Big Mind Experiences
In Zen teaching big mind experiences everything within itself and experiences no duality, whereas the small mind relates to something outside of itself.
On the one hand the absolute, infinity and on the other hand the subjective and particular. Metaphorically the ocean and the wave.
The wave arises within the ocean yet appears separate and with a "life" of its own until it subsides back into the ocean. One and the same and yet different all at the same time!
This is all about perspective.
We have many minds, and what we conventionally think of as the "self" is many selves...
The Big Mind Process
In 1983 Zen teacher Dennis Paul Merzel, known as Genpo Roshi Merzel, began studying Voice Dialogue — a Jungian therapeutic technique developed by Hal and Sidra Stone - which is designed to expand the individual's ability to make conscious choices in life instead of behaving unconsciously and running on "autopilot".
He began to experiment with integrating Voice Dialogue with the Zen tradition, and in 1999 he introduced the Big Mind Process™.
with the aim of combining Eastern, Buddhist insights with Western psychoanalytical ideas to give people a "fast track" experience of the transcendent.
Big Mind - Working With The Selves
This practise of working directly with our "selves" is very empowering – if we can do it - and is another practical tool for learning how to think and how to stop thinking.
We generally think and speak in terms of "my self" but strictly speaking what we regard as our "self" is a very complex amalgam of many different aspects of our "self". This is sometimes referred to as "sub-personalities" or "selves".
These different parts of us are often in conflict and are the real reason why we can’t keep our new year’s resolutions, why we can’t lose weight or stop smoking; in fact this inner conflict is the why we are largely immune to most serious attempts at changing ourselves.
This is why the so-called "self help" industry is so large and why so many of us spend so much money and time on all this but generally don’t change.
I will now illustrate the process at work with two examples of how I have used this.
 How I dealt with extreme stress using the Big Mind process
About 5 years ago I went through a very difficult time and was experiencing a lot of uncertainty and confusion in my life related to some business and financial issues and it was causing me a lot of stress.
Having become aware of the Big Mind process I decided to try and put into practise. So here is what I did:
I went out for a walk; somewhere quiet where I could talk out-loud and no one would hear me. Speaking in the voice of the Facilitator of the process I asked to speak to my ego – my Controlling Self – and I asked its permission to address my different selves, and I also asked it if it would undertake a task for me and ensure that my different selves would all “line up in orderly queue” and speak one at a time.
[Side note – asking the ego’s permission and then giving it a task to do works well as it basically gets the ego out of the way.]
Speaking in the voice of my ego, I granted my Facilitator self permission as requested.
I then asked who was present.
Angry self presented himself, so I asked him to identify himself, and what his role was in Stephen’s life. Then I asked him what he was feeling and what he wanted to say.
I took on the voice of Angry self and said that my role in Stephen’s life was to protect him and to express his anger. I continued to say how angry I felt and why.
[Side note – this only process works when we just go for it – just do it – with no conscious thinking about it – we just go with whatever comes up and say it without any filtering, analysis or internal commentary. When we speak as that voice – we (temporarily) become that voice.]
As Facilitator self I let Angry self keep talking until he had nothing left to say.
Then as Facilitator self I asked who else was present and wanted to speak – and next in the queue was Anxious Self – and I repeated the process.
I continued with this until all the selves who were present (which was about 10) at that time had identified themselves and spoken.
This process took about 25-30 minutes.
Then as Facilitator self I asked to speak to “Big Mind” or Enlightened self… and for a while I enjoyed the tranquillity and spaciousness of that self.
I was calm, de-stressed and completely free of my mind in a state of one-ness and non-duality.
After that initial “trial run” I used the Big Mind process a number of times as a very powerful way of achieving integration, peace and freedom from my mind.
 How I instantly stopped smoking using the Big Mind process
A few years ago I wanted (and needed to give up smoking). I decided to try out the Big Mind process. What I discovered was very powerful and actually quite frightening.
I went through the process and asked to speak to Smoking self who had his say – about how he enjoyed smoking. I asked Smoking self if he knew that smoking was bad for Stephen and he said yes he did, but – he was in the grip of addicted self.
Oh boy, when Addicted self spoke he was utterly ruthless, didn’t care about Stephen’s well-being or health, his sole focus was power and control and more, more, more endless smoking “because that’s what I do”.
I know this is going to sound a bit spooky – a bit like the film "The Exorcist" – but metaphorically it was like listening to a ruthless demon speaking. As Facilitator self I was actually quite shocked and horrified at the attitude and tone of Addicted self’s voice – it was quite scary. And, I had never accessed this self before.
As Facilitator I then asked to speak to Non-smoking self.
[Side note – for every self there is always an opposite self.]
Non-smoking self then said the sort of things that you would expect him to say – but (and this is very important) he said that he was weak and un-empowered and dominated by Addicted self and he needed power, support and a major boost.
So as Facilitator self I asked ego self who, from now on, he chose to identify with and who he wanted as the dominant self in this situation. Ego self chose Non-smoking self.
Facilitator self then asked Highest self (the most spiritual powerful self) to come to the assistance of Non-smoking self and give him the power, energy and resource he needed to be the dominant self in relation to this area of my life.
Facilitator self then asked Non-smoking self to accept that help – which he did – and then told Non-smoking self that he was now empowered to be the dominant self over Smoking self and Addicted self.
[Side note – this is important – we never seek to deny or suppress a negative or "unhelpful" self we simply "power up" it’s positive opposite self. So in this case I will always have a smoking self and an addicted self but they are now far less powerful than my non-smoking self.]
As from that moment, I instantly and successfully stopped smoking.
I do appreciate that this may all sound insane – but believe me, if you can learn to do this on your own not only are you saving a fortune in expensive fees to therapists but you gain access to a remarkable process for managing your internal states and developing the capacity to think and not think as you choose!
[Final Side Note - It is my personal feeling that when we access our higher/transcendent selves in this manner - we are connecting with the God/Allah/Divine/Buddha nature (or however you express it) and this is the basis of all prayer and all other direct experience and relationship with whatever we express as that highest nature.]
For background and more resources please see:
Can I change my mind?
Big Mind Big Heart: Finding Your Way
Return to: How To Practise Mindfulness