Transforming the Mind

247 Pages · 2016 · 1.94 MB · English

  • Transforming the Mind


    Transforming the Mind

    by Peter Shepherd

    Trans4mind on the Internet :

    This book online :

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    Copyright © Peter Shepherd 1994-2007 (This edition January 2016)u2029 x002

    Chapter One:


    An evolutionary jump

    You may, at some time, have had a ‘peak’ experience, an ecstatic moment or a moment

    of greater understanding, when your consciousness expanded - and you knew it. When

    this occurs, the integration between left brain (logical thinking) and right brain

    (intuitive feelings and emotions) is manifested in increased energy-flow between the

    two sides. This is thinking and feeling in an holistic and balanced way. It is a foretaste

    of an evolutionary jump for humanity - and in essence, what the so-called New Age is

    all about - a new level of maturity in mental development, an awakening.

    By learning how to arouse the whole brain, selectively and at will, the mode of

    consciousness may be freely altered, appropriate to the task or situation - whether a

    crisis, making music, relaxing, mental arithmetic, brainstorming, or contemplating


    In this new wide-awake consciousness, the world seems to be full of possibilities - it

    possesses a strong sense of rediscovered meaning. This is nothing mystical, it is

    essentially ordinary consciousness, operating for once at its proper efficiency.

    “When we pull back and get, for a moment, the ‘bird’s eye’ view of life, it reveals

    meanings that are ungraspable by the narrow focus

    of our usual worm’s eye view”

    Colin Wilson

    Research tells us that one side of the brain is usually dominant to the other, and that

    most of the time, very little of the potential capacity of the brain is in use. Brain studies

    have shown that people who are functioning optimally have a high level of inter-

    hemispheric communication and that the two sides are working in synchrony and

    balance, as described above. Also overall arousal is higher and under conscious control

    - this is the skill of sustained concentration.

    What is Personal Development?

    When you feel angry or depressed, in a self-defeating way, this is the result of negative

    or irrational inner-speech that you may not even be aware of, as it is often very fleeting

    or below the threshold of consciousness, or simply not recognized as such.

    These evaluations are linked to earlier times, when they were instilled by force of

    painful experience. When such an experience was too uncomfortable to remember, the Transforming the Mind Chapter One: Introduction x003

    feelings (in the right brain) were repressed and made unconscious.

    Considerable mental energy is locked-up by continuing to repress feelings and

    emotions, and this is justified by irrational and over-generalized conclusions about self

    and others.

    The techniques presented in this book will enable you to look again at your beliefs with

    a fresh viewpoint. This will help you to release the effects of held-back trauma and

    have fuller access to your potential for intuitive, creative and holistic thinking. With a

    more flexible outlook and greater freedom of emotional expression, new horizons may

    appear, and goals approached that before seemed out of reach. Problems and difficulties

    now become opportunities for creative choice and valuable learning, stepping-stones

    towards what you really want to achieve.

    When, as with most people, 90% of the brain’s capacity has been closed down due to

    neurotic repression, the remaining 10% is apt to fall into a robotic state. The individual

    acts out imprinted behavior patterns that are predictable from day to day and only

    responds semi-consciously when something attracts his attention. The unused 90% is

    susceptible to hypnotic influences and the individual is driven by his environment and

    circumstances; this is far from the self-determined state he probably considers himself

    to be in. For most of us, a radical program of reawakening is urgently needed!

    We affirm that man’s nature is essentially spiritual but that it is no good seeking for

    spiritual things until we can distinguish the spiritual from the mundane. To attain the

    higher mind of spiritual awareness and psychic ability we must be released from the

    thrall of the lower cognitive mind. This cannot occur with any stability (other than

    ‘peak experiences’) until work on the lower mind is complete. While large areas of our

    brain lay unused because of their repressed content, there is a potential Achilles heel to

    any postulated state of satori.

    What is required of you?

    An open mind and a genuine desire to learn and expand. A major goal of personal

    development is to facilitate the development of self-determined people taking full

    responsibility in their lives. Indeed, we need to explore the unmapped territory of our

    minds and develop it to the full, if we are each to have the insight to be able to

    effectively cut through the blinkered thinking in our environments, and make an impact

    on what is happening to our world’s social, economic and ecological systems.

