Rapid Mental Development

Hi there! Zen Master Rama here. (Zazen music plays in the background.)

Today we’re discussing Rapid Mental Development—how to gain the most from your time, life, and mind; how to have an alert poised mind, a happy mind, a relaxed and balanced mind; how to have more fun with your mind and be more successful at work, in school and in meditation, in all places, in all phases of being.

In the background is Zazen from their new Urban Destruction album.

For the next 40 minutes or so, let’s consider the mind, the ultimate battleground, where all things are real and unreal simultaneously. Going and coming are the same.

Eternity is your friend. It is, of course. (Zazen music ends.)

What do I mean by rapid mental development? Well, rapid mental development is the escalation of consciousness. Mental development is not really IQ, per se. IQ is based upon a series of tests that are given to a person, really not to evaluate their intelligence but their ability to learn certain socially endorsed skills—reading, writing, grammar and so on.

Intelligence is not limited to one’s ability to function in a predefined world, in my opinion. Plants are very intelligent; I don’t think they’d do very well on an IQ test. So are porpoises.

Intelligence is something that’s not just thinking, it’s feeling. Ultimately, in my opinion, the highest reflection of intelligence is intelligent life, cooperative life in which all benefit. A life, a planet, a society that destroys its own environment that supports it, I would not consider to be intelligent life. It’s like the cancer that ultimately kills itself by destroying the host it feeds on. Symbiosis is certainly a much higher reflection of intelligent life.

So when I speak about rapid mental development, I’m not simply talking about one’s ability to score higher on an IQ test. That may or may not be part and parcel of rapid mental development. Rather I’m discussing your ability to become more aware, more intelligent—but not as intelligence is measured or defined by a scholastic system or a society.

As a former university professor, I am well aware of the measurement of intelligence used by our society and our school systems. I think it’s a good system in its own way, but it certainly does not reflect all points of view. It’s limited. We live in the dark ages—still.

Because again, if an intelligent society can destroy itself in large numbers and if an intelligent society places the largest amount of its revenues into instruments of destruction, it’s certainly not an evolved society or an intelligent society. It may be working toward that, and if it survives it might get there, or it may be like the cancer that destroys itself by destroying the thing that it thrives on.

Naturally, there’s reincarnation—otherwise life would be pretty dull. Part of rapid mental development is to understand reincarnation, to experience it, to see beyond this lifetime and the patterns of this lifetime. Actually, all of the patterns in this lifetime are resulting from patterns in other lifetimes. And the patterns that you’re setting up now, in this lifetime, as you interact with past patterns and create new patterns, will ultimately affect you in your lifetimes to come.

One lifetime is not all there is. Enlightened people know this because they can see beyond the doorway of death. As you meditate and develop your mind through the practice of Zen and other forms of meditation, you will discover, pleasantly, that you too can see beyond this life, that you can see your eternality.

We are made up of light. We are made up of intelligence, light, or whatever we wish to call the basic structural unit of existence, which is intelligence itself.

Rapid mental development simply means becoming more conscious of the intelligence that you already possess. Again, not intelligence simply as it’s measured on a standardized IQ test, but the intelligence of being.

Spiritual evolution is the process of becoming aware of everything and yet, at the same time, of making conscious choices—understanding the patternings of life, seeing why life has created this planet, why this planet goes through the changes it does, why the manifold creatures that exist here are present—the zebras, the giraffes—why human beings have a dominant role on this very small theater that is the earth at this time. What will come after this? What has come before? What is and what is not?

Beyond this world there are myriad worlds, thousands of inter-dimensional planes with different types of beings going through other cycles of existence.

Beyond all beings is something that’s eternal from which all these life forms spring and to which they will one day return, in a way of speaking.

Unconscious of the existence of the Tao, of the eternal truth, beings live supposing themselves to be separate from the universal intelligence—supposing themselves to be powerful or to be weak; thinking that they live their lives and die their deaths, never knowing that behind the curtain of eternity there is something else, something deeper, which is reality itself.

