Saturday, February 13, 2016

"But I'll Die If I Stop Thinking!"

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Here in the US there used to be a TV show called, “Kid’s Say the Darnedest Things.” I’m thinking maybe we could introduce a similar new show, only with adults as the focus instead of kids. Because adults unwittingly say some absurd and humorous things, too.

For example: Picture the average mature, rational, intelligent, grown-up as he or she says:

"But I’ll die if I stop thinking!"

I know. Right? How outlandishly comical is that?

…You don’t get it, do you? Let me explain…

A Thoughtless Insight

Folks… You are not your thoughts. You are not your thoughts, and I can guarantee that you will not die if you stop thinking. Indeed, should you choose to even so much as pause your thinking process, it may well be one of the few times in your whole life up to this point that you will actually, consciously, experience life!

Because, notice, we’re thinking all the time. Yet this thinking is not even about, say, calculating the supply and demand of resources for feeding the world’s starving millions. This thinking is more on the lines of complaining to ourselves about Tuesday’s unexpected visit by Aunt Jane while we’re in the midst of buying groceries on Friday.

Are you really going to tell me, can you really tell me in all honesty, that you’re going to die if you stop thinking? No, you won’t die if you stop thinking about Aunt Jane, nor in the rare case are you going to die if you stop thinking about how to save the planet.

This is made all the more humorous by the fact that you believe you’ll die if you stop thinking yet rarely if ever in your life have you dedicated conscious, steady attention to your heart beat, your breathing, or the breakdown of food proteins into distinct amino acids—all these mission critical things you’ve never paid a moments mind to yet you’re still here. It’s a miracle!

”I Am My Thoughts”

Another equally false (and absurd) idea along these lines shows up in the phrase:

It’s who I am.

What is “it’s”?

My thoughts. I am my thoughts, so my thoughts are “who I am.”

If you are your thoughts, you wouldn’t have the ability to change unless acted upon by an involuntary, internal thought force. (Or an external thought force, for you folks familiar with ELF waves and mind control. But that’s kind of impertinent here.) Your thoughts would define exactly who and what you are and how your experience of life presents itself in any given moment. If your thoughts changed, then there would necessarily be a corresponding shift in your speech, behavior, and perspective. You would have zero free will.

Yet, while the aforementioned will seem true more or less regularly, have you not had thoughts with which you’ve not engaged or taken action in regard to? Further: If what you truly are is the thoughts you think, how would you ever even know that there is something other than what you are thinking in any given moment? If in all moments you are fully identified with, if in fact you are, exactly what you are thinking?

I do acknowledge (and as I note just below), we do get quite involved in our thinking at times. No matter, most of us "merely" wade into the state of lunacy; we are not actually engulfed in it full-time.

Involuntary Information

We can look, too, at the involuntary nature of thoughts. They just seem to pop up unrequested. Like why the hell do you care about Aunt Jane while you’re busy at the supermarket trying to figure out whether you want to buy the blueberry waffles or the waffles with sprinkles?

While on one hand, yes, why the hell would you care? On the other hand, when these Aunt Jane thoughts come up and push your past-experience frustration triggers, don’t you regularly lose your train of thought? Don’t you give the thoughts attentive, supportive energy… which is to say that on some level you do care… only to get to the checkout register and realize as you’re emptying out your cart: Oh. Blueberry waffles. I thought I got the sprinkled ones?

Of this involuntary nature, it seems thoughts just happen, that we have no control or direction over them. They’re just there and generally all the same; same color, different hue.

In a way this is true, but it’s mostly true simply because we’re engrossed in “my thoughts, who I think I am.”

Sure, your thoughts are just there and, sure, your thoughts are basically the same all the time. But they’re only this way because you have done nothing to consciously change your experience in regard to them.

There are no good reasons whatsoever—only the 14 million bad subconscious ones you’ve made up in fear and false belief—that you have to attach to, follow, or agree with any of the trillions of random thought forms that will occur to you during the course of your lifetime.

Even better is that not only can you reduce both the number of thoughts and the off-centering impact they have on you, but you can even change them. The latter of which is not to say that you change the thoughts—you don’t—so much as you alter the mental filter settings which determine the level of rationality of the thoughts that do pass through into your awareness.

Which means, thankfully, that even though Aunt Jane has been pestering you since you were 9 years old—you’re now 50, by the way—that she need not pester you to your (or her) grave.

Aligning with Conscious Awareness

Throughout our lives we change things. Maybe our hobbies, our preferred political party, our hair color, or whatever. So change is possible; this change necessarily prompted either by an altered mindset or a deeper impulse (the latter of which implies the former).

Within this change lies two possible paths—the path of false change and the path of true change. More or less:
  • False change, no matter how true it may seem to us, is something like changing ones political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Both sides are based in dualistic, us-vs-them thinking, so there’s never a true touching down on a solid, reality-founded surface.

  • True change, though when we move this way its reasoning may be unconscious to us, is something like having a desire to listen to more peaceful music after a lifetime of listening to hate-fueled death metal. We make the active decision to listen to something new because something within us, something ever so subtle and still, is calling out for this change to occur. There’s no duality about it, for the drive arises from deeper within. This may come as a felt urge rather than with any specific thoughts.

This true change can only occur if we are something—or, at the very least, have access to something—beyond anything we might believe to be “who I am”… the “who I am” that we’ve now clarified as being naught more than a discordant stream of limiting nonsense.

What we need to be on the lookout… Pardon me… Let me restart…

What we need to be on the lookin for is a “something” without thought; “something” neutral, innocuous. This “something” would be foundational, having the nature of still, silent observation. It is “something” that is immutable and can see the endless change of life and the countless thought forms without ever engaging in them. This “something” is recognition without attachment, an eternal witness.

We can call this “something,” Conscious Awareness.

Access is simple: Place your attention on the space between your thoughts.

That’s it. (You won’t keel over dead. I promise.)

Because it’s only when we settle our mind into the background of life which is ever-present, real, and unchangeable that we can get a clear perspective of who we truly are.

I am still, therefore I am.

“I think, therefore I am,” said Descartes.

Such is the trouble with much of Western philosophy: too many thoughts and not enough space between them; fuel for the mind to spin its wheels endlessly and aimlessly rather than fuel for the enlightenment of mankind.

But there is someone who had it right. Said he: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, yet whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)

We have no sight of who we truly are because we’re lost in fabricated identities. We believe incorrectly that whatever thoughts they are we’re attaching to as “who I am” are simply validating an absolute truth.

This is just not so.

It’s thus only when we allow ourselves to begin dying to the “who I am,” it's only when we begin detaching from unconscious thought and acknowledging our inner conscious space, that we can really begin to learn who and what it is we truly are.

And of the comical absurdity of, "But I’ll die if I stop thinking!" Yeah. We'll get that, too.

Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 4/19/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

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