How We Get Stopped From Finding the Work We Love

Ask Subhan…
Questioner: I just don’t know what I want to do as my career or job. Every time I get an idea, I seem to find a hundred reasons NOT to do it. Can you help me untangle this mess?
Subhan: There is a Sufi mystic named Rumi who said, “Look for the answer in your question.” What an insight!
Let’s take his advice and look at your question: You say, “Every time I get an idea, I seem to find a hundred reasons NOT to do it.” This indicates that you DO have ideas that interest you! It is what a part of the mind does with these ideas that causes your difficulty.
Your question reveals two parts inside of you. One part has ideas. They may even be adventurous! The other part – what I call the critical mind – gives you a hundred reasons in opposition, which form a powerful obstacle that stops you from truly exploring the idea. This critical mind criticizes it, makes it wrong, makes it unattractive, makes it not good enough, etc. In a short time you lose any excitement and adventurous feeling that you may have had about the idea.
Realize that the mind’s critique that leads you to, “It is not what I want,” is probably just to stop you from going to an unpredictable place where it doesn’t want you to go. But instead of it saying that it is unpredictable or dangerous, the critical mind gives a litany of perfectly logical reasons why it isn’t the place to go. In that way, it constantly keeps you away from the new…and stuck in the old – which it considers SAFE!
The problem is that life lives and breaths in adventure and the unknown, not in the safe and the predictable.
And it is one thing to experience something and decide that it isn’t for you. It is quite another thing when this decision becomes a continuing pattern of the mind. Then it is pointing to a deeper, hidden motivation.
And watch how the mind insists that, although this particular idea isn’t right, just keep waiting and hoping that the REAL thing will come down the pike. This keeps you from total despair. And you stay hooked to the future, looking for what is ABOUT to come, rather than exploring what is already in front of you that interests you. It is like “waiting for godot”…and godot never comes!
So what to do? When there is an initial experience of attraction to a career idea, pursue it!
Use what I call the “Adventure-Risk Zone” analysis. This analysis says, Find and take small steps into the Adventure-Risk Zone in the direction of the idea, but not so big that they trigger the resistance of the critical mind. You can then experiment taking steps towards your idea and learn which ones work and which ones don’t.
Once you understand how the critical mind functions, you can learn to bring your awareness and understanding in when the mind uses this obstacle. It is a knack that you can learn. And it certainly helps to have support while you are learning this. It is extremely helpful to have the support of people who know and understand how the critical mind functions. They can be resources and mirrors so that you can see what is happening unconsciously in the mind. And you can learn to break these patterns once you become aware of them. Then you can see that the pattern IS THERE, and move through and beyond it!
To sum it up: The critical mind finds the new and adventurous repugnant because it requires change to happen; it invites in the unknown; it is unpredictable. The mind sees this as very dangerous. So it does whatever it can to halt the process. It is this continuing pattern of stopping anything from materializing that begins to give the critical mind’s intention away. And once this is seen and understood, it is possible to challenge the mind and move beyond it when you become aware that it is going into the pattern again.
(In our FTWYL classes and workshops, we now do a substantial amount of work learning how to recognize and effectively deal with the critical mind.)
©2010 subhan schenker

Going Beyond Polarities

My experience of dealing with polarities has led to the understanding that they only exist as opposites in the mind! There, they are certainly contradictory. Outside of the THOUGHTS of good and bad (= outside the mind), they are complementary! Night and day – as with good and bad – aren’t two separate things; they are deeply joined together.

And certainly to connect with our hearts is a way to be outside the mind! And the only way I know of really doing this is to connect with the silence and stillness inside of us through meditation.

So for me, meditation has become the key. It opens the door to greater awareness and clarity.

Now, when I remember, I stop trying to “become” something, which just creates another polarity in the mind (who I am now vs. who I want to become)! And in those moments when I relax into who I am – in that relaxed, accepting space – I have found that doing what I had perceived of as “good” happens without any notion of good or bad – and without any effort! What a paradox!