To know this is to know truth, not as a conceptual model but as an experience. When, through the practice of meditation, you can still your mind completely and stop thought and become conscious, that curtain will part and you will see eternity and experience it, but not simply as one sees and experiences something to eat—a transitory experience—you eat something and then it’s gone.

The experience of eternity—each time you dip into the well of existence, it changes you. The waters of life change you as you drink them.

Rapid mental development is that process. It’s a process of escalating your evolution. Normally a being evolves from lifetime to lifetime. Each lifetime is like a grade in school. In the first grade, you make a certain amount of progress. You learn the ABC’s, how to read basic sentences and paragraphs. In the second grade, it’s a little more sophisticated, and all the way on through college, etcetera.

So in each incarnation, a being evolves and learns.

Reincarnation is not necessarily linear, though. That is to say, sometimes people actually, in a way, become more immersed in darkness or illusion than they were in previous lifetimes.

Life is a journey, and sometimes there are bright days on the journey and sometimes dark days. But we learn from everything. Everything advances us, even the most difficult experiences, if we’re willing to look at them with open eyes, eyes that see not just their immediate temporal effects but the larger patternings of the universe. These experiences teach us and help us grow; perhaps that’s why we have them.

Enlightenment is the process of enlarging your mind to contain all of eternity—not simply the human personality structure that you’ve grown up with, nor the cultural conditions and customs of this planet’s peoples and religions.

Enlightenment transcends religion, it transcends the human mind, it transcends life and death and all knowledge and all experience. It cuts through it all, right to nirvana, to eternity.

Rapid mental development is a process of escalating the level of your development. It’s like going through many, many years of school in one year. In rapid mental development, you are going to take perhaps a hundred lifetimes, which you would have gone through and experienced and gradually evolved to higher levels of intelligence—as I previously defined intelligence—and do that perhaps in one lifetime. And you will go through all the changes in awareness, all of the different states of mind that you would have experienced in a hundred lifetimes.

Now, of course, someone will say, “Why, what’s the rush? We have eternity.” Well, there isn’t a rush, and there isn’t really a sense of rushing for someone who is engaged in rapid mental development. For them, that’s a natural progression. They decided they want to go faster because they enjoy it. It’s not a sense of speed or rush or competition, but rather of enjoyable evolution. They want to wake up. Some people like to wake up in the morning slowly. The alarm goes on and you shut it off and you go back to sleep for another half an hour, 15 minutes, and then it goes off again and you reset it. And you wake up for a few minutes and you look around, or you might be awake and just lie there in bed, and it’s just kind of nice, you don’t really need to come to consciousness real quickly.

Some people like to bound out of bed and go out into the world and have experiences. They don’t like that hazy, kind of falling back to sleep and waking up and falling back asleep. Sometimes they find when they wake up immediately, if they don’t go back to sleep, they have a better day because there’s a certain momentum or energy that’s present for them when they first awaken. If they follow it, even though they might be a little sleepy, their mind is sharp. They’re inspired all day. Whereas, if they go back to sleep and get that extra sleep, they wake up in a very hazy condition. The day just never quite comes together.

So it’s possible to wake up very quickly, to become enlightened, more enlightened, very quickly, or you can do it gradually. When you do it gradually, sometimes you wake up in a lifetime and you’re fairly awake, but then you go back to sleep again and in your next lifetime you’re not quite as awake. You don’t quite catch that energy. You might go through a series of lifetimes like that and then suddenly, you wake up a little bit more. Or you can just move in a very straightforward fashion, from level to level and state of mind to state of mind. Naturally it’s easier to do that in a given lifetime. In other words, the next lifetime is predicated upon the previous lifetime.

