Struggling with Meaninglessness

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Meditation And The Angel & Devil In Your Mind

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The Angel and Devil

Buddha said the only path to enlightenment is through meditation because meditation unlocks our mind and allow our consciousness to flow freely. Therefore when we meditate, we should focus on Emptiness/Nothingness. Think about nothing, stop your inner voice or the chatterbox in your head from telling you things and concentrate on empty space. This form of concentration is the highest level of concentration because by default, our mind is already wired from the start to dwell in the past and worry about the future. Therefore, to think of nothing is extremely difficult because it defies the way how the mind is hardwired.

A typical person’s chatterbox is extremely noisy. The voice in your head keep telling you what to do for tomorrow, keep commenting on your colleague’s attitude, keep worrying about next month’s income, keep craving for party and alcohol sessions, keep thinking of ‘how nice if I could turn back time’ and etc. It keeps telling and reminding you of what to do.

Based on my understanding, I divide our human mind into 2 different entities. We basically have the inner voice which creates our Persona a.k.a Alter Ego, and YOU the neutral one. Something like Donald Duck’s with his angel and devil in his head.


The angel and devil in our head are not separate entity, but together, they are one. Depending on situations or circumstances, either the angel or devil will be your dominant force in your head and instruct you on how you should think. The YOU is basically a puppet influenced by these two forces, just like a weak emperor manipulated by his advisers and ministers. I will give you an example.

When we see a man hit the table at a restaurant with anger, our mind will automatically label that person as ‘rude’ or ‘bad tempered’. But wait a minute, we have yet to know the real reason why the man furiously hit the table, but our mind has already determined that he is rude. Where does this thought come from? That’s right, it’s from your ‘devil’ inner voice, your presuppose knowledge, or cached thoughts, whatever you call it. However, if we get to learn that the man’s wife just passed away, we will immediately understand his frustration and by an instant, we start to sympathize with him and will not label his as rude anymore. Our ‘angel’ inner voice has become more dominant now in this situation now.

All these emotional turmoil were not caused by you. It was your inner Angel and Devil who directed how you should think and how your emotion should go. It is as though there’s a system or a structure in your head which acts like a framework for the Angel and Devil to conduct the emotional calculation.

IF A Man Hit The Table In A Restaurant, ACTIVATE Devil’s Voice

THEN Tell Ronn That This Guy Is Rude via Chatterbox

BECAUSE We Are Being Emotionally Threatened By His Aggressive Behaviour

THEREFORE We WIll ‘Cook Reasons’ For Ronn To Avoid Him And Increase Vigilance Against Him

then after learning the real reason

<INPUT> The Man’s Wife Just Pass Away,

DEACTIVATE Devil’s Voice AND ACTIVATE Angel’s Voice

THEN Tell Ronn That This Guy Is Pitiful via Chatterbox

BECAUSE We Don’t Feel Threatened Anymore

AND We Need To Give Good Impression To The Society

THEREFORE We Will ‘Cook’ Reasons’ For Ronn to Sympathize Him And Console Him To Make Ourselves Look Concerned (Although the Devil doesn’t give a damn about the dead wife).

Buddha, recognizing the concept of Persona and Alter Ego said the only way to escape this ‘suffering’ is to control your mind instead of letting the mind control you.

It is easier said than done because most people will say – ‘Look, I have self control! I will resist the addiction of alcohol, resist the temptation of buying expensive gadgets, and resist my bad habit of procrastination. See, I’m controlling my mind!’ Yes, that indeed show some self control, but not a hint of controlling the mind yet because our desire and emotion is still floating around. It is only when we could totally relinquish and unattached ourselves from desires and emotions then we could proclaim that we have controlled the mind, which at the end, you don’t say ‘I resist’ but to say ‘I understand’. Again, it is not easy for anyone to fully control the mind because it defies the way how our mind is hardwired (with emotions and desires).

Unleash the Suppressed

One day, Ronn pays a visit to Aunty Nnor’s home to meet up with her. Aunty Nnor then cook dinner for him, and in the dining table they have dinner together.

Aunty Nnor : Ronn, how is the food?

Ronn: *takes a scoop and taste the food*

Devil : Yuck! The food is horrible! Ronn, tell her in the face that the food suck so that she could improve her cooking better next time. Do it like a man just like how Gordon Ramsay always do.

Angel : No, Ronn! You can’t be impolite. She spent some effort to cook for you, so you need to show at least a little appreciation.

Devil : Ronn, tell her the food sucks and you will have given a good reason to her to escape this horrible meal for the night. Don’t tell me you gonna finish up this whole pile of crap?

Angel : You have to finish up your food no matter how bad it taste. Or else, she will think that you’re being rude and will not cook for you next time anymore, and that’s not really nice.

Ronn : Yeah, the food is fine. I like it.

Of course, typically there are not so much voices in our head while thinking of a reply as Ronn had in the interaction above. But as I’ve said, our mind appears to have an emotional calculator where every input is calculated in a flash. The mind then basically weigh both side of the argument and you will carry out the action which the more dominant voice commanded. In this scenario, Ronn was influenced by the Angel’s voice and give a politically correct response rather than telling blatant truth as he was afraid of offending Aunty Nnor. Hence, the devil’s voice is suppressed and the angel’s voice became his Persona and Alter Ego. And consciously, or unconsciously, Ronn is just an observer throughout the experience, like a puppet being swayed left and right by the Angel and Devil.

