Thoughts are in fact, each separate on its own. But when we unconsciously hang on to a thought oblivious to another which comes along anyway, we tend to think that the subsequent thoughts and the first thought I hung on to, are all related. Very similar to an analogy of a train – each carriage is separate from one another, until someone comes along to hook a carriage with another; they become connected; to be led by an engine.
Give you a scenario:
Thought 1: I am to compensate this lady for some medical fees.
Thought 2: I would like to attend a retreat.
Thought 3: I received RMX as commission payable to me from a part time activity.
These three thoughts surfaced at different periods of time. But the arising mental states of guilt, lack and desire has led to them dancing with each other, interlinking themselves with one another, making them into a story. So it was like, I want to go to retreat, and I have RMX amount to fulfill that desire but shucks, I need to compensate this lady for her medical fees and then I would be left with not enough for the retreat. Never mind about the thoughts before, in the middle or after that. If I were to bring them in, it would not only complicate matters, but myself in writing! Hence the gist of that storyline is enough to center me in anger, frustration and confusion.
In truth, there were all separate thoughts. They had nothing to do with each other – just popping in and popping out – like bubbles in a champagne glass. And yet, the capacity of our mental states could potentially lead the mind to fabricate them into a story.
It was very peculiar when I began to observe how one thought comes up and goes away on its own without any interference from my part at all. All I had to do was just be aware, and to remain the observer. And although it may seem as if they were connected, but they are in truth, not.
My partner and I were getting ready to have some fun with each other. But a few minutes before we got into the act, I felt a little sad and told him so. After I came back from a ciggie break, I winked at him. And he asked me, “I thought you were sad?” I couldn’t stop laughing. What has my feeling sad, got anything to do with my wanting to have fun with my partner?
It is like, if I were to hold on to a thought, the rest of the thoughts that follow suit comes crashing to the first thought jumbling all of them together, making all of them relevant when they were not in the first place. They were simply on their own to begin with, as individual as they are, floating along as a carriage by itself. Until someone hooks them up together unconsciously, they like carriages fasten up with one another thus the saying – train of thoughts.
One Bhante I met recently said, “Don’t take your thoughts too seriously”, and Byron Katie says, “thoughts are impersonal” and asks, “who would we be without our stories?” How true. Until we take them (the thoughts) on as our own, there’s where and how the story starts. Do you know why we need stories? Because without them, we couldn’t be anybody, we are no one, we don’t exit. How scary could that be! But to me, no story is – peace.