The Choices We Make

I read an intriguing Japanese proverb: “The reverse side also has a reverse side.”
It says to me that both sides – both poles of a polarity – must be recognized.
That is one of the most difficult things for the mind to grasp. For example, there is “good” and “bad.” The mind chooses one (almost invariably “good”) and then rejects what it calls “bad.” This creates a perpetual need for “bad” so that it can be “good.” After all, “good” is defined by “bad.”
What a crazy game! When we understand that good and bad are two sides of the same coin, we can relax into whatever is happening, without choosing one over the other. We have both sides, and to exclude one creates the need to keep the separation – and the other side – alive.
Imagine choosing day over night. What a futile life that would be…

What’s REALLY “Out There?”

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”
Charles R. Swindoll

I keep experiencing that life is so little what is “out there” and so much what is inside the mind! It’s like looking at life through filters, and filters upon filters. And then, every once in a while, the filters fall, and something unexplainable, something beyond words, becomes the real. And what follows is the expansive feeling of gratitude…

An Antedote to Worry!

A simple solution to worrying: Do something physical for ten minutes, then sit for ten minutes and just watch the body sensations, the mind and the feelings.
In other words, take the energy that the mind uses to worry and expend it through the body – dance, run, bicycle, swim, etc.! The sitting will help you reconnect to a deeper space…

The Mind and Comparison

March 17, 2011
A friend wrote: “Sitting here in India in a wheelchair with a fractured leg and being reminded again that it always could be worse. How humbling.”
He was referring to Japan and the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor situation there.

It reminded me that comparison is the territory of the mind. And finding that things could be worse is its compensation for a situation that it doesn’t like.

Of course, under the table, the mind is also saying, “Things could be better! So why me?!!”

If we just stay with what is, then we can drop any notion of comparison and that there is a problem to begin with.

So a fractured leg becomes an opportunity to watch the mind’s comparing nature and how that game is played. And perhaps, after seeing that enough…and penetrating it enough, we will drop the whole game….

Insight: Mind and No-Mind


OSHO: It is an intellectual question, nothing to do with your experience; because if you have experienced even a glimpse of no-mind, all questions including this will simply disappear.
Questions belong to the territory of the mind. No-mind means absolute silence — no question, no answer, no thought at all. Hence we call it no-mind.
First you have to understand the mind, because that’s where you are, that’s from where the question is arising. Unless you understand your space — the point from where you are raising the question — you will not be able, even intellectually, to comprehend some difference between no-mind and being present. There is no difference in experience, just two names for the same experience from two different aspects, two different angles.
No-mind is experienced within you. Nobody else can see it; it is purely subjective. With no-mind comes tremendous presence. When you are in the mind you are almost absent. The quantity of your presence or absence has to be measured by your consciousness. You have such a small layer of consciousness — that’s your only presence. Otherwise, ninety percent you are absent.
But the man of no-mind is one hundred percent present. You can feel his presence from the outside. You cannot see his no-mind. The presence of his being is a radiation of a silent state within. That is beyond you, but if you are available, receptive, you can experience something of the tremendous presence of his being. In each of his gestures, in each of his looks, in each of his words, or even in his silence, you can be touched by his presence of being.
The presence of being comes into existence only when the person as such disappears. It is the melted state of the person — the presence — as if the flower has disappeared and only the fragrance has remained. You cannot catch hold of it, but you can be surrounded by it. Such people who have their being absolutely present — one hundred percent alert — are known in the world of language as having charisma. There is no other charisma. There is only one charisma and one charismatic aura and that aura comes from no-mind. But no-mind is the center within and the aura is the circumference of that mind, that no-mind.
When inside you everything becomes silent, you are no more as you used to be — a person. Now you are just a fragrance, a presence … But your presence has deepened. It has become a solid pillar of light.
Anybody who is intelligent is bound to feel something new that he has never experienced before. So these are two viewpoints: one is the inner experience of no-mind, and the other is from outside. It is the by-product of no-mind, the presence of being.
But first you have to understand the mind, because that’s where you are and that’s from where the journey has to start towards no-mind, culminating finally into a beautiful fragrance — awareness — a magic aura around you.
People have named it in different ways, because people are different. Somebody will say, “It is a hypnotic force.” Somebody will say, “It is something like magnetism.” Somebody will say, “It is mesmerism.” Somebody will say, “It is charisma.” Somebody will say, “We don’t know exactly what it is.” One thing is certain: it has a tremendous gravity, it pulls you towards itself. And if you are courageous you can be drowned in it and you can be transformed in that drowning. It will be your death and your resurrection, both. As you are, you will die, as you should be, you will be born.
But mind is a very dark place. To comprehend light from there is almost like a blind man trying to comprehend light.

