By HRH Appolus Chu
There is a battle raging in the life of every human being today. It is a battle that has lasted since the beginning of time. This battle affects every family, neighbourhood, community, society, and nation. Walk into any organization or gathering of people, and the battle is there. Friends and loved ones may smile at one another; but they are all locked in this fierce battle.
It is the battle of the mind.
What is the Mind?
Defining the mind and its location is one problem that has lasted for thousands of years, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers who saw the mind as Nous or controller of all things. By the 1600s, French Mathematician, Rene Descartes – perhaps influenced by the religious bent of his time – defined the mind as the ‘real’ person with his now famous quote, “I think therefore I exist”.
Descartes’ position opened the gates to a new wave of questions about mind and body, appearance and reality, rationalism and empiricism. Today, scientists (who are empirical in their study), argue that the mind is nothing more than brain processes. They say these processes come from what we see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and other non-sensory impulses from the cells of our bodies.
Just as there is no single definition of what the mind is, so too there is no agreement about the location of the mind. Is it in the brain, heart, cells of the body or somewhere outside the body? No one knows for sure. No human eye has ever seen the mind. No microscope, x-ray or scanning machine, no matter how powerful and sophisticated, can see it.
Despite the complications in defining the mind and pinpointing its exact location, one thing that scientists, philosophers and religious theorists agree on is that the mind does exist. The mind is the thinking, conscious part of the human being and every one of us has a mind.
The mind is as wide and complex as the universe, with billions of information travelling through it – like countless stars and galaxies travelling through the universe. The mind constantly receives different and usually conflicting or opposing thoughts on any and every subject. It is the clash of these conflicting thoughts (the mental debates about which thought to choose), that is referred to as the battle of the mind.
In other words, the battle of the mind is the struggle that goes on in our minds about the choices we should make in every given situation.
If we make the right choice, we manifest right actions. If we choose wrongly, we manifest wrong actions. What we call choices begin as thoughts in our minds. It is in the mind that we struggle between good and bad thoughts, right or wrong choices.
The Mind and the Will
The human mind is also the seat of the will, and Dr. Myles Munroe once said, “The will is the greatest and most dangerous gift given to you, by God”. It is your will that determines the choices you make. Your ability to choose is what makes you uniquely human.
Your power of choice is what distinguishes you from a machine or an animal. Machines, including robots and computers, can do great and amazing things; yet they can do nothing without being programmed or commanded. They cannot choose what they do. Animals, on the other hand, may act without being programmed like machines, but they also do not have the power of choice. Animals are motivated to act by their appetites and emotions. They eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are sleepy, and mate when it is their season to do so.
You are different.
Yes, you have emotions and appetites, like animals; but you also have the ability to choose to do the opposite of whatever your appetites and emotions suggest, at any given time. As important as your appetites and emotions may be, it is the choices you make, choices which stem from your will – controlled by your mind – that determine the course of your life. So, it is your mind that controls your life.
Indeed, everything around us – all the great inventions that make life worth living, as well as the wars and violence that threaten to destroy the world – are products of the mind. That is because the mind has the ability to accommodate and stimulate many things, both good and bad.
Where do Thoughts come from?
The mind is the generating station for our thoughts. Thinking is done in the mind. It is also in the mind that we have our consciousness, and form ideas, opinions, impressions about anything. When our thoughts stir us strongly enough they can stimulate our emotions, and our stimulated emotions have the power to spur us into action. Action can be positive or negative. Our actions, whether positive or negative, have corresponding effect on society.
So, thoughts are generated in the mind, but they can be stimulated by one or all of the following:
• Words: Words are the foods that nourish the mind. Words are powerful. The words you hear and the people you listen to, will determine the course of your life. So, never underestimate the words of a person. Many lives have been ruined because of the words they heard and the people they listened to. Some young people are locked away in prison because of the friends they kept and the words those friends kept feeding into their minds.
Words convey ideas and information, and the mind has the ability to quickly soak up information like a sponge soaks up water. In this age of Information Technology, high-speed Internet connectivity, and 24-hour cable television, the mind is constantly being stimulated by words from all angles – like a receiver-station, receiving both good and bad information from everywhere. So, watch what you hear!
What you hear will make you or destroy you. It will elevate you or demote you. People sit in classrooms, listening to professors and teachers for years, and they graduate as lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, accountants, and the like. It is the words they listened to that made them so. Sports men and women may be talented at what they do, but hardly does any talented athlete go on to become a champion or Olympic winner without listening to, and training in line with the words of their coaches.
Other people sat around criminals, drug dealers and addicts, alcoholics – and today they are wondering why they are in jail while their former childhood friends are career professionals and sport stars.
