Ending the Mental Spin of Suffering
Fear and doubt are two sides of the same coin. This ancient currency of the human mind generates a vicious cycle; fear creates doubt and doubt creates fear, which ultimately leads to cynicism—the harsh closing of mind around dogmatic beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. It is a deeply ingrained strategy of mind for survival that only serves to continue this insidious cycle of suffering. The cyclical nature of fear and doubt is deeply rooted in your ego and genetic mind—the great nemesis of your natural happiness. If left unchecked, this cycle of suffering will continue endlessly transforming your life into the misery of despair this mental spin creates. But what if it is possible to permanently stop this insidious nature of your mind?
The genius of Ramana is his natural wisdom. He realized if you focus on doubt it only serves to create more doubt. Likewise, if you focus on fear your fear only intensifies, which generates more doubt and ignites a fierce mental spin—the grasping nature of mind that jumps from one thought to another in a frantic search to find a way of protecting yourself from any perceived threat. It is like a pinwheel of thought—your attention moves from one thought to another until your mind spins out of control. This spinning swirl of thought only serves to create more and more doubt as well as more and more fear and the cycle of suffering continues. To bring this spin to a screeching halt you must, as Ramana suggests, doubt the doubter. “Who is it that doubts?” Questioning the doubter immediately ends the mental spin of your mind and returns your attention to the source that is free of the whirlwind of thought flowing through you mind.
Doubting the doubter is the very essence of Ramana’s teaching of vichara or self-inquiry. If you habitually experience doubt, however, Ramana’s simple question, ‘who doubts?’ often evokes another form of doubt deeply rooted in self-hatred, which lives in your secret the inner conversation or the thought, “It is not possible to stop the incessant spin of my mind. It is just too strong. I am doomed to suffer for the rest of my life.” This idea that you are doomed to suffer generates a feeling of hopelessness that can overwhelm your senses, but this idea is simply another doubt—the closing of mind on a thought instantaneously followed by your agreement with this thought, which generates what can be the very strong belief this thought is actually true and very real—then presto—the cycle of suffering begins again. The challenge is to catch the initial doubt before the spin consumes your attention and drags you back into this misery.
The agreement with your inner doubts, or the silent conversation in your mind, happens in a flash—it is seems instantaneous and out of your control. But is it really out of your control? The moment you agree with doubt; you are like a magician waving your magical wand over a shiny black top hat and the rabbit of fear once again pops out. The moment your rabbit of fear appears you once again fall hopelessly into the trance of fear and doubt generated by your mind. This trance is a very powerful illusion that feels very real. The moment you give your attention to this illusion unfolding in your mind—wham—you are once again caught in the mental spin of fear and doubt, which lives in the deep feeling there is something wrong with your life and, perhaps more importantly, there is something wrong with you. The problem is, you just can’t quite put your finger on what this something is, which causes the mind to spin in circles and the cycle continues unabated.
Naturally, this seems like an impossible situation—one that cannot easily be resolved. After all, the mind is the problem right? It is the habitual or genetically ingrained aspect of fear and doubt that can make it seem like it is impossible to resolve this cycle of suffering, but this is just another trick of your mind. The deeply held belief or idea that it is impossible to overcome doubt is simply another doubt. What is really going on here? It seems there are simply no end to the doubts or the tricks your mind can play on you. What is causing this mental spin? If you examine this more intimately, you can see that the pinwheel of fear and doubt has been a part of your life for a very long time.
If you habitually experience this mental spin it has been part of your life since you were very small child. Over time you learned to trust fear and doubt as a strategy to protect yourself, which evolved into part of your identity—an extension of your ego. This is so deeply engrained in your psyche it feels like you simply couldn’t function unless you were haunted by fear and doubt. It is also an unconscious strategy your ego uses to maintain its sense of specialness. This is the trick within the trick—if you were to actually break free of fear and doubt—then what? Who would you be without your pinwheel mind? Maybe instead of feeling like a hopeless miserable wreck, what if it is actually possible you could be exceedingly happy? Hmmmm…? What is really going on here?