Whatever the sum total of your awareness—of your awareness at death—that will determine your next life. So if, for example, in this life you reach a certain level, that’s where you’ll begin again, to a certain extent, in your next lifetime. If you are able to really expand your mind and go to very, very high states of attention in this lifetime, then it will be much easier in your next lifetime to pick up where you left off because there is a certain level of inertia that interacts with a person in a new incarnation.

Even people who are enlightened in previous lifetimes, if they choose to return to the world as teachers to aid others in their self-discovery, have a certain degree of difficulty in regaining their enlightenment. Sometimes it comes in childhood; it’s very simple. But sometimes it takes many, many years of meditation to reintegrate the personality structure that they gained when they first entered into this world for that enlightenment to emerge and to become complete, for the person to become more conscious and more aware.

Rapid mental development is wakefulness in its deepest sense.

The mind is like a lake, a very, very still lake, a lake with no ripples whatsoever. It reflects something. It reflects the sky; it reflects eternity when it’s very still. If ripples appear, lots of them, waves, then the reflection is not clear. Something else is taking place—agitation, waves. We lose the clarity of the perfect reflection. It’s a different type of experience.

Thoughts are the waves—desires, emotions, feelings that are turbulent—that slide through the mind and disrupt the reflection of eternity. Your ability to still your mind through the process of meditation and inner reflection and outer change brings a stillness to the mind all the time. Even in the midst of the busiest activities, when everybody is on your case and you’ve got a thousand decisions to make, and things are going right and things are going wrong—that is to say, according to the way you’ve structured your life plan, there are agreements and disagreements.

The universe doesn’t always agree with your plan, as you may have noticed.

Zen is the study of making the mind still.

As your mind becomes still, a power enters into you. This power transmogrifies your mind. It escalates your evolution and you begin to cycle through many incarnations in one lifetime. You make tremendous quantum leaps and jumps.

This is usually done in the interaction with an enlightened teacher. An enlightened teacher is able to put a tremendous amount of power through a person who seeks knowledge, power and balance, and escalates the evolution of the individual.

Occasionally problems occur, however. Some people come to a teacher for knowledge. Some come for power. A few come for balance. Those who come strictly for power—if they’re not balanced and knowledgeable—have tremendous problems because as they study with the teacher and they practice meditation, if they really don’t listen to the instructions of the teacher—which are to seek balance and knowledge along with power—they intensify their power level. But they still have all the desires and angers and jealousies of an unevolved person. Consequently, as they become more powerful but not more knowledgeable, they become destructive both to themselves and to others.

If we have an angry child who’s bitter and frustrated and we give him a handgun and it’s loaded, he may go out and shoot somebody. If, on the other hand, he just has some soft toys to play with, it’s not as dangerous a situation. Hopefully, he will learn that happiness comes through self-control and not being angry or jealous and that the only one you really torment is yourself. [With happiness], it’s easier to let go and accept and gain new ways of looking at life.

The primary danger of rapid mental development is that a person will seek only power and not knowledge. And in spite of the remonstrances of a teacher, a person sometimes does this. The teacher will say, “Be careful, seek knowledge, seek enlightenment, seek balance and happiness and truth.” Power will help you in your life to do that, and to enjoy your life and to help others enjoy their lives.

But to gain power before you have balance and knowledge and discrimination—then, when you become jealous of someone, your jealousy will actually have a power to it, and it’s like punching someone psychically. It will hurt them because you have inner power.

When you become angry at someone, your anger will actually have a power. You can hit somebody in a non-physical way and it can injure that being. An ordinary person’s thoughts don’t have that much power. If they’re jealous, if they’re angry, if they desire something or someone, they don’t have that much power to affect outer things. Oh, there’s a power to everyone, and all thoughts have power, but compared to those who have real power—inner power—their thoughts are insignificant.

An enlightened person has real power and when they think a good thought—that is to say if they hold an image of someone growing, changing, developing and being happy, when they think of their friends in a happy way, their students and so on—the tremendous power of attention causes those people to actually lift up into those states. It empowers them. It brings a power into their lives.

