A person who thinks all the time, has nothing to think about except thoughts. One can lose touch with reality while engaged in this practice and therefore lives in the world of illusions. Repetition of words and chatter in a mind that is actively reckoning and calculating is not bad if done in moderation, but if executed excessively, then we become lost to the true nature of our experience in the world. That is to say that we have forgotten on “how” to experience the world around us, and even within us! We confuse signs, numbers, words, symbols and ideas for the authentic world. We have become detached to the true relationship we once held with nature because we erroneously and mistakenly confuses our thoughts and ideas for the world itself. We miss the essential connection to nature by a contrivance of mind. We fabricate, construct, and make conclusions from logic that only serves to hide the true essence of our experiences. Our experience is convoluted and replaced with our mental representations of what we actually experience.
Reality is the sound of the gong, not our symbols or words that describe the sound it makes. We do not need to determine what key the pitch is in, if there is any major or minor harmonic resonance in the sound we hear. Whether any dissonant aspect of what we hear for our experience to be complete need be explained. We simply just listen without judgement. In analogous manner, our approach to solve human problems is precisely the activity we employ to overcome these problems that we want to resolve. so what exactly can we do? The ideals we create are all manifestations of these problems we are trying to escape from. In our attempt to solve our quandaries, we cannot help but create much of our paradox in that our attempt to get away from them is contingent on our ideas of them.
“I know that I ought not to be selfish, and I would very much like to be an unselfish person, but the reason I’d like to be an unselfish person is that I am very much a selfish person and would far more love myself and respect myself if I were unselfish.”
When you look into yourself, there is nothing you can really do. We cannot feel any other way than what we feel at the moment we feel it. We think if we come to a dead-end that we fail. The answer to finding the way is in our allowance of it to happen without interference. If we find that we cannot transform ourselves, one should not be discouraged since it is not be a gloomy announcement. Rather, we have discovered a very important communication. This is telling us that we cannot transform ourselves because the “you” that you “imagine”, that is capable of transforming ourselves, does not really exist.
An ego, or an “I” is separate from my emotions and thoughts, it is separate from my feelings and my experiences that we are supposed to be in control of. We cannot control them because it is not there. The “I” is our image of ourselves. It’s composed of what other people have told you about yourself, who you are and how they have reacted to you that gives you an impression of the sort of person you are. The image we usually have about ourselves, what our egos tell us, does not include our social contexts and all of our relationships within our self-image. What we conceive to be ourselves is simply the marriage of the illusion of the futility. As Alan Watts puts it….”We are the apertures of the universe exploring itself.”
The western schools of thought from antiquity to today often philosophize about the distinctions and nature of our being. They invent a vast lexicon that enables them to describe our reality, and have argued about it since the birth of the philosophical branches such as Ontology, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. But if we look to the east, we find alternative schools of thought that have a variation on the approach and recognize that we are both the preceptors of sensory perception and rationalistic logic. We use both methods to shape the world. As an empiricist, our perceptions create the world. But when we do not contemplate it, there is no need to label or name what we experience since it is what it is without our labels, words, or symbols. As a rationalist, we create, interpret, and experience the world by way of proxy through our minds, thoughts, and ideas.
It is when the mind is attuned properly, that we will see that there is no difference of being what you are as the knower and what you are as the known. In this state we are simply attuned to the ever-present now. Between ourselves and all that is in the world outside us becomes a unified happening. A oneness with the world.
If we see ourselves in a correct way, then we align with the rest of how nature functions. There is nothing wrong with us, but we needn’t feel guilty because we “feel guilty”! When we meditate, we simply watch what is going on without judgement, or analysis. When we hear music, we do not understand it though our words, but only through the musical vibration itself. We become aware of the vibrations that stimulate our being and go no further in analysis of this experience.
What is going on outside us that can be observed, is also the process for what goes on inside of us and that we can monitor this as well. All nervous system activity that is experienced outside of ourselves, (sights, sounds, tactile simulations, tastes) can likewise be experienced (via mental thoughts, ideas, concepts) from what is stimulating us on the inside. The notion of time is never of consequence in meditation. The focus is always on the ever-presence of nature.
