Tag Archives: Thoughts

What is Truth

Today, on the long commute home from work, I started pondering the core reasons I first became interested in spirituality. Why did I dive down this rabbit hole? What was my goal?

And I came up with two:

  1. As a means of coping with the mental health challenges
  2. In the pursuit of truth

Given that as my mental health challenges subsided I still continued on this quest, I will focus on the second reason as the constant. Pursuit of truth.

As I continued the first thought that came to me was a common piece of spiritual advice that I had heard on many occasions, and in many forms. It was to stop believing your thoughts. To stop thinking that whatever your mind says is automatically true. So if I am earnest in my pursuit of truth, and I heed this advice, I should cease to continually pour so much energy into the obsessive examination of my own thoughts.

As an experiment I convince myself momentarily that my mind has nothing to offer in this spiritual quest. As this paradigm takes hold I find myself retreating from my familiar home in my head and my focus diverts to my immediate surroundings. My environment starts to feel fuller and sense of calm begins to develop. Simple items near me start to gain depth. I postulate the following idea: what if the most obscure item in my car provided a more profound gateway to the truth than my mind could ever conjure. Unfortunately, but predictably, this feeling doesn’t last. There is far too much momentum in my habitual thinking.

But why do I even want to know the truth? Why bust my ass to find something so elusive?

My initial answer is to enable a life well lived. I had thought that in knowing the truth I could then make the right decisions to shape my life in the most desirable way possible. But if the greatest spiritual teachers tell me that my mind is not a source of truth, my idea of ‘knowing the truth’ does not make sense. It reduces something as divine as truth to just more ego stuff.

Perhaps truth, and a life well lived, are actually one in the same.

If access to the truth is found in the present moment, and living life in the present moment is the object of the spiritual quest then they are in fact inseparable. I can’t use the truth to find my purpose, truth is my purpose.

 

Image Courtesy of ‘Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock.com’

The similarity between my Facebook news feed and the endless random thoughts of my mind is almost frightening.

The similarity between my Facebook news feed and the endless random thoughts of my mind is almost frightening.

  • You can scroll forever and ever…
  • Some produce intense emotional reactions and some just float by.
  • You tend to interact more with the ones that produce a reaction.
  • Facebook/Your Mind takes note and gives you more posts/thoughts like that!
  • Both are training your mind to always look for the next post/thought.
  • Reading posts makes you want to post, thoughts make you want to think.

Maybe giving up one is the key to giving up the other…

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”.

Want Not

Here’s an exact transcript (excuse the language) of a conversation I had with myself this afternoon following an onslaught of unwanted negative thoughts.

What is the point of these thoughts?
What the hell am I supposed to learn?
I just want them to go away!
How come what I want doesn’t fucking matter!?!
Holy crap! What I want DOESNT FUCKING MATTER.

All of a sudden there was relief. It is the”I” that doesn’t matter because it doesn’t exist. It is just a jumble of fears and desires. The minute thinking stopped occurring in the interest of little old me there was peace. It was a beautiful moment of surrender. As Ramesh Balsekar said, the only thing you can surrender is personal free will.

The Purpose of Art

The purpose of art is to transcend the senses. The very senses through which it comes to be. A poem, for instance, takes something as limited as the english language and attempts to use it as a catapult. It points to something far beyond the definitions of the words it uses. It creates a feeling, an unspeakable understanding of something which can’t be precisely talked about. In art there is no logic, there is nothing you can hold onto. It’s only job is to create space, to knock back those walls which limit possibility within your own existence. When it doesn’t make sense is when it is most effective. If your pre-established brain patterns can’t wrap itself around what’s being said it has two choices: throw the art away and call it garbage, or thought itself must be discarded. You must then feel art and not describe it. When in the presence of a wonderful painting it is enough to just to be with it. There is no need to admire the skill behind it’s creation. Let the emotion of the artist be replicated within yourself. The only truth that exists in the Universe is the truth of experience. When you share an experience of another through art you share a permanent bond. You understand yourself and others more completely. It is the cultivating of this kinship that will ultimately bring humanity together.