Countries, businesses, and communities are great or mediocre, poor or rich, as a result of the words of their leaders. The story is often told of how, upon inauguration as President of the United States, the late John F. Kennedy told his countrymen that they would work to put a man on the moon within ten years. President Kennedy did not live through his first tenure as president, but within eight years of speaking those words, Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon.
Which words are you listening to? Never take any word that anybody speaks for granted, because words are seeds – and seeds never die. You may lock up a seed in a bottle for years and years, but the moment you expose it to favourable environment, it will begin to grow. Some strange actions that you are exhibiting now, may be the effect of words that you have stored up in your mind for years.
• Images: Apart from the words you hear, your thoughts can also come from the images you see – from billboards, television and real life. For example, a person may see a flashy car on the road, and that image sends an instant message to the mind. The person begins to desire to own that very car or one like it. If the desire for the car gets so strong that the person begins to think of doing anything – including crime – to get the car, that is wrong.
Another thought will arise in the person’s mind to counteract that first negative thought of doing anything to get the car. That clash of thoughts is what the battle of the mind is about. That battle would not have arisen if the person never saw the car in the first place.
You need to be careful about the things you see. Discerning parents know this, and so they do their best to control the kinds of things – especially movies – that their children see. If they notice certain images or scenes on the screen, they quickly switch off the television set or ask the children to leave the environment. That is because they do not want to expose the tender minds of their young children to information that can poison the mind.
• The Environment: The environment where a person lives, the people the person mixes with, can also influence the thoughts of the person. The environment exerts influence on the mind in two ways – the things children learn from observing their parents (or the young from the old), and the need to be like our friends (or peer pressure).
Terrorism is a big problem in the world today. Young people are joining militant groups and perpetrating all sorts of atrocities. That is because of the environmental influences controlling and shaping their minds. Lots of people have been brain-washed into actions that are inimical to their own welfare as a result of negative indoctrination. Why would a person willingly become a suicide bomber, if not for the negative indoctrination the mind of such a person has received from the environment?
Those who keep the company of smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts and peddlers or prostitutes, sometimes end up doing those same things. That is because were in environments where the friends and people they spent time with, engaged in such acts. They may have started out struggling against doing such things, but because they remained in that environment, they eventually succumbed to its negative influence.
The Nigerian society is today plagued with insecurity from the actions of Boko Haram, Killer Herdsmen, motorcycle bandits, ritual killers and kidnappers. We complain that our elections are not free and fair as a result of electoral violence, snatching of ballot boxes, and rigging of votes. Fraudsters, armed robbers, rapists, and other classes of criminals harass society on a daily basis. Some public officers loot the public treasury, greedy government officials look for means to extort money from people; cult members, gang members and thugs, look for ways to subvert the law for their own selfish interests. All these fall into the category of people who were brain-washed into making wrong choices by the environments they exposed themselves to.
What a person hears, sees, and imbibes from the environment can either nourish or poison the mind. That poisoning can be against his brother or sister, employers or job. A person’s mind can even be poisoned against his or her own self. It all depends on the kind of information that is allowed to influence the mind. A poisoned mind is a danger to the individual, the family, and the society at large.
Control your Mind by Controlling your Consciousness
If you must avoid the negative influences of words, images and the environment on your mind, you need to learn how to control your mind. The term, mind control, is often used negatively to imply brain-washing a person or getting the person to do what someone else wants.
To subdue a fierce, violent, and very angry person all you need to do is subdue his mind. In the same way a calm and gentle person who does not look capable of hurting a fly, can suddenly become wild by the messages fed into the person’s mind. If you want to provoke any kind of response in a person – whether to become wild and aggressive or mild and submissive – all you need to do is control the mind of the person.
A practical example of the importance of mind control can be seen in construction sites. Before the work of the day commences, the company assembles the workers and gives them health, security and safety induction. They do not assume that because they told the workers what they needed to know yesterday, they have no need for the information today. No! They tell them the same things over and over again. By so doing, they help to ensure that the workers are always cautious and conscious of whatever they are doing on the site. The management of the company does not toy with such daily induction. They know that without it the workers may forget what they need to know about safety on site, work procedure, and other requirements for their safety and operational success. Without such daily induction the minds of the workers could easily become occupied with other things – resulting in damage to the project with the possibility of harm to the personnel.
Despite that negative connotation associated with mind control, the fact remains that it is only by consciously controlling or grooming your mind that you can ensure that your thoughts and corresponding actions are always right. So, how can you control your mind?
To control your mind, you have to consciously stabilize your thoughts by focusing on what you really desire. In other words, it is by being conscious (hence mindful) of the right things at all times and doing your best to do them. Your consciousness helps build a wall around or control your mind, so that you do not give in to the excesses of the mind. Your consciousness helps you direct your mind aright. A mind that is not controlled by consciousness is exposed to danger. Consciousness, which breeds self-discipline, is a sure means of controlling the mind and leading it to right decisions and in the right direction.