    Resolving the chaos of fixed ideas which nearly everyone has to some extent, is a

    gradient process of analysis, of re-discovering objective reality and the honest truth

    about ourselves. Transforming the Mind x004

    Chapter Two:


    Before beginning practical work on self-development, an overview of the human

    personality will help to provide a context.

    The evolution of man

    Psychology, the study of the mind and how it works, is sometimes considered a new

    science, but this is quite mistaken. It is possibly the oldest science and in its most

    essential features even a forgotten science. Perhaps this misconception arises because,

    except in modern times, psychology was incorporated into philosophic or religious


    In India all forms of yoga are essentially psychology. Sufi teachings, which again are

    chiefly psychological, are regarded as partly religious and partly metaphysical. Almost

    every religion developed psychological teachings, often connected with a certain

    practice. In Europe, even in the last decades of the nineteenth century, many works on

    psychology were referred to as philosophy.

    When modern psychology emerged as a discipline at the end of the nineteenth century,

    it was based on an analytic, biological view: interest was in the component parts

    particularly in the biological ‘realities’ of brain, memory and so on, that could be

    empirically studied. When psychoanalysis was developed during the early part of the

    twentieth century, as an application of psychology to treat mental conditions, it

    produced the notion of ‘personality’, about the reality of someone’s individual and

    subjective presence in the world. As the century has progressed, ‘personality’ as a

    notion has changed and modified with every new school.

    Each personality is that complex combination of drives, defenses, roles, learned

    adaptations, potentials and consciousness, that lives in the world and is a unique being.

    In some quite remarkable way each person is unlike any other being that exists,

    qualitatively different, and yet is subject to universal laws, social and biological causes,

    and learned behavior that is common to all, and which makes for cultural patterns of

    action, describable and analyzable difficulties and illnesses, and similarities of behavior

    across cultures that are discernibly ‘human’.

    Here it is necessary to note that all psychological systems and doctrines, those that exist

    or existed openly and those that were hidden or disguised, can be divided into two chief


    Firstly, systems which study man as they find him, or such as they suppose or imagine Transforming the Mind Chapter Two: Background Psychology x005

    him to be. Modern ‘scientific’ psychology belongs to this category.

    Secondly, the systems which study man from the point of view of what he may become,

    i.e., his possible evolution. These last systems are in reality the original ones or in any

    case the oldest and only they can explain the forgotten origin and meaning of

    psychology: the study of the principles, laws and facts of man’s possible evolution.

    The ‘evolution’ of man in this sense means the development of certain inner qualities

    and features which usually remain undeveloped, and cannot develop by themselves. If

    man does not want it, or does not want it strongly enough and does not make the

    necessary efforts, and get the necessary help, he will never develop.

    The irony is, that before acquiring any new faculties that man does not now possess, he

    must first acquire qualities that he thinks he already possesses but about which he

    deceives himself.

    The following experiment will show how consciousness may be studied. Take a watch

    and look at the second hand, trying to be aware of yourself and concentrating on the

    thought, ‘I am (your name)’ and ‘I am now here’. Try not to think about anything else,

    simply follow the movement of the second hand and be aware of yourself, your name,

    your existence and the place where you are.

    Most people soon find themselves drifting into imagination and thought associations,

    demonstrating that man is not conscious of himself for most of the time. The illusion of

    his being conscious is created by memory. We actually remember only moments of

    consciousness, although we do not realize that this is so. In retrospect we remember

    those moments and assume we were fully awake the whole time.

    If we want to have more prolonged periods of awake consciousness and not merely

    glimpses, we must understand that this will depend upon the command we have over

    ourselves, and that this requires long and hard work.

    Man does not know himself. He does not know his own limitations and possibilities. He

    does not even know to how great an extent he does not know himself. So he assumes

    his mental state to be ‘conscious’, fully aware and self-determined, when in fact he is

    acting to a very great extent on automatic responses and continuously dramatizing all

    the influences of his past.

