Not thinking

Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 1:09 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 1:09 PM

Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Is simply not thinking a valid means of practice? I've been just sitting holding back thoughts ang being aware of sensations. The difference here is that I'm simply allowing no thought whatsoever totally blank mind. It's tiring but perhaps that's a sign it's doing something.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 3:45 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 3:45 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
It depends on what it is that you're trying to achieve, I did a lot of practices in the past where stopping thoughts was the goal; it's possible, but it's difficult since you're always trying to maintain control of something rather than, as you would with insight practice, just observing how thought occurs in the first place and how they're just like every other object. The "no thought" approach doesn't appear to be part of any Buddhist practices, but you can find them in yoga and a lot of the Hindu schools.

I've found that just being attentive to what's going on at the point of sense contact minimizes the arising of thoughts, or at least makes it much easier to catch them as they arise and so observe their cause, arising and cessation.
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 4:37 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 4:35 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
It depends on what it is that you're trying to achieve, I did a lot of practices in the past where stopping thoughts was the goal; it's possible, but it's difficult since you're always trying to maintain control of something rather than, as you would with insight practice, just observing how thought occurs in the first place and how they're just like every other object. The "no thought" approach doesn't appear to be part of any Buddhist practices, but you can find them in yoga and a lot of the Hindu schools.

I've found that just being attentive to what's going on at the point of sense contact minimizes the arising of thoughts, or at least makes it much easier to catch them as they arise and so observe their cause, arising and cessation.


Omg tommy ur always attacking me!
Just kidding

I might try it as a means to an end for a while I'm not dwelling in some sort of "I am" simply dwelling in the wordless imageless awareness. In any case I will definitely experiment with just "no thinking" for at least a few weeks as I really enjoy it. Seems like I have less hindrances doing this than anything else.

I feel very natural and my interactions more spontaneous and comfortable.
thumbnail
Gerry T, modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 5:03 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 5:03 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 60 Join Date: 4/4/11 Recent Posts
Adam,
If you can intend your mind to be aware as you wake up you will find that as you transition from sleep to waking up there is a point where there are absolutely no thoughts. I've found this twice and it is so amazing that I broke the moment with the stupid thought of "Wow! No Thoughts!"
I think this happens naturally but we are just not typically aware of it.
Gerry
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 8:18 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 8:18 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
I'll see if I can remember to check without thinking ;)
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 10:18 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 10:18 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
What's your goal in this practice?
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 10:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 10:27 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
fivebells .:
What's your goal in this practice?

Well I've noticed that thinking seems to cause suffering and reactivity and distraction so I figured I'd try stopping
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 10:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 10:47 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
How do you stop?
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 11:20 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/17/12 11:20 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Hmmm good question.
It's hard to pin down what I'm doing, but I think I'm paying attention to the senses with so much effort and intensity that there isn't room for thought. Sort of "submerging" into experience with 100 percent effort. Maybe I've just never quite tried this hard to be aware. While doing this I keep alternating between high effort and relaxation as I try to maintain the total non-thinking while relaxing the tension.

Did you have a specific point in mind? Do you think I'm correctly understanding?
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 10:06 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 10:06 AM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Sorry for the string of questions. This practice is novel to me so I want to make sure I understand the goal and method, and perhaps also the results. I'm not trying to start an argument, though in the end I may be skeptical about the effectiveness of what you're doing. At the moment I'm just trying to understand.

So a thought comes up, and you drown it in an intense cognitive effort to attend to sensation. Is that about right? Do you include the sensation of the thought itself in this effort?
thumbnail
Thom W, modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 10:53 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 10:52 AM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 63 Join Date: 12/31/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
fivebells .:
What's your goal in this practice?

Well I've noticed that thinking seems to cause suffering and reactivity and distraction so I figured I'd try stopping


If you stick with this analysis of the situation you stand to miss out on much top dollar insight. Have you really payed attention to your thoughts? Have you practiced seeing them as they are?
Have you practiced penetrating the content to see which beliefs and assumptions they arise from?

Thoughts themselves do not cause suffering. Reaction to the content does. Solidifying them does. Clinging to them does. If you see them as they are, you don't suffer, and you're not distracted. The suffering is in the aversion or clinging, the grouping together, the reference point, not the sensation itself. If you tell yourself that thinking is the problem and go about trying to stop it, you're most probably setting up an perfect cycle of aversion masquerading as "practice".

