Master or Slave?

Tools are things meant to serve a purpose. Almost anything can be called a tool, a car, a piece of hardware, etc. if it serves a purpose to complete or be part of completing some task, it can be called a tool. Some are more powerful or resourceful than others, such as a power drill vs. a super computer; one vastly outshines the other in its capability. But in all instances the relationship between the tool and the user is one of Master and slave, to place it in an extreme definition. This is a common understanding, most agree to the simple principle, but what now if that ‘tool’ had a mind of its own? This thought experiment has given birth to the great fear of humanity, becoming a victim of our own creation in the form of artificial intelligence. Should such a super intelligent computer ever be created, it would assumedly figure out the inferior ‘Master’ and seek to switch the roll. But there is more to this deep seeded fear than is commonly understood. It is a deep seeded allegory to our own relationship with our mind.

There is no greater computer, to date, more powerful than the human mind. It will be a credit to the human race when we can create one greater than the creator (human mind, not THE creator). As great as it may be, the human mind is nothing more than a tool, albeit a very powerful tool, but a tool none the less. The primary consideration is that this tool has the ability to think for itself. It has many facets of ‘personality’ created by its experiences, just as its artificial intelligence brethren.  Most people identify themselves, or the “I”, as the mind, but not even modern psychology can identify the “I”. It is generally assumed that the “I” is mind. But what is mind? This again is a question that has been pondered by philosophers for generations. As the famous proverb goes, “I think therefore I am”. But in actuality it stands the other way around, I am therefore I think. The principle is that there must be an “I” behind the thinker in order to be able to recognize that one is thinking. There cannot be an observation without two roles, an observer and the observed. If such is the case, what then is the I? That which observes the thinking is in fact our consciousness, the ‘being’ that is the true “I”, and the minds’ I is nothing more than an ego expression of identity. As is known in eastern practice, to truly connect to the ’I’ one must still the thinking mind. For your consideration and meditation are you then the Master or the Slave? If we as humans used our minds for the tools that they truly were, we would only access the thinking mind when a proper task was at hand, but instead most are a victim to its many identities. In Anger, frustration, worry or fear, desire or wanting all are fallacies of the thinking mind. The very nature of the mind is ‘Dukkha’ (a Buddhist term commonly translated as “suffering”, “stress”, “anxiety”, or “dissatisfaction”) the insanity of mind. This can be seen all too clearly simply by watching the news. The minds ability to want is a never ending vicious cycle. As it wants or desires one thing, as soon as it gets it, it will want something else. As above so below, the mind is cyclical, it will always and redundantly run itself in circles. As in the quest for knowledge, all questions lead to an answer, but that answer will only create more questions so on ad infinitum. It has been in told in many stories, the horror to ‘know it all’, for should any man ever achieve such a thing what then would he do? To never again have a quest for an answer is identified as damnation. But this ironically is also the definition of insanity, to perform the same task again and again and expect different results. The assumption is that by answering a fundamental question we will then find satisfaction, when in actuality we are only feeding the monster. To truly become the master one must learn to become aware of the thinking mind and its assumed identities. To understand the difference between ego and the true self is to become aware of the ego when it obviously or subtly expresses itself. Not to be underplayed it is a task and a journey that for some can be an entire lifetime. But ironically it is as simple as stilling the mind, or going into the silence.  Only when the mind is not ‘Thinking’ can you hear or feel your true identity. This is a concept that many find hard to understand as it is all they have ever known and been taught. But think of it simply as stated above. Are you using your mind as the tool that it truly is? Is it serving a function necessary? Solving a problem, performing a task, and then going quiet when the task is complete? Or are you allowing it to run rampant on and on in some foolish redundant cycle, such as being angry, jealous, hurt or hurtful, fearful or filled with worry? Our natural state is one of peace, content and happiness. Only the mind can take us to places of Dukkha. Are you the Master or the Slave? This fundamental question is one we should face all throughout our day and in our lives.

By Matthew

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