Liberating the Mind, Leaving the Matrix
Imagine an uncle named Jim whom you don't like. Not that there is open
animosity, just that the conversations around the dinner table always
feel forced. His jokes are bad, his self-image is a bit inflated, and he never misses an opportunity to tell you how your
parents failed to live up to their potential. He's a wealthy chap, and
when your parents were still alive, he bailed them out of dire financial straits on several occasions, though never without strings attached. And sadly it was the
weight of those attached strings that ultimately led to their demise. Now imagine
Uncle Jim has suddenly died of a heart-attack. You are the oldest family
member still alive, so here you are, at the funeral, delivering his
Welcome to the world of voluntary self-censorship, a place where the
mind turns into a world-class gymnast, twisting through the jungles of
words and experiences with acrobatic grace. It's a place we've all visited, perhaps quite
often, a place around which conversations revolve and from which
relationships spring. Who could be blamed for not wanting to
stay in this comfort zone, for giving a little extra attention to the
fragile scaffold with which we build our hopes and dreams? Nobody wants
to hear what a royal asshole Uncle Jim was.
A lot of theories are circulating these days about secret corporate
conglomerates and think tanks practicing thought control and even creating a
matrix within which the boundaries of acceptable thought and
expression are defined. While in years past there may have been a
poetic way to allude to Uncle Jim's bad temper (with a disarming joke
to follow, of course), today in this brave new
world our collective consciousness is more inclined to celebrate the good uncle's strong will and determination.
It is plausible that the mechanisms of a matrix
are created by a few powerful people at the top, and are then leaked on down
through the hierarchies of a "free" and absorbent society. For example,
this trickling down of values and ideas might explain how the
persistent demonization of our bodies and of all things natural,
manufactured by a small minority at the top, could lead to such
overblown popular outrage at the sight of Janet Jackson's breast.
Weren't we all born with two nipples and haven't we all seen them?
Aren't they the cute little glands that beautiful babies suck on so
they can become healthy and productive adults? Why then is everybody so
afraid of seeing them? How have we been programmed to become utterly
obsessed with something so mundane?
Breast Exposure and Mind Control
All of this works both ways, of course. While all signals from above are tuned
to non-breast frequencies, the channels of guns, bombs and
national pride are set to full blast. It's hardly an enormous stretch of the imagination to link the new flood of Humvees on
American streets to "think tank" philosophies of total domination,
trickling down and leading to inflated military budgets, bigger and more brutal
wars, and ultimately to a populace completely desensitized to images of
bombings and torture. How have we been programmed to become so
indifferent to war and its horrendous consequences?
There are over 6 billion female breasts on this earth, far more than
all tanks, guns, and grenades combined. None of these breasts has ever
killed or hurt anybody. To the contrary, it is on these breasts that
each of us has found love, comfort and nurturing. Can you imagine what
kind of world this could be if breasts and their contribution to
humanity received proportional representation in our collective
Do you get a sense of absurdity from that last paragraph? Does it
strike you as odd, or even awkward, to read about the importance of
breasts? I certainly felt a bit ridiculous writing it, and yet it
strikes at the heart of our self-censorship, our fear to fall out of
line, our embarrassment to say outrageous things even if they are true.
Listening to my own thoughts, I hear: "Well son, there
goes your chance of getting this baby published. If you could just tone it
down a bit you could still get this into the mainstream media."
A crucial question arises: Are we all really just pawns in a bigger
game played by a few powerful schemers? Are we all just passengers on
an airplane, buckled tightly into our seat, grasping for the occasional
comforting word through the intercom that the captain is in full
control and will get us to our destination safely? Are there really
limitations as to what we can think, say or believe? Do we have no
choice but to celebrate Uncle Jim's misdeeds?
The answer to these questions is quite simple. And yet, it involves a
very complex body part of ours that we seem to have very little
knowledge of and control over: The brain.
Going Back to the Source of Thought
Just as our legs are made for walking and our stomachs are the
containers and processors of sustenance, our brains produce thoughts.
Some of them help us to function � to eat, to drink, to communicate � yet
most of our thoughts are just random chatter drifting through our minds
like lost ships in the night. While it feels natural for us to sit
down and rest our legs after a long walk, for most of us the mind never
What makes our brains seem so complicated is that very rarely are we
aware of the onslaught of thoughts that stumble through their
labyrinths. Try to sit still for even just ten minutes and consciously
witness every thought that is passing through, and you'll know what I'm
talking about. If you don't do this carefully it might drive you nuts.
Witness the repetition, the same old thoughts that keep coming up, again and again.
Witness how one thought disappears abruptly, to be replaced by another.
Like a dog chasing a stick, our mind clings on to thought patterns,
until suddenly the crack of a can of dog-food diverts our attention to
the next seductive sound or movement.
