It’s simple: a man’s gotta pry and keep his mind open. All the time. This is difficult and dangerous. It’s like setting up a trap: the smallest mistake, one second of loosing focus and it snaps, potentially causing considerable damage.
It would be more accurate to say that it’s not the mind but the character that is such a trap. Its strength has been built up over a lifetime. It’s almost impossible to escape it. It attracts and repels based on its own rules; and forces man to obey these rules inertly. Controlling him. Practically owning him. The mind is the tool to keep it open and this requires tremendous effort.
Why do it? Because if we don’t doesn’t , we remain slaves to it; we can only save our pride by identifying with it, making ourselves believe that we are actually the character itself. This slavery makes all intelligent men unhappy. Let’s face it: less intelligent men maybe even proud of their characters; and this void, this lack of intelligence really comes forth, leaves a visible mark on the face, a “brand” so to speak.
Now what can we do in practice about keeping the character in check?
Big thinkers wrote volumes about this, so here I just mention a mundane, every day example:
A listens to B explaining an idea. A happens to dislike B and doesn’t buy it.
Two weeks later A hears the same idea from C; A happens to like C and buys the idea. Just like in the previous occasion he let his character blur his vision, preventing him from listening with clarity and make decisions neutrally.
Not only is his judgment in both cases “under influence”, his character also slowed him down: his likes and dislikes, his preferences, his accumulated beliefs, his fears, his routines.
If A managed to avoid the character trap, he’d be able to discern the value of the idea (and more importantly: ideal) itself right away. Right away is key! Right away (immediate recognition) means being aware and alert; it means dynamic.
It means free!