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by David Truman

The concept of a higher and a lower mind is recognized in many spiritual, philosophical, and even some psychological movements.

The lower mind is the thinking, subjective mind. We feel it is closer to us than our own skin, more real than the world around us, more reliable than our own senses. Yet it is easy to see in other peoples' lives, and equally obvious in our own, how much waste and folly we suffer with the lower mind at the helm. False starts. Foolish decisions. Back-tracking. One wonders: Is the lower mind just random, or is it systematically perverse?

The lower mind, like an insane captain, drives us crazy -- and impedes progress -- with its impossible succession of conflicting demands: "Here's my big chance to tell her I care about her -- well, I'd better play it cool -- maybe I should date other people -- I think I'm better off alone." You can judge the competence of the captain by the course of his ship; by that measure the evidence against the lower mind is clear and incontestable.

All spiritual traditions recognize that a redefinition of one's relationship with the lower mind occurs in the process of spiritual maturation. The Zen koan seeks to bring this about by confounding the lower mind; the practice of meditation aims to observe, to calm, and ultimately, to transcend lower mind. But even without dedication to formal spiritual disciplines, human beings throughout history have arrived at the same turning point in consciousness.


Eventually, anyone who deals in depth with the mind realizes that no process directed by the lower mind could ever yield genuine fulfillment. Lower mind manipulation binds beings to shallows and miseries, hopeless meanderings within confusion.

Fortunately, the tyranny of the lower mind loses force when seen as automaticity, or even folly. We relax our habitual attempts to solve everything by thinking about it. And then, like a lotus on a lake, an intuitive realization of another way -- a higher way -- arises.

There IS another dimension to reality, where the usual problems of life can finally be solved. This dimension is the higher mind. The higher mind is simple, clear, certain and perfectly directed – quite opposite to the rambling, chaotic, and cogitating mentality with which we suffer daily.

It is to the truth itself, and to the agents of truth, that our attention then turns. Each individual discovers in the higher mind an entirely intuitive approach based on submission to the truth. This is a radically universal vision of life itself, a radical new interpretation of one's own identity in the midst of things. "I AM a servant of God!" Here we enjoy knowing without thinking -- finding without seeking. We live a life based on the ancient and universal principles of truth, and not on cogitation. Our responses and actions spring from stillness. Our conclusions are spontaneous rather than figured out. New understanding fills the being.

The lower mind remains, but in a redefined role. It is far less busy now. We are no longer constantly consulting it for answers or advice. It is used, instead, for numerical calculations, balancing checkbooks -- work for which it is eminently suited! But because we are no longer concentrating in it, feeding it, it tends to recede. It slows down, becomes tranquil. It does not speak much unless spoken to.

The higher mind points to peace. When we follow it, we find peace, absorption, wordless contemplation. Such awareness is simple attention and therefore not a disturbance of any kind. This is the true form of meditation, and it is constant.

by David Truman

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The Dawning of Higher Mind

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