A young English gentleman returns from a stay at a stately home.
“How was your weekend?” asks a friend.
“Well,” he replies, “if the soup had been as warm as the wine, and the wine had been as old as the chicken, and the chicken had been as tender as the maid, and the maid had been as willing as the duchess, it would have been a perfect weekend.”

This is how the mind functions. If you look into your mind you will start laughing at your own mind. It is never in the present. It can’t have presence because the basic quality is missing. It is never in the present. Either it is in the past, which is no more — just a memory, a faded memory, a faraway echo; perhaps a dream that you had seen sometime, but not more than that — signatures on the water. You have not even completed your signature and it has disappeared. That’s how the past goes on disappearing. You have not even lived it and it slips out of your hands. And then the mind goes on thinking about it.
So either the mind is past-oriented or it is future-oriented. Because it has missed the past, out of sheer necessity a projection arises about the future. The past is no more in your hands, it is gone, and gone for ever. There is no way to bring it back. All that you can do is to project into the future whatever you wanted to do, however you wanted to live … Naturally, while you are thinking about the future, making it fuller than your yesterdays, you are missing the present moment. Your mind moves like a pendulum from the past to the future, from the future to the past. It never stops just in the middle, where reality is.
You are always real, but your mind is always unreal. You are always in the present, you cannot be anywhere else. But your mind is never here, it is all over the world. It will not be just at the point where you are. Except for that place, it can roam all over the world. It can go to the moon, it can go to Everest … Everything is possible for it, whether it is memory or imagination, but the mind has no contact with the present. Your body is far more present, it is totally different from your mind.
And very strangely, all the religions have condemned the body, not the mind; because they themselves were using the mind for the faraway future, farther away than ordinary people think about. You think about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, or the next year at the most. But all the religions were thinking about a future beyond death. Their heaven and their hell and their God are all so far away from the present moment.
And remember: you will always be in the present moment. And the distance between you and those imaginary spaces in the future will remain the same. It won’t change.
Because all the religions were using mind as their foundation, they had to deny the body. It is very unfortunate, but nothing can be done about it. It has happened.
Your consciousness is exactly in the present, just like your body. So I am in favor of your body, because it shares one thing in common with your being: your being is in the present, your body is also in the present. Only the mind is continuously moving here and there, never coming home.
There is a reason for it not to come home: in the present the mind has no function. What can the mind do in the present? The mind’s capacities consist of memory, which is the past, or imagination, which is the future. That is the whole capacity of your mind. There is no place for the present moment. The mind will not know what to do.
In the present you cannot remember, you cannot imagine; in the present you can be! But in the present you can be only when mind is no longer functioning. Hence, my approach is totally different from all religions: I want you to respect your body, because it is in the present, and that will give you the clue — a direct root to your being; because the being is also in the present.
Just leave the mind aside … But we are against the body, we are very condemnatory of the body, not knowing at all that this condemnation of the body is breaking the bridge to your being. A man of authentic spirituality is deeply in love with his body, because he knows body shares many things with being. Mind shares nothing, either with body or with being. It is an absolute stranger that has been forcibly put into you by the culture, the religion, the society. They are using the mind to enslave you.
And because you are in the mind you continuously go on asking about things of which you have no experience. You don’t know what no-mind is, except a word. You don’t know what presence of being is, except that you have heard about it. Just words won’t do.
Move away from the mind … And when I say to move away from the mind, I am saying to move away from the inner chattering. That is the only disturbance that is preventing you from knowing yourself and this beautiful existence. Because your body is in the present, you are in the present, existence is in the present … They are all herenow. Only the mind is a strange phenomenon. But you have been manipulated by others so much … Your educational systems, your friends, your family — everybody is trying to make you a great mind. In other words, everybody is trying to pull you away from the present moment.
