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Changing the wardrobe and the furnishings of the mind

Overview

During holidays and springtime, and also before Diwali and Christmas, I revisit my wardrobe in an attempt to get rid of the old stuff but I find myself putting half of the stuff back in the wardrobe as my mind is not ready to part with them as yet, although I  haven’t used them in several months, and there is little chance they will be used in future.

I revisit my wardrobe in an attempt to get rid of the old stuff.

During holidays and springtime, and also before Diwali and Christmas, I revisit my wardrobe in an attempt to get rid of the old stuff but I find myself putting half of the stuff back in the wardrobe as my mind is not ready to part with them as yet, although I  haven’t used them in several months, and there is little chance they will be used in future.

I know that at some stage in the future, I will be ready to say goodbye to them and I would not have used them in the intervening period. It is not that I am holding on to them so that I can use them in the future, it is just that I am not ready to let go of things that were a part of my life forever and have no chance of seeing them again.

The same holds true for our mind as well, it is not just that we change our thoughts and feelings when we grow up, the apparatus that thinks and feels also changes with time, if we allow it to, as we grow up. Sadly, we are not ready to cope with drastic changes in our identity and core values.

Things linger on in our minds for much longer than necessary

Things linger on in our minds for much longer than necessary, some adults cannot let go of their fascination with teddy bears and video games, and they cannot resist the temptation to have chocolates and sweets into adulthood.

Similarly, some elderly can’t get over their desire to earn more and more money without having any plan on how they want to spend it or without doing any calculations as to what they are sacrificing, in terms of their time and energy that may be needed to improve their health and wellbeing, in pursuit of money that may be of not much use later in life. Some elderly still want to lead the passionate and romantic life that they were used to when they were young adults.

Each stage in life has its own priorities and life goals, and we identify with those priorities. With age and changed circumstances, those should also change. But sadly, we find ourselves unable to do so due to our identifications with them, and a fear of the unknown. The known devil is better than an unknown one.

It is not easy to change the furniture of one’s mind, it requires courage to disagree with one’s own self and one’s thoughts, something that one has come to identify with. For that one needs to question the purpose of everything one does and be open-minded when listening to others. Growing up also involves periods of crisis and metamorphosis like what we see in a caterpillar who turns into a butterfly. There may be a crisis of meaning and some faith is needed to hold on to certain beliefs that will guide us.

The next important question is what comes first – should you let go of the old before bringing in the new or first bring in the new and the old can be abandoned later? Should we first get rid of our old habits or first learn new habits?

There may not be an easy answer to these questions. Logic says that we must create space for the new by removing the old first. But one cannot let go of the old if one cannot be sure of the alternatives replacing it. One should have sight of the new before one can even think of getting rid of the old. At times not replacing it with something is the wise thing to do, and one needs the conviction that one can do without it.

The argument for the first logic would be that wet wood will not burn, one must remove the water by drying the wood before lighting it. The argument for the second approach would be of a child who will not let go of his childish happiness unless they are introduced to the happiness of adult life. You do not want to resign from your job until you have found another one unless you are planning to retire.

Now looking at how we can replace the furniture of our mind and what it means to bring in new furniture

Each stage brings its own task that needs to be accomplished and to do so we need to abandon the tasks of the earlier stage of life. According to Sigmund Freud and psychoanalytic traditions, we can move on to the next stage of our development only when the gratification of a given stage is optimal. We are likely to remain stuck or fixated at a stage if our needs are either under-gratified or over-gratified. Both these situations i.e., under and gratification will not let us move on to the next stage of our development. Therefore, we should neither deprive ourselves nor overindulge in experiences of a given stage.

Just as we let go of: –

Our mommy’s breast when we start eating solid food

The Pram when we start walking

The toys and teddy bears when we start enjoying adult life

In the same way, we must let go of the:

Our Psychological dependence on our parents when we become an adult

Flirting with others when we are in a stable relationship

Our desire for money coming from others when we are in employment

Constant preoccupation with money when our needs are reasonably met

Our desire to be more famous and powerful when we have achieved reasonable success in life

Our desire for material possessions and expanding our social circle when approaching old age

Our desire to look young when already an old person.

Conclusion 

How to do it?

  • Listen carefully to others who have passed the stage of life you are entering with an open mind and a willingness to change. You do not have to adopt their thinking but use it in your analysis along with other sources of information. A senior colleague of mine who was in his later seventies once told me, Kishore when I was young, I worked extremely hard to earn money and I ignored other important tasks in life, looking back I don’t think there was a need to work that hard to earn money after a certain age.
  • Question the purpose of doing everything you do. When young you want to enlarge your social circle, but the same enlarged circle can become an obstacle in the way of your inner peace in old age. When young you want to travel to acquire more knowledge of the world, but when old you want to travel only for a specific experience that you want to have and not just to acquire more knowledge of the world.
  • Non-identification and non-attachment with the things you have. Saying to yourself – my ego or intellect wants to have this thing in my life, but it has no meaning to my spirit or soul.
  • Keep asking yourself, who am I? seeing yourself as a consciousness (a choiceless, effortless, emotionally non-reacting observer that is already connected with the infinite) detached from your body and your mind (intellect) can be helpful in facilitating a transformation in your consciousness and letting go of what is not helpful.
  • Dealing with changes before they have happened and not afterward. Seeing human life in dynamic terms and not static can be helpful here. Seeing everything as temporary and constantly changing like water flowing or vapors shifting can be helpful in being okay with losing the familiar and coping with the new.
  • Living with a sense of urgency creates an urgency to do things differently and be a different person. The two-lives quote from Confucius would be appropriate here. He said, “We have two lives. The second one begins when we realised that we only have one.”