A vice versa situation could also take place where the Devil suppress Ronn’s Angel voice, and the Devil will become Ronn’s alter ego and criticize Aunty Nnor’s cooking like a food critic. (although it is very unlikely as human being are wired to rely on good image and impression to interact and communicate with each other.)

It is pretty clear to me that human being are nothing but just a puppet to the collective neurons, cells created by the force of Evolution for survival and reproduction purposes.

I have digressed long enough, and now I will get back to the main point and explain the question in my previous post on why people seemingly become bad and evil right before achieving the state of Emptiness in meditation. That’s because once you are about to achieve the state of Emptiness, the suppression system will no longer work well. You will indiscriminately unleash all your suppressed words and feelings by the Angel and Devil to other people, without holding back.

The reason why it seems there’s a tendency for people to be more evil is because if we bother to examine our mind, there are more instances where our Angel suppress the Devil in our mind than the other way round. But as I have said, we will unleash these suppressed feelings indiscriminately, just that due to statistics factor, it seems we are more likely to unleash badness than goodness.

For instance:

Mr. A who was abused during his childhood and suppressed the hatred inside him for years will unleash this hatred without holding back when he is about to achieve Emptiness.

Mr. B who has extremely high libido and suppressed his sexual urge for years will unleash his sexual urge without holding back like sex maniac when he is about to achieve Emptiness.

Miss C who has the habit of picking her nose but was suppressed by her family member will unleash back her bad habit without holding back when she is about to achieve Emptiness.

So how do people overcome this problem? The answer is Acceptance – accepting the fact that YOU are the Devil. Accepting the fact that you are capable of doing evil things or walking the wrong path. The problem always begin when people are in denial of their own weakness. Take for example Mr. A. He unleashes his hatred around but at the same he keeps refusing to accept the fact that the Devil is himself. He tried to suppress the feeling of hatred back to this brain, but unfortunately the suppressing system is not working anymore in the state of Emptiness. He is helpless about it and the feeling will be the same as possessed by a Devil. And then he meditates more hoping to cure the problem, but he will only find himself to depress and unleash more and more of his weakness. That’s exactly how a person could turn crazy from deep meditation without being guided by experts. The solution is either he goes all the way to achieve Acceptance in himself or stop meditating all together.

(Now, I begin to understand the reason why Keanu Reeves, who portrayed as the Buddha in the movie Little Buddha, pulled the Devil out of the water and said something along the lines “I was You and You were Me, but now you’re an illusion” before He was Enlightened, which I find pretty hard to understand at first).

So, how the interaction between Aunty Nnor and Ronn will turn out if Ronn is able to control his mind from the Angel and Devil?

Aunty Nnor : Ronn, how is the food?

Ronn : We eat because we’re hungry. It does not matter if the food is good or bad, as long as it fills our stomach healthily, I’m satisfied.

Ronn utter those words without the influence of Angel and Devil. Here, Ronn essentially Understand and Accept that his desire on tasty food is just an illusion. There will no longer be any Angel or Devil’s voices in his head as he has fully controlled them.

The idea of achieving Emptiness is to free ourselves from the grasp of the Angel and Devil inside us and becoming back Ourself. The original YOU. Because when you essentially master the art of Emptiness, and Accept the Devil in YOU, you will realize all the things a typical human being chase – money, glory, fame, change-the-world, love, good impression etc. are nothing but an illusion chased by the Angel and Devil in your head. The real YOU wants nothing but to live contently without any cravings.

As I have said in my previous post, this is what separates animals and human being. Animals live their life purely following the voices in their head and human being, for most part, do the same too. However, we are aware of the existence of these voices and could do something to defy the Angel and Devil in our head.

PS: The Angel and Devil in our head is just a metaphorical way of me explaining how human Persona and Alter Ego work. It’s difficult to draw the line between goodness and badness as usually there are not only two opposing forces but there are perhaps three, four or more forces which creates the complicated thinking structure in our mind. But to keep things as simple as possible, I will just use Angel and Devil to portray two contradicting forces in this essay.

PPS: So, how do a person who meditates know when he/she achieve Emptiness? It is when he is trapped in pure emptiness without a single thought going through in his mind and could not be interfered by external environment like noise. Just like when we are sleeping, mild level of volume mostly likely will not wake us up. Same goes for deep meditation where people will not be distracted by mild level of noise and interruptions.

PPPS: This is how the conversation between Buddha and the Devil in the Little Buddha went:

*Buddha pulled Devil who disguised as Buddha out of the water*

Devil: You who go where no one else will dare .. Will you be my God?

Buddha : Architect, finally I have met you. You will not rebuild your house again.

Devil : But I am your house. And you live in me.

Buddha : O’ lord of my own ego. You are pure illusion. You do not exist. The earth is my witness.

*Devil vanishes*


Written by elan85

November 3, 2008 at 12:31 am

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology

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