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The Map of the Soul

articles on the nature of the human mind

By S.M. Zakir Hussain (Bangladesh)

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Waste Management for the Mind



The mind is a congregation of emotions. Emotions create thoughts when they are controlled. Conversely, when thought attempts to simulate emotional movement, it creates imagination. Naturally, a lot of emotional movement and imagination is needed to create ideas for a successful living. And hence the need for creativity. However, unless and until the intelligence - rational, emotional, and spiritual - is amply developed and securely established, most or a great part of the thoughts, imaginations, and emotional activity becomes a waste. The health of the mind largely depends on the amount, frequency, and nature of such waste. This article will probe into the causes of such waste and look for practical ways to stop it. All mental wastage can be recycled into fresh, illuminating knowledge and invigorating spiritual enlightenment. If the right way is found, there is no escape from the destination.

Prior to making attempts to save energy, we need to know how different negative feelings, such as sorrow, disappointment, depression, and so on, are related to energy. Let us start with sorrow. What is it? Is it the lack of energy?

Maybe at first thought you will feel that sorrow is a feeling arising out of the lack of energy. You may have similar notion about disappointment and the other negative states of the mind. But actually the fact is the direct opposite.

Sorrow is the overflow of energy! This is the fact. And not a way of explanation or interpretation.

Let us go into the details. Suppose I have a son. He dies. I feel tremendously sorry. I become so broken-hearted that I do not feel like working, talking, enjoying, laughing, etc. The daily routine of my life changes. I feel that I do not have sufficient inspiration or energy to do anything. A psychology expert may observe these things in me and conclude that there has occurred a shortage of energy in me. But this is more of an opinion or hunch than a valid conclusion.
Does a sad person become silent per see? Does s/he show less movement than before? Never. Rather, the opposite is seen to be the fact. The person’s lifestyle changes, optimistic involvement in activities becomes less or infrequent for some time, but the total duration of movement does not change. Simply consider this fact: a sad boy may play little but will think more. A bereaved mother may work less but she cannot sleep either. If she lacked energy, she could, and would, sleep. Rather, it is the presence of too much energy in the mind that characterizes sorrow or any kind of anxiety. And this fact explains why sorrow or anxiety worsens diabetes or high blood pressure or heart diseases. Either the excess of energy needs to be utilized by working in the external world or it will work inside.

Now let us see how sorrow is an unusually big accumulation of energy in the example I have picked up.

My son dies. While he was alive, I had to do a lot of things for him on a regular basis. To do that, I had to think and feel for him. My mind became conditioned in a way. Conditioning is nothing but frozen energy: energy packed up and stored according to a pattern (of thought and feeling). When I lose him I actually lose the object of thought. Then my thought exists but it cannot produce action any more. For example, I have been accustomed to playing with him and taking him to school regularly. But now that I cannot do these things, I only retain the energy in my mind in the form of thought and memory and cannot utilize the energy in physical activity. Consequently, there is an abundance of energy in the mind. It weighs heavy on the heart. The brain experiences a traffic jam of disordered thought. I feel weak. This weakness does not indicate lack of energy; rather, it indicates that I am too weak to carry so much energy. So much memory. So much feeling and thought.

Because this energy is nothing but the Life-force itself, and because it cannot produce action, it becomes a wastage.

Now, how can it be prevented? - this wastage? The solution is simple but really difficult to apply. The only way to prevent this loss of energy is to chase the thought before it chases the mind. How? By exploring into every corner of the mind and tracing and finding out the objects, events, situations, concepts, and beliefs around which a lot of my thoughts have built on. Once these objects are discovered, the next responsibility will be to know why I think and feel about those objects. I must know that I give thought and concentration to something only because that makes it easy and pleasurable and convenient for me to do MY DUTIES to that object. That object in itself is not important or meaningful at all. For example, if I did not love (as I consider the word to mean) my child, I could not do so difficult a duty of bringing him up: earning for him, spending for him, playing with him; teaching, forgiving, punishing, tolerating, and so on. Do I ever do these things for others’ children? No, I do not. If I ever do, I do feel that I am doing a difficult duty.

So thought is a responsibility, not a fashionable mental exercise. But very few people can really feel it. Because it is a responsibility, one should know and feel it as such before it becomes an obsession. Thinking about something in order to acquire knowledge is a responsibility, which builds up identity and brings about fulfillment. But having to think about something to satisfy the demand of feelings imposed on the mind by situations or events may become a form of slavery. Slaves have no energy of their own.

Saddam may have been a slave to arrogance and ambition; Bush may have been a slave to envy and anger. Whatever energy (wealth, knowledge, skill, or whatever) they have used has certainly been a great wastage for humankind. Somehow or other each of us may happen to belong to one of them. Then this precious human life will be a total loss. Therefore, let us think and see the light before thoughts rush in like swarms of bees resembling a cloud carrying darkness. Perhaps it is in this sense that Descartes said: I think, therefore I exist.


Continued ...


Author of:

Secret Knowledge of the Qur'an