2020-09-03 Mindfulness of Thinking (4 of 5) Beyond Thinking
2:55PM Sep 3, 2020
So this is the now the fourth talk on mindfulness of thinking. And today the topic is being mindful of non thought, being mindful of something different than just thinking. And not just, you know, mindfulness, the mindful of the body or emotions or other things which are very helpful to include in mindfulness.
But as we think, as we're aware of thinking, there can be a tendency to get narrowly focused on thoughts. And one of those reasons is that it can be quite what we think about can be either very concerning, very important. It can be very entertaining and engaging. Somehow, we can sort of get pulled into the world of aboutness, about what we're thinking about and the stories and the possibilities there. But there's also Non thought, there's that which is beyond the edges of the thought. There's also the whole universe is not filled with our thought, though, from within the thought we don't think this way, but from within the thought it's almost as if we act as if there is nothing beyond it. Many times we might assume that we're connected to the people and the world around us. But in fact, what we're mostly connected to is our projection, our ideas, our thoughts about the person, or the things our bias, the stories that we have about it, the perspectives we bring, and that veil of ideas and thoughts and projections and bias, sometimes is quite thick. And sometimes you know, it completely misses the person.
I sat a three month retreat once and there was a woman there who I was attracted to. And I didn't focus on it too much for three months. But it certainly three months was long enough for my attraction to have fantasies and the fantasies were long enough to do go through a whole story slowly and there was the story of meeting her and talking with her and having a relationship with her and getting married with her and getting divorced from her and do so you know, as a whole life, you know, over three months. And then at the end of the retreat, I never talked to this woman we were in Silent Retreat. At the end of the retreat I, we had kind of circle where people had a chance to speak, say a few words about the retreat. And she spoke and she had a very thick, obvious foreign accent. She was clearly not from the United States and at that moment, my fantasy about her just like the the balloon popped, because the whole fantasy assumed that she was from United States, she was an American. And she wasn't. And so I realized I didn't have a clue who she was. The whole fantasy was, you know, was a projection of my mind was ideas and thoughts about who she was that seemingly was nothing to do with her.
So the idea that we live this way of we're in the world of aboutness, and thoughts, and we often see that in mindfulness practice, certainly we learn to observe thinking to be mindful of it, to recognize it, to note it, learn to let go of it. But there's also a skill, art, to expanding mindfulness, not to get rid of thoughts, not to have a problem with them, but not to focus on that content, what its thoughts are about, but again, looking around the edges of the thoughts. I think a sense almost like a location for the thoughts. That's why some people find it very helpful to locate where the speaker, this speaker system is, that if they're thinking in words or an inner voice, we're in the isn't somewhere in the brain and the mind and the head somewhere else where that voice is talking.
And to locate that, then it's in a particular place, then it's easier to kind of feel what's beyond that place. What's more, it's greater than that place. Also, if you think in images and it's projected on some stage or some screen maybe in front of you, then also it's possible to expand outwards and then beyond the edges of the thoughts underneath it, behind it between the gaps between thoughts, that you might be able to feel, sense, imagine that there's space or spaciousness, there's stillness. There's a minute's silence where there's no thoughts that absence of thought that has a kind of peacefulness to it or has a certain kind of stillness that gives a different context to the thoughts. There's more than the agitation of thinking. There's also the depth which holds it in a sense, this wider sense of spaciousness, and to be able to feel the mind expand outwards. The awareness expand outwards, beyond the thoughts without letting go of thoughts are fixing thoughts or having any kind of judgments about thoughts but let it get wider and wider awareness, then it's possible to not be trapped by thoughts. It's possible to be at peace with thoughts or not have a problem with them, not to impute too much not to impute too much value or importance. Certainly thoughts can be very important, but are we over fixated on, is our clinging to them, is there wanting, is there fueling it, and feeding it, and all that?
This is somewhat akin this kind of exercise to with the eyes. The, you know, we can if you can see, you can look forward front of your head. But if you imagine yourself, what can you what do you see behind your eyes, behind your head, and the eyes can't really see the head unless you're looking at a mirror. And so there's kind of like an absence there actually, even though you know, there's a head. There's kind of an absence in awareness and that absence is kind of fascinating absence. The non seeing around head or non seeing of what's behind us. We can imagine what's behind us. But that absence is kind of little bit like, that's also a kind of thing, a kind of something to be aware of. That creates a little bit more space and openness and stillness for seeing. It's like, you expand outwards like maybe if you kind of lean back and rest in a very soft mattress and look at the sky. Very spacious and relaxed.
So to in that absence where we're not preoccupied, not caught, not clinging to anything. Oh, there we are, as well, we're present. But we freed ourselves from the ways in which the mind, fixates, clings holds to things and it's like there's space for things There's room for things breathing room for all things to be there. And in a sense, it's very respectful. Because it allows all things just to be there without our interference without our, you know, clinging and holding and pushing away. And it also frees up thinking that thinking becomes sometimes much more creative and interesting and wiser if we're not glommed on to it fixated on it.
So there are times and maybe it's, you know, more likely in times when we're pretty relaxed and pretty centered and already, that it's possible to become aware of that which is beyond the edges of thinking, or that which is the stillness and silence. It's in the gaps between thoughts. Or sometimes if it's thoughts get really, really quiet instead. They get thinner and thinner and thinner and you know, just like a very stin gauze or like a very thin cloud that is going by. And it doesn't seem to have any more weight or push or insistence or contraction is just kind of something. It's just phenomena floating by, dust mote floating by. And then it's really clear that that thought, is like a bird or a cloud, dust floating in space floating through the sky, the sky of the mind, the sky of awareness, and it's just a thought. And this idea of just a thought that we don't have to get involved in or do anything with can be so peaceful. We just watch it go by nothing to do with me. You don't have to identify with a thought or make it mine or define yourself by the thought and feel bad about having a thought. It's just this deal thing that floats by in the vast vastness of the sky sky of the mind. And the sky, which is peaceful or still has no wind.
So, if what I'm talking about might make sense, there might be times where you can discover this kind of freedom and peace that's available. That doesn't have to be struggling with thoughts, but rather we open up wider to include more and it can begin by recognizing your thinking, maybe in viewing a mental note thinking thinking, and then as we start to recognize you see it more clearly. This is really thinking, then we begin kind of not being so ad identified are caught in the field of thinking, Oh, this is thinking Yes, this is thinking and in the awareness, we become stronger, more aware that the awareness is not the thinking, awareness watches it or knows it. And then they begin to have this place where we can start noticing how awareness also is wider, bigger with then the thought we have an awareness is kind of coterminous or kind of awareness is kind of almost the same as the space around everything.
So, if what I'm saying makes sense, wonderful, and you can maybe use that sometimes in your practice. If it doesn't make sense, then one possibility for you is just imagine little bit how it might be true. Don't question whether it's true or not, but just imagine how it might be true. And in what circumstances might this be helpful? The best you can understand of what I'm saying. And then kind of just store it in the back of your mind. And someday if you continue meditating, someday, you might notice out that's what's possible. When the time is right, maybe you'll now prepared to see it more clearly and not overlook it there. Think it's incidental, that you now you're aware of something larger the space that in which thinking is happening.
So thank you very, very much. And so we have one more day on this topic tomorrow, mindfulness of thinking, and I look forward to our time tomorrow. Thank you.