What are you thinking about?
C’mon, tell me.
Absolutely nothing. My mind is empty.
At this point in the conversation, the person you are engaged with will generally give you a look intimating that you have lost touch with sanity. Then they will laugh and continue to press you until you tell them what you were thinking about.
When people answer “Nothing” in response to that question, it usually means that what they are thinking about isn’t worth discussing, or they don’t want to talk about it. It can be anything from having sex with the person they are talking to, to feeling uncomfortable because they have gas and don’t want to raise a stink. The answer, “Nothing”, is a way to get out of answering the question truthfully and perhaps changing the topic of discussion to something more comfortable to deal with publicly.
But what if, when asked the question, you really are thinking about absolutely nothing?
What if your mind is actually cleared of discursiveness and you are engaged in the act of non-abidance?
This feat is so un-imaginable for most people that if you attempt to tell them about it or describe it to them they will again look at you like you’re crazy and change the subject themselves, as the thought of being without the constant running discourse of thoughts that most people have continually running through their head is nigh inconceivable.
It sounds so hard to do. And it is so hard to do. But there is a paradox there because it is not as hard as it sounds. And to do it is not hard. The contradiction lies in the fact that to do it, you have to do nothing. You have to just stop. Stop doing. Release, let go, cultivate silence of the inner self. But if you’ve ever tried to meditate before, then you know that once you sit down and close your eyes, the thoughts start to cascade through your mind like a waterfall, seemingly without end. You may have found yourself in daydreams or thinking about what’s for dinner or remembering some past hurt or hoping for something in the future. You may have sat down with the intention to meditate, but all it seems that you did was to think in a constant and steady stream of words and images, as usual.
It takes time to practice non-abidance successfully. Breath meditations allow one to concentrate on something automatic while observing the passage of thoughts as they flow through your mind. Once you are able to observe them, you will see that they are like mirages, with no real substance in and of themselves. The emotions we feel are exactly the same way. It may come to mind at some point that if all of this thinking and emoting is really so ephemeral, then why do we spend so much time acting on them as if they were real?
There is a space that exists in every situation, in every moment, where we can make a choice. That space exists before we say a word, before we take an action. We can choose what we are going to say, we can choose what we are going to do. We are sovereign individuals, we are not slave to our thoughts, we are not slave to our emotions.
Or are we?
Do you think before you speak? Do you think before you act? Do you find yourself blurting out thoughts? Do you find yourself acting out? Do you find yourself regretting the things you say and do?
If you do, then what you are really regretting is what you think and feel, because thought and emotion precedes words and actions every time. If you can control your thoughts and emotions, you can control your words and actions. If you can control your words and actions then you can control the way that you perceive yourself and the way that you perceive the world.
Sounds like a useful goal, doesn’t it? To be able to truly take responsibility for yourself in every way possible? To live a conscious life, being careful in thought, word and deed?
It is a goal worth striving after. It is a life worth living.
Once you have come to a point in your life where you have succeeded at controling your thoughts, words and actions, you will see your life change as a result. Your life situation will change, the people around you will change in relation to you, you will change in relation to yourself. You will find out that all of the wise, pithy words that you’ve rolled your eyes at over the years were actually true and that there is something to all of this self-transformation stuff after all, because the quality of your life will improve drastically once you make the choice to improve yourself in all of your Core Aspects of BEing-ness.
It’s worth the time to explore your inner world and find out who you truly are. Yes, you will have to go through a lifetime of detritus, a lifetime of pain will have to be recapitulated, as will a lifetime of joys. You will probably deal with the emotions all over again, deal with the hard memories, face up to some things about yourself that you are ashamed of and never wanted to ever think about again. But the up-side of doing so is that once you face them squarely, take responsibility for yourself and your thoughts, words and actions – even in the past – you can clear your slate of the backlog of karma that you would otherwise have waiting for you at some point later in this lifetime or the next.
And if you are living a well-favored life, who knows? You might forego the need to ever have to come back here again!
And that’s a goal worth stopping thoughts for.