My local T.V. news station reported about the frenzy, holiday shoppers displayed over the purchase of particular items. The report I want to focus in on was the new Air Jordan gym shoes. I am not certain of what city or the name of the store of the report, but it showed young males lined up, waiting for hours, to be able to buy a $180 plus, pair of gym shoes. The report showed the doors of the store being opened early in the morning as the young males pushed and shoved their way in, and sprinted to the place of purchase. I had witnessed other T.V. reports about the “Black Friday” crazed consumers, but none reached the ferocity of the gym shoe group. Of course these were young, aggressive males playing a game of who can buy the shoes first, but as I was witnessing the frenzy, it seemed there was something more going on. Part of the frenzy could be easily placed on the use of marketing strategies, the implication that there was a limited supply of shoes for sale, and the opportunity for very enthusiastic consumers to get first crack at the scarce items by a 6:00am openings. These strategies amped up the frenzy by many degrees, but there seemed to me to be a deeper cause, a primary cause for the greater ferocity.
I had to ask myself the question, “What was the motivation for these young men to stand out side for hours, in front of a store to purchase a pair of $180 gym shoes?” On a deep psychological, level these young men where motivated by a desire to bolster and ease the pressure on their low self-esteem. The “sporting” of the “Air Jordan’s” would bolster their self-esteem on several levels: it would express their “with it” fashion sense, it would express their savvy decision to affiliate with the greatest, basketball super star, Michael Jordan, and would express and enhance their male prowess.
As I contemplated this process of compulsive behavior, I remembered I have witnessed it many times, under many different guises. For instance, two people arguing over politics, one a progressive the other a conservative, and inevitably the argument erupts into an exchange of anger. How about, co-workers on the same level, where one makes a remark about the other’s job competency. The co-worker whose competency came under question is seething to the point of revenge. These examples are quick scenarios that compulsive behaviors are played out with great frequency in our every day lives. Compulsive behaviors are ubiquitous through out human interactions because their origination lays deep within the human psyche and once developed, cannot be willfully contained.
There is a Sanskrit word, samskara, which describes this condition of deep compulsion: deep conditioned tendencies to particular ways of thinking and acting, usually negative or self-willed, which have been dug in the mind through many years of repeating the same thoughts over and over. I should add, that these mind-molds are so acute and ripe that when they are triggered, can manifest unconsciously. This unconscious manifestation of deep seeded mind-molds reminds me of a old, 1956 science fiction film called, “Forbidden Planet.” The plot, with out getting too detailed was, an earth scientist, Morbius was sent to a planet to study the race of beings that resided there and seemingly, with out a known cause, vanished. He was to find the cause of their mysterious disappearance. It turns out that the race of beings were the Krell. A highly advanced race that had created a massive energy depot that supported their own mental capacity. They were able to materialize any desire they might have thought. The unintended consequence, however was that not only did they create their desires, but also unconsciously created “Monsters of the Id.” These monsters of the id were created from deep seeded, self-willed mind-molds, and manifested unconsciously as destroyers of any force or resistance that stood in the way of fulfilling the primary desire. Eventually the Krell’s entire civilization was destroyed by their unconscious creation of these Monsters of the Id.
Above we have discussed the definition of mind-molds, using the Sanskrit word “samskara.” More interesting and enlightening is an inquiry into the process of development of mind-molds. Here it should be no surprise we use another Sanskrit word, “asava” to aid in our quest for understanding. Asava means, an intoxicant distilled from fruits, flowers or trees, and is used in the Dhammapada, (a Buddhist book of the teachings of Buddha) as a reference to the process involved with human sensations.
The Buddha would say that for cognition to happen three elements must come together: the eyes, the object, and the act of attention. When all three come together there is sensation The initial times you indulge your senses in a particular way there is only a sensation. It has no emotive energy behind it. When however, you start thinking about the pleasantness or pain of the sensation over and over the process of asava begins. The fermentation of that sensation begins and the craving is brewing until intoxication appears. Then it cannot be classified as a sensation, but as an obsession. At that point you cannot help thinking about it; it cannot help thinking about itself.
If the Buddha said that now that I have exposed and brought your awareness to the process of mind-molds my job is over, I turn the work of dissolving them to you. That would be like giving a lighted candle to some one who is ankle deep in gasoline, and say ‘ now that you can see where you are try not to burn yourself.’ The Buddha being a master psychologist and the Compassionate One would not leave us in the lurch, but would reach back his hand and teach us tried and true practices that would assist us in changing negative mind-molds into positive mind molds. He would remind us however that success rests in our hands.
One of the most effective practices for change is meditation, for it is a practice that gets to the heart of behavior, the mind. The practice of meditation trains and disciplines the mind, (read my blog on “meditation-a discipline of mind). Another practice is changing one thought for another; changing a negative thought with a positive thought. A perfect example of this is The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;…
There are other practices and strategies, but the above two are powerful. You could gain a synergistic effect by combining the two; using St. Francis’s prayer as a point of focus with your meditation. Memorizing the prayer and saying it silently to yourself at a pace where you can give one pointed attention to the meaning of each word.
So! Are you, an ordinary person, ready to open and enter the door to the “fantastic voyage within;” where you search with the light of consciousness into the depths of the unconscious, and come back whole to tell the tale.