experience of union with the One imposes upon the mystic a moral obligation — to use this knowledge for the welfare of others.”
A marvelous sense steals over the one who waits on the All Good. A feeling of some unseen presence silently creeps over the waiting thought, and the voice of God speaks through the mist and says “Be not afraid.” It is all for a purpose, and when you cannot trace you must trust. This is not an illusion but a reality for time proves all things, and the one who waits is rewarded. Good comes for the infinite light itself is our companion. I wait on divine presence.
Why Renunciation is Prescribed for Seekers of Truth?
by Jayaram V
Summary: This essay explores the importance of being yourself and seeing things clearly as they are
Try to speak truth for a whole day and see what happens. You will be considered a troll and shut down by many from their communication channels. You will be regarded as a trouble maker, or a dangerous person. People are comfortable with their illusions. If you try to rupture them, you will invite trouble. Therefore, for most of us truth is what is socially acceptable and justifiable rather than what is true.
Being yourself is the first step to be true to yourself. It is an important step in your self-transformation and inner purity. Not many people can practice it, for the same reason as stated before. They cannot alienate people by speaking truth or being truthful. Even the most powerful people on earth have to play to the gallery and act according to their hopes and aspirations rather than the reality of the situation.
The world loves myths, not truths. If it is not so, most people who are admired and remembered in history will not be there. Studies in human psychology show that human beings may rewrite their memories to feel comfortable with themselves and avoid unpleasant memories. Our survival instinct tells us how to get on well with the world and avoid conflicts to regulate our relationships. People know instinctively that they cannot be likable or friendly with others without wearing masks and using politically correct language. For their peace of mind and yours they know that it is better to tell you what you like to hear rather than what they need to say. They embrace your idea of truth rather than theirs because they need your love and friendship rather than your anger and vengeance. Therefore, the freedom to be themselves and truthful remains a distant ideal for many and comes to them at a great price.
Being yourself means you have to be your authentic self and speak from your heart how you feel or what you feel about yourself and the world. It is being honest in your thinking and judgment seeing things as they are, without the distortion of your mind. It is to avoid self-deception and know truthfully what you feel and think. You cannot do it unless you remove the delusions that you build in your mind to create the narrative that suits you but does not really represent you. It may address your fears or your needs, but not the truth of your being.
Knowing yourself is an important part of being yourself. Unless you truly know your feelings and emotions, how can you know who you are? To know yourself truly, you must learn to see things as they are. You must become an impartial observer so that you can see the logical fallacies and irrational beliefs that interfere with your perception and understanding. Paying attention to your own behavior and thinking gives you an opportunity to become familiar with your ego and its behavior, or how it creates an alternate reality to ensure your survival and wellbeing in a world of egos.
The world is a major distraction in your quest for truth, while the mind with which you perceive it is like a nebulous prism. Your perceptions are therefore rarely free from distortions. In your dealings with the world, you are mostly guided by your fears and concerns or your need for security, approval, and belongingness rather than truth, which is why many relationships in your life are built on weak foundation and do not stand the test of truth or trust.
The problem is not because you are inherently weak. It is because the world puts so much pressure on you to confirm to its standards and values. When you live amidst people, you cannot be true to yourself and others, without hurting them or creating enmity or misunderstanding. It is also why spiritual life is so difficult to pursue and why not many people can abide by the instructions that are mentioned in our scriptures for self-purification. People love myths and illusions rather than reality. Therefore, they will not like anyone who wants to snap those balloons of illusions with which they decorate their lives.
If you want to practice deeper awareness, objectivity, and mindful observation, you must find opportunities to spend time with yourself and develop the courage to accept truths about yourself. Spend few quite moments each day for introspection and confront your own illusions, self-deception and mental distortions, as if you are taking a mental bath to cleanse the impurities of your mind that accumulate each day through your public persona. It is the best approach when you cannot renounce the world or live in isolation.
Our scriptures prescribe renunciation and the need to live in isolation because they are aware of the corrupting influence of the world upon your thinking and behavior. They know that you cannot practice truthfulness or any of the Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observations) that are mentioned in our scriptures without upsetting your life or your peace of mind.
In today’s world, everyone cannot practice renunciation or go to a forest to live in isolation. Therefore, for them the best alternative is to find time to be alone, and practice detachment, mindfulness, introspection, and discernment to know themselves better and be honest with themselves. Those few moments they spend alone, reviewing their actions, will do them immense good to be self-aware, realistic, alert, and smart. If you cannot be truthful to others, at least be so to yourself, the one person who matters most in your life.
Cosmic light, everlasting good, eternal spirit, maker of all things and keeper of my life, you are all. Infinite presence within, in whom all live; joy supreme, flooding all with gladness, I adore you. Eternal peace, unditurbed and quiet, I feel your calm. Divine presence which inhabits eternity and dwells within all creation, who lives through all things and in all people, hear my prayer. I would enter your gates with joy and live at peace in your house. I would find a resting place in you, and in your presence live. Make me to do your will and from your wisdom teach me the ways of truth. Compel me to follow you and let me not pursue the paths of my own council. Eternal and blessed presence, Illumine my mind and command my will that my soul may be refreshed and that my life may be renewed. As deep cries unto deep, so my thought cries to you and you answer. I am renewed and refreshed; my whole being responds to your love, and I am complete in you. all my ways are guarded and guided, and I shall live with you eternally. Lover of my soul and keeper of my spirit, none can separate us, for we are one. So shall your wisdom guide me, your presence dwell within me, your love keep me and your life envelope me now and forever. I rest in you.