How to Achieve Wise Mind, Big Mind & Open Mind

In Buddhism, there are three states of consciousness, defined as wise mind, big mind, and open mind, which serve as metaphors for the stages we go through in the process of creative transformation. (I am using “wise mind” in the Buddhist sense, to denote a state of consciousness in which one transcends the unwholesome aspects of cognitive and egoic mind so that the sense of personal self drops away Buddhists refer to this state of consciousness as “wise mind” or the “no self.”)

In mindfulness meditation, you soon stop running with your thoughts wherever they take you, and find yourself sitting with a sense of serenity and clarity, observing what your mind churns up and easily discerning its qualities, setting aside what’s unwholesome and taking delight in what’s wholesome. In this state, called “wise mind,” you easily and naturally sort through the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that enter your awareness, and let go of those that don’t serve you.

After you’ve quieted all the busy activity of your mind, which tends to look forward into the future or backward into the past, and you’ve surrendered to the present moment, you may be able to experience what Buddhists call “big mind.” In big mind, freed from the effort of concentrating or of noting and organizing thoughts, you’re so absorbed in the moment that you experience a blissful oneness with all that is. If wise mind is the doorway to the house of self, where your core creativity resides, big mind is the entryway.

From big mind—or even sometimes directly from wise mind—you step into a state of core creativity, or what’s called “open mind.” In this receptive state, you feel a sense of spaciousness, timelessness, and willingness to entertain new possibilities. You’re curious, nonreactive, compassionate, and accepting of the present experience, whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral. Creative flow occurs here in the main part of the house of self.

These states of consciousness mirror the three steps in the art of creative transformation:

1. Let go into wise mind. By paying attention to your mind flow, you see all the thoughts and feelings that might distract you, but you’re wise enough to simply let them go. Opening up, you become ready to tune in.
2. Tune in to big mind. As you tune in, you cease focusing on your breathing or your sorting process. All becomes quiet and serene as you melt into bliss, the waters of your consciousness undisturbed by feelings, thoughts, or sensations. In big mind, there’s no individual “I” present. There’s a vast, spacious, eternal, and pervading sense of pure, pristine awareness that allows you to move forward.
3. Move forward into open mind. You allow the creativity from your core to flow into you, sweeping you up and sending you in the direction of the unknown. Once you’ve experienced the mystical and transformative power of your core creativity, you can trust in its currents and let it send you downstream; though surrendering to it at first, you then gently steer it as you begin to recognize which way you’d like to go and remember that you have the power to direct your course.

Ordinary creativity helps you adjust to changing conditions and think your way out of problems, but core creativity offers infinitely more. It empowers you to pursue your passion enthusiastically even when faced with challenges. It helps you remain enthusiastic and resilient regardless of circumstances, because you’ve learned that you can always rely on this powerful force to lead you out of the woods of the unknown and into the clearing.

Click HERE to listen to the Four Points of Mindful Attention Meditation from my Wise Mind, Open Heart: A Meditation Series on Mindfulness and Core Healing CD.

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