People who have power who think negatively of others and seek to hurt them and injure them are practicing a kind of a voodoo, a lower sorcery. But ultimately, those who practice those things hurt themselves the most because as they interact with those negative thoughts and apply power to them, they devastate their own consciousness and their own lives. It boomerangs back on them. It causes them—as they dwell on anger and frustration and jealousy and rage and all these things—as they dwell on these thoughts with power, these thoughts become more and more embedded in their consciousness and pretty soon, that’s all they experience. Of course, it’s a miserable way to live. They’re never happy. They’re never satisfied. And while they may cause others a certain amount of pain and discomfort, they create internal hell for themselves.

That is why I recommend that you always seek knowledge and balance along with power.

I don’t think you have to wait for knowledge and balance to come before you seek power because to be honest, you need a certain amount of power to gain knowledge and balance. But you really should seek all three simultaneously, and then power is never a problem.

Rapid mental development will take place when you meditate deeply. Everything is dependent in rapid mental development on your ability to stop your thoughts. The longer you can stop your thoughts in zazen, in meditation, the faster you will evolve, the more power you will pick up and the more knowledgeable and balanced you will become.

It’s necessary, as you pick up power, to practice thinking positive thoughts because as you develop more power through daily meditation, your positive thoughts will take that power and move it in an upward direction.

Power goes either up or down. It doesn’t stay anyplace; it’s not stable, it’s active.

Your thoughts are the harnesses of power. So it’s necessary to consciously think positive thoughts, not just to wait for them to occur, but to introduce them—to work in a positive career, to live a positive life—because the power then will circuit in your life in a positive way.

When you think of others, it’s very important—if you think of someone in a jealous way or if you become angry—immediately to pause for a moment and say, “Wait a minute, this isn’t the right type of thought to think. This isn’t good for that person and it’s not good for me. It’s going to pull me down and send some negative energy to them.”

At that moment, you pause and you correct yourself. Don’t feel bad because it happened. It’s a habit that you’ve developed. It’s also something that you pick up from others psychically. If you are around a lot of human beings who are filled with jealousy and anger and rage and desire, it filters into your mind.

But you can write a new program. Zen is—part of the process of Zen—is writing new programs to run in the mind, and the way you do that is by debugging the program that’s currently running.

Every time you find yourself becoming angry, jealous or frustrated, simply stop and think the opposite thought and hold it in your mind. If you’re jealous, then just make a mental note at that point and say, “No I’m not. I don’t really feel this way. This is just a habit. I’m really not jealous. I wish the person well.” Then take your mind away from that person. In other words, if you can’t hold a person in your mind with a good thought, it’s better not to think about them at all. This is very important.

Whenever you find yourself becoming angry or jealous, think the opposite, if you can.

Try to see a good quality in the person because then you’ll suddenly be thinking a higher thought and that will elevate you. You’ll go very high at that point, and the power will work in your life to evolve you.

But if you hold a negative thought, then it will become more powerful and not only will it send bad energy to the person, but it will really crash your consciousness.

All the hard work of meditating that would make you happy and give you a powerful life is sabotaged by these thoughts.

So it’s as important, in other words, to monitor your mind constantly, as it is to sit down and practice zazen, to practice meditation.

This is particularly important if you study on a regular basis with an enlightened teacher, if you go to see them and meditate with them, because you’re absorbing tremendous power from the teacher.

It’s very important to always hold the thought of an enlightened teacher in your mind in a very, very positive way, or not to think of them at all.

Because when you direct negative energy towards someone who is very powerful, it has a terrible bounce-back effect. You shoot a boomerang, you send it out in the air and it comes back and you can catch it. But if you send it out and it hits a tremendous wind current that’s blowing back toward you, it can come back and take your hand off.

Enlightened people live in very charged states of attention, with a tremendous power circuiting through them. They only use that power in beneficial ways.

