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The Tinkered Mind
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May 15th, 2021
It doesn’t matter where in the world the travel destination is, if a person doesn’t bring along an ability to be at peace, they won’t find it, not matter how sunny and wonderful the beach or how sacred and quiet the cathedral. Wherever we go, we bring along the capacity for experience.
The image of the pilgrim has the modern equivalent of the vacationer, as if it’s not possible to finally relax and have a good time until the destination is reached. For the pilgrim, it was some religious experience that exists somewhere else, hence the need for the pilgrimage.
The disappointed pilgrim is just like the person who complains no matter how good the view nor how good the beach side mojitos. There is nothing special about the destination that can change who we are capable of being. The campy and cute twist here would be that it’s the journey not the destination, but that provides little help - no matter how glorious business class is, the journey on an airplane isn’t anymore suited for any kind of spiritual or mental growth than any other form of movement.
What’s missing is the framework of a mental journey, and mental destinations as being completely separate from the physical geography where we live or wish to visit. The entire journey and destination is possible without ever moving, the whole thing exists within each person. The physical world is a bit of a red herring in this respect. We race around it chasing something that we carry along the entire time. It’s a bit like ripping apart your house looking for some lost item when all along, it’s just in your pocket.
But imagine for a moment if you simply didn’t know exactly what it was you were looking for, but you knew there was something to find. It could be easy and very understandable to look around the house, or the globe for the matter, for something that isn’t physical, but mental. There’s little popular thought given to this notion of a mental destination, as represented by a mental state, and yet we are constantly chasing and cycling back to familiar stopping ground in terms of mental destination, be it having a glass of wine or being with someone in particular, or even taking a particular psychedelic. We might instead think of the mind as a process, like a song that has lots of repetition but which can reach new crescendos never before experienced.
It usually requires some kind of life altering experience to achieve one of those new crescendos, unless, the volume on the whole song is regularly adjusted to be lower. Without so much mental noise, even a normal day can sound like something new and fresh - because it is. As much as the days repeat, they are unique - just in the same way life altering experiences are unique. The difference is how much attention we pay, and what kind of attention. With training, the mind can sink into the geography of time as we move through it, grasping the ordinary and the everyday in order to hoist itself to new heights.