    Transpersonal psychology

    Most psychologies and psychotherapies are interested just in the personality. It is only

    in recent years that a variety known as ‘transpersonal psychology’ has emerged, which

    combines, or perhaps re-integrates, psychology and the personality, with theology and

    the soul - two disciplines and two concepts that have been firmly separated in our

    materialistic Western world, but which used to go hand in hand. For instance in early Transforming the Mind Chapter Two: Background Psychology x006

    Christianity there was a collection of books by different authors under the general name

    of Philokalia, describing the psychology of mystical enlightenment, and this knowledge

    was the basis of Gnosis, itself the source of many of Gurdjieff’s ideas. (Freud himself

    actually wrote about the psyche in terms of the ‘soul’, but his German was misguidedly

    translated into medical ‘scientific’ terms for the Anglo-American audience).

    In psychosynthesis, which Assagioli developed in the 1930s, it is said that a person has

    a personality and is a soul. However, personalities in the world are obvious to us all;

    souls are only present for those with eyes to see. Assagioli's view of synthesis is of

    becoming more and more aware of soul, not only in oneself but also in others. His

    view, and the view of most spiritual disciplines, is that soul is basic and enduring, and

    that personality, though necessary for being in the world , is relatively superficial and


    The soul is the context, the home, the ‘unmoved mover’, the uncreated source of life;

    the personality is full of content, learned responses, and is dynamic. The soul may in

    many people never be recognized in any explicit way, and the nature of this barrier and

    how to remove it, to become ‘enlightened or to ‘awaken’, is an area we will be

    examining later in this book.

    In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, before Freud, and with the values of the

    Enlightenment and the idea of progress, it was assumed that the human being was

    becoming more and more rational and fully civilized. It was this assumption that Freud

    questioned, with his ability to discern the unconscious processes in people. He saw the

    significance of dreams as a communication of the unconscious to the conscious; slips of

    the tongue, mistakes, irrational emotion, inappropriate behavior and illnesses

    manifested in ordinary living began to be acknowledged as effects of processes going

    on beyond our consciousness. Many hitherto unexplained phenomena came to be seen

    as symptoms of the conflict between the strong ‘libido’ (sexual) forces of the ‘id’ (the

    drive or life force of the core Self) and the ‘super-ego’ (the acquired conscience), as

    perceived by the ‘ego’ (that part of the id that detaches early in development to form an

    independent personality - the ‘face to the world’).

    There are five main parts of our total psyche: Higher consciousness - that which is

    aware of being aware; Normal consciousness - awareness in the everyday world -

    being, perceiving, relating; and of the inner world - of thoughts, concepts, attitudes,

    decisions, images, memories emotions, sensations and feelings. And the domains which

    lie below normal consciousness: the Pre-conscious - an interface of the conscious mind

    which, when it is evoked by interest and emotional commitment, goes searching for

    relevant data in the sub-conscious; the Sub-conscious - contains the powerful drives of

    love and fear, and the programs by which motives are decided and actions are carried

    out; and the Unconscious - the core Self which contains a record of everything one has

    felt and sensed since conception and of the evolutionary genetic-line before that. It also

    consists of genetic programming, which empowers the deepest drives for survival, Transforming the Mind Chapter Two: Background Psychology x007

    attachment and expression common to mankind, which transmits the energy of

    emotions, which controls the stream of libido energies and the efforts involved in

    moving and perceiving with the physical body.

    Higher consciousness is the essential self, the Higher Self. It is our personal center of

    awareness, which is developed through self-knowledge. The Higher Self is the

    ‘awareness of awareness’ of which the mental (ego) ‘I’ is a pale reflection. There has

    been an acknowledgement throughout human history that a higher awareness, beyond

    the normal conscious experience, is possible for the individual, recognized through

    dreams, religious and psychic experience, insights and creativity of every kind. It is

    usually frustratingly brief and infrequent but it is clear that with appropriate efforts and

    study, people can change and grow in awareness, whereby the field of consciousness

    becomes more and more observed by the Higher Self who is no longer asleep; then

    behavior is no longer determined only by conditioning. The Being is aware of the

    difference between his own motivation and that which is learned, acquired or installed

    in him, genetically or by conditioning; he knows what he is doing as he does it. The

    energy and attention tied up in the knots of unconsciousness becomes conscious and

    freely available, as truth is validated and the false discarded.

