Stop thinking… now stop it… just stop it… stop thinking. See you can’t do it…
The Awakening of the Thinking Machine
Please, carry out a simple, nonetheless astonishing experiment:
Take a watch or a stopwatch, and decide that you are not going to think for a while, as long as you are able to do so! Well, how long has it taken until the first thought slipped into your mind? 5-10 seconds? Are you able to avoid thinking for minutes?
You will be astonished: you are incapable of not thinking. Thinking takes place, it happens to you. The thoughts thinks you, and it is not you who thinks it. You do not do it at will (if it depended it on your will, you could simply avoid thinking), and you are unable to suppress thinking or keep it under control.
We are proud of capable of thinking, as this is what elevates us above the animal kingdom, and our personal identity is also rooted in our thoughts to a large extent. Philosopher René Déscartes declared ”I think, therefore I am.” But is this really thinking that makes us what we are? Would we exist if we did not think?
If we devote some time to monitoring our thoughts, we soon realize that thoughts in our mind keep shifting and changing: a thought appears, then it vanishes, and is replaced by another thought, linked, associated to the previous one–that is how thoughts stream continually, without a stop. Where is this vast stream of thoughts coming from, how has that stream become the foundation of our identity?
The Unconscious Deep Programs of the Mind
When we come to this world as newborn babies, we do not have thoughts, we only have an unconsciously experienced uniform experience. From that, the world of forms and shapes gradually unfolds and, with the help of the language, we learn to categorize our experiences, to put them into conceptual pigeonholes. ”She is mother, that is a tree, and this here is a house.” The language appears, and together with it, the thoughts.
As small children we are extremely open to the outside world, we want to know all about it, we want to conquer it. But we have very little experience in connection with the world, so we apply to the adults around us: parents and teachers. The adults are pleased and willing to tell us how the world works–that is, the way they perceive the world, with their own eyes and in their own beliefs. We are fed partial, fragmented pieces and bits of information, and that is what we devour and believe without hesitation–the program of a system of beliefs.
These explanations run like some sort of programs in the child’s mind. Children are willing to accept unconditionally what they hear from the adults, who are, in a child’s mind, authorities like a God or a sorcerer. Children believe that in this way they will be able to understand the world around them. Parents, kindergarten nurses, teachers, the priests of the congregation and later politicians–who were previously programmed by their own parents, teachers, priests and politicians in a similar manner– form ideas in the children’s minds that are presented as unquestionable truths. These ideas are fixed in the subconscious parts of our minds as a complex system of beliefs that are built upon each other as complementary elements and determine how we see the world and how we act in it.
The beliefs function as hypnotic programs in the computer of the mind, and we are hardly able to resist them. What I have already believed, what is a part of my own ideas, is something that I do not question, that is ”my own truth” and I live my life according to those truths. Our beliefs and convictions are like programs running automatically in the hardware of a computer.
These systems of beliefs that have been installed into us will then do strange things to us. As these are usually unconscious rules, they tend to largely inhibit our creativity. Our beliefs clearly determine what we should think and do and how we should think and do that. I cannot do this, I should not do that, I should not be thinking like that, and must not feel this etc.
A number of the programs are “good” and ethical, as these prevent the impulsive and aggressive outbursts of the Ego, the small ”Self” but, unfortunately, most of the programming is harmful, since these systems of beliefs make us predictable and easy to control.
The Phantom who Lives in Us and Says that it is Us
It is important to understand that during most of our life we are asleep, we live in deep narcosis. Even when our eyes are open, we are still in the dreams of our thoughts, in the imaginary world of our desires and fears, and we are no fully aware of the depths of the present moment. The pure space of Consciousness is shrouded with the clouds of more and more thoughts, the thoughts are joined with emotions, and the thoughts and emotions develop into intricate systems of beliefs which, in the end, cover up the entire space of Consciousness–keeping it in a narcosis, in the narcosis of the systems of beliefs until the end of the person’s life.
