Saturday, 29 September 2012

Can we remove thoughts from the mind?

There is no huge bank of thoughts within you.  Thoughts are just going and going, one at a time, one at a time, one at a time.  If you try to do anything with them, they will go faster and faster because in your mind, there is no subtraction or division, there is only addition and multiplication.  Can you take away one thought forcefully?  Experiment and see: For the next 10 seconds, do not think about monkeys.  If you try not to think about something, only that will happen.  That is the nature of the mind. 

What is a thought? A thought is just a certain emanation, a certain surface fluctuation of the content that you hold in your mind. Your mind is like society's garbage bin; everybody that goes by stuffs something in your head. You have no choice as to what to receive and from whom. If you say "I don't like this person" you will receive much more from that person than from anybody else. Have you noticed this? If you say, "I don't want to have anything to do with that man," you will think about him more and more. The more you resist someone, the more he becomes a part of your consciousness.
If we look at your mind as a garbage bin, thoughts are like the smells that emanate. Do not understand this analogy as negative. A garbage bin is not useless; a garbage bin is very useful. Your house can do without a television and a telephone, but it cannot do without a garbage bin. If you use it when you want, if you open it and shut it when you want, it is a wonderful device. Without it, your whole house would become filthy. But if you decide to live in it, it is a horrible thing. Right now, that is all that has happened. There is nothing wrong with the content of your mind. It is better that you have all the filth in the world in your mind -- otherwise, you will walk into the filth and not know what is what. But now, you are constantly living in the mind, and it is such a torture for people. They don't know how to be out of it.
 The content of thought does not matter. If you hear the word "Buddha," you may think in terms of Gautama the Buddha. But Gautama is not the only Buddha; that was not his second name. His name was Gautama Siddhartha, and he became a Buddha. Buddhi means "intellect," or the logical dimension of your mind. Dha means "one who is above." So, one who is above his mind is a "Buddha." One who is in his mind is a nonstop suffering human being. Once you are in the mind, your suffering is inevitable. You may watch the sunset and forget your sufferings for a moment, but then you will turn back and see your fears, anxieties and troubles are right there. Once you are in the mind, there is fear and anxiety. You may get breaks here and there, but there is no release from it.
What is keeping this thought process continuously on is that you have identified yourself with things that you are not. You have identified yourself with your body, but the body is just an accumulation of food that you have eaten. Even if you own the chair you are sitting on, after some time, you will get identified with the chair. If your neighbor's child comes and scratches the polish, it will hurt deep in your heart; it will not just be a scratch on the chair. This is because you are capable of getting identified with anyone or anything that you come in touch with. Once you are identified with someone or something that you are not, the thought process is endless. It just goes on and on. It is like you have eaten very bad food, and now you have gas in your stomach. If you try to stop it, your stomach will bloat and burst. But you cannot stop it; it keeps going. Thought is just like this. You became identified with things that you are not, starting from your body, impressions that you take in, things around you and people, ideas, philosophies, slogans, etc., and now thought is an endless process. You try to do many things, but you cannot stop it. Even if you take a stick and hit the top of your head, it won't stop.
So, what can you do? Unidentify yourself with everything that you are not. Keep your house aside, keep your education aside, keep your husband aside, keep your children aside, keep your body aside, keep your mind aside, and keep your emotions aside. Care for them, take care of them, handle them -- but don't become that. If you are not identified with anything, if you are simply here, you will see there is no room for thought at all. Once you have this awareness, you will see thought is a conscious process. If you want to think, you think, otherwise there is nothing in your head, and that is how it should be. Just the beauty of emptiness.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mixup mystification of Doer

Spiritual teachings suggest that there is no doer, that there is no separate self that is the source of our actions. This teaching often causes a lot of confusion, as it is contrary to our experience. It seems that there is a doer and that I am the doer: I get up in the morning, I walk the dog, and I drive to work. How do these things happen if there is no doer? And if there is no doer, then what do I do? How do I live my life if there is no one here to live it? What do I do if there is no doer?

This confusion exists because spiritual teachings point to something that doesn’t exist in the usual way. The nature of reality can’t be described or explained with words, and it can’t be experienced through the ordinary senses. In speaking about something that can’t be spoken about, the easiest approach is often to use negation. If you can’t speak directly about something, then you’re left with saying what it is not.

So spiritual teachings contain a lot of negation: There is no self. There is no doer. The world is an illusion. Not this. Not that. Negation can be effective in pointing us away from illusions, such as the idea of me, and other false and mistaken ideas. If you take a moment to look for yourself, you discover that there is no individual self, only an idea of a self. The “I” is just an idea. So in this sense, it is accurate to say that there is no self and no doer.

However, the mind can’t conceive of or even really experience nothing. If you are experiencing something, then that is by definition not nothing. So when the mind is pointed to nothing or to the absence of a self or a doer, it makes a picture or concept of nothing and thinks about that. If we are told there is no doer, the mind makes a picture of the absence of somebody, something like an empty chair or a broom sweeping by itself.

Again, this contradicts our actual experience: There is something in the chair when I sit down in it. The broom only sweeps when I pick it up and start sweeping. So there is obviously a distortion or inaccuracy in the approach of negation. While negation does evoke a certain experience of emptiness that can be spacious and restful, it doesn’t capture the totality of reality. It leaves out our actual experience of the real world.