Still the mind, become a friend and blend in with what is not in motion by listening to what is in motion. Do not let the mind take you to the past or the future, but remain in the present. Learn to listen to what is present. Hear the sounds that are all around you. The activity of observing our breath can be of great benefit to a mind that is awake. It is something that we do without our willing to do it since it is an autonomic function of our respiratory system. So to do we listen to the sounds that we hear from where we sit. We are only concerned with what is as it is. Simply just an eternal now to be experienced as it happens. Live in the moment and the mind will calm it’s echos of futile pondering. When we are happily absorbed with what we are doing, we have forgotten about “ourselves” and our egos. We can’t very well do that and worry or think anything serious.
A restless mind is one that is not operating with receptivity. It has closed itself off to what can be experienced without the “self” involved. A well-trained mind does not disturb the presence of what is by forcing the experience. We simply just watch what is happening. Inside of ourselves, and outside of ourselves happening simultaneously can be allowed to just be.
I have some very fond memories of a quiet weekend afternoon, sitting in the patio and listening to wind chimes sounding pleasantly as the wind gently evokes a chorus. Meandering thoughts strike me as I relax in a semi nap attending to the peacefulness of the moment. More often than not as a child, there were many times that we could enjoy the days without the worry of some troublesome problem. Some of the most pleasurable memories seem to come from a time when our worry factor was minimized and our experience of the world was heightened. The “Ignorance is Bliss” argument can be yielded, and for obvious reasons this assertion is often exerted, but this author is not in complete agreement with this notion, and to the contrary subscribes to mastering ones rational and emotional states as the better choice. I hold much more value in the education and development of a person achieving mastery over one’s circumstance than to rely on ignorance itself as a prescription for a happier less worrisome life.
We are now in the “Age of Anxiety”, in that we as people are defined by the information age, we as people are defined by the technology of the day, and that we as people are defined by the diagnosis of our medical ailments. Children for the most part do not worry about the social implications of what governs the society. They are more concerned with their own lives within their family structures. They deal with navigating their own family’s mores and how it affects them. Children navigating their own way through every day problems has been minimized by increased parental involvement in the last few decades. In general a child of earlier decades was much more “free” from a parental influence on many common experiences growing up even though ironically the parents were more commonly at home during that time. Despite this background my experience was largely based on discovering my way through by trial and error without parental or sibling interaction. I had to rely on resources I alone discovered which was an impediment at times due to the struggle with my own particular ego-frailties and self-esteem. But before some of these issues would bring themselves to light, as a child my immersion into the world was purer in form as an experience without all the previously mentioned attitude distractions. The phenomenon of meeting the world in a purer experience is a remarkable experience. If you have ever watched children play, the observance of their relation to the world is astonishing, and is a very natural way of being. Devoid of worry, one’s relation to the world without barriers heightens one’s experience. The case for children being more in touch with their experience in the world without worry can be advanced.
Of course this is not always true, but the ability to focus on the present as a child was much easier for me than it is for me as an adult. I noticed as I aged, by the time of my adolescence I began to become more aware of the world and how I fit in. Many of the psychological barriers I had to overcome were the thoughts that one may not be good enough, the kind of self thoughts that prevent us from taking action spontaneously and thus these “Growing Pains” tended to fend off my natural tendencies and delayed my actions until my comfort level was stabilized. This natural ability without self-censorship seems to fade with the matriculation into adulthood for many of us and it will take practice to once again regain that listening skill without the self-doubt and ego related issues that prevent us from acting correspondingly. Attention to what is in front of us is often disregarded because of all of our agendas, calendars, and chores in many of our lives today. Parent, care-giver, balance of family and work and self are all part of the equation that we deal with from a day-to-day schedule. This has always been true for generations, but today we find ourselves amidst a host of distractions with added technologies that make it even easier to pull ones attention away for the surrounding milieu.
The loss of innocence can take a toll on those who do not heed. The loss in question is the cultural dictates that often persuade us to think about other factors of our lives whilst not giving your full attention to the business at hand. I think that the stillness of our minds attuned to our present moments can bring about a resonating harmony with the nature of things. If even only for the recognition of a previous fond memory of a distant past, then we can benefit from such an accordance forming this bond that we may not have the pleasure to enjoy otherwise.
The skill to pay attention to those you listen with, the skill you prove when you listen and not just hear the other person without any personal commentary is a testament to how powerful that skill is in your social life, and to how you see the world in the moment. Employing this skill will serve one well because people will take notice. Some may respond correspondingly, and some may not, but they will take notice. The same principle applies to our own minds watchful judgements. We are ultimately in control over how we feel or think about the events we meet and how we receive them as experience.
