Monday, June 29, 2009

Big Mind, Little Mind and Reality

There are different terms used to describe the dynamic between Big Mind (i.e., the true self, Atman, witnessing conscience) and Little Mind (i.e., the ego, monkey mind, chattering mind) and that which is real. "Reality" is a vast blank slate from which seemingly limitless data is derived. It seems that Big Mind is usually one step removed from perceiving reality directly. This one step is Little Mind, the commentator on reality. Big Mind can choose to perceive reality directly but tends to use the Little Mind as an intermediary. It is a question of what Big Mind chooses to focus its attention on. Big Mind can focus on reality itself or on the often distracting Little Mind. This dynamic suggests that Little Mind is not all bad as seems to be the rap that Buddhism gives it (at least as far as I understand it). It suggests that Little Mind exists as a helper for Big Mind so perhaps there is some useful role for Little Mind to play. However, for most of us (I assume) this relationship is out of balance. Big Mind has abdicated too much of its role to Little Mind. Put another way, Big Mind is sleeping and Little Mind is running the store.

Authentic - Definition

au⋅then⋅tic  [aw-then-tik]


1. not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique.

2. having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified: an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master.

3. entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy: an authentic report on poverty in Africa.

4. Law. executed with all due formalities: an authentic deed.

5. Music. a. (of a church mode) having a range extending from the final to the octave above. Compare plagal.

b. (of a cadence) consisting of a dominant harmony followed by a tonic.


1300–50; < LL authenticus < Gk authentikós original, primary, at first hand, equiv. to authént(ēs) one who does things himself (aut- aut- + -hentēs doer) + -ikos -ic; r. ME autentik (< AF) < ML autenticus

Related forms:

au⋅then⋅ti⋅cal⋅ly, adverb


1–3. Authentic, genuine, real, veritable share the sense of actuality and lack of falsehood or misrepresentation. Authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be: an authentic Rembrandt sketch. Genuine refers to objects or persons having the characteristics or source claimed or implied: a genuine ivory carving. Real, the most general of these terms, refers to innate or actual—as opposed to ostensible—nature or character: In real life, plans often miscarry. A real diamond will cut glass. Veritable, derived from the Latin word for truth, suggests the general truthfulness but not necessarily the literal or strict correspondence with reality of that which it describes; it is often used metaphorically: a veritable wizard of finance.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quote from the Book of John on Authentic Living

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Authentic Living and the Hero's Journey

If I look at my life in terms of a hero's journey from living inauthentically to living authentically, I can see a couple of different options. First, I could still be in the ordinary world having repeatedly received my call to adventure at various points in my life but having refused the call up to this point. The call to adventure in this instance would be the call to stop living my life as I perceive others would want me to live it and live it as I want to. Or second, I could be on the approach to the inner most cave, wherein I will face the ordeal that will fundamentally change me (i.e., the reward and resurrection). I could be facing the ordeal now as we speak. In either scenario I think the fundamental issue involves making the decision to live life on my own terms but also to know that is the right thing to do. Perhaps the knowledge part is the reward received after facing the ordeal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Henry David Thoreau Quote on Authentic Living

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau

Monday, June 22, 2009

Woody Allen Quote on Authentic Living

Over the weekend I heard Terri Gross interview Woody Allen on her radio show called "Fresh Air". Towards the end she asked him if he cared about what other people thought about him personally in connection with his marriage to Soon Yi Previn. His answer struck me as profound and I have transcribed it as best I could below:

If I say I don’t care it sounds so cold and callused. But let me put it this way. How could you go through life taking direction from the outside world? What kind of life would you have if you made your decisions based on the outside world and not what your inner dictates told you. You would have a very inauthentic life.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kaizen And The Desire Not To Produce Crap

There is a dilemma between the practice of Kaizen to produce blog entries and the desire to put out a quality product. To push through a mental block merely to make another blog entry does not improve the quality of the blog. However, to become blocked permanently does not improve the quality of the blog either. Part of the value of a blog is in the frequency and timeliness of the posts. Another part of the value is in the quality of the ideas and information conveyed. I will endeavor to remain mindful of this dynamic going forward.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mental Blocks

Another aspect to the mental block phenomenon for me is a sense that I should be doing something else. This sense then conflicts with the desire to do what ever I am trying to do and that conflict produces anxiety. The anxiety (I assume) is connected with the amygdala fight or flight response which has a dampening effect on creativity. Now, this sense that I should be doing something else is an issue of entitlement. So it is not necessarily an issue of being lazy or deceitful (although it can sometimes feel that way). So, the solution in this instance would be to overcome the sense of lacking entitlement. That, unfortunately, is not an easy task.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kaizen Post One

At this very moment I am sitting at my computer trying to force out a blog post and nothing is coming to mind. According to the Kaizen approach (as I understand it) the very act of writing this post is establishing new neuronal pathways which will allow me to circumvent the mental block in the future. The act of doing even on a very small and seemingly insignificant level works to break down resistance to acting. In that way it is effective.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I've recently read a short book entitled "One Small Step Can Change Your Life - The Kaizen Way" by Dr. Robert Maurer. In the first chapter Dr. Maurer talks about how the fear of change or making big decisions is hard wired into the brain's physiology. Furthermore, when fear takes over, the creative process shuts down. The amygdala is primarily responsible for this dynamic by generating the "fight or flight" response. When this response is generated the creative part of the brain is shut down as non essential. Unfortunately for some people (myself included) the amygdala is stimulated under circumstances which do not necessarily warrant a fight or flight response. This blog happens to be an example of this. I have recently experienced a block in terms of generating daily blog entries. However, at a certain point that intention became less of a hobby and more of an obligation. Something about that dynamic aparrently stimulated my amygdala and shut down my creative process. What would happen is, I would sit down to write an entry and nothing would come to mind or I would be very easily distracted by something else. Briefly, the Kaizen way of circumventing the amygdala's fight or flight response is to take steps so small that the amygdala does not notice them. An example of a small step vis a vi this blog might be to take five minutes out of the day to write or perhaps only write one sentence or even one word. This not only circumvents the fight or flight response (so says the theory) but it also lays the neuronal ground work for bigger steps down the line. I will now test this theory by making blog entries daily. They may be very short at first but I will make them none the less.