Am I in control of my thoughts?

There is no difference in being aware of a tree and being aware of a thought.

So why is it so easy to align my identity with the contents of a thought and not the condition of the tree? The tree could be beautiful or ugly, tall or short, alive or dead, sturdy or weak, and it does not affect the “I” in any way.

A thought on the other hand can be kind or harsh, pure or impure, moral or immoral, and the “I” is always drastically affected. We align our identity with the thought and then cast judgment upon it. This judgment will either make us want to hold on to that thought or run far away from it as fast as we can. This conditioned reflex to become one with the thought is based solely upon the following statement.

“I am in control of my thoughts”

In the pursuit of our own bliss it now becomes imperative to either prove or disprove this statement above. In beginning this investigation the first and most obvious question is this: Who is this “I”?

If we are going to know the “I” we must first understand our own capacity to ‘know’. Knowledge in the conventional sense is perception analyzed with thought to create concepts. The bottleneck in this process is perception itself. What can not be perceived can not be turned into a thought, and thus not turned into a concept.

Digging deep into the act of perception we can see that there are actually three things required: the perceived, perception, and the perceiver. In the example of the tree we can understand that the tree is the perceived, eyesight is the perception, and then what is the perceiver? My first instinct is to say that it is the brain.

But is my brain also perceived? I can’t see my own brain, though I suppose I could with some major surgery and a mirror. I could also touch it through similar means. So then, can the brain be both the perceiver AND the perceived? I mean, it is the brain that translates what has been perceived through eyesight into an image.

So the brain must be a part of perception and NOT the perceiver.

Who is this damned perceiver then? The celebrated YouTube guru Mooji knowingly points seekers by asking “Can the perceiver be perceived?”. Nisargadatta Maharaj says “The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive.” Initially this leaves us with a most unsatisfying conclusion. If I can not perceive the “I”, then I can never truly know who I am.

Getting back to the original statement we are examining, if I can never know the “I” then it would be nonsensical to assume that this “I” is in control of my thoughts. In fact in not knowing the “I” it is meaningless to lay claim to “my” thoughts at all.

That leaves us with “control”. Can thoughts be controlled? Do you know the next thought that is going to pop into your mind? It seems that we often get the thoughts we want the least. Through resisting a thought, that for all intents and purposes appeared randomly in your consciousness, we empower it. Continual resistance trains your brain to think your most undesirable thoughts at a most distressing frequency. It is only when you give up this control unequivocally that you release it.

A resisted thought is like a prisoner in our brain.

Eckhart Tolle rhetorically asks “What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is?” Such a thought is being denied it’s own existence and therefore can not run it’s course into nothingness. It is the nature of things to come and go.

The idea of control is problematic on many levels. We can’t define that “I” who is doing the controlling; the thoughts that I want to control can’t even be “my” thoughts without a known “I”; and any attempts to control thinking seems to have a substantial negative effect.

Lets modify the primary sentence in question. Lets toss out the first word “I”, and along with it the last two “my thoughts” as we know them to be either false or unknowable. The middle phrase “in control of” seems to be rife with issues so lets drop it as well. That leaves us with just one word, “Am”. Seeing a similarity to ‘Amen’ I performed a quick etymology check revealing it’s intended meaning as “so be it” or “truth”.

Let us conclude with the only truth to be found in our initial sentence; Am. There is an obvious temptation to use the phrase “I Am” which is extremely popular in spiritual texts and discussions. But in this context I see “I” and “Am” as two words carrying the same meaning. There is no “I” apart from being, and no being apart from “I”. Perhaps the best way to express this is to write it: “I, Am”.

The Curious Case of OSHO

I have never been drawn to OSHO as a spiritual teacher. From what little I had read he seemed to be embroiled in controversy. From organized violence at his ashrams, to a biological attack on US soil planned by his secretary, and tales of Rolls Royce’s purchased for his use (not to mention the nice watch he wears in the video below!).

It would be silly to judge a spiritual teacher for making money at their craft as it is the way of the world we live in. However when it gets to be extreme some responsibility falls to the seeker to determine if there is some deeper meaning that impacts the authenticity of their teachings.

The reason I am even talking about OSHO is that in a brief trip to Chapters yesterday to pick up ‘Elf on a Shelf’ for my youngest daughter I stopped in the spiritual section and for some reason immediately picked up his book ‘Emotional Wellness’. I would normally just glance over the spines of his paperbacks, but today was different.

I opened to a random page and started reading and immediately his words were resonating in a deep place within. I stood there for 15 minutes (something I never do) totally engaged in what I was reading. In this brief period I experienced a shift, a greater trusting in my own nature. There was a new freedom that enabled me to release my mind from the exhausting task of separating right from wrong.

I suppose it is a lesson in itself that words of wisdom and clarity can come from any source and that we shouldn’t turn them aside because of any preconceived judgement about the orator. I surely would have missed a great opportunity.

As a result I went to YouTube in search of an OSHO teaching to share on my blog and I came across this one in which he talks about authentic love, and authentic hate. Enjoy!