It's the underlying reactivity (craving / aversion within the flow of sensation) and grouping of sensations into an object that one reifies as "self" that causes much thinking / thought loops / self story telling / fabrication. Getting worried about the thinking is like trying to get rid of weeds by trimming the leaves. It's the deep habitual tendency of mind to create a dualistic split that causes suffering and distraction - you've got to go deeper into these habits of mind to do the real damage. When you start to penetrate the moment to moment "selfing" process, thought loops and stories drop away, as the engine that created them is short-circuited.
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 11:26 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 10:52 AM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
No I'm glad you asked the questions as I'm also skeptical. And no I don't include the thought, the question of whether to include thought doesn't apply cuz the thought gets cut out right away.
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 11:26 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 11:25 AM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Have you really payed attention to your thoughts? Have you practiced seeing them as they are?
Have you practiced penetrating the content to see which beliefs and assumptions they arise from?


I think so, I used to practice very actualist-style which meant investigating beliefs that caused a lack of felicity. I have a really strong aversion to this type of practice nowadays because it usually led to lots of depression. Just remembering that phase of practice makes me feel bad.

Your post just doesn't ring true for me at all, I just don't think thinking about stuff does any good. All my thoughts just seem to be painful garbage, the more I think the more depressed I get...

it took me like 30 minutes of writing stuff out and deleting it, and thinking about whether I've ever made progress etc. I am really prone to doubting my practice
thumbnail
Richard Zen, modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 12:43 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 12:41 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 1656 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Thom W:
Adam . .:
fivebells .:
What's your goal in this practice?

Well I've noticed that thinking seems to cause suffering and reactivity and distraction so I figured I'd try stopping


If you stick with this analysis of the situation you stand to miss out on much top dollar insight. Have you really payed attention to your thoughts? Have you practiced seeing them as they are?
Have you practiced penetrating the content to see which beliefs and assumptions they arise from?

Thoughts themselves do not cause suffering. Reaction to the content does. Solidifying them does. Clinging to them does. If you see them as they are, you don't suffer, and you're not distracted. The suffering is in the aversion or clinging, the grouping together, the reference point, not the sensation itself. If you tell yourself that thinking is the problem and go about trying to stop it, you're most probably setting up an perfect cycle of aversion masquerading as "practice".

It's the underlying reactivity (craving / aversion within the flow of sensation) and grouping of sensations into an object that one reifies as "self" that causes much thinking / thought loops / self story telling / fabrication. Getting worried about the thinking is like trying to get rid of weeds by trimming the leaves. It's the deep habitual tendency of mind to create a dualistic split that causes suffering and distraction - you've got to go deeper into these habits of mind to do the real damage. When you start to penetrate the moment to moment "selfing" process, thought loops and stories drop away, as the engine that created them is short-circuited.


This is so true. I've haven't looked clearly enough at thoughts because my noting sometimes covers them up or stops them. This Shikantanza practice has been a help.


Shinzen Young - Return to the Source

Examples of things that you can stop doing are:
Intentionally thinking (as opposed to thinking that just happens to you)
 Trying to focus on a certain thing
 Trying to have equanimity
 Trying to keep track of what’s going on
 Trying to meditate


Painful thoughts (usually about anger and argument) are simply accepted and understood. I don't even want to note with labels anymore because I don't seem to do it properly. By feeling it's okay for whatever thought arises I get the negative feelings but they go away and there is a possibility of understanding them.

Basically what I did before was "Hey you're not supposed to think too much." Intentionally thinking that there should be no thinking was the problem. Now it's more like "Oh look at what's here." It smooths out the meditation practice and there's more control.

Now it's fun to just have clear seeing on whatever happens.
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 1:14 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 1:14 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
I think this has been a miscommunication I think if anyone could directly see what I was doing they'd agree with it it's really the same as mindfulness and sensuousness just poorly described
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 2:00 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 1:55 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
I'm pretty sure this is going to lead to problems, then. Any effort is going to lay down more karma, and more intense effort will lay down harder karma. In this case, you are probably going to condition yourself to suppression of thoughts, which is quite dangerous because it's difficult to spot and undo.

