What do I mean by rapid mental development? 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, not to evaluate their intelligence, but their ability to learn certain skills such as reading, writing, and so on. Intelligence is not limited to one's ability to function in a predefined world. In my opinion, plants are very intelligent, but I don't think they would do very well on an IQ test.
Intelligence is something that is not just thinking – it's feeling. Ultimately, the highest reflection of intelligence is intelligent life, cooperative life in which all benefit. A life, a planet, a society that destroys it own environment that, I would not consider to be intelligent life. It's like the cancer that ultimately destroys itself by destroying the host it feeds on. Symbiosis is certainly a much higher reflection of intelligent life.
When I speak of rapid mental development, I'm not simply talking about the ability to score higher on an IQ test. That may or may not be part of mental development. Rather I'm discussing your ability to become more aware, more intelligent, and not as intelligence is measured or defined by a scholastic system or 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 it's own way, but it certainly does not reflect all points of view. It's limited. We live in the dark ages still. Because 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 is certainly not an evolved society or an intelligent society. It might be working toward that, and if it survives it might get there, or it might be like the cancer that destroys itself by destroying the thing that it thrives on.
Naturally, there is reincarnation; otherwise life would be pretty dull. And 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 result from patterns in other lifetimes. The patterns that you are setting up now, in this lifetime, as you interact with past patterns and create new patterns, will ultimately affect you in 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 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, or whatever we wish to call the basic structural unit of existence that is intelligence itself. Rapid mental development simply means, becoming more conscious of the intelligence that you already possess.
Spiritual evolution is the process of becoming aware of everything, and yet at the same time of making conscious choices. To understand the patterns of life, to see what life has created on this planet, and why this planet goes through the changes that it does. Why are the manifold creatures that exist here present – the zebras, the giraffes; and why do human beings have a dominant role in 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?
Going 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. In our transitory experience, you eat something and then it is gone. In 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 the 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 to college.
In each incarnation a being evolves and learns. Reincarnation is not necessarily linear, though. Sometimes people become more immersed in darkness or illusion than they were in previous lifetimes. Life is a journey and sometimes there are bright days in the journey, and sometimes dark days. But we learn from everything. Everything advances us, even the most difficult experiences, if we are willing to look at them with open eyes, eyes that not only see the immediate temporal effects, but the larger patterns 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 have grown up with, nor the cultural conditions and customs of this planet's people and religions. Enlightenment transcends religion and transcends the human mind. It transcends life, death, all knowledge, and all experience. It cuts through it all, right to Nirvana, right to Eternity.
In rapid mental development you are going to take perhaps a hundred lifetimes, which you would have gone through and experienced and gradually evolve into higher levels of intelligence, as I previously defined intelligence, and do that in one lifetime. You will go through all the changes in awareness, and all of the different states of mind that you would have experienced in one hundred lifetimes.
Now, someone might say, "Why, what's the rush? We have Eternity." Well, there isn't a rush, and there isn't a sense of rushing for someone who is engaged in rapid mental development. For them that's a natural progression. They decide that they want to go faster, because they enjoy it. It's not a sense of speed, 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, fifteen minutes, and it goes off again, and you reset it. You wake up for a few minutes and you look around, or you might be awake and lie there in bed, and it's kind of nice; you don't really need to come to consciousness real quickly.
Some people like to bounce 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 sleep. Sometimes they find when they wake up immediately, and don't go back to sleep they have a better day. There is a certain momentum of energy that is present for them, when they first awaken. And if they follow it, even though they might be a little sleepy, their minds are sharp. They're inspired all day. In other words, if they go back to sleep and get that extra sleep, they wake up in a very hazy condition. The day never quite comes together.
It is possible to wake up very quickly, to become enlightened, or you can do it gradually. When you do it gradually, sometimes you wake up in a lifetime, and you are fairly awake, but then you go back to sleep again, and in the next lifetime you are not quite as awake. You don't quite catch that energy. You might go through a series of lifetimes like that and 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.
The mind is like a lake, a 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 waves, then the reflection is not clear. Something else is taking place – agitation, waves. But 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. They slide through the mind and disrupts the reflection of Eternity. Your ability to still your mind through the process of meditation, 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 have a thousand decisions to make, and things are going right, and things are going wrong. According to the way you structure your life plan, there are agreements and disagreements. The Universe doesn't always agree with your plans, as you might have noticed.
