Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In nearly two years of working with individuals on seeing through the illusion of a separate self, I've noticed that the biggest obstacle to seeing that the self is created and dies with thought is in slowing the process of inquiry. Out of habit, the train of thinking keeps rolling and doesn't slow down long enough to inquire into whether or not the content of any single thought exists as actual ...reality. I generally suggest a two-fold inquiry. First, I ask the person to look at a single thought to determine whether the content is real. As in Real Life Actual. And often, immediately upon discovering that it's not, the finding is entirely dismissed. Instead, commentary and thought spin about why or how thoughts appear, and what they might mean, begins in earnest. The cycle of overthinking begins and the simplest of inquiries is entirely swallowed by analysis.

To counter this, I try to simplify the inquiry further, slowing the person down long enough to look at how one single thought works. My favorite way is to ask a question about a delicious dessert. Well, because I just happen to love dessert.

So... as an example, let's talk chocolate layer cake, specifically from Gregg's Restaurant in Rhode Island, because that's just the best I've ever had. Especially with a glass of milk. 
There's nothing like that first bite, the first introduction of that fudgy frosting and moist, fluffy cake. It literally melts in your mouth. I'm not sure what kind of chocolate they use, or why the cake is my favorite but the combination gets me every time.

But I can't eat the thought of a chocolate cake. No matter how much detail I go into in describing it, it's just one empty thought after another. My craving for the cake remains and can never, ever be satisfied by thought.

It's like this with all thought. They're empty of actual content, empty of reality, except in the imagination. Though thought can function as a terrific tool to assist you in imagining your route to work, or in gathering ingredients for a recipe, it's limited. And in and of itself, utterly powerless to manipulate physical reality. No matter how much thinking goes on, reality remains unaltered unless the thought is followed by an action. The thought doesn't cause the action. Not directly. Action MAY follow the event of a thought and another thought links the two separate events. But the two never touch in actuality.

In any inquiry on the nature of thought, this is an important, basic, and largely overlooked fact. The implications are enormous. All of the anxious thoughts about what might happen or might BE happening is pure fiction and imagination. That this is true is very literal. Even the thoughts that tell you how to avoid a dreaded upcoming condition is fiction until action results.

The next time anxious thoughts about what is, will, or might be happening begin racing (and there's no stopping them, so don't try), try pointing to that content anywhere in your current reality. Separate the thought from the physical reality and see how no matter how many thoughts appear, nothing ever changes. The anxious thoughts will disappear on their own, replaced by other thoughts. Until they do, notice each one and check your surroundings. Has anything actually been altered?
photo credit:  deep in thought, by slatkatajna