The mind is a hunter-gatherer by design. That is its job. It can also learn things by rote and parrot anything it hears. I got some good advice one from a woman by the name of Joan Philips. “Never ask the mind.” She happened to be Vernon Howard’s secretary and she was a stern proclaimer of wisdom.
I remember once when I was visiting to hear Vernon speak. A few carloads of his students were driving to a small town to listen to someone give a talk about the Work. It was a two-year college in the mountains of Arizona.
As Bob drove, the people in the car begin to chat. For some reason, I remember that the talk was about seasons. I think it was fall and I remember someone saying, “I like all of the seasons.” And I am sure we piped up and agreed with her.
Suddenly Joan said in her somewhat throaty voice, “Vicki, did you say you had one of Vernon’s tapes in the car?”
“Yes, I do,” I told her and so we listened instead of talked the rest of the way into the small town. There is a lesson here that most of us are not strong enough to teach. As she told me later, “Someone has to hold the level.” What she meant by that is that conversation is just a way of wasting energy much of the time. And time can be put to better use. So she had the guts to cut us off and lead us higher.
Once we got to the campus, I realized that there would be few students at the talk. I sat with Joan and another person at the book table. I have always feared having to make change because I am so bad at it, but I got lucky and someone handed me a fifty dollar bill for some books and I only had to give him a twenty in change, if I remember correctly. And someone said to me, “See, you brought us good luck tonight.” Not that that is a teaching; it just made me feel part of the group for that evening.
Being out of my comfort zone always paid off when I was visiting his school. My comfort zone is my worst enemy. The second worst is my mind, but who’s rating? I am making conversation again, just like we were doing in the car.
I started off by saying the mind is a hunter-gatherer and that is true. But we have to separate the wheat from the chaff and the fool’s gold from the real thing. I am not sure who does that, but anyhoo. Just don’t ask the mind what only your heart knows. That is the path in a nutshell. There I go, using nut analogies again….