I agree with your response to Thom W that thinking about the semantic content of thoughts is generally unhelpful, at least at first. Unless you get at the emotional core behind the thought, it will pervert an intellectual approach every time. However, I'm not convinced by your followup that what you're doing is equivalent to mindfulness and sensuousness because you're conditioning yourself to respond to disturbing thoughts by directing attention to everything in your experience but the thought. That is an unmindful response.

I can recommend the following closely related practice. It is quite helpful for depression and doubt, and will usually kill a disturbing thought in the first stage, just without laying down suppressive karma. I have done it for years, and gained a lot from it.
  • Open awareness to all sensations, including the mental. Celebrate the capacity to do this (mudita.)
  • Open your heart to the experience (metta)
  • Ask "What is experiencing this?" Hold the question and see nothing (insight. Replace with your favorite insight practice.)
  • Rest (compassion.)

Once a attention collapses down on some sensation, start over.

Intention is important here, though. If you do any practice intending to suppress or otherwise control part of your experience, it will create some difficult conditioning. As an example, for quite a while when a difficult emotion came up, I would freeze it in place or even replay it in order to do the above practice and learn to remain in attention as it arose. This conditioned me to replay and focus on disturbing material, and led to some quite distressed states of mind. That was a bad experience, but at least the whole thing was out in the open, easy to diagnose and adjust. Suppressive conditioning is much harder to work with, and will not improve your life, because anything you try to suppress will come out some other way, which is usually more disruptive because it's unconscious.
M N, modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 4:07 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 3:49 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
Have you really payed attention to your thoughts? Have you practiced seeing them as they are?
Have you practiced penetrating the content to see which beliefs and assumptions they arise from?



Your post just doesn't ring true for me at all, I just don't think thinking about stuff does any good. All my thoughts just seem to be painful garbage, the more I think the more depressed I get...



Right. It can happen.

You just have to figure out how to do it, once you did then the thing gets a whole different shape.

The classic instructions are to observe the thoughts like if you where observing something external, with a genuine sense of curiosity about what thought will come next, and eventuyally appreciate how it's not you thinking, but how they come ond go by their own.

If you can't do that, I strongly recommend this approach from MCTB:
It has many advantages: it's easy, it's fun, it's going to bring a lot of insight and it's also great for concentration...

"In the last exercise, I take on the thoughts directly. I know that the sensations that make up thoughts can reveal the truth of the Three Characteristics to me, so I have no fear of them; instead I regard them as more glorious opportunities for insight. Again, sitting quietly in a quiet place with my eyes closed, I turn the mind to the thought stream. However, rather than paying attention to the content like I usually do, I pay attention to the ultimate nature of the numerous sensations that make up thoughts: impermanence. I may even make the thoughts in my head more and more intense just to get a good look at them.

It is absolutely essential to try to figure out how you experience thoughts, otherwise you will simply flounder in content. What do thoughts feel like? Where do they occur? How big are they? What do they look like, smell like, taste like, sound like? How long do they last? Where are their edges? Only take on this practice if you are willing to try to work on this level, the level that tries to figure out what thoughts actually are rather than what they mean or imply.

If my thoughts are somewhat auditory, I begin by trying to perceive each syllable of the current thought and then each syllable’s beginning and ending. If they are somewhat visual, I try to perceive every instant in which a mental image presents itself. If they seem somewhat physical, such as the memory of a movement or feeling, I try to perceive exactly how long each little sensation of this memory lasts. This sort of investigation can actually be fairly easy to do and yet is quite powerful. Things can also get a bit odd quickly when doing this sort of practice, but I don’t worry about that. Sometimes thoughts can begin to sound like the auditory strobing section of the song “Crimson and Clover,” where it sounds like they are standing at a spinning microphone. Sometimes the images in our head can begin to flash and flicker. Sometimes our very sense of attention can begin to strobe. This is the point! The sensations that imply a mind and mental processes are discontinuous, impermanent.

Again, this practice requires steadiness and determination, as well as precision. When I am really engaged with this, there is no time to be lost in the content of the thoughts, as I am trying too hard to be clear about the beginning and ending of each little flicker, squawk and pulse which makes up thought. This can be an especially fun practice when difficult thoughts are distracting me from a physical sensation. I can turn on them, break them down into meaningless little blips, little vibrations of suchness, and then they don’t have the power to cause me any trouble. They just scatter like confetti. They are seen as they are: small, quick and harmless. They have a message to convey, but then they are gone.

