It is evident, that our human society worships and supports our best thinkers. We can clearly observe that those we hold in the highest esteem are people who, through a variety of means, have learned to think better than others and so have become successful in one way or another. There are countless examples of this but to name a few there are doctors, professors, clergymen, lawyers, CEOs, writers… the list is long and ever changing as human beings continue to evolve. Yet these dynamic authority figures often, perhaps very subtly, perpetuate perspectives that are motivated by greed, the need to dominate, the drive to attain personal gain at the cost of others and myriad other misplaced and myopic stimuli. Though these impulses, often fueled at their root by a revered basic animalistic survival instinct, have been the basis for much progress and success in the human arena, they have also been the cause of much mischief in the form of minor to catastrophic and cataclysmic events and processes.
We can see by looking all around us that though these superior thinkers have created much that has benefited mankind in general, they have also equally created an inordinate amount of pain and suffering along the way. From this we can extrapolate the notion that though the results of our current approach to thought has many benefits, along with them, almost as byproducts, comes a destructive side. This negative result of thought is as integral to it as are its positive outcomes. In this statement lies a key to the basic nature of thought… it is dualistic. By its very nature it renders a balance of gain and loss that is impossible to avoid. A quintessential example of this is the scientific discovery that opens up new dimensions of understanding and benefit; quantum physics for example, but at the same time is used as an extremely destructive weapon… a nuclear bomb. Such is the nature of thought as we use it today.
Thought is not innately evil nor is the root of all despair in the world today. However, it is the way we, as human beings, employ it in our moment to moment experiences that allows its dualistic nature to dominate our lives and so everything around us. Our approach to thinking has become a deeply conditioned response to the environment of our lives. This way of responding to our life situations has been passed down through countless generations, usually not consciously… but instead by example. Quite unknowingly, we show our children how we react to the events we experience as our lives unfold. These ways of reacting are taught to us not only by our parents but also by the society in which we exist. This cycle has been taking place since the beginning of human existence. So it is no wonder that the fixated hold that this methodology of thought has over us is so powerfully engrained in our lifestyles. It is so deeply integrated into our lives that we can barely realize that there is even a question that arises from its existence. Beyond that, if the question were to arise, the idea of being able to transcend it is seemingly beyond the realm of reality.
A quality of this dualistic thought process, which we nearly unquestioningly and unequivocally employ, is its self-perpetuating nature. Thought, because it is limited to itself as the only way to approach life in general or any problem specifically, considers it practically inconceivable that it may be the limitation that is now keeping us from making the next leap in human evolution. It is nearly impossible for thought to conceive of the idea that it is of itself a problem. We have been ignorantly conditioned to know, without the slightest doubt, that any time things become difficult we need to calm down and “think” about the situation. Any time we are faced with a major decision, we need to “think” deeply about it lest we make a mistake. In this way, the need to think and the worship of superior thinking has passed through the ages. Yet, once again, the dualistic nature of thought dictates that it is as intrinsic to mistakes as it is to success… both occur as a result of the same action. So thinking about something that is important to us is to limit the subsequent decision made about it to yet another action in the long stream of the humanistic success/failure paradigm.
Thought is quite limited. It is limited to that of which it can conceive. Through experience we all realize that we can only sense a small portion of that which is happening all around us through our physical senses. We can augment our physical senses with devices, such as a telescope, which proves this out. We cannot see many of the objects in the night sky though they are there, unless we augment our sense of sight with the telescope. This is a single example of a multitude of them that we are aware of and there are many of which we cannot begin to conceive. Thought is very much like this. We can use computers to augment our thinking, which has been a major leap forward for mankind, but thought is nonetheless limited to its own realm of understanding. There is much more occurring than it can conceive of and yet we put all of our faith in the results it can achieve.
Is there an alternative to this ancient and archaic approach to problem solving? There are few, if any, schools teaching anything except the development of the intellect. Is it a possible alternative that thought could be used exclusively as a very powerful tool; one that we use as a way to augment activities? Is it possible for it to step down from its current throne as a cruel dictator? It is suggested here that only when this thinking mind becomes cognizant of the fact that it is a limiting factor in consciousness, and so releases its control over our decision-making, that true intelligence is possible.
Is it possible for the mind to simply and freely be aware and yet suspend judgment born of thinking? Is it possible to be aware of any circumstance one might experience and act as required without the need of the thinker within? There are many minor examples of this action. One example is that of the athlete who is playing the game simply reacting and moving with the flow… it has been termed “being in the zone”. No thought is occurring… just moving… Certainly, artists speak about being unaware of the passing of time while intensely working on a project. In both cases, and many others like them, unusually high levels of performance always accompany this detachment from normal consciousness. Afterwards, looking back, one is often surprised about what was accomplished and to the normal thinking mind it seems to have been a nearly inconceivable accomplishment; one that cannot be explained rationally. So is it possible to live one’s life permanently in the zone? Could this be referred to as enlightenment? It is suggested here that the state of mind that is free of the domination of thought is one that is moving toward an enlightened state of being.
But what is enlightenment? Is it simply a state of being that is free of thought and so open to an awareness not impeded by it? It is not an accomplishment that one arrives at and then can claim. There is no trophy for enlightenment short of that provided by thought, which is the very ending of said enlightenment. Instead it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment decision to quiet the mind and to extend an awareness of the present moment beyond any thoughts about it. This state of heightened awareness is capable far beyond any thinking mind because of the freedom from the inherent limitations of thought. From this stance the dualistic success/failure paradigm has ended and the focus is purely upon action. It is suggested here that freedom from thought is the burgeoning of true love and compassion. There is no “me” when thought is removed as the focus. There is only action.
Fear is the most destructive force in the human experience. It is very near the root of all forms of mischief. It is also a product of the thinking mind. Thought, as referred to here, is not simply the level of internal dialog that is a prevalent and dominant factor in the human condition, it goes much deeper than that. The internal dialog is the constant chatter that is happening in ones mind. Have you ever sat still for a few moments and simply allowed the mind to do what it does and observed it without judgment? In the observation of its activity, the mind will often become still. In this stillness, there is no fear, which is a product of the thinking mind. Over long periods of time, thought, that is allowed to dominate ones consciousness unchecked, snowballs into innumerable layers of confusion… as one subsequently becomes increasingly unconscious. These multiple layers of thought are the focus here. Psychoanalysis is the action of digging into the snowball looking for answers and solutions. The misconception is that it is beneficial to do so but it is more like fighting fire with fire. It does not cool the heat of psychological trauma. To believe that using thought to fix thought is a misconception of epic proportion. One could wander the nearly endless layers of the continually growing snowball of thought for a lifetime and never unravel it. Only through stillness, through the ending of thought, can one end the fear within.
One might rationalize that thought must be used to cancel thought in order to end it. As stated earlier, it is only when this thinking mind becomes cognizant of the fact that it is a limiting factor in consciousness, and so releases its control over our decision-making, that true intelligence is possible. This might seem to suggest that one is using thought to cancel itself but it is awareness that is the decision maker here.
Let’s point at awareness right now. First, take a moment and breathe… slow down for just a short time… Now notice that awareness is the aspect of oneself that is aware of thought. Can you focus your attention on that aspect of yourself? It is that quiet part of yourself that is aware of you… In so doing, thought is quieted and awareness comes to the forefront. It is such a relief to let go the tortuous reign of the domination of thought… if only for a few moments. In the beginning of such a journey it can be seen as a way to recharge oneself. But as it becomes increasingly familiar and prominent in ones life, it is soon realized as a natural and permanent state of mind. From this open door one moves into the light beyond which description is rendered invalid.