    This second aspect of the psyche, Normal consciousness, is our everyday reality,

    internally and externally - the incessant flow of sensations, images, thoughts, feelings,

    desires and impulses which we can observe, analyze and judge. The less aware a

    person is, the smaller this field of awareness will be and the more automatic his

    functioning. The majority of people drift on the surface of this ‘mind stream’ and

    identify themselves with its successive waves, with the changing contents of their

    consciousness. So consciousness is often unreflective, not consciously noticed,

    determined by the many personal and social forces which have formed us, the cultural

    programming that moulds us into a ‘consensus trance’ of automatic, robotized behavior.

    In this hypnotized, half-asleep state, possessed by the conditioning of our background,

    we seem almost entirely the product of our genetic heritage, our personal environment

    and the society we live in - in the grip of forces stronger than ourselves and which we

    don’t understand, be they biological, psychological or social.

    The conscious mind contains all that one knows that is readily accessible. This

    information is well organized and interconnected on a logical basis. The characteristics

    of this ‘analytical’ mind are invaluable for learning, putting things in order and testing

    ideas. On the other hand the conscious mind tends to be inhibited by the very quality

    that make it so powerfully useful: it seeks to be right.

    This part of the personality, the subject of cognitive and behavioral psychology, could

    easily, without reflection, be regarded as the whole, but the development of depth-

    psychology and the rediscovery of transpersonal psychology in this century has made it

    clear that this level of consciousness is only a part of the whole. Transforming the Mind Chapter Two: Background Psychology x008

    The third part, the Pre-conscious, is the ante-room of consciousness, where our various

    experiences are assimilated, our mental and imaginative activities are elaborated and

    developed in a sort of psychological gestation and interaction, before their birth into the

    light of consciousness. If consciousness is likened to a spotlight, the pre-conscious is

    everything within its range, but not illuminated at this moment. It is real to the person

    and accessible. It includes material from the sub-conscious that has been reactivated

    (stimulated and made active due to a similarity or relevance of present circumstances or

    thoughts). The pre-conscious mind is like a problem-oriented and independent file-

    clerk. It looks over the shoulder of the conscious mind: when a problem is being

    considered, it conducts a search into the sub-conscious mind for clues that it considers


    Its criteria for relevance do not always seem logical to the conscious mind, and

    therefore the ‘file-clerk’ learns to censor certain kinds of information from the sub-

    conscious, preventing them from rising higher into full consciousness. This ‘censor’ is

    below consciousness; consequently you cannot open-up your mind to the sub-conscious

    simply by resolving not to block its signals; the defenses have first to be recognized, the

    reasons for them discovered and the pre-conscious censor re-programmed, before this is

    possible. This requires a procedure of concentrated introspection.

    Interest, emotional commitment and the desire to solve a problem, cause the pre-

    conscious to work with the contents of the sub-conscious (and also through the sub-

    conscious to the unconscious) and the results eventually filter back into consciousness,

    if they are not censored. Intuition is an early recognition, below the conscious level,

    that one is on the right track - this causes a felt signal or increase of arousal which

    causes the conscious mind to pay attention to its periphery of consciousness, to dig a

    little and pull out the information. Because of the energy of this signal, it may also be

    registered on biofeedback devices such as a held pendulum or skin resistance

    galvanometer, which can be used to help the person recognize his intuition.

    The Sub-conscious, is that part of his mind a person is unaware of, or which is out of

    his control, what Jung called the Shadow. The subconscious functions include vital

    background psychological activities such as the integration of new data and re-

    programming where necessary - a function which dreaming reflects - and it coordinates

    the carrying out of set patterns of behavior which can be safely left ‘on automatic’ by

    the conscious mind, freeing it to concentrate on the task in hand.