When you are ruthlessly honest with yourself and intimately examine this more closely, you can begin to see for yourself you are actually addicted to fear and doubt. It gives you a sense life is normal. ‘After all, it is normal to suffer isn’t it? Everyone suffers.’ Your mind might reason. But this cynicism is deeply rooted in the genetic mind and ego, which fuels the firm belief that it is not possible to be happy. Life is suffering and then you die is the mantra of the cynical nature of your mind. It is a belief system that acts like a dense cloud, which hides your natural happiness and perpetuates this seemingly endless cycle of suffering. But is it really impossible or is there a way out of this messy aspect of mind?
The mind is like a biological radar tower incessantly scanning your environment for any potential threat to your existence. This deeply engrained survival instinct generates fear and doubt. This natural tendency of your mind traverses back in time to the moment you were born. It is the primal terror generated during your birth process that transforms into a deep feeling or sense there is something wrong, which over time evolves into the deep feeling there is something wrong with you—the root of self-hatred and overarching feeling that there is something unsafe about life. This deep feeling was initiated by the break from the warmth and safety and feeling of oneness and love experienced in the womb.
The moment you were born it naturally felt like you were suddenly separated from this omniscient love—but is this even possible to be separated from omniscience? If you examine this even more closely, you can begin to recognize from the moment you were born into this world a gnawing feeling that something is wrong with your life has lurked deep inside. Naturally, from the perspective of a baby, the rude process of being ripped from your mother’s womb definitely feels like something has gone horribly terrifyingly wrong. This terror evolves into the unconscious feeling and belief something is terribly wrong with you and your life, which evolves over time into the belief you are worthless, unlovable, and abandoned—the root cause of fear, doubt, and self-hatred.
The fear generated by the birth process is deeply rooted in your ego, which is in effect the hub of your pinwheel or the endless spin of your mind from one doubt to the next and the fear this cycle generates. As strange as this might seem, over the span of your life it actually feels more normal to live with the endless spin of fear and doubt than to be happy. If you are happy too long your mind can actually start looking for a problem so you can return to the familiar spin of fear and doubt. This is your “normal” experience of life, but what if this is not normal at all? As Ramana explained, ending this cycle of suffering begins with the willingness to doubt the doubter. Doubting the doubter begins the process of pulling out the very deep root of your ego. But this cannot remain a purely mental process or you will fall back into the insidious trap of your endless mental spin.
To make any real progress toward eradicating this cycle of suffering you must allow your mind to fall deeply into your heart and love yourself with a fierce unflinching intensity; embracing yourself completely and totally exactly as you are with all of your perceived warts, wrinkles, and imperfections. It is the deep love of yourself as love that ignites a sacred fire within you that has the innate power to evaporate the thick cloud of fear, doubt, and self-hatred that hides your natural happiness.
If you courageously meet your fear and doubt from the fire of love in your heart, you can realize directly the shocking truth; fear and doubt, and the cynicism it generates, are simply a powerful illusion generated by your mind. If you stop and intimately examine the nature of your mental spin you can see for yourself it is an illusion or a whirlwind of thought. It is simply not normal to suffer in this way—it is a powerful trick of your mind and ego. If you see though this illusion you can directly experience your natural happiness hidden underneath this cloud of thought.
This might seem a bit scary at first simply because you are familiar with your habitual cycle of fear and doubt or you might actually be addicted to the mental spin it generates, but your natural happiness is free of your mind and the deep feeling you are your body or ego. Recognizing this for yourself annihilates the hub of your pinwheel or mental spin—it annihilates the ego and stops your mind. How can there be a mental spin if no hub exists, no one to doubt, and no one to think?
Love naturally doubts the doubter—it stops your mind from spinning. Love is not fooled or tricked by the illusion of you or your mind. This can be directly experienced the moment you love yourself so completely only love remains. Love in effect stops the pinwheel of fear and doubt and reveals your natural joy.
No mind. No spin. No you. This is the unending joy and love of pure being transcendent of mind and ego. This is the living and eternal truth free of all ideas of you.
In this realization there is no spinning mind—only happiness exists.