But one who thinks of an enlightened person in a negative way—hates them, gets angry with them because they don’t do what they want or they pay more attention to someone else, whatever it may be—I mean the most obscure little jealousies and reasons manifest—if you do that with someone else, it’s bad for you, but with an enlightened person as it hits their aura, it just returns very strongly.

The same thing happens when you hold a positive thought of an enlightened person in your mind. If you think of them really well: “This is your friend, this is someone who is helping others, this is someone who’s selfless, someone who’s humorous, someone who in spite of their own enlightenment and sensitivity is happy to aid others.” When you think of someone that way, when that thought touches their aura, it comes back just as quickly but with a positive lift. Suddenly, you’ll find you’ll feel better. You’ll go up.

If you can’t think of an enlightened person positively, don’t think of them at all. Turn your mind in another direction. The same is ultimately true with anyone and anything, but the more powerful the person, the faster the bounce-back.

There are people who will think of you in negative ways and you’ll feel it sometimes, and it actually can be physically painful if they’re somewhat powerful. But don’t be concerned about that. It won’t destroy you. You simply have to inwardly remove yourself from these individuals. You can’t be emotionally open to them and share your life with them. But never be afraid of them. Never be afraid to be in the same room with them because whenever you’re afraid of someone, immediately you give them an access. They can’t kill you, for heaven’s sake. They can cause you a little bit of pain, but if you continue to meditate and think positive thoughts and just disassociate yourself from individuals like this inwardly, then you will find that your rapid mental development will continue along at a wonderful pace. They can’t stop you if, in your heart, you seek enlightenment, empowerment, balance and knowledge.

You will see, of course, certain effects in your life.

I would never attempt to say what will happen to you and what won’t.

We can only say that people who meditate deeply and who practice and who study, find wonderful things happening in their life all the time—whether it’s artistic developments, the ability to learn quickly and happily, new skill development, the ability to become more accomplished at careers, and so on and so forth. These are natural outgrowths of rapid mental development

If a person pursues meditation in a deep and honest way, you will find many of these things occurring to you. No one can say at what rate or when or how. It just happens. As you develop the mind you become stronger.

But the most important type of mental development that you will discover, as you pursue Zen—if you pursue it properly, the way I’ve just outlined it and the ways I discuss it or other advanced teachers discuss the subject; if you pursue it properly with a non-competitive attitude, with a hopeful and helpful attitude, without violence—then you will find that you will become a very benign and powerful being, one who is at peace with himself and the universe.

You will be happy and your mind will meld with the mind of eternity. You will look beyond this transitory world and while enjoying it, enjoy eternity also.

These truths may seem simple and self-apparent and the words are easy to say, but the states of mind that you live in as you progress through rapid mental development are beautiful beyond description.

Everything is internal. The whole quality of your life depends upon your state of mind, and there are very high states of mind that very few people experience unless, of course, they engage in rapid mental development.

They are also quite pragmatic and practical in the sense that you find that they also make you more efficient at living and working in the world.

But the inner beauty and completion—as you experience eternity, not just in its surface form as we see manifested in the forms of the physical universe but in the inner worlds—is beyond description.

This is what creates happiness, peace, and balance—by becoming not simply powerful, but knowledgeable.

Power doesn’t make you happy. Actually, power without knowledge and balance is problematic. It’s better not to have it in a way, because it tends to drive you down.

Power is something that will automatically follow when you have knowledge. The two are really the same, in a certain sense.

The science of rapid mental development is the science of mind.

It’s the science of rapid evolution, of going through hundreds of lifetimes in one incarnation.

It occurs as one is able to gain control of the mind and make it still, initially just during periods of zazen meditation practice, but then throughout the day and throughout the night. As the mind becomes still, you will find that you will experience much more.

It’s not that nothing is in the mind and there’s no emotion, rather it’s as if the flood gates of the universe have been opened, but not just a spew of thoughts and anger and fear and jealousy and confusion come in—rather the lake becomes still and all of eternity is there.