The existence of joyful experiences to remember are those events that we break from the fear of judgmental social stigmas. Think of the first time you danced with others without fear of judgement, or when you first performed on stage in front of others somehow subduing your jitters but still “the show must go on!” The heightening of our experience lies in the pureness of that experience. The taming of our minds can be very powerful and a function that we have control over. In every phase of aging, there are plateau’s of experience that place you in new territory. And with every age we come to meet new experiences that shape and develop our remembrance of it when they happen. I think that we are most fond of those times that we meet the world on terms that do not relinquish to worry, renounce to fear or some other undermining emotion that strips us from the experience outside of our defining it with more emotional baggage.
This is why Buddhism created and developed the Eightfold Path.
The understanding of how we affect our experience with the world and our relation to it is a primary fundamental starting point. Returning to how the child naturally meets the world is very Buddhist. The nature of the child’s mind does not impose many of the doctrines that we as adults subject to it before our experience takes place. So I ask the reader, what makes your experiences special? Do you remember times that seemed to be were more pure from your childhood than times in your adulthood? If this is so, than shall we seek to sustain that kind of experience in our lives today? Seems to be a daunting task for some of us, yet one that cannot easily be dismissed. Look to your memories, look to your children, look to see that we all are able to meet a world in the absence with worry, no matter at what phase of life!
My struggle to understand the world has been with me since childhood. I was known for possessing qualities like being quiet, studious, and sensitive. All of which would possibly make one a good candidate for their narration of the unfolding events in one’s life.
I remember a time in the sixties when I was growing up and one could get a sense of the world around them just by observing the popular culture such as the songs on the radio, the clothes people would wear, themes in television shows and movies, or maybe even what was taught in our schools at the time. Some of the strongest impressions I have are seemingly random moments of my childhood that lead me back to those moments as I reflect upon them so many years ago. For unknown reasons these precise moments I have captured in my memories have no trauma attached or even any kind of elation one would expect to form a long-lasting memory, yet they still bring me back to these moments as if I were living them today. One example is an everyday event such as walking home from my grade school. After years of doing this apparently left me with these memories with no particular reason other than maybe because I walked alone for many years without the sound of music (no Portable Radio’s, no WALKMANS, and no IPODS to distract me or to entertain me) for over 1 mile as I walked home. I also did not have the companionship of others to talk to, so maybe my mind focused on these moments and stored these memories up. These thoughts among others often inhabit my mind, but why?
I also remember times of being a passenger when my mother was driving the car in the rain going to some appointment. Maybe a dentist, or some other function I can’t remember those details, but I do remember the drive vividly going down the streets as the rain poured down, the heater kicking on in the car, and the windshield wipers going back and forth making that squeaky sound as the blades rubbed against the glass. I can even remember the feel of the vinyl seat and wearing no seat-belt as I might sway from time to time on a sharp turn. Other times with a similar scenario included driving with the family as I chose to sing “It’s a small world” under my breath looking out the windshield of our small family car. Was it because nobody else talked to me that left my mind to do what it does, record the empty moments in my experience, and leave me to question why was I here in the first place? I cannot say, but I do know that much of my childhood was up to me on how I created my leisure and filled those empty moments with something to do. Starved for attention, largely I had to create my own activities, fill the emptiness with my own thoughts, reading books, or thinking about the world when I could not find others to play with. But why some of these memories come back as clear as when they happened to me take up residence in my consciousness?
Some of my activities were predetermined as a youth by my father such as playing on baseball teams, or football teams but that was not something I found to be a pleasant experience. It was an expectation that I would have to live up to, it was a function of my fathers’ own will that we play regardless of whether I wanted to play or not, regardless if I actually had an interest to play or wanted to play, it was just an expectation. Organized sports in those days were not benefiting the kids as much as the people running the organizations. It was manipulative, and was dominated by men with presumably unfulfilled dreams and vicariously playing through the kids actually playing the game. Whether this experience was episodic and common for the sixties and seventies in youth sports I can only imagine, but the lessons learned were obviously not those one would like to expect when playing in an organized league. I spent over 14 years of playing in these various leagues, as well as high school inter-mural sports. Funny how I did not form many lasting memories of these experiences. The countless memories of a life lived are comprised through-out my life, and for a time I have gone without asking the right questions.
