by Troy Chapman
I walk up to the hot water dispenser looking forward to a good, hot cup of coffee. There’s someone there but that’s no problem, I can wait. Then, as I stand there with my empty cup the man proceeds to fill his very large mug to the brim. He then dumps it out and fills it again. When he finally walks off and I check the water, it’s cold, as I knew it would be. As I watch this scene my own temperature rises as the water temperature drops.
Then I take a breath and see myself standing on a trail in the woods. I’ve stopped, and I’m looking down at what I know to be a deep pit despite the fact that it’s been cleverly covered with grass and branches. It’s a trap and I’m smiling because I saw it before I stepped in it.
I walk away from the water dispenser and my mind has already returned to the piece of writing I’m working on. I don’t give another thought to the water-hog. I’ve just avoided a mind pit.
Mind pits come in an endless variety of disguises, but they all have this in common: they have the capacity to drop your level ofconsciousness down to pit-bottom level and trap it there. These holes are everywhere: something as small as a sink full of hair left in the community bathroom after someone shaved that drives you crazy or as serious as rising crime that threatens your life and/or your quality of life. Theft, cruelty, stupidity, games people play, violence, and fear are some others. We know we’ve fallen into a mind pit when we find our consciousness being consumed by what we hate and fear rather than by what we love or hope for.
Mind pits are doubly deceptive because we generally think that railing against what we hate and fear is evidence of our enlightenment. The greater our outrage at some injustice or stupidity, the more superior we feel. This is because we’ve misidentified the object of the game, as if we’re playing Monopoly and think the point is to get around the board as many times as possible.
Many of us get it into our heads that we’re here to fight evil, injustice and stupidity wherever we encounter it. The truth is that the moment we begin to fight these things they’ve already won, because the real object of the game isn’t to fight evil but to keep our mind from being trapped by it. Life isn’t a battlefield, it’s a winding path with lots of these mind pits littering the way.
The bait over each pit is our strong desire to solve or at least be free of problems, aggravations and in justices. We fall (or jump) into these pits again and again thinking we’re dealing with whatever problem we’ve encountered, but once we’re in the pit with the problem, every move we make only perpetuates and makes it stronger. As Einstein said, no problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.
The problems and issues we’re talking about here — rudeness, stupidity, violence, cruelty, etc. — are all created by bottom-of-the-pit consciousness. Thus, if we really want to solve the problem or improve our situation in any way we must recognize that it can’t be done from the bottom of the pit.
This doesn’t mean we can never get angry, annoyed and so on. Those are passing energies; we’re talking about a habitual way of responding to the world. Consciousness has a tendency to slip into grooves and that’s what we’re talking about here — the general groove of our consciousness. Is your groove anger, worry, anxiety, despair? Then you’re probably falling into mind pits pretty regularly. Or is your groove hopefulness, joy and a sense of connection? Then you’ve probably learned to avoid them (or at least to carry a grappling hook with you in your travels).
Neither does it mean that we can’t respond to and deal with issues. This isn’t about ignoring things and floating around on a pink cloud. It’s about responding from a level of consciousness that reflects who we’re trying to be.
If I can just remember that higher consciousness is really the only remedy for all the evil and dysfunction I see around me in this world, I’ll keep my eyes open for these many mind pits that try to drag me down to lower levels. Every time I avoid a mind pit I avoid becoming what I think I’m fighting. I’ll be able to put into practice Paul’s advice to keep your mind on things above and not on things below.