When I am done with this exercise, I return to physical objects and their arising and passing. However, I have found taking on the sensations that make up thoughts to be another very useful exercise for developing concentration and penetrating the illusion of continuity. It doesn’t matter if they are “good thoughts” or “bad thoughts,” as all mental sensations are also dripping with ultimate truth that is just waiting to be discovered, and thus I can proceed in my investigation with confidence regardless of what arises. Whether our illusions are penetrated using physical sensations or mental sensations is actually completely irrelevant."




If you don't find this easy to do, I would suggest to train yourself to do that with a mantra first: repeat mentally a not too long-not too short mantra, focus on that and try to percieve first every word happening one after the other, then every syllabe, then every single letter, all of this with all the precision you are capable of in that moment.
Also, the mantra will provide some grounding: after sometime that you are doing that you can begin to do that with "real" thoughts and when you see that you are getting lost in content you can use the mantra to shut it down and getting your mind stable again, and after that you can challange your thoughts again...

Hope it helped... bye!

Metta

Edit: I forgot this: you need to figure out if your thoughts are mainly visual or auditive; if they are mostly auditive a mantra is great for grounding, if they are mostly visual you can just visualize some geometric shape with the purpose of seeing how the shape you are visualizing is changing every moment, instead of using something auditory.
Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, modified 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 7:21 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/18/12 7:17 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 296 Join Date: 9/5/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
I used to practice very actualist-style which meant investigating beliefs that caused a lack of felicity. I have a really strong aversion to this type of practice nowadays because it usually led to lots of depression. Just remembering that phase of practice makes me feel bad.

This is interesting.

Adam . .:
Your post [by Thom W] just doesn't ring true for me at all, I just don't think thinking about stuff does any good. All my thoughts just seem to be painful garbage, the more I think the more depressed I get...

I second Thom's post, whatever that's worth to you.

Adam . .:
I think this has been a miscommunication I think if anyone could directly see what I was doing they'd agree with it it's really the same as mindfulness and sensuousness just poorly described

When you say "thinking", and given your claim of miscommunication, do you mean something along the lines of "self-narrative"? I think learning how to short-circuit self-narrative (which I would definitely class as thinking) can be helpful.

Somewhere in my private notes I've written about "two obsessions": self-narrative and singling-out focus. You can counter these (really bad obsessions) with silence and spaciousness. I won't go further into it than to mention that I've found these two things to be very important for diminishing mental anguish.

--

I experimented with a technique (if I can call it that) recently. I think I picked it up when reading about Shinzen Young's "Do Nothing" in Tarver's practice thread. Basically what I did was to disable myself from doing anything other than what had already happened by itself. So if there was an itch on my nose, unless my hand was already on it's way to scratch it, I would disable any thoughts about it, any evaluations of whether I should scratch it and any intentions to think about it.

For some reason, how to disable like this seemed perfectly intuitive to me and also the distinction between what could be called voluntary and involuntary actions was completely clear - if it had already happened or was "in-transit" so to speak, then it was OK. Some powerful stuff happened as I did this.

--

For whatever it's worth to you, Adam, when it comes to "these things" (ie. thinking, intention, control, attention) I try to balance any attempt of manipulation of it with a complete surrender of ownership or agency. So, for example, while I'm actively "scheming" to stop my own thinking I simultaneously acknowledge that what lead to this scheming was completely "not my fault" or of "my own doing". "My" role in this is more like a retrospective narrator (or a buffer or cache), not a prime mover. And even that very trying to balance is not something 'I' could have chosen to do or not.
thumbnail
Thom W, modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 12:25 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 12:16 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 63 Join Date: 12/31/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
Have you really payed attention to your thoughts? Have you practiced seeing them as they are?
Have you practiced penetrating the content to see which beliefs and assumptions they arise from?


Your post just doesn't ring true for me at all, I just don't think thinking about stuff does any good. All my thoughts just seem to be painful garbage, the more I think the more depressed I get...


Hi Adam

Nowhere did I suggest "thinking about stuff"! What I meant is that unexamined beliefs and assumptions (always dualistic, based on a "me" projected forwards and backwards through time) can be "seen" as opposed to "thought about" - an important difference. The "seeing" is the disembedding. Feel free to discard this idea if you don't like the sound of it, it's not a problem.

