Are you “Out of your mind”? A Zen perspective
This is a common expression that we make when we are surprised or angry about someone’s statement or behavior. “ You quit your job! Are you out of your mind!” It means to be mentally out of control.
“Out of your mind” is a critical judgment. It carries negative values because we strongly believe that being “in the mind that is being under its control ” is the only way to be and act in a logical, rational and intelligent way.
Zen is teaching us to have a “Don’t know mind “. It means also “Being out of the mind” and it has nothing to do with its common negative meaning. It simply means to be out of the control of our restless mind and more specifically out of the control of our ego-driven mind source of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and other negative emotions.
Being “out of our mind” is escaping from the prison called mind where our thoughts are the walls.
How to achieve this? We are achieving this only by bringing mind and body together in the same space-time and doing the same thing. This is pure awareness w/o analysis, judgment or decision.
In fact, in order to achieve and enjoy serenity, equanimity and maybe enlightment thru the experience of awareness and mindfulness, being “out of t the mind” rather than being “inside the mind” is necessary if not critical. Remember that our main causes of suffering ——desire, hatred and illusion——-come from our ego-driven mind. Of course, we cannot be “out of our mind” in a Zen way all day long because we do need this wonderful instrument to think such as analyzing, planning, judging, deduction, synthesis and to express our feelings.
Therefore, not using our mind will be totally stupid and life will be impossible.
So, what is the proper balance between “ Being inside and outside our mind” ?
- Stay “inside your mind” only when you need to use it for example: to analyze, create, judge, make decisions, to function socially and professionally, etc.
- Apart from these basic needs, try to be “out of your mind” or out of its control by staying away from its endless stream of thoughts and feelings.
This is especially true when your mind is carrying you in the past or future doing something else.
When your body is doing something somewhere and your mind is in different space-time doing something
else, you are on autopilot, in “waking sleep mode” which defines perfectly well “ being in the mind”, in its
How to escape from the mind grasp and be out of it?
Using mindfulness and one of our 5 senses is an excellent approach to be “out of your mind” because you are forcing your mind to be where your body is and do and to focus on, right now. By doing so, you are preventing your mind from being free that is wandering around in the past or future and controlling you all the time.
Here are few examples of bringing body and mind together or being out of your mind. This is awareness:
You are in the present moment, body and mind are one and the mind is now under your control when:
You are mindful to the taste an orange, as it is, nothing more: pure reality, the mind is mute.
Feel the hot water running on your skin and mindful to its sound under the sower as it is, nothing more: Pure reality, the mind is mute.
While walking, feel the ground and hear your steps one by one as it is, nothing more: True reality, the mind is mute.
Of course, you can/should repeat this mental exercise for few seconds or minutes many times as you wish during the day and depending of the circumstances such as while driving, walking, eating, gardening, even working, etc. By doing so, we are paying attention mindfully to the current moment, w/o analysis, w/o judgment and w/o goals.
You are truly yourself when you are creating one entity with your surrounding reality, outside our mind-made illusions. Is it boring? Is it stupid: Don’t judge, it is a mind trap! if you do, you will miss the wonderful feeling of being serene and enlightened. Awakening or Enlightenment is being free from the mind jail where thoughts are the walls. This is Zen.
The purpose of human life is not to be always happy, although we certainly all want that; the purpose of human life is to awaken to really what we are that is being min-free. The more we are mind-free the more in touch with reality you are, the closer we are to living in serenity; and this is very different from superficial, emotional and transient happiness.
As we learn to experience our present-moment experience thru awareness, we gradually discover that our true nature connected, without bounds, to anything around us.