Your brain is marvelously sophisticated at perceiving, labeling, and recalling information. You use this information to do countless diverse and demanding tasks, from creating a new business to planning your errands and remembering to call a friend on her birthday. However, the ultimate spiritual purpose of your brain — and its conscious phenomenon, the mind — is to find the answers to your most pressing questions about the meaning of life.
The role of the brain and mind are dismissed or even denigrated in many New Age interpretations of spirituality. The brain is seen as a mere machine, and the mind is considered unruly. We are told that the wandering mind is the cause of suffering, and we are instructed to tame it. We are led to believe that silencing the mind is how we become transcendent.
These are false perceptions of the human spiritual experience. Yes, meditative practices make you more present and contribute to your connection with the divine, but they are neither a prerequisite to becoming spiritual nor the only way to do so. You use your mind, body, and spirit in conjunction to experience the world around you, and that is no accident.
The mind both listens and speaks. Neither of these states is better than the other; they are both required to help us operate as spiritual beings in the physical reality. In the listening state, the higher self takes residence and we are intuitively receptive to divine wisdom. But though a calm mind is essential for our well-being, it's not necessary or desirable to silence the mind. The mind's speaking state is useful; the voice in our head helps us find meaning and understand our life experience.
Most importantly, the mind's voice allows us to engage in the delightful project of inquiry. Inquiry is the gateway through which the voice can ask questions while inviting the spirit to provide the answers. Each question brings you deeper into yourself and closer to your purpose. Inquiry connects you to truth and ultimately to the divine.
Inquiry is not an esoteric practice; it is something we do here and now, in the course of our ordinary daily experience. Here's how: