by Harry Palmer
Harry Palmer, author of the Avatar materials
What is the greatest personal achievement? It is not any form of material wealth. It is not any quality of fame. It is not any degree of power. What then?
The greatest personal achievement is peace of mind.
Most people don’t know much about peace of mind. They imagine that it is comfort, or leisure, a stress-free moment, maybe a restful night’s sleep, but it is more than relief. Much more. Peace of mind is a quiet mental state that makes possible the experience of “just being.” This is effortless awareness, undisturbed by thought or judgment, pain or pleasure, gain or loss.
Achieving peace of mind is the archetypal motive of human activity. Examine any school of principles and beliefs and you will discover that the ultimate aim of their instruction is (or was) to acquire peace of mind. There are many approaches to dealing with the mind: habituation, revelation, distraction, denial, submission, and subjugation, not to mention drugs, surgery, and shock treatments. Some succeed and some fail.
Those that succeed have acted as a reminder, as a key, or as a combination to a self-regulated force that was dormant within. The successful schools awaken and empower the being. (Many refer to this being as spirit.)
The approaches that fail, do so because they empower thinking and rely on methods of indoctrination and control—usually rewards and punishments. Often they promote activities that promise immediate pleasure but in time deliver stress, anxiety, addiction, and finally depression.
If the Avatar training has added anything to the canons of spiritual instruction and mind training, it is the discovery that certain deliberate combinations of mental processes (a shutdown procedure) result in peace of mind and open the door to an experience of spirit.
...certain deliberate combinations of mental processes result in peace of mind and open the door to an experience of spirit.
Consciousness has abilities that allow us to process and deal with the physical universe. Everyone is more or less aware of these abilities. Broadly they are imagining, thinking, and remembering. These are aspects of the mind.
Only a few people are aware that consciousness has a much broader, intrinsic nature above and beyond the mind. This intrinsic nature is the bridge to beingness. When it is entered, what was previously held to be important by imagining, thinking, and remembering is likely to become totally irrelevant. From this subtle realm, all of the events and experiences of normal waking consciousness are satisfactorily encompassed by the curiously wise expression, “That’s something.”
Assuming that people survive birth and fall within the normal parameters of genetic mutation, they are congenitally equipped with the thinking, imagining, and remembering types of consciousness—a mind. In truth, they are hardly equipped with anything else. The result is that the Being grows up with its attention focused on the rewards and difficulties of surviving in a defined physical reality. Celebration and struggle. Any hints that other realities exist (or could be created) that might offer more interesting games than variations of the pleasure-pain paradigm are relegated to fantasy or science fiction.
For most Beings the first real identity is a hastily constructed conscious definition: “I’m the baby.” That is an anchoring affirmation in a meat body.
The sad part is that the Being spends the rest of its life at anchor. Its energy is spent patching and layering the original birthday affirmation with conclusions and experiences fashioned from perceptions of, and judgments about, physical reality.
It is a trap to confuse the realm of beingness with the physical universe.
Eventually, the Being arrives at the end of its physical-life days, still anchored in the definitions of the mind. You could call the mind the shallows of consciousness. What did the Being miss? The wonder of life? The awe of creation? The ecstasy of the Divine? Essentially, it missed any experience of deep awakening. Its only real experience is a sense of having been unhappily identified with a complex definition that required endless maintenance. This is what passes for a sane life in physical reality.
The Being departs the body and shakes off the amnesia of definitions. “Well,” it says, “that’s something,” referring to the fading mental and decaying physical definitions that it dreamed was self. There is a belated recognition that thinking-imagining-remembering consciousness is severely limiting. It anchors life in one spot. So the Being gets the first lesson of Avatar, but without getting any of the tools. But it took a lifetime! That’s way too slow. Can you imagine how many lifetimes it will take it to recognize that what it is experiencing may have something to do with what it is creating? Slow!
What is needed is a way for the Being to raise the anchor of self definitions, without dying, and set sail into the eternal realms beyond the mind. Getting back, going home. Exactly how to teach someone to do this has been the challenge of every spiritual practice. You see, the harder the Being works (imagines, thinks, remembers) to raise this anchor, the heavier the anchor grows. The mind can be an imprisoning paradox.
But wait. Now the Being sees all these Avatars sailing around having fantastic life adventures and still in touch with something more permanent than a paycheck. Intuitively the Being knows that the right to enlightenment and happiness is more than an accident of birth. The Being knows that there must be a way to slip the anchor of the mind.
How do you lift the anchor? The secret is to do nothing deliberately. How does a Being do nothing deliberately? That’s a key world lesson. Without the Avatar tools, doing nothing deliberately is not easy to learn. It is a difficult experience to explain.
There are occasional moments in life when thinking stops and, among other things, a Being becomes fully aware of the circumstances of its own physical incarnation without any reactions to it.
At least there ought to be such moments—periods of time when attention moves beyond the scope of daily concerns. The common self falls asleep, and an extraordinary self awakens. This extraordinary self, higher self, has a quality not found in the common self. That quality is the quiet mind viewpoint. Quiet mind is independent of time and does not react or create non-deliberately. The anchor of “I am this-not-that” disappears. Awareness awakens that is beyond any defining construction. This is truly a moment of enlightenment.
Achieving this state of quiet mind, even for a moment, is a profound accomplishment. An even greater accomplishment is maintaining this state. It is such an unusual accomplishment that when you tell a Being that the quiet mind state is an expected result of the Avatar training, you are usually met with disbelief.
It is no longer necessary to withdraw from the world, or live a life of self-denial, or risk your mental health to achieve a state of quiet mind.
The thinking-imagining-remembering mind is a restless creator. It rummages in the past for motives like a hungry bear in a pile of garbage. It projects intentions onto other people. It projects happiness and danger into the future. It creates imaginary scenarios, calculates and strategizes plans, vicariously predicts, and suffers consequences that never occur. It writes imaginary dialogs that are never spoken. It worries. It sings the same song over and over. It analyzes itself, scolding and praising according to some forgotten script. It frantically analyzes for hidden meaning in even the most innocent comment, ever explaining itself to itself.
Occasionally, somewhere between glee and despair, the Being wonders, “What is life all about?” And then it cautions itself to be realistic. It wonders some more about being quiet. “Quiet mind? Oh yes, I know quite a bit about that state. When I was in India...”
The quiet mind experience is so extraordinarily beautiful that many of the people who have momentarily experienced it spend the rest of their lives talking about it. This is how religions are born: Trying to describe an experience with a fundamental quality that is without description. This indescribable moment of experience becomes a sacred memory-shrine in the mind. Graven mental images! Still, it can be a beneficial memory in terms of coping with the stress and discouragement of life. It is a mental amulet of hope.
It is widely considered that the quiet mind experience can be reached only after long and hard practice (or perhaps temporarily induced by a shaman’s magic). It is considered so fragile an experience that even a non-deliberate breath can shatter it. So it is quite a surprise that Avatar can teach a person how to deliberately produce this state in a matter of days. A pleasant surprise!
What is even more incredible, but probably true, is to realize that since Avatar’s introduction in 1987, more Beings have stably achieved the state of quiet mind than in all of the ages before Avatar. It is no longer necessary to withdraw from the world, or live a life of self-denial, or risk your mental health to achieve a state of quiet mind. Just do Avatar.
The article above is from the Learn to Live Deliberately magazine.
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