However, with this sentence

Adam . .:
"All my thoughts just seem to be painful garbage, the more I think the more depressed I get..."


You have found your gold, as unlikely as it may seem.

The clue, as always, is in the pain. It's why it's the first noble truth. If you look very carefully, the pain is NOT the same as the thought. The pain is added, and added by you. Finding out what you're doing is the beginning of liberation. Then you have to keep not doing it. Again and again.

But I'll say (shout) it again, the suffering and the thought are NOT THE SAME THING. If you're satisfied assuming that they are, you are condemned to continue suffering, and progress will be slow, if it happens at all. If you can at least go with a working assumption that they are not the same thing (and that Buddha and a helluva lot of other people are in fact right), then it will take you to the nitty gritty of practice, which is to see how you cause yourself pain.

Check it out! Be curious. If you're suffering, it's good. It's the only thing that will set you free. But you gotta face it, and own it. Don't go blaming the thoughts! It's not their fault.

If you're thinking your thoughts are garbage, you're already laying another layer of thought onto your thoughts, that is that "they're garbage". Look at the garbage! Chill with the garbage. There's nothing wrong with it, unless you're picking a fight with it.

If this doesn't ring true, then perhaps you don't yet know what it is like to not fight your own mind. For me, the answer was to learn to ground awareness in the body. Then the thoughts arise in perspective. If you're up in your head, judging and complaining and getting miserable about the other stuff in your head, you don't stand a chance.

Cheers
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 1:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 1:27 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Thom W:
But I'll say (shout) it again, the suffering and the thought are NOT THE SAME THING. If you're satisfied assuming that they are, you are condemned to continue suffering, and progress will be slow, if it happens at all. If you can at least go with a working assumption that they are not the same thing (and that Buddha and a helluva lot of other people are in fact right), then it will take you to the nitty gritty of practice, which is to see how you cause yourself pain.

Check it out! Be curious. If you're suffering, it's good. It's the only thing that will set you free. But you gotta face it, and own it. Don't go blaming the thoughts! It's not their fault.


This confuses me. Where does compulsive suicidal ideation fit in this viewpoint? It's certainly a series of thoughts. I accept that you can experience suicidal ideation without suffering, but even if it's not suffering per se, it's entertaining the notion of escaping pain through self destruction, so it's a key component of suffering.
thumbnail
Thom W, modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 2:02 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 2:02 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 63 Join Date: 12/31/10 Recent Posts
Dharma doesn't stop being dharma when things get extreme...thoughts are thoughts, whether they are about rainbows or death. They arise causally, are transient and leave. The content is the content - no matter what lies behind the content. It could be the roots of ignorance creating suicidal thoughts, or likewise delighted thoughts about how awesome it is to be alive.

Just because the thoughts arise due to ignorance, does not mean their nature is different. Thoughts can be unpleasant from a conventional view, but that does not mean they cause fundamental suffering.

That being said, I'm no doctor or psychologist, but if those types of thought are arising then insight practice is probably not the best way forward...! If this is the pervading content then professional therapeutic attention is probably best. There is therapy and there is insight practice, and although borders between them are porous, one is not a substitute for the other.

Would it be fair to say that your query is a little like saying "I know these sensations in my leg are transient and don't cause suffering in themselves, but what about when the physical pain is really strong"? Do you agree with this paralell?

I had a friend from the UK who jumped off a cliff into a river somewhere in South America. He smashed most bones in his lower leg, got gangrene, and refused amputation in the hospital where he was, preferring to fly back to the UK to see if it could be saved. It couldn't in the end. However before the operation he was in agony. But he says there was a point when the pain just got so bad, he totally and utterly gave up fighting it. In one moment to the next, the pain was still there, but "he" was actually in "bliss", and it was no longer "him". It was just pain, and not even slightly a problem.

An extreme example, but the principle is utterly born out in my experience.
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 3:53 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 3:53 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Thom W:
Would it be fair to say that your query is a little like saying "I know these sensations in my leg are transient and don't cause suffering in themselves, but what about when the physical pain is really strong"? Do you agree with this paralell?


