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Chapter 5: A Still Mind: The Door to the Divine

One is the conscious mind, and one type of thought belongs to the conscious level. These thoughts are the least important. They constitute moment-to-moment reactions, reflexes. You are on the road and a snake passes and you jump. The snake gives you a stimulus, and you respond. So one type of thought is like this: stimulus outside and a response from the periphery. Really, you don’t think, you just act. A snake is there, you act; you become aware and you act. You don’t go inside to ask what to do. The house is on fire and you run. This is a peripheral reaction.

So one type of thought is the moment-to-moment reflex type. Even a buddha has to react in this way. This is natural; nothing is wrong with it. If you react moment to moment, then nothing is wrong with the mind - but that is not the only layer.

Then there is a second layer. This second layer is the subconscious. Religions call it “conscience.” Really, this second layer is created by the society; it is a society in you. Society penetrates everyone, because society cannot control you unless it penetrates you; so it becomes a part of you. The upbringing, the education, the parents, the teachers - what are they doing? They are doing one thing: they are creating the subconscious mind. They are giving you thoughts, structures, ideals, values. These thoughts belong to the second layer. They are helpful, they have their utility, but they are harmful also. They are instruments to move easily, conveniently in the society, but they are barriers also.

This second layer has to be understood more. This second layer consists of ideas within - fixed ideas, fixations. So whenever your peripheral mind is working moment to moment it is not pure. Only a child is pure, innocent - he is working moment to moment. There is no subconscious to interfere.

You are not working moment to moment, the subconscious is constantly interfering. It is giving you choice: what to choose, what not to choose. Every moment it is making you narrow. You just become unaware of many things because of the subconscious. It will not allow you to be aware of everything. And about many things you become too much aware because this subconscious mind forces you constantly to be aware of them.

Every society creates a different type of subconscious, so really being a Hindu or a Christian or a Jaina belongs to the subconscious mind. As far as the peripheral mind is concerned, everyone reacts in the same way; it is natural. But the subconscious mind is not natural, it is a social product, so we behave in different ways. You see a church. A Hindu can pass it without even becoming aware that there is a church. He need not be aware. But a Christian cannot pass without becoming aware that there is a church. He may even be anti-Christian - consciously he may even be like Bertrand Russell, who can write a book called Why I Am Not a Christian - but he will become aware. The subconscious is working there.

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