Leon MacLaren & the right use of the mind

The founder of this School, Leon MacLaren (1910-1994), was asked at a meeting about the right use of the mind in studying the scriptures.

The right use of the mind in relation to the scriptures, or indeed for that matter to anything else, is to fall quite still, attend to what is being spoken or shown or enacted, fully, with no idea about it at all; then the mind, being open and free, receives a true impression of what is being said or shown or enacted; and that being received simply and truly, the mind has been properly used. And in the case of the Upanishads, for example, or the Gita or the Christian scriptures, the Gospels, in any case like that, it’s the same, the mind quite still and let the words sound; reading them is no good, let the words sound, you can sound them out loud if you like, but let them sound without any pre-judgement or any notion that you know what they mean, anything of this kind, so the mind is quite open and free. That is the right use of the mind.

You see, if one comes to a meeting like this to sit here and address it, as one walks in one has no notion what is going to be said, not even what the first word is going to be. But you listen, and the speech comes sentence by sentence from the audience Ð that is why you recognise it, do you see that? You’re giving it, as it were it’s as though you were giving it to me Ð the speaker has simply to give you back what is your own, that’s all, that’s his job; so he has to listen, without any ideas whatever of what is going to be spoken.
Now like this, in all circumstances, that is the right use of the mind, to be totally receptive; then you will find the mind, from its own nature, responds to the situation. But that response is only possible because the mind has been quite still, quite open, and has received the words or the showing or the activity just as it appears this is most fruitful.

And that is the right use of the mind; it will show you, for example, that the people you think you know well, you don’t know well at all, because every time that they walk through the door they’re different, and this idea that they are always the same is something that the mind has been putting on them – it‘s not true. And if the mind is truly free and open, it will observe that every time the person who walks through the door is different, and it’s that you receive, that you respond to. It is very beautiful and very simple, but it does depend on having recourse to an inner stillness, which is always there, so that you can just attend, just that. And that is the right use of the mind, and you’ll find it very fruitful because it’s the need of the other person that brings forth from your mind what that person needs: you don’t need anything, you’ve got everything, so you’re all right.

(Meeting 3/5/1989)