Not really. A milder example would be constant thoughts of ice cream because you really want some. Isn't the thought part of the desire?
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 4:42 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 4:39 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Ok thanks everyone I dig what your saying. The replies seem to have assumed a lot of things and it almost seems that we are talking about someone else's practice. Mostly what I was talking about was seeing through the allure of being in my head and judging and creating thought worlds. But you were right in that simply refusing the thought world invitation and staying in the present doesn't seem like enough by itself so I'm also working with the "energy body" and recognizing the way "I" try to protect my self by hardening against the body's sense contact that interferes with the narrative creating process.

At first I was applying too much effort and creating aversion to the thought worlds, but I still think the narrative refusing is the right direction
Adam , modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 4:57 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 4:57 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
Maybe if I try to give an example it will make sense.

-thinking about this thread and what other people think of me.

-tensing up in the head and face as I try to create this self-affirming imagination

-recognize what I'm doing and how it creates suffering so simply stop

-dwell in that agenda less narrative less awareness and open up to what's actually happening

-maybe cling to it and create a sense of effort and resistance to thought (didn't say I was doing the technique perfectly, five bells I think you mentioned something similar in your bahiya sutra thread)

-now (wasn't doing this at first) try to relax that resistance as its felt in the body
thumbnail
fivebells , modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 6:14 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 6:14 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Suffice to say, we all think you're great. emoticon
Jack Hatfield, modified 10 Years ago at 7/19/12 3:29 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/19/12 3:29 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 98 Join Date: 7/5/10 Recent Posts
Here is an interview with Gary Weber who says he got into meditation to quiet the thinking he was bothered with in grad school and explains what a life without thoughts is like:http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/category/podcast/. Go down to the Gary Weber podcast.

Ken McLeod teaches a meditation method which has the following instructions:
Drop all thoughts of the past.
Drop all thoughts of the future
Stop conceptualizing about the present
Rest in that space
I found similar instructions in the mahamudra text Clarifying the Natural Mind by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal.

I try these instructions and can deliberately stop thoughts for about a minute. Then I relax and do it again and again.

jack
This Good Self, modified 10 Years ago at 7/19/12 8:37 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 7/19/12 8:37 PM

RE: Not thinking

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
Is simply not thinking a valid means of practice? I've been just sitting holding back thoughts ang being aware of sensations. The difference here is that I'm simply allowing no thought whatsoever totally blank mind. It's tiring but perhaps that's a sign it's doing something.



Osho on how to Stop Thinking

Question: I have been Thinking all day of a way to ask the Question: How to stop thinking?

Osho: THINKING cannot be stopped. Not that it does not stop, but it cannot be stopped. It stops of its own accord. This distinction has to be understood, otherwise you can go mad chasing your mind. No-mind does not arise by stopping thinking. When the thinking is no more, no-mind is. The very effort to stop will create more anxiety, it will create conflict, it will make you split. You will be in a constant turmoil within. This is not going to help.

And even if you succeed in stopping it forcibly for a few moments, it is not an achievement at all -- because those few moments will be almost dead, they will not be alive. You may feel a sort of stillness, but not silence, because a forced stillness is not silence. Underneath it, deep in the unconscious, the repressed mind goes on working. So, there is no way to stop the mind. But the mind stops -- that is certain. It stops of its own accord.

So what to do? -- your question is relevant. Watch -- don't try to stop. There is no need to do any action against the mind. In the first place, who will do it? It will be mind fighting mind itself. You will divide your mind into two; one that is trying to boss over -- the top-dog -- trying to kill the other part of itself, which is absurd. It is a foolish game. It can drive you crazy. Don't try to stop the mind or the thinking -- just watch it, allow it. Allow it total freedom. Let it run as fast as it wants. You don't try in any way to control it. You just be a witness. It is beautiful!

Mind is one of the most beautiful mechanisms. Science has not yet been able to create anything parallel to mind. Mind still remains the masterpiece -- so complicated, so tremendously powerful, with so many potentialities. Watch it! Enjoy it! And don't watch like an enemy, because if you look at the mind like an enemy, you cannot watch. You are already prejudiced; you are already against. You have already decided that something is wrong with the mind -- you have already concluded.

And whenever you look at somebody as an enemy you never look deep, you never look into the eyes. You avoid! Watching the mind means: look at it with deep love, with deep respect, reverence -- it is God's gift to you! Nothing is wrong in mind itself. Nothing is wrong in thinking itself. It is a beautiful process as other processes are. Clouds moving in the sky are beautiful -- why not thoughts moving into the inner sky? Flowers coming to the trees are beautiful -- why not thoughts flowering into your being.

