Emerson said something so profound about the power of your mindset. He said,
To different minds, the same world is a hell and a heaven.
Its so true. One day I’m working out and it feels like bliss. The next day its a drudgery; same workout, different mindset. Its also why you can easily overcome the same barrier that stumped you a year ago; mindset.
We think its circumstances making us happy or sad, successful or not. We think our suffering comes from other people, when other people are just reminding us of suffering already within us. Its all about mindset.
We often get in the same tangle with religion. We think someone or some force outside of us can bring us meaning or happiness (or even salvation). These things are a matter of mindset.
There’s an awesome (and challenging) exchange in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat Pray Love”. She met a wise man in Bali named Kekut. He taught her about heaven and hell.
She asked him, “What’s it like in hell?”
”Same like in heaven” he said. He saw my confusion and tried to explain. “Universe is circle, Liss.”
I still wasn’t sure if I quite understood. He said “to up, to down – all same, at end.”
I remembered an old Christian mystic notion: as above, so below. I asked. “Then how can you tell the difference between heaven and hell?”
“Because of how you go. Heaven, you go up, through seven happy places. Hell, you go down, through seven sad places. This is why it is better to go up, Liss.” He laughed.
I asked, “You mean you might as well spend your life going upward, through the happy places, since heaven and hell – the destinations – are the same thing anyway?”
“Same-same” he said. “Same in end, so better to be happy on journey.”
I said “so, if heaven is love, then hell is…”
“Love too” he said.
So how do we change our mindset, to allow this sort of universal acceptance and peace into our lives?
Our minds are set (mindset) at a subconscious level. Every message we have ever accepted (positive or negative, the subconscious mind doesn’t discriminate), every memory, every pain, every doubt, that we bought into, was planted in our subconscious mind, or what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “store consciousness” because we store it away and it fills our waking life with assumptions, prejudices and beliefs that we’re barely aware of. This is our default mindset, and for most of us its a pretty negative script. We adapt our lives to match this mindset, settling for dysfunctional relationships, getting lost in addictions, going through the motions of a career that has no satisfaction. So many of our responses are just defenses, trying to avoid reliving a subconscious memory of past pain.
The Zen Master, Tai Xu, said, “As long as the tree is behind you, you can see only its shadow. If you want to touch the reality, you have to turn around.”
Our habitual mindset looks at the shadows of past pain and refuses to turn around and see the tree.
Seeing the tree is a metaphor for communicating directly with your subconscious. Go straight to the store, where sustainable change to your mindset takes place. Rescript your life from the inside out.
Seed the subconscious mind with thoughts that serve you rather than sabotage. Over time, these positive thoughts will hold greater weight in your store consciousness. Rescripted inner talk will eventually create empowering change in your beliefs, words, and behaviors.
As your mindset changes, and you set your mind on a life of meaning and peace, so your life will start to change.
Its not a magic bullet. It takes time and energy and there is no end point of arrival. But the payoffs are so exciting that a new mindset is priceless and worth some intentional practice to achieve it. Heaven or hell! Its YOUR choice!