FROM THE BOUNDARY - On death and life – Part 7

Last week, I wrote about the ceaseless mutter-chatter of our minds, minds which serve as machines for the survival of the ME in me through attack and defence against other minds and in which our emotions are the body’s responses to everything that’s going on ‘up there’.

Think of an attack thought. Someone’s upset you and you’ve got to get back at them. The attack thought is a hostile thought and it builds up an energy inside us we call ‘anger’. Or we think someone’s out to get us. A defence thought builds up an energy we call ‘fear’. The emotion takes over and becomes ‘us’, feeding the mind’s perception of who we are. And so it all goes on and on. We all suffer it.

The upshot is that in addition to our other enslavements, our conditionings, our minds are also keeping us subject peoples, half dead, by programming our responses to things, events, people, ideas – the windmills of our minds with whom Don Quixote fought – and all the product of ‘ME’. Remember the song ‘Windmills of Your Mind’? “Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel – as the images unwind, like the circles that you find, in the windmills of your mind.” That summarises it pretty well.

What can we do? Most people don’t know they’re half dead, and would say they’re very happy thank you. So be it. You can’t force anyone. All you can do is offer pointers.
The first thing is that we have to become aware of all the negative feelings inside us, all the mutter-chatter. If we’re not aware of them, how can we ever confront them? It’s often in bed when my mind starts spinning round and rehearsing what’s happened during the day. Wherever it happens to you, at least be aware of it. If we’re conscious of it, identify it for what it is, it can’t control us in the same way. ‘There I go, mutter-chattering again.’ Whenever I say that to myself, it always makes me laugh, laugh at myself. It doesn’t necessarily stop the mutter-chattering, but it sort of puts it in perspective, makes it less serious, less controlling. In other words, if we feel gloomy and moody, or we’ve been hurt by someone, or we think life’s a b@*#h, it can only help if we try to identify precisely what those feelings are and observe them in action, from the outside. By naming them we begin to control them.

Nothing else is necessary, most certainly not condemning ourselves. Just be aware of all the mutter-chattering going on.

I’ll return to this. At root we’re being obsessional. That’s not the same as chewing on a problem, a state of affairs say, like the welfare of our kids, or a decision which must be made, like the way forward, or a knotty intellectual conundrum which screams to be dissolved. It occurred to me today that it might be a good idea to keep a mental list of these sort of ‘buggings’ and explore them afresh a week after they surfaced.

This week, four things stand out for me. One strikes at the law teacher in me. How could Government, with all its resident attorneys, possibly come up with something as daft as its proposed amendment of the Bail Act to the effect that a man accused of murder or a firearms offence can’t apply to the High Court for bail until he’s been on remand for 18 months. It seems to have forgotten – well maybe – the Constitutional precept that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. What on earth are they trying to prove – that they’re tough on crime? Second was the case of the priest-magistrate who in one breath called for stiffer penalties for criminal offences committed by kids in school and in the next enjoined us to discover ‘spirituality’. Oh dear. Another was my sense of disappointment at the apparent lack of joy at a church service I attended at a place I love dearly. Why were so many pews empty? Why were there so many long faces? Where was its ‘soul’? The fourth came to me in the coffee shop from a dear, church-going chum I respect a lot. Why, he asked me, was the Church so narrow in its understandings, in the way it behaves, in its want of charity and apparent inability to accept and welcome those who are different? He instanced the treatment of the bare-foot preacher. I talked about pharisaism and dress codes, and suggested that institutional structures are inevitably in the business of self-preservation demanding allegiance to small-mindedness. You see the link between his concerns and mine on want of joy?

I wonder what’s been bugging you this week. As I say, it might be fun to make a list and then see whether they bother you in quite the same way in a week’s time. I suspect that by-and-large they won’t.

A last word: over past months some interested readers have tried to make contact with me. You’re very welcome. I can now be contacted at

Go safely, then – until the next time.

Rioting at the boundary: Open prison gates don’t mean you’re free. “Freedom does not exist unless you fight for it every day” (Maria of Pussy Riot).

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