Another approach is the opposite: Instead of saying there is no self, there is no world, and there is no doer, we can say there is only Self, the world is all one thing, and it is this totality of existence that does everything. In other words, everything sweeps the floor and sits in the chair. If we look deeply into our experience, we can see that there is some truth to this perspective. If we trace back all of the causes of any action, we see that there are an infinite number of influences or causes for the simplest action.

For example, you may sweep the floor because your mother taught you to keep a spotless house and your dad taught you to be responsible, not to mention all the other messages you received from the culture and society about cleanliness and responsibility. Add to that all the people that influenced your mom and dad and everyone else who ever had an impact on you. And what about all the factors that led to the particular path of evolution that gave you those opposable thumbs that allow you to use a broom? If you include all the factors at play when you pick up a broom and sweep, you can see how it might make sense to say that everyone and everything is sweeping the floor. There is a doer, but it isn’t you; it is everything. And by the way, all of these factors are at work if you don’t sweep the floor. Not doing something is just another thing we do.

This approach of including more and more instead of negating everything is also a useful teaching tool. It evokes a sense of the oneness and richness of life. But again, it doesn’t capture the actual experience of an action like sweeping. If only everything would sweep my floor, then I could go take a nap. Speaking about everything as the doer of everything that is done also doesn’t capture the sense of no self that is experienced when we look within using spiritual practices such as self-inquiry.

So if it isn’t complete to say that there is no doer, and if it isn’t complete to say that everything is the doer, what’s wrong with just saying that I sweep the floor, and be done with it? For purely practical purposes, saying “I” do something is enough. But as already noted, saying “I” leaves out the many rich and complex causes of our actions, and it leaves out the absence of a separate self that we discover when we look within. It also doesn’t suggest that there’s more to this reality than meets the eye.

So we are left with a dilemma: It’s incomplete to say that there is no doer, it’s incomplete to say that everything is the doer, and it’s incomplete to say that I am the doer. It’s like a multiple choice test where all of the answers are wrong! Yet, what is it like to not have an answer? What’s it like to hold the question even when you’ve exhausted all of the possible answers?

The question of what is going on here, what is this experience of doing, can be a rich experience in and of itself. Such a question can put us more in touch with our experience than any answer can. The question invites a direct sensing of the various levels of our experience. As the broom moves across the floor, is it possible to simultaneously experience the emptiness within, the richness of the oneness of all things, and the personal actions of our particular body? Why do we have to choose one?

And what about the original question, “What do I do?” Could this also be a rich opportunity to explore all the dimensions of existence? Why does there have to be a right answer? Can the question, itself, evoke a deeper sensing of life and an endless willingness to question again and again? What do I do now? And what about now? The gift may be in the question itself, not in some final answer. Life is unfolding in ever new and different ways, so maybe only in each new moment can we discover what the everything and nothing that we are is going to do next.

There is an assumption that spiritual teachings are supposed to bring us spiritual answers, that we are supposed to finally get somewhere. But what if the point of this spiritual journey is the journey itself? What if the answers are true and relevant when they arise, but they become irrelevant in the next breath? So perhaps the question of what to do isn’t meant to ever be done with or fully answered. Letting go of the idea of a right or final answer can make the question come alive in this very moment. What are you doing right now? What is most true to do now? And then, what about now? It’s always time to ask again because it’s always a new now.

Just for this moment, find out what happens if you just allow yourself to not know what the right thing to do is, who would do it, and even if there is anything to do, or if doing even really happens. When you question that deeply, is there more or less of a compulsion to act in unhealthy or ignorant ways? Or is there a natural curiosity and sense of wonder that arises and puts you very much in touch with all of the mysterious elements that make up this particular moment? Does this curiosity lead you to rash and silly decisions, or does it allow impulses and intuitions to arise from a deeper place within your being? If you know less and less about doing, what happens next?

The gift of the deepest spiritual questions arises in the day-to-day living of life. Asking, “What do I do?” can lead you on an exploration that has no boundaries, and the journey can only start here and now. What most often limits us is our conclusions. The simple antidote is to ask another question: “What do I do when there is no doer, when everything is the doer, and when it’s also up to me to do something?”


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Why you can't CONTROL thoughts

As far as I’ve seen, nobody can stop their thoughts by thinking about not thinking. Why? Because “don’t think” is a thought. “Why am I still thinking” is another thought.

Back in the 80′s, they did a study at the University of Texas San Antonio known as the white polar bear experiment .
Psychologists wanted to see if it was possible to suppress certain thoughts.
So they had some students sit at tables with a button in front of each of them, and instructed them to sit for five minutes while thinking only of white polar bears – and to push the button every time they had a white polar bear thought.
After five minutes was up, they gave them different instructions:
For the next five minutes, you can think about anything in the world, as long as it’s not about a white polar bear. Whatever you do, the researchers said, don’t think about white polar bears.
But, if you accidentally have a polar bear thought, hit that button so we can record how many times that happens.
After the second five minutes was up, the scores were tallied.
The researchers found that when the students were not supposed to be thinking about white polar bears, they thought about them more than when they were supposed to be thinking them!
In fact, they saw that whenever students attempted to suppress their white polar bear thoughts, they began bordering on obsession – all they could think about was white polar bears.
The overwhelming conclusion: thoughts cannot be controlled .there is no you to control thoughts .