Religious faiths and organizations across the world need to be praised for regularly engaging their adherents with programmes geared towards helping them control their minds aright. These programmes can be likened to inductions, which equip the people – small and big, rich and poor, old and young, high and low – with tools for controlling their minds.
So, religion is all about putting the mind under control so that the individual can live a life that is meaningful to self, society, and humanity.
If religion helps people control their own minds so they don’t tilt towards negative thoughts and choices, rehabilitation is one way of helping those who have derailed to once again regain control of their minds. That is why people whose minds have been captured by one addiction or the other are checked into rehabilitation homes. The aim of such rehabilitation is to expose the persons to information and environments that would help them regain control of their minds so they don’t end up lost to society and themselves.
Prisons are a type of rehabilitation centres. Prisons are not only places to punish and correct criminals, but also where they can be helped to regain right control of their consciousness so as to be able to win the battle of the mind.
Groom your Consciousness to Maturity
A person whose consciousness is alive and strong is able to caution his or herself to avoid or stay away from environments, words and images that could corrupt, pollute or poison the mind. Those who are able to control their own minds are the ones we refer to as being mature.
Mature leaders do not divulge every kind of information to their communities or followers. They know that it isn’t everyone in the community or among their followers who has the mental capacity to handle certain information. They know that giving certain information to the immature is a sure way of throwing the whole community into panic and confusion. All information is not meant for everybody.
Some information is classified and meant for only a particular person or group. There is information that the president of a country can never share with a spouse or cabinet members, much less the general public.
The thoughts of the mind in the wrong direction are responsible for all the evils around us. An assassin, for example, is a person who has consistently chosen to give in to the negative thoughts to kill people. In the same way, all the great inventions, scientific innovations, exploitation of the resources of the earth for the betterment of man, great buildings like sky-scrappers that solve man’s housing needs, are products of the thoughts of the mind in the right direction.
The world is a clash of good and evil. While the good are thinking of improving the many, the evil are consumed with thoughts of how a few can conquer the many for their own selfish ends. If the minds of the evil are not brought into control, they could do great havoc to humanity.
It is for that reason that governments, everywhere, have established security systems and laws to help control the excesses of the evil ones. Laws and security apparatus do not tell people not to commit crimes. They only show the people what awaits them if they choose to commit crime.
The law on its own does not stop a kidnapper from operating. But the kidnapper will have to face the consequences of his choice when caught. So the law, policies of state and security apparatus are designed to help citizens make the right choices, thereby controlling their minds, by becoming conscious of the consequences of their actions.
Some people have trained their minds towards being a help to society. They do their best to render assistance to others whenever they can. Initially, it’s a battle – because the natural instinct of man is self-first. It is natural for human beings to think of their own wellbeing and self-satisfaction before considering others – if they bother to consider others at all. But always putting oneself first, breeds problems for society and is not conducive for social wellbeing.
The mature ones who understand this fact fight to conquer those thoughts of selfishness in their minds and replace them with thoughts of selflessness. When they win that battle between thoughts of selfishness versus selflessness, it manifests in the altruistic and good deeds they do for others. These people strive to do good at all times.
If they serve in establishments, they serve without expecting favours from anyone, but for the betterment of the establishment and the people they interact with. If their job is to process people’s files for jobs or promotion, they do it speedily and without any inducement from the people involved.
Such people shy away from doing anything that would inflict pain on others. By persisting in doing good to others, they conquer that part of their minds that longs to be selfish, or bad towards others.
Like the good learns to conquer the negative, selfish and wrong thoughts of their minds with good thoughts; the evil also learn to conquer the positive, selfless and right thoughts of their minds with wrong thoughts.
Also, by persisting in their wrong doing they have come to love, enjoy and grow passionate in doing evil. Secretly, they may admire the good people and wish to be like them, but their minds have become clouded by their selfish and evil thoughts. They have lost the battle of the mind and degenerated to the point where their minds are totally dominated by selfishness. In fact, they no longer see themselves or their thoughts and actions as selfish. Even when the whole society frowns at their actions, they do not see what society is seeing, because they have been blinded by their evil minds.
The mind is the bargaining ground for different and opposing thoughts. The mind is always busy. Even when the body is asleep, the mind is working. It is the working of the mind when the body is asleep that we call dreams. Some dreams are extensions of the thoughts that troubled the mind while the body was awake. As the body sleeps, the mind begins to unravel those thoughts and make decisions about them, because the mind is full of activities.
Some Diseases are By-products of the Battle of the Mind
Sometimes, the battle of the mind degenerates into medical conditions that affect the body adversely. For example, when the mind of a parent is stressed and overtasked by thoughts of the waywardness of a child, it can easily result in high blood pressure in the body of the parent. Some people have developed stroke and become paralyzed because of the different thoughts and worries that clouded their minds – about business, family or finance. Others have lost their life-savings to fraudsters and suffered severe heart attacks while thinking about such losses.