Do these observations guide me to signposts leading into a direction of self discovery if I read them properly? Were these memories of simply everyday examples of some of the life obstacles that we must face giving us a choice how we must live? The analogies of a game of cards is used worldwide and is indicative of just how much it resembles life’s lessons. There are so many expressions that we commonly use in our everyday conversations that come from the ordinary deck of playing cards. Have you ever heard someone say that they don’t want to “get lost in the shuffle” or ask, “what’s the deal anyway?”
Most of us have heard people say “it’s just not in the cards for me to …” when things didn’t work out the way they planned.
When someone seems to be in charge of a situation, people say that they are “holding all the cards.”
Some days many people feel as though “the cards have been stacked against me” when nothing they try works out or something seems to be blocking their efforts or from achieving their goals.
We have also heard people say “I need to play my cards right to…” when they wanted to take make the most of certain opportunities present in their life.
Then there others who love to tell us that we need to “learn to play the hand we’ve been dealt” when things are not going our way. For some who can do everything and they say that we’re “the Jack of all trades!” or we’re “the Jack of all Spades!”
Many times we see people being secretive about their plans, thoughts, or feelings. We say they are “playing their cards close to their chest” like many card players do.
When people want someone to openly reveal what their plans or intentions are, they usually ask them to “put (or lay) your cards on the table.”
For what ever the reasons I find in living my life and trying to understand it, comprehend it, or subscribe meaning from it, I do believe in the credo that it’s not in the hand you are dealt, but rather in the playing of that hand that makes all the difference in the world.
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
― Wayne W. Dyer
“A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
― Steve Jobs
After putting some thought on my current everyday experiences, I reflected a great deal about just what the root cause for some of my current perspectives were bound to. Again the discovery of being “mindful” is an important factor in reexamining prior perspectives that may be operating in the background of our everyday thoughts. While we manage our day to day experiences, our possible misdirected thoughts are fed into our analysis for each and every day and if they go unchecked, they will skew our conclusions. The information we receive from the eyes don’t amount to much, if the mind is blind. Being “Mindful” is being aware of the false conclusions one can draw if one is misdirected by prior incorrect habitual modes of thinking that may not be accurate. They may indeed be formed earlier in ones life, but continue to influence that person through-out their lives if these principles in their analyses go unquestioned, unexamined, and unchallenged in the process.
The practice of attention enables one to wake up! Awareness transforms experience. There is no right or wrong way; there is only being more or less conscious. The goal is to become more fully conscious of ourselves, not to correct ourselves. Because they rely on memory, efforts at self-correction are always removed from the immediacy of the moment.
Jealousy – unconsciously give way to hatred. Struggle against it by thinking equates to guilt. We must instead examine the thought itself and attempt to understand the context. Thought and feelings can then become windows to awakening.
Right Thinking was examined by Gautama Buddha and incorporated in his Eightfold Path that reveals some of the challenges of how the mind can distort experience.
“Thoughts” as Emerson put it, “rule the world” for the simple reason that thoughts determine feelings and actions. We can think ourselves into happiness or a deep depression. Evidence can show that we can think ourselves into healthy state or into unhealthy illnesses.
We can think ourselves into a narrow, limited world characterized by procrastination and paralysis, or we can think ourselves into a noble creative life and the actions that give it shape and substance. If we only take care of our thoughts, our feelings and actions will take care of themselves.
For better or worse, we give to others the fruits of our own thinking by the same token, we are influenced by the thinking of those with whom we associate. It certainly helps to make friends with people who have made friends with their own minds. Observe people who are chronically bored or depressed, and you will find they dwell on negative thoughts. Observe people who are consistently happy, creative, and productive, and you will find remarkable similarities in the quality of their thinking. By our thinking, we create our individual and collective experience of reality. Changing our thinking for the better improves the quality of our own lives, and in doing, uplifts all around us.
The subconscious patterns of thought that can emerge out of an individuals upbringing, training, or exposure from a previous time in their lives to ineffective measures of dealing with their experience in the world can duly proselytize that persons mind set. What is even more difficult to circumvent is the dream states these people experience and are susceptible to unpleasant derivations of their conscious lives if the sleeping untrained mind continues to revert to the faulty subconscious training from an older learned program from the past when they dream. Since they are unconscious in a dream state, the mind will resort to programming fed from the unconscious mind that often takes hold of their dreams.