Happy Mother’s Day!
Last week I said observe your thoughts, dispassionately, as a witness, and the gaps between thoughts will expand, and as you abide in the gaps, you will see more clearly.
The questions which come up of course are don’t I need my thoughts? How can I function without thoughts? Who am I without thoughts? I like thinking.
But this is more thinking, more analyzing. Look inside. Who is asking these questions?
A few years ago, after decades of depression and anxiety and addictions, in a period of pain, I was open, and the teachings of Eckhart Tolle made sense, in a way they had not on prior readings. I am lucky—the mind I have is highly intellectually resistant, but at that time life was painful enough that I was open.
Rather than analyzing and categorizing and labeling and trying to understand, what if you go beyond that? The mind wants to categorize, and say this is thought and this isn’t. This is mind and this isn’t. But it is the mind trying to do all this understanding, when the mind cannot understand this. The mind knows how to compare, analyze, label, and categorize. It doesn’t know how to go beyond itself.
There was talk about the ego as well. There is already a lot said about the ego, and it’s confusing. I look at the ego very simply as the changing beliefs we have about “me”. From an early age, we react to what happens. We embody these reactions. These stored reactions add up to give us complex preferences and aversions and the sense of “me.”
As we take on more definitions of “me”, we become more rigid and more constrained. This is one way in which egos develop.
What if we examined these beliefs and definitions? I don’t mean examine them in a psychological way. That’s hard and circular. What if we witnessed with clear, natural, innate, effortless awareness?
This is what observing thoughts is about. We first observe thoughts. We experience the gaps in thinking. We understand what it means to witness with clear awareness. We witness the voice of thought. We witness thought-stories. We soon realize we can witness emotions too.
And it gets more and more subtle. We witness the sense of “me.” It may be a strange thing to hear that the sense of “me” is false, because it is so prevalent and so unquestioned—even the smartest people on earth have this abiding sense of “me.” We can go on to examine deeper—am I the mind? Am I the body? Who am I?
The word “examine” is wrong, because it implies a difficult, intellectual analysis. This is an easy, effortless, innate looking. Well, it will be effortless—in the beginning it might not be.
Notice that to observe thoughts you need to rest. You need to go inside, breathe out, with relief. You need some peace to observe. You might not have this peace in the beginning, and so observing feels hard.
Allow the questions and doubts. Observe them. With a smile.
It’s simpler than I say it here. Just be present, observe, witness. The effort of it will go away.