The think tanks, of course, have figured out that over 90 percent of
our brain, if left to its own devices, behaves like a Golden Retriever. So they
tie their agenda to a stick and keep throwing it. That's how
advertising works. And of course the people at the top don't just advertise products; they
advertise morals and ideas that most of us, since we've never been
taught how to be aware of our own thoughts, run after like zealous
little puppies. These morals and ideas are dressed up as Republican,
Democrat, Christian or scientific. They approach us as belief, credo,
statistic, or custom. Yet ultimately they're all stuck to the same bone
we find ourselves gnawing on.
All of this originates in the fact that we Western societies have accepted as an unquestioned fact Descartes' axiom, "I
think, therefore I am." We've taken this as common knowledge precisely because
we've heard it over and over, just as the most chewed-up and
slobbered-upon sticks are most attractive to our canine friends.
Meanwhile our egos, in true self-fulfilling prophesy, have happily
latched on to the theory that they're the crown of creation. Talk about
a tail wagging the dog. If we only stop for a minute to become witness to ourselves, we immediately realize that thoughts are neither Truth nor
the source of Being. Rather, they are just one of many tools we're
equipped with to navigate our limitless, mysterious, and inexplicably
beautiful higher selves through a temporary physical existence on
So here we are, under the assumption that all the buzz constantly
running through our heads somehow offers an explanation as to what
really is and to who we really are. In reality, the buzz consists only of
sound-byte banners of what we think is and, specifically, of who we think we are. By identifying our thoughts as ultimate truth and reality, we create in our minds fertile ground for any kind of matrix � regardless of what the parameters are and who sets
them. It is our own minds that keep chasing that seemingly tasty bone.
The bad news is that we are collectively trapped in the matrix of our
mind. This matrix keeps us chasing after self-imposed delusions. It feeds
on our desires and fears. And then it turns around and feeds us more desires and fears. We keep wanting to chase after the stick for we are
afraid to lose it. Likewise, the desire for Humvees and bigger military
budgets is rooted in the fear that we might get bullied or terrorized.
In Uncle Jim's case we feel the need to deliver a positive eulogy for
fear of being different, of being chastised, of being punished. Our minds keep
playing that same trick on us, over and over, keeping our thoughts on our fears and our desires. They are prey for
even the most mediocre marketeer or propagandist.
Repossessing Our Minds
The good news is that we don't have to remain stuck in this game of run
and fetch. We can leave the matrix. For beneath the convoluted house of cards that is our
thoughts lies the incredibly simple essence of our true being. Let's call it the
soul. There, deep inside ourselves, dwells true freedom, the freedom to
watch the stick being thrown and the freedom to enjoy its twists and turns without
having to run after it.
Deep down there also dwells ever-present
knowledge that we are timeless souls traveling in temporary vessels.
Death, our ultimate fear, our ultimate enemy when inserted into the chatter of
our thoughts, is but a healthy part of the journey through the
human body. While not always easy, death is a readily embraceable rite of
passage. Understanding the power and grace of accepting our own
mortality unravels so many of our other fears and desires as well. It
allows us to deliver a respectful and truthful eulogy, taking away the
gun powder of our minds that feeds the weapons of the matrix.
So how do we do it? How can we diffuse the explosive material carried
by our thoughts, and step out of our own matrix and that of the think tanks?
The first, and probably most important understanding is that all change
happens from within, and that we can only transcend any kind of societal
matrix if we become aware of our own participation in it.
Secondly, once we realize that this important work takes place on the
inside, we should feel comfortable dedicating more time to observing
our own thoughts. The great thing about it is that we can do this at
any time and in any place. We only need to be doing it purposefully and
with full awareness. Call it your patriotic (or matriotic) duty.
Thirdly, once we are paying attention to all the voices in our head, it
is important not to judge them. Just listen to the voices. Observe them. "Oh, here's a good
thought � that's all right." Or "OK, there's a horrible thought � that's
all right, too." If you start labeling your thoughts, remember that
that's what thoughts do in the wild landscape of our mind, and say:
"OK, now I'm labeling my thoughts � how interesting!"
It may seem a bit odd and simplistic to suggest that the numerous
external problems facing humanity could be solved by just paying
attention to our thoughts � that being mindful could be the most radical
political action in the book. But think about it for a moment. (And yes, think clearly).
To take responsibility for our own thought processes is to
decentralize the monopolies that the think tanks and other elites exercise on our internal and external chatter, and to
reclaim our own power to speak from a deeper, more authentic, more truthful place. To understand the workings of our own minds, and thus be able
to touch the core of our own hearts is nothing short of revolutionary. This is where the greatest power lies.
And should we get chastised at
Uncle Jim's funeral for being honest, we can be confident that the cries of outrage are primarily the aching wails of a crumbling matrix.
Sven Eberlein, a contributing editor at G&G, is a writer and musician who contemplates and meditates as part of his matriotic duty. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.chemystryset.com.
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