The primary danger in rapid mental development is that a person will seek only power and not knowledge. In spite of the recommendations of the teacher, a person sometimes does this. The teacher will say: "Be careful; seek knowledge; seek Enlightenment; seek balance, happiness and truth." The 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 could be dangerous. 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 someone in a non-physical way and it can injure that being. Ordinary people's thoughts don't have that much power. If they are jealous, if they are angry, if they desire something or someone, they don't have that much power or effect on outer things. There is 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, 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 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 voodoo or 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 to them, as they dwell on anger and frustration, jealousy, 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, it's all they experience. It's a miserable way to live.
Rapid mental development will take place when you meditate deeply. Everything is dependent on your ability to stop your thoughts. The longer you can stop your thoughts in zazen, in meditation, the faster you will evolve, and the more power you will pick up. Also, the more knowledgeable and balanced you will become. But it is 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 upper direction. Power either goes up or down; it doesn't stay anyplace; it's not stable; it's active. Your thoughts are the harnessers of power. It is necessary to consciously think positive thoughts, not just to wait for them to occur, but to introduce them, to work in a positive career, and to develop a positive life. Because the power then will circuit in your life in a positive way.
When you think of others, it is very important, if you think of someone in a jealous way or if you become angry, immediately pause for a moment and say, "Wait a minute, this isn't the right kind of thought to think. This isn't good for that person, and it isn't 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 you have developed. It is also something that you pick up from others psychically. If you are around a lot of human beings who are filled with anger, jealousy, rage and desire, it filters into your mind. But you can write in your program. 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 you are running.
It is as important to monitor your mind constantly as it is to sit down to practice zazen – to practice meditation. It is particularly important if you study on a regular basis with an Enlightened Teacher, because you can absorb a tremendous amount of power from the teacher. It is very important to always hold the thought of an Enlightened Teacher in your mind in a very positive way, or not to think of them at all. Because when you direct negative energy at someone who is very powerful, it has a terrible back bounce 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 is blowing back toward you, it can come back and take your hand off.
Enlightened people live in very charged states of attention, and there is tremendous power circuiting through them. And they only use that power in beneficial ways. If you think of them really well – "This is someone who is helping others, this is someone who is self-less, someone who is humorous, someone who in spite of his or her 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 that you feel better, and 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 can be physically painful if they are 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 of being in the same room with them. Because whenever you are 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 dissociate yourself from individuals like this inwardly, then you will find that your rapid mental development will continue at a wonderful pace. They can't stop you.
If in your heart you seek Enlightenment, empowerment, and knowledge, you will see certain effects in your life. I will 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 study, find wonderful things happening in their lives 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 you pursue meditation in a deep and honest way. You will find many of these things occurring to you. None can say at what rate or when or how. It just happens as you develop the mind. You become stronger. You will discover, as you pursue Zen, if you pursue it properly, with a non-competitive attitude, with a hopeful and helpful attitude, without violence, 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 melt 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. There are very few people who experience them, unless they engage in rapid mental development. They are also quite pragmatic and practical in the sense 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 – 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 most important component part of rapid mental development is silence. Develop stillness in your life. This is the quality that you are seeking. That's when the full power of the mind is available. When you are just thinking a lot of silly thoughts, and having a lot of worries, you are not still. You waste tremendous energy and power, and you put yourself in very limited states of mind and slow down your evolutionary process. It is necessary to bring about a sense of peace and fulfillment in your life. This brings power, knowledge and stillness of the mind.
How can you do this, when you live a busy life with millions of activities and noises in the world? I think one of the greatest aids is nature, getting in touch with nature – walking in a field, strolling by the ocean – because the stillness of nature is profound and yet subtle. I think it is a nice idea to have lots of plants in your house, to water them, feed them, and put them in nice spots. Nature and plants understand something about stillness and silence, and as you interact with the green world, without which we could not exist in this plane, you will find that a peace will enter your life. Walk in nature, hike, and don't just always play in competitive sports. That's fun and it has its place, but just take time to be still. Practice arts, arrange flowers, do some drawing, work on a computer at home. Don't just always run off to the movies or the latest adventure. Bring a sense of stillness into your life. Realize 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. Find things that make you still; that make you feel good.
Don't follow the crowd. The crowd doesn't get there. They just run 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 ever felt, and be more than you've ever been. Meditate several times a day, as deeply as you can. That is truly the key that unlocks the door to Eternity. Keep a sense of humor, that keeps you balanced, and you'll do quite well with all of it, I'm sure.