What are You Focused On?

The mind is a powerful thing. I’m pretty sure every spiritual tradition touches on this using different phrases such as, “magnifying mind,” “as you think, so you become,” “what you focus on grows,” etc. The question for me then is what am I focused on? Am I keeping my mind trained on greed, envy, cruelty, anxiety, fear, or selfishness? Or am I turning toward higher ideals such as love, generosity, and communion?

What’s interesting about the mind is that it’s the “cause of all our sorrows and predicaments, and it is the cause of our supreme bliss,” according to my spiritual teacher. “It is the cause of bondage, and it is the cause of liberation,” he adds. The mind is capable of both bondage and liberation and it’s up to us to direct our minds toward freedom. He has a beautiful metaphor for this and says the mind is a tat́asthá shakti.


What are you focused on? Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

Tat́a is the line where water touches land. If you move toward the water, the next moment you’ll be underwater. But if you move upward, you’ll reach dry land. The mind is like that — if it moves upward, it will be transmuted into spirit. If it moves downward, it will be transmuted into matter.

I think it’s pretty clear what we as a society focus on, where our minds are at. Take what happened recently in our oceans. When several extremely wealthy people went missing to view the remains of the Titanic, we exhausted numerous hours and resources searching for them. There was near-constant media coverage and updates. However, when a boat sank near Greece with 700 refugees onboard, we didn’t expend nearly the same number of resources or grant the same amount of media coverage.

Keep in mind, the International Organization for Migration called it one of the worst sea tragedies in the last decade. So, you know, a big deal and certainly worth covering extensively. Many people, including Barack Obama, pointed out the discrepancy so it’s not as if no one cared about the refugees but repeatedly, we’ve shown there’s a difference between lip service and action.

Many Republicans, and some Democrats, repeatedly offer “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings but don’t actually enact change because it benefits them financially not to. They care more about lining their wallets than saving lives. I could keep going with examples but I won’t because I made my point: our society’s collective mind is moving toward the water, so to speak. It’s focused on material goods and worships at the altar of materialism. However, I know it’s not beneficial for me to focus on negativity and tout doom and gloom so I won’t. Instead, I’ll say there are pockets all over the world where people are focused on “land,” they are training their minds toward spirituality, and pretty soon, we’ll reach a tipping point.

I’ll quote my spiritual teacher again who says, “[H]uman beings should always be optimistic. The cimmerian darkness cannot retard your progress, cannot cover the light of the human heart. The spirit of your heart must move on and on against obstacles. Kick away your obstacles like pebbles from your feet – you are stronger than your obstacles.”

I dream of a world where we remember our minds are powerful and we focus them accordingly. A world where we understand the mind can either move toward bondage or liberation and the choice is ours. A world where we each focus on higher ideals and bring a better world into being.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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