Inside the Consciousness a condensed core of thoughts is generated: the Ego, a phantom that does not even have an existence of its own. It is but a mere idea, which calls itself ”ME!” Through self-observation and meditation you are able to look beyond thoughts, in search of your thinking Self, and you are surprised to find that the voice chattering in your head is not somebody, it does not have an existence of its own, it is just a bundle of the systems of beliefs and the emotions connected to these.
Expressions like “my religion,” “my tribe,” “my country,” “my faith,” or “my principles” indicate how deeply we identify with some sort of a system of beliefs. So much so that we do not even know who is ”I,” because we fully identify with a role, with the ideological mask we are wearing.
Waking up from the Hypnotic Dream
It is worth monitoring our thoughts. At all times and under every circumstance. Especially when we need to make a decision in an apparently important issue. We then may observe that though we make a seemingly rational decision, the decision is in fact based upon the systems of beliefs petrified in us. We cannot speak about free will and freedom when we are the captives of some dogma: it is the dogma that makes the decision. For us and instead of us!
Let us make a habit out of examining our thoughts! Let them emerge, and let us contemplate them peacefully–but keep a little distance from them. We should not believe our thoughts, we should not believe in the absolute truth of our thoughts. We must realize that they are only the ”tentacles” of the systems of beliefs that wind themselves around us and eventually strangle us. Free ourselves from the obligation of confusing our systems of beliefs with absolute truths.
Watch carefully our thoughts, derived from our beliefs, and notice that they keep us in some sort of a dazed state, a hypnosis. Once we have experienced that, we are free to wake up from a hypnosis of thousands of years.
Unleash the self-inhibiting beliefs in order to–finally!–allow Life, the Miracle emerge in us and through us.
Consciousness: the Ultimate Mystery
Have you ever been thinking about what is hiding behind your eyes, contemplating the world through your eyes? Who is experiencing its environment through your body? Who is that knows your emotions and thoughts?
Tasting a Newly Discoverable State of Consciousness
Have you ever been thinking about what is hiding behind your eyes, contemplating the world through your eyes? What is the thing that is experiencing its environment through your body? What is the thing that knows your emotions and thoughts? Please, in this very moment turn your attention to the intellect, awareness reading these lines! Watch the observer hiding in you!
What you may find is an existing, real ”something,” and not some abstract metaphysical concept, new age-, esoteric or religious-dogmatic thing that you must believe in. You do not need to believe in it, as it is there in everybody as an alert, intelligent space. It is possible to experience it directly.
This is a new concept that has so far escaped our attention. This is, in fact, the only existing dimension into which the objects and forms of the external world are projected, and that is where we experience our bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts, which are no more than the phenomena of this dimension.
There are basically three–entirely different–states of consciousness:
*The ordinary state of consciousness, which is unaware of the space in which patterns and forms (an image of the world, thoughts, emotions and feelings) appear. This is our everyday consciousness, when we are submerged in forms and shapes – in the contents of the consciousness
*The state of identifying with the pure consciousness, free from forms and shapes. Initiated, mystic or spiritual disciplines call this state ”divine.”
*The experience of completeness, which is equally aware of the domain of forms and shapes and the space-like consciousness.
Space as a Reality which is Hard to Understand
We do not sense the space in which the forms appear, since our attention is diverted by our identification with the forms, the emotions and thoughts. Our like or dislike of various forms prevents us from experiencing the space, where forms and shapes appears. We are abandoned in the play of the actors so much that the stage as such ceases to exist for us.
It is a familiar experience that while we are watching a movie that we find exciting, we tend to forget that it is only a movie, a virtual reality. We are so deeply involved in the magic of the images that we experience intensive emotions: we shed tears when the protagonist dies, though all this is just an illusion. The only real thing is the movie screen.
Relax, and release all thougths and emotions whirling in you.