I am reminded of a great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. He is a specimen of those people who are absolutely in the mind. He lived according to mind so totally that people used to set their watches, whenever they saw Immanuel Kant going to the university.
Never — it may rain, it may rain fire, it may rain cats and dogs, it may be utterly cold, snow falling … Whatever the situation, Kant will reach the university at exactly the same time all the year round, even on holidays. Such a fixed, almost mechanical … He would go on holiday at exactly the same time, remain in the university library, which was specially kept open for him, because otherwise what would he do there the whole day? And he was a very prominent, well-known philosopher, and he would leave the university at exactly the same time every day.
One day it happened … It had rained and there was too much mud on the way — one of his shoes got stuck in the mud. He did not stop to take the shoe out because that would make him reach the university a few seconds later, and that was impossible. He left the shoe there. He just arrived with one shoe. The students could not believe it. Somebody asked, “What happened to the other shoe?”
He said, “It got stuck in the mud, so I left it there, knowing perfectly well nobody is going to steal one shoe. When I return in the evening, then I will pick it up. But I could not have been late.”
A woman proposed to him: “I want to be married to you” — a beautiful young woman. Perhaps no woman has ever received such an answer, before or after Immanuel Kant. Either you say, “Yes,” or you say, “No. Excuse me.” Immanuel Kant said, “I will have to do a great deal of research.”
The woman asked, “About what?”
He said, “I will have to look in all the marriage manuals, all the books concerning marriage, and find out all the pros and cons — whether to marry or not to marry.”
The woman could not imagine that this kind of answer had ever been given to any woman before. Even no is acceptable, even yes, although you are getting into a misery, but it is acceptable. But this kind of indifferent attitude towards the woman — he did not say a single sweet word to her. He did not say anything about her beauty, his whole concern was his mind. He had to convince his mind whether or not marriage is logically the right thing.
It took him three years. It was really a long search. Day and night he was working on it, and he had found three hundred reasons against marriage and three hundred reasons for marriage. So the problem even after three years was the same.
One friend suggested out of compassion, “You wasted three years on this stupid research. In three years you would have experienced all these six hundred, without any research. You should have just said yes to that woman. There was no need to do so much hard work. Three years would have given you all the pros and cons — existentially, experientially.”
But Kant said, “I am in a fix. Both are equal, parallel, balanced. There is no way to choose.”
The friend suggested, “Of the pros you have forgotten one thing: that whenever there is a chance, it is better to say yes and go through the experience. That is one thing more in favor of the pros. The cons cannot give you any experience, and only experience has any validity.”
He understood, it was intellectually right. He immediately went to the woman’s house, knocked on her door. Her old father opened the door and said, “Young man, you are too late. You took too long in your research. My girl is married and has two children.”
That was the last thing that was ever heard about his marriage. From then on no woman ever asked him, and he was not the kind of man to ask anybody. He remained unmarried.
The mind is very impotent in a way. It cannot give you any existential juice, any existential experience, and that is the only thing that matters. So please move away from mind. Don’t ask the difference, because there is no difference between no-mind and being present. No-mind is the inner subjective experience and being present is available for everybody. It is the circumference and no-mind is the center. But they are both together. Neither the circumference can be without the center nor the center can be without the circumference.
But the circumference can be experienced, and that’s what has attracted millions of people to a man like Gautam Buddha or Chuang Tzu or Jesus or Moses … It was their integrity, their individuality, their solidity. In comparison to them, people felt hollow. They had immense presence. Other people looked just like shadows, without any souls.
George Gurdjieff started saying to his disciples for the first time in the whole of history — he just died in the year nineteen hundred and fifty … He started saying a very strange thing, and although it is not right, he is not wrong. He started saying to people, “You don’t have souls.” What he meant was: “You don’t have any presence, your being is hollow. Inside you there is nothing but darkness, unconsciousness, absence. Everything is absent.”
You have been told for centuries that you are born with a soul. It is absolutely wrong according to Gurdjieff. I know and he knows that what he is saying is not the truth, but it is a device. He is making you aware of your hollowness, of your emptiness, and he has chosen the best way to hit the nail on the head. He is saying, “You don’t have souls! Forget all that nonsense that tradition has been telling you. That was a deception, but you accepted the tradition that, `We have souls already, there is no need to seek and search.'”