These scenarios can be described as the mind exerting undue pressure, heat, tension and strain on the body. The body cracks and breaks down under such pressure. It is such crack and break down that is manifested in those different health conditions.
The body may break down, but the mind continues to think.
The physical actions we see exhibited by people are mere expressions, results of the intense battle that had raged in their minds between two different thoughts. It is after the mind has chosen a particular thought over the other that it transmits corresponding impulses, in the form of emotions, to the body for eventual manifestation.
A Provoked Mind is Dangerous
The human mind is probably the most mysterious and unfathomable thing after God. That is why we say the mind is deep. It is the mind of a selfish person that motivates him to take actions that hurt other people or make them angry.
When a person tells you that he or she is not happy or angry with you, never take such a word lightly. Do everything you can to make peace with the person. You do not know the depth to which the mind of the person is willing to go to seek redress. It is cheaper to drop your pride and engage in peace dialogue with a person you have hurt than to go about with the mentality that they cannot do anything to you. The mind is unsearchable.
In May 2020, another wave of Black Lives Matter protests hit the United States of America and the world at large. This followed the senseless killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in the process of arresting Mr. Floyd.
Two police men already had the unarmed black man handcuffed and pinned to the ground, when one of the officers pressed his knee down on the neck of the black man, choking him. Mr. Floyd kept begging the police to lift him up, saying, “I can’t breathe”. Yet the officer who had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck ignored his plea and continued to exert pressure on the knee until George Floyd died.
That police man was motivated to his actions because his mind probably told him nobody would do anything against him because of his uniform and status as a law enforcement officer. He was wrong. His action provoked the minds of so many people, leading to clashes between the people and police in which some police officers were killed, police stations were set on fire, and thousands of people took to the streets of major US cities and countries across the world in protest against the continued racial discrimination of blacks by white law enforcement officers.
Who are you suffocating by your selfish actions? The pains your actions are inflicting on them might provoke them to counter measures if you are not careful.
When you are hurting people and they don’t retaliate, do not think that it is because they are afraid of you or that they are cowards. No! Rather, their calmness is because they have not been pushed to the point where they can no longer tolerate you or control themselves. When you persist in mounting pressure on them, eventually you will drive them to the point where they lose their mind and damn the consequences. At that point they will certainly retaliate. And often, that retaliation can be very disastrous for you.
Some people cannot tolerate. The moment you hurt them, they get back at you immediately. Some of such people can go as far as personally committing murder or hiring assassins to kill those who hurt them. Sometimes for things that may even appear trivial.
Whatever the case and whoever you are, when you do something to someone and they tell you that you have hurt them, let that statement serve as a warning to you. Quickly look for ways to make amends and pacify them. Put aside your pride and make peace with the person, because you don’t know what their mind is capable of. Don’t think that the other person can do nothing against you because of your power, money or position.
History is full of accounts of great generals, political leaders, kings and presidents who – despite the sophisticated security apparatus and military might under their command – were assassinated by ordinary, harmless-looking people who felt aggrieved by the actions of such great people and were driven to counter actions by their minds. Wives have killed husbands and husbands have killed wives. Children have risen against parents and parents against children. Friends have killed friends. It all depends on the minds of the people involved.
So, if you have been arrogantly oppressing others, hurting them and getting away with it, don’t think that the other person lacks the ability to do anything against you. They are merely tolerating you because they have not taken it to mind or conceived the thought to kill or hurt you.
Don’t push them to the wall!
Make it a habit to expose yourself to only the right words and words that will stimulate your mind positively. Discipline yourself to make sure that you take only the right images into your mind. Surround yourself with people, books, messages that will feed your mind with positive information.
You may have to tune off some TV stations, block some Internet sites, exit from some social media platforms, and dissociate from some friends in order to save your mind from exposure to negative and damaging information. Do it quickly!
Remember, every battle has a winner and a loser. It is usually the side with the best strategy and superior weapons that wins. If you are going to win the battle of the mind and become a person who adds to the progress and greatness of your society and nation, you will have to adopt strategies and build up a mental arsenal that will ensure that you constantly feed your mind with the right information, while blocking out wrong ones.
If you must win the battle of the mind, therefore, you must be committed to nurturing your mind with the right information from what you hear, see and your environment.
Right information nourishes your mind. A well-nourished mind produces right thoughts. Right thoughts will stimulate right choices. Right choices lead to right emotions. Right emotions will activate right actions. Right actions build up society.
Winners are those who make it a habit of always producing right actions – and I know you have all it takes to be a winner!
*HRH (Dr) Appolus Chu is the Egbere Emere Okori and Oneh Eh Nchia, Eleme