    The sub-conscious contains all of the emotional and cognitive experience of a lifetime,

    whether pleasurable, ordinary or traumatic. Its contents are drawn upon by the pre-

    conscious when they seem relevant. It is a reservoir of information so vast and rich that

    it seems quite incredible to the conscious mind. Its contents are nevertheless

    consciously reachable by methods of psychological analysis (especially with the aid of

    biofeedback devices) which serves to resolve the defensive censorship of the

    preconscious. Transforming the Mind Chapter Two: Background Psychology x009

    The ‘Shadow’ aspect of the sub-conscious mind includes the roots of phobias,

    obsessions, compulsions and delusions and many complexes charged with intense

    emotion. These are developed in response to circumstances in the past and used in

    present time when re-stimulated by a similarity of circumstances; this occurs without

    conscious control, irrationally and without inspection - a ‘reactive’ mental process.

    Memory of the original, often dramatic circumstance and the accompanying fears and

    decisions is normally repressed, as it is unconfrontable and too painful to re-examine.

    The Unconscious contains the fundamental survival drives and primitive urges

    (including genetic and race memories) that empower the functioning of the mind as a

    whole. It contains the entire kinesthetic recordings of the body (all of its feelings,

    sensations and pains) and is integrally linked with the body (which it coordinates and

    controls) - it is the ‘body-mind’. It also contains the deepest level of Self: the

    fundamental (primal) experiences, imprints and decisions of this lifetime, from the

    womb onwards. These only normally surface consciously in symbolic form, in the

    context of dreams and behavior patterns recognized in retrospect. The deepest forms of

    psycho-analytic work aim to uncover their content to the light of consciousness. Jung’s

    work on dreams and mythological symbology was instrumental in opening up the

    incredible world of the unconscious, and the existence of ‘archetypes’ - ways of being

    that are inherently programmed in the unconscious, making up the substance of the core

    Self - all the aspects of living that the individual works throughout his life to

    ‘actualize,’ or bring into existence at their fullest potential. His work also exposed the

    transpersonal dimension which lays beyond the racial stereotypes, but also the necessity

    of working through the primal and archetypal material, to differentiate and individuate

    the Higher Self - the spiritual, non-genetic, meta-self.

    Both the primary-trauma of the unconscious and the secondary-trauma of the sub-

    conscious are connected with the ‘body-mind’, whereby defensive ‘armor’ in the form

    of chronic muscular tension, holds the bodily stress-reaction of ‘fight or flight’,

    continually in place. This occurs when an experience becomes too painful to view or is

    too uncomfortably repeated and then awareness of it is repressed - thoughts, emotions

    and bodily tensions. Unviewed, it then festers and persists. Though the tension may

    once have been appropriate, it is now a hindrance, and its perpetual nature holds the

    original trauma in re-stimulation (though the feeling or awareness of it may be

    repressed). And though the repressed cognitive and emotional reactions may have been

    rational in the past circumstance (in the effort to survive or overcome), if they are

    reactively enacted in the present situation, and if they are not accompanied by a fresh

    appraisal of the current reality, they are the underlying cause of irrational or

    inappropriate behavior, negative emotion and illness, and therefore have been a primary

    target of psychotherapy.

    Because the body-mind functions inter-actively, work in Transpersonal Psychology

    may sometimes require a range of techniques to handle the problems. Physical Transforming the Mind Chapter Two: Background Psychology x0010

    symptoms (high blood pressure, ulcers, lack of energy, etc.) arise from stress, muscular

    tension, reactivated trauma, over-work, anxiety about social competence, threat or

    insecurity at work, rigid attitudes of perfectionism and fears of failure - based on low

    self-esteem, due to not having been ‘good enough’ for parents and other dominant

    figures. Such neurotic dependencies on others conflict with the drive for independency

    and self-fulfillment. Psychotherapeutic massage may be prescribed, to develop

    awareness of faulty attitudes and repressed feelings, and to help relax and de-traumatize

    the body.


    The above diagram illustrates the structure of the mind in terms of levels of

    consciousness. Help directed at one level will affect the other levels of functioning - the

    powerful fears and drives of the sub-conscious affect physical health, feelings, beliefs

    and behaviors - an holistic approach is therefore most effective. The Transpersonal

    Psychology System takes account of this structure; the techniques progressively cut

    deeper and deeper through to the core Self, and into the Transpersonal realm that is the

    essence of Mankind. The gradient has to be right in order to ensure a secure and

    effective route through. Like the layers of an onion, the appropriate behavior becomes

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