Meditation: The Art of Celebration
We train a child to focus his mind, to concentrate, because without concentration he will not be able to cope with life. Life requires it; the mind must be able to concentrate. But the moment the mind becomes able to concentrate, it becomes less aware. Awareness means a mind that is conscious but not focused. Awareness is a consciousness of all that is happening.
Concentration is a choice. It excludes all except its object of concentration; it is a narrowing. If you are walking on the street, you will have to narrow your consciousness in order to walk. You cannot ordinarily be aware of all that is happening because if you are aware of everything that is happening you will become unfocused. So concentration is a need. Concentration of the mind is a need in order to live – to survive and exist. That is why every culture, in its own way, tries to narrow the mind of the child.
Children, as they are, are never focused; their consciousness is open from all sides. Everything is coming in, nothing is being excluded. The child is open to every sensation, every sensation is included in his consciousness.
And so much is coming in! That is why he is so wavering, so unstable. A child’s unconditioned mind is a flux – a flux of sensations – but he will not be able to survive with this type of mind. He must learn how to narrow his mind, to concentrate.
The moment you narrow the mind you become particularly conscious of one thing and simultaneously unconscious of so many other things. The more narrowed the mind is, the more successful it will be. You will become a specialist, you will become an expert, but the whole thing will consist of knowing more and more about less and less.
The narrowing is an existential necessity; no one is responsible for it. As life exists, it is needed, but it is not enough. It is utilitarian, but just to survive is not enough; just to be utilitarian is not enough. So when you become utilitarian and the consciousness is narrowed, you deny your mind much of which it was capable. You are not using the total mind, you are using a very small part of it.
And the remaining – the major portion – will become unconscious.
In fact, there is no boundary between conscious and unconscious. These are not two minds. “Conscious mind” means that part of the mind that has been used in the narrowing process. “Unconscious mind” means that portion that has been neglected, ignored, closed. This creates a division, a split. The greater portion of your mind becomes alien to you. You become alienated from your own self; you become a stranger to your own totality.
A small part is being identified as your self and the rest is lost. But the remaining unconscious part is always there as unused potentiality, unused possibilities, unlived adventures. This unconscious mind – this potential, this unused mind – will always be in a fight with the conscious mind; that is why there is always a conflict within.
Excerpted From Meditation: The Art Of Celebration CH: 1