This is rapid mental development.

Of course, one will see correlations in one’s daily life, in one’s mind, in one’s body and so on, in control.

As you gain control of the mind, you gain control of life and you gain control of your time. Also, as you work at gaining control of your daily life and your time, you’ll find that it’s easier to gain control of your mind. It all works together.

The most important component of rapid mental development, in my opinion, is silence—to develop stillness in your life. This is the quality that you’re seeking. That’s when the full power of the mind, in other words, is available. When you’re just thinking a lot of silly thoughts and having a lot of worries, when you’re not still, you waste tremendous energy and power and you put yourself into very limited states of mind and you slow down your evolutionary process.

So it’s necessary to bring about a sense of peace and fulfillment in your life. This brings power and knowledge and stillness of the mind.

Now, how can you do this, when you live a busy life with millions of activities and multifarious noises in the world of, you know, just everything as it is?

I think one of the greatest aids is nature, getting in touch with nature—being out walking in a field, strolling by the ocean—because the stillness of nature is profound and yet subtle.

I think it’s a nice idea to have lots and lots of plants in your house, to water them, feed them, put them in nice sunny spots.

Nature and plants understand something about stillness and silence, and as you interact with the green world, without which, of course, we could not exist in this plane, I think you will find a peace will enter your life.

Walking in nature, hiking, not just always playing in competitive sports—that’s fun and it has its place—but just taking time to be still.

Practicing arts, arranging flowers, doing some drawing, working on a computer at home—not always running off to the movies or the latest adventure—brings a sense of stillness into your life; realizing that there are a lot of things that you don’t need that you probably have and do, that really don’t add to your life; finding things that make you still, that make you feel good.

You know, we get so involved with the latest craze or having the latest car or the most high-powered house or whatever it is that we lose touch with what makes us happy.

What makes us happy are not things, but it’s meditating. It’s being with people who seek light. It’s being still and by yourself. Oh, sometimes it’s fun to be crazy and to be active. I love it.

But it’s really very simple things that make us happy. The simple things are quiet states of mind. But instead we begin to think happiness comes from getting the biggest Christmas present or whatever it might be.

Happiness is self-generated as the mind becomes still. As we become involved with the desires of the world, we lose that centering, that stillness.

What makes people who seek enlightenment happy is to study with their teacher, to practice meditation, to be in solitude, to be with friends of like mind and have an adventure or two, to have very quiet moments, to watch the sunlight filtering in through a window, to walk by the ocean to feel that stillness.

That’s what you’re seeking in everything, and also the accomplishment of personal success, of doing very well at your job, at bringing about success in your endeavors, having a grace and refined attention in your movements and in your life, creating a sense of balance and beauty—and seeing these as only momentary, fleeting experiences in a momentary, fleeting world in which all things change forever.

Rapid mental development comes through stillness. Look for the things in your life that bring you stillness and happiness, not the things that make you crazy. (Rama laughs.)

Don’t follow the crowd. It’s too crowded. Look inside yourself and look for that perfect stillness.

As you find things in your life that take you away from that stillness, avoid them. As you find things that add to that stillness, bring them more into your life. It doesn’t matter what works or doesn’t work for anyone else—it’s all individual. Find the things that make your mind still and make you happy and follow them. You will find that rapid mental development will be a natural outgrowth of this.

Don’t follow the crowd. The crowd doesn’t get there. They just run round and around and around in a crazy race. It never ends.

Follow the things that lead you to stillness. Live in places that are still for you. Pursue activities that bring about stillness, not boredom, but stillness where you can feel more than you’ve ever felt and be more than you’ve ever been.

And meditate several times a day, as deeply as you can. It’s truly the key that unlocks the door of eternity.

Keep a sense of humor—that keeps you balanced—and you’ll do quite well with it all, I’m sure.