The Mind Is Its Own Place

By Anthony Gold

What is reality?

Is it what we can see, touch, and feel? Is it what we experience through our various senses? Do our emotions describe our reality?

Can you point to reality and say, “This is it”?

Most of us are convinced that reality is “out there” and that our experiences inform us of reality. If we’re happy and joyful, that’s because our local reality enabled it to be so. Perhaps things are going our way, people are nice to us, our needs and desires are being met.

And when we’re not happy, it’s because our local reality is such that things are definitely not the way we would like them to be. Perhaps our body is failing us, or other people are.

We would then conclude that reality is the way things are.

But what if that isn’t true. What if what we call reality were truly subjective and malleable?

In the 1600s, the English writer John Milton wrote an epic poem called Paradise Lost. In it is this remarkably insightful line:

The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

Instead of the “outside world” (including our bodies) leading us to conclude whether our reality is happy or sad, Milton points out that it’s the other way around. In our mind we first choose whether we want to experience heaven or hell, and then from that choice leads to our experiences in the world.

Very few people are aware of that truth.

We’re so convinced that we experience reality, not that we define reality.

About 2,100 years before Milton’s deep understanding, Gautama Buddha came to a similar realization when he said:

All experiences are preceded by mind, having mind as their master, created by mind.

It all starts with the mind. Having nothing to do with anything going on the world, other people, or even our body.

And within the mind, there are but two aspects: ego and presence.

When we choose the ego mind, we are, in Milton’s words, making hell. All our experiences in the world will be related to lack, suffering, sadness, guilt, and fear. Even the moments that we call joy, from the ego mind, aren’t really all that rewarding since we know it won’t last or be sufficient.

And since we’ve been so conditioned to choose the ego mind, we don’t even realize that the consequent reality that we experience was of our making.

But we can make a different choice.

First, recognizing that all the action happens in the mind, and second, realizing that our “default choice” has been for the ego mind – now we can make a difference choice, the mind of presence.

From this mind, we are now, literally, making a heaven. And all our experiences are filled with joy, peace, and an incredibly sense of bliss.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of mind, and how we can make the choice for heaven instead of hell. I look forward to seeing you then.

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