Out of all the senses we experience, it is very strange and interesting that we are most of the time only aware of only one of them. Perhaps we subconsciously know that it is that powerful, and yet we are oblivious or ignorant to its power.
Our life is run by our belief systems and these belief systems create thoughts. These thoughts are the very source of which determine our experiences from moment to moment when we buy into them; whether we are happy, miserable, angry, frustrated, stressed and etc. Yet, letting them flow in and out like a passing-by train, there is a peace and stillness that can be experienced within.
And people say, “Don’t think so much”. Is that possible? Thinking is a function of the mind, much as breathing, seeing, hearing, smelling and all other functions that can be derived from the mind. Thinking is happening all the time, and it is not that we ‘think’, it just happens. Sure, there are skills to still the mind, which is necessary at some point in time for a respite at least for us; much like breathing; through ability and practice; one can choose to stop breathing for a while, but how long can that ‘stopping’ lasts before we run out of breath and grasp for air again?
Of course, there is such thing as conscious ‘thinking’ in the form of ‘doing’ as in the wilful choice of performing the function of thinking rather than being ‘thought’ as nature does its thing. But how can we stop thinking, unless we divert its attention elsewhere from a subject that we don’t want to think about onto another subject; still, isn’t that thinking too? Some may experience that even when doing an activity where thinking stops for a while; it comes back eventually. Yes, in fact malicious if I might add… but simply nature.
And we are most disturbed by it – the thoughts I mean. Disturbed here is to be effected by it. They are never-ending and depending on its subjective theme, we are somehow dragged along with it as in our experiences caused by it.
Take an example, if the thought says, I love you – my feelings and actions will exactly manifest aftermath as me moving closer to you, touching you, lovingly thinking of you all the time resulting my experience within me directing my attention to you. But if the thought says, I don’t love you – my feelings and actions will exactly manifest aftermath too as me moving away from you, resenting you, finding fault with you and probably justifying why you don’t deserve my love also resulting my experiences within me making you as a target. It is not a conscious choice, at least not to one who has not questioned his or her thoughts or able to see the meaninglessness of these thoughts hence we become like puppets on strings, unable to get out of its grip.
We are indeed perturbed by our thoughts from time to time and that comes from thinking. Can we stop thinking? In my experience, only during interval times. But how many interval times can we have? Does that tantamount to running away thus not allowing it (as in the thoughts) to complete its run? The thing is – is it necessary to even let it complete its dance? If there is no will or inclination to do anything, as in changing thoughts and then do nothing; at least, not yet. My take is to observe and yet not identify with it. It is vital to check the intention of changing thoughts too though that is very much encouraged by some teachers as, if the attitude to do so is to ‘run’ away from the nightmare these thoughts produce, then we can be sure that we cannot run far from it as the underlying intention is still based on the initial pattern of fear. When we are staying present to ourselves regardless the mental state, we are already having some form of ‘control’ of state of the mind, as in not reacting to it thus not allowing it to be projected in the outer reality.
There are only two patterns in which the mind runs for experiences to manifest – love or fear. Although the manifested action may seem to be the same but it is the experience of it that differs. No wonder the Buddha stresses much on the middlepath, with equanimity and peace as its underlying.
As much as we derive our experiences from thoughts and the other senses of the mind, it is important to recognise that it is only happening within us. Although two people may conclude that their experiences are the same but they, or rather we, can never know what it is exactly like in those moments of experiences by both of them. Being able to recognise that, we may see glimpses of how unreal or illusionary our experiences are, as if in a dream. By then, the choice becomes the matter of staying present to these experiences in the mind or changing our experiences of it by switching of thoughts not so much as to run away or to deny these thoughts, but to be masters of it – the mind.