Finally, the wardrobes and the furnishings of our house are constantly solid things, whereas those of the human mind is not. The mind is like a cloud moving or a river flowing. We hold on to certain things and habits out of our insecurity, otherwise, the wardrobe and the furnishings of the mind are constantly being replaced by mother nature, we only have to let it happen and not allow the petty calculations of our intellect/ego to unduly interfere in the process of life.

Things linger on in our minds for much longer than necessary

Things linger on in our minds for much longer than necessary, some adults cannot let go of their fascination with teddy bears and video games, and they cannot resist the temptation to have chocolates and sweets into adulthood.

Similarly, some elderly can’t get over their desire to earn more and more money without having any plan on how they want to spend it or without doing any calculations as to what they are sacrificing, in terms of their time and energy that may be needed to improve their health and wellbeing, in pursuit of money that may be of not much use later in life. Some elderly still want to lead the passionate and romantic life that they were used to when they were young adults.

Each stage in life has its own priorities and life goals, and we identify with those priorities. With age and changed circumstances, those should also change. But sadly, we find ourselves unable to do so due to our identifications with them, and a fear of the unknown. The known devil is better than an unknown one.

It is not easy to change the furniture of one’s mind, it requires courage to disagree with one’s own self and one’s thoughts, something that one has come to identify with. For that one needs to question the purpose of everything one does and be open-minded when listening to others. Growing up also involves periods of crisis and metamorphosis like what we see in a caterpillar who turns into a butterfly. There may be a crisis of meaning and some faith is needed to hold on to certain beliefs that will guide us.

The next important question is what comes first – should you let go of the old before bringing in the new or first bring in the new and the old can be abandoned later? Should we first get rid of our old habits or first learn new habits?

There may not be an easy answer to these questions. Logic says that we must create space for the new by removing the old first. But one cannot let go of the old if one cannot be sure of the alternatives replacing it. One should have sight of the new before one can even think of getting rid of the old. At times not replacing it with something is the wise thing to do, and one needs the conviction that one can do without it.

The argument for the first logic would be that wet wood will not burn, one must remove the water by drying the wood before lighting it. The argument for the second approach would be of a child who will not let go of his childish happiness unless they are introduced to the happiness of adult life. You do not want to resign from your job until you have found another one unless you are planning to retire.

Now looking at how we can replace the furniture of our mind and what it means to bring in new furniture

Each stage brings its own task that needs to be accomplished and to do so we need to abandon the tasks of the earlier stage of life. According to Sigmund Freud and psychoanalytic traditions, we can move on to the next stage of our development only when the gratification of a given stage is optimal. We are likely to remain stuck or fixated at a stage if our needs are either under-gratified or over-gratified. Both these situations i.e., under and gratification will not let us move on to the next stage of our development. Therefore, we should neither deprive ourselves nor overindulge in experiences of a given stage.

Just as we let go of: –

Our mommy’s breast when we start eating solid food

The Pram when we start walking

The toys and teddy bears when we start enjoying adult life

In the same way, we must let go of the:

Our Psychological dependence on our parents when we become an adult

Flirting with others when we are in a stable relationship

Our desire for money coming from others when we are in employment

Constant preoccupation with money when our needs are reasonably met

Our desire to be more famous and powerful when we have achieved reasonable success in life

Our desire for material possessions and expanding our social circle when approaching old age

Our desire to look young when already an old person.

Conclusion 

How to do it?

  • Listen carefully to others who have passed the stage of life you are entering with an open mind and a willingness to change. You do not have to adopt their thinking but use it in your analysis along with other sources of information. A senior colleague of mine who was in his later seventies once told me, Kishore when I was young, I worked extremely hard to earn money and I ignored other important tasks in life, looking back I don’t think there was a need to work that hard to earn money after a certain age.
  • Question the purpose of doing everything you do. When young you want to enlarge your social circle, but the same enlarged circle can become an obstacle in the way of your inner peace in old age. When young you want to travel to acquire more knowledge of the world, but when old you want to travel only for a specific experience that you want to have and not just to acquire more knowledge of the world.
  • Non-identification and non-attachment with the things you have. Saying to yourself – my ego or intellect wants to have this thing in my life, but it has no meaning to my spirit or soul.
  • Keep asking yourself, who am I? seeing yourself as a consciousness (a choiceless, effortless, emotionally non-reacting observer that is already connected with the infinite) detached from your body and your mind (intellect) can be helpful in facilitating a transformation in your consciousness and letting go of what is not helpful.
  • Dealing with changes before they have happened and not afterward. Seeing human life in dynamic terms and not static can be helpful here. Seeing everything as temporary and constantly changing like water flowing or vapors shifting can be helpful in being okay with losing the familiar and coping with the new.
  • Living with a sense of urgency creates an urgency to do things differently and be a different person. The two-lives quote from Confucius would be appropriate here. He said, “We have two lives. The second one begins when we realised that we only have one.”

Finally, the wardrobes and the furnishings of our house are constantly solid things, whereas those of the human mind is not. The mind is like a cloud moving or a river flowing. We hold on to certain things and habits out of our insecurity, otherwise, the wardrobe and the furnishings of the mind are constantly being replaced by mother nature, we only have to let it happen and not allow the petty calculations of our intellect/ego to unduly interfere in the process of life.

 

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