He said, “You will have to create the soul, you cannot have it just through birth! Through birth you get only the body. Through your upbringing you get your mind. And through a conscious effort to transcend into the beyond, you will achieve the soul.”
He said definitively that only a very few people have lived with souls. And without a soul, what are you? A cabbage, a cauliflower? I have heard there is some difference between cabbages and cauliflowers. And the difference is that the cabbage is uneducated and the cauliflower has college degrees. But that does not make much difference — both are vegetables. Your life is a vegetation.
Of course I cannot agree with Gurdjieff as far as the truth is concerned. But I agree with him and his compassion — that he did not bother about the truth, he bothered more about you. He wanted to make you aware that unless you do something, you are not going to create a soul. Soul is your own creation. But he went too far. I am not ready to deny you the soul, I only deny you the awareness of it. You are born with the soul as you are born with the body. Mind is a social product. You are not born with the mind. That’s why a Mohammedan has a different mind and a Hindu has a different mind and a Christian has a different mind. You can see their differences of mind.
Since India’s freedom, for forty years Hindus have been fighting for only one thing, as if that is going to solve all human problems …
The greatest rich man of India, Jugal Kishore Birla — he is dead now — had been hearing about me. Finally, he could not resist the temptation, and he invited me to his palatial house in New Delhi.
The man who had brought me the invitation — I was staying with him — was the M.P. from my constituency, and I could not say no to him. He was an old man, seventy-five years old. And he was the only man other than Winston Churchill who had remained a member of parliament for sixty years continuously without any gap. He was called `the Father of Parliament’. He entered parliament when he was only fifteen. He belonged to one of the richest families himself and they belonged to the same caste, Jugal Kishore Birla and he himself.
He persisted. I was reluctant. I said, “What purpose is going to be served by my meeting that old man? I know about him … Perhaps he does not know as well about me.”
But he insisted, “He is not far away, and he has been very interested in you and he wants to talk to you.”
So I went, and what was the first thing he asked me? He said, “I can give you a blank checkbook. You can use as much money as you want. All that has to be done is somehow to create a movement in the country so that cow slaughter is stopped.”
I said, “What is going to happen if cow slaughter is stopped?”
“All problems of the world will be solved.”
Only a Hindu mind can think that: that by not killing cows all problems will be solved. This is such a stupid idea. But the Hindu has been so much influenced for centuries, continuously conditioned that the cow is the mother — although they don’t accept the bull as their father, which is a logical and rational approach.
I asked Jugal Kishore Birla, “Do you accept the bull as your father?”
He said, “What are you talking about?” He became angry.
I said, “Don’t become angry. If the cow is your mother, then some bull is bound to be your father.”
He looked at the M.P. who had brought me and I said, “You can keep your checkbook. Perhaps you will find some idiot who can do this work. I cannot say to anybody that the cow is my mother.”
He said to the M.P., “What is the matter? Is he not a Hindu?” Because a Hindu cannot think that anybody can deny that the cow is the mother.
I would have no objection if they were accepting all animals as mothers, as fathers, as brothers, as sisters, at least as faraway cousins. It would have been acceptable; it would have been a beautiful world if people accepted animals as their brothers and sisters. But just choosing the cow — that is the Hindu conditioning, that is the Hindu mind.
Every person gets a mind ready-made, and that mind is being forced into him by all methods and means. That is the only part that has not been given to you by existence. Existence has given you the body: love the body, rejoice in the body, let the body dance without any guilt and without any fear of these religions, and you will be coming closer to your being through the body.
Nobody has come closer to the being through the mind. Mind is the most arbitrary, artificial creation by the society to subdue the individual, to destroy his individuality, and to destroy the discovery of his own being.
You are born with the soul, but you are absolutely unaware of it — because of the mind. The mind never allows you to be in the present. That’s the reason my insistence on meditation is so strong — because meditation simply means a method to get rid of the mind.
The moment the mind is not there, suddenly you are in a new space: so fresh, so beautiful, so blissful. That is your soul, that is your no-mind. And once you have entered that space, that space starts growing around you and creates a certain energy field. That becomes your presence of being.