THINKING TOO MUCH?
I was taught, and maybe you were too, that unhelpful thinking can be ignored, if I understood the power of Thought to create my experience.
Being the good student, I believed in this invisible power, and indeed, some of those pesky thoughts lost a bit of their reality. And maybe you experienced a quieter mind too? I even taught other people the same belief, and they found some relief as well.
But, in the background, there was something I couldn’t pin down. Why weren’t those pesky thoughts always so easy to ignore? It didn’t matter if it was an old habit, a painful trigger, or just a sensitive subject. Some days I was calm in the storm of my thinking, other days I was totally caught up in it.
“We’re only human, of course we’ll feel it sometimes, even though we understand it.” didn’t fully explain it for me. Here’s my question: do you accept that proposed paradox? Because it’s only a paradox until it’s fully explored. At which point it’s either correct or it’s not.
Exploring brought me this:
I noticed, when I wasn’t bothered by thoughts, I wasn’t particularly focused on myself—my feelings, my actions, my looks, what other people think of me. . . I was just engaged in life. But when thoughts looked real, it was all about me—how right or wrong I was, what it meant for my future, my relationships, my happiness or my success . . . everything to do with myself.
And it would be easy to see that openness or self-absorption as a result of the relationship to the thinking. But any scientist knows correlation is not causation, so what if that description was back to front? What if the self-absorption or openness came first? Certainly, when thoughts looked like my personal property (my thinking), they seemed super important. When it looked like thinking was simply occurring, I didn’t feel the same pull.
So, what is the difference?
Put simply, the ignorability of thought comes from perspective. Not a perspective from understanding thought (as I’d been taught), but the perspective on everything, based on my whole sense of identity.
Superficially, the qualities of experience–not just thought, but feeling, sensation and the perceptions of the five senses–seem to suggest somebody who does the perceiving, sensing, feeling and thinking. In other word, thought brings with it the idea of a person who experiences thinking. And, taken on face value, our sense of identity shifts to that imagined person, just as our sense of identity shifts to the dreamt self in dreaming. Dive beneath the surface, try to find the imagined person as a solid entity, and you’ll turn up empty-handed, just as we would if we tried bring objects back from a dream. Waking up, our sense of identity is simply at home. Experience is still happening, but it’s not personal.
This is known whenever seeking drops for a moment. Whenever we are lost in the beauty of a sunset. Whenever we are utterly engaged in an activity. At the end of every in-breath. Going home requires no effort, we never left. Mostly though, ego will claim the love, freedom and peace of our true nature for itself, and continue seeking. This is why we explore: to become established in the knowing of ourselves as love–so we no longer seek love, freedom and peace in the world.
In exploring, it became clear that it is pointless to try to change my relationship with thought, using thought, from the perspective of a character created by thought. What I’d known implicitly for so many years becomes explicit: the character created by thought cannot get before thought. No paradox required.