Look around! Look at the objects surrounding you. With your eyes, scan all the objects in your environment and take notice of them. Then concentrate on the empty space separating the objects! Sense the ”no-thingness” between the objects, the space in which the objects appear. Sense as the objects emerge from the space. Watch for the space!
It appears to be a simple exercise but sometimes we encounter unexpected difficulties. Although we are intellectually aware that objects exist in a space, we are still unable to focus on the space itself, as we consider space as an emptiness, as nothing. As reasonable creatures, we cannot comprehend the concept of ”nothing” (no thing). We believe that space is ”nothing,” and we do not pay attention to the ”nothing,” to the non-existent, though we are aware that space must exist. If space did not exist, objects would be scattered on each other, and we would not be able to separate and identify them. This very gap between things, this spaciousness enables the objects to appear separately, and this is the way we are able to take notice of the objects around us.
Our culture recognizes material, substance the only existing reality, and places material into the focus of its attention. Everything material is important for us, and what is not of material nature will be ignored. Our conscious attention is directed towards material, and space around the material is considered as non-existent. It is, however, space in which all creatures appear, it is the silence on the surface of which sounds dance, and Consciousness in which thoughts, emotions and images of the world appear.
There is no form without space and there is no space without forms–forms appear in space, and every form exists in a surrounding space. That is what Buddha asserts in the famous Heart Sutra: “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”
The Miracle of Space
Once we are able to concentrate on the gap, space between the objects, a strange change of state of consciousness takes place in us. We experience the same emotion as we do when we concentrate on the attention hiding inside us.
You identify with the thing your attention is focusing on.
Before concentration, all observed, experienced things are of material nature: solid furniture, our own solid body; we only sense things that are manifested–we are deeply involved in the material world and all its details: the mutual transformation of things and phenomena into each other.
Once we are able to concentrate on our own attention or on the space between the objects, our state of consciousness changes, and we have a peculiar experience that challenges all our previous systems of beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
We experience an entirely new dimension of our self, and this dimension is in fact an ancient, undescribable, intelligent, living, endless space, an emptiness, in which bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts as well as material objects appear and vanish, like the waves on the surface of the ocean.
We know that it exists, it is the one and only Life, and at the same time it is the essence in us we call ”I” (The ”I am” sensation). It exists as an ancient, living empty space, a Consciousness conscious of its own existence that comprises everything. Nothing exists outside it, and everything that exists is born inside it: within its space and as its own manifestation.
This state is characterized by tranquillity, deep silence, peace and all-permeating love. We know that this mysterious ”something” is beyond time, it does not have a beginning and end, it was never born and it will never die. If there are no forms and shapes inside it, it will not be conscious of itself, it simply, ”passively” exists, in a sort of dreamless sleep.
Once it has created forms and shapes, it will awake to the existence of the forms and, as it recognizes itself as the creator of the forms and shapes, it will awake to its own existence, too.
It creates forms and shapes in Its own space, in the space of the Consciousness. It permeates the forms and appears as life in them, and plays the role and life of the forms. Once the form has been used up and is no longer suitable for the one and only Life to live Its life through it and experience Itself through that particular form, the Life sheds the form and assumes a new one to experience itself in a different form. The more forms it identifies with, the more experience it gathers about its own individual characteristics.
It is most easily approached through paradoxical statements, like: It exists and is still beyond existence. Only It exists, the forms coming into being in It are all transient and, as they are temporary, transient, they are in fact but illusions.
It is more difficult to describe It in traditional concepts: it is not possible to learn anything about It; we are only able to exprience It in a direct way. Perhaps that is why Jewish mysticists said that it is not possible to pronounce God’s name, and that is why the commandment of the Christians says, ”Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
Buddha never spoke about God, because he was sure that once he had called It God, his followers would identify It with beliefs and concepts they create about God. The one and only existing ”something”–which remains a mystery forever–the human mind is unable to comprehend as It is beyond comprehension:
It is the knower of all thoughts, the mysterious Consciousness.
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