The river running to the ocean is beautiful -- why not this stream of thoughts running somewhere to an unknown destiny? is it not beautiful? Look with deep reverence. Don't be a fighter -- be a lover. Watch! -- the subtle nuances of the mind; the sudden turns, the beautiful turns; the sudden jumps and leaps; the games that mind goes on playing; the dreams that it weaves -- the imagination, the memory; the thousand and one projections that it creates. Watch! Standing there, aloof, distant, not involved, by and by you will start feeling...

The deeper your watchfulness becomes, the deeper your awareness becomes, and gaps start arising, intervals. One thought goes and another has not come, and there is a gap. One cloud has passed, another is coming and there is a gap. In those gaps, for the first time you will have glimpses of no-mind, you will have the taste of no-mind. Call it taste of Zen, or Tao, or Yoga. In those small intervals, suddenly the sky is clear and the sun is shining. Suddenly the world is full of mystery because all barriers are dropped. The screen on your eyes is no more there.

You see clearly, you see penetratingly. The whole existence becomes transparent. In the beginning, these will be just rare moments, few and far in between. But they will give you glimpses of what samadhi is. Small pools of silence -- they will come and they will disappear. But now you know that you are on the right track -- you start watching again. When a thought passes, you watch it; when an interval passes, you watch it. Clouds are also beautiful; sunshine also is beautiful. Now you are not a chooser.

Now you don't have a fixed mind: you don't say, "I would like only the intervals." That is stupid -- because once you become attached to wanting only the intervals, you have decided again against thinking. And then those intervals will disappear. They happen only when you are very distant, aloof. They happen, they cannot be brought. They happen, you cannot force them to happen. They are spontaneous happenings. Go on watching. Let thoughts come and go -- wherever they want to go. Nothing is wrong! Don't try to manipulate and don't try to direct.

Let thoughts move in total freedom. And then bigger intervals will be coming. You will be blessed with small satoris. Sometimes minutes will pass and no thought will be there; there will be no traffic -- a total silence, undisturbed. When the bigger gaps come, you will not only have clarity to see into the world -- with the bigger gaps you will have a new clarity arising -- you will be able to see into the inner world. With the first gaps you will see into the world: trees will be more green than they look right now.

You will be surrounded by an infinite music -- the music of the spheres. You will be suddenly in the presence of God -- ineffable, mysterious. Touching you although you can not grasp it. Within your reach and yet beyond. With the bigger gaps, the same will happen inside. God will not only be outside, you will be suddenly surprised -- He is inside also. He is not only in the seen; He is in the seer also -- within and without. By and by... But don't get attached to that either. Attachment is the food for the mind to continue.

Non-attached witnessing is the way to stop it without any effort to stop it. And when you start enjoying those blissful moments, your capacity to retain them for longer periods arises. Finally, eventually, one day, you become master. Then when you want to think, you think; if thought is needed, you use it; if thought is not needed, you allow it to rest. Not that mind is simply no more there: mind is there, but you can use it or not use it. Now it is your decision. Just like legs: if you want to run you use them; if you don't want to run you simply rest -- legs are there.

In the same way, mind is always there. When I am talking to you I am using the mind -- there is no other way to talk. When I am answering your question I am using the mind -- there is no other way. I have to respond and relate, and mind is a beautiful mechanism. When I am not talking to you and I am alone, there is no mind -- because it is a medium to relate through. Sitting alone it is not needed. You have not given it a rest; hence, the mind becomes mediocre. Continuously used, tired, it goes on and on and on. Day it works; night it works.

In the day you think; in the night you dream. Day in, day out, it goes on working. If you live for seventy or eighty years it will be continuously working. Look at the delicacy and the endurability of the mind -- so delicate! In a small head all the libraries of the world can be contained; all that has ever been written can be contained in one single mind. Tremendous is the capacity of the mind -- and in such a small space! and not making much noise.

If scientists some day become capable of creating a parallel computer to mind... computers are there, but they are not yet minds. They are still mechanisms, they have no organic unity; they don't have any center yet. If some day it becomes possible... and it is possible that scientists may some day be able to create minds -- then you will know how much space that computer will take, and how much noise it will make. Mind is making almost no noise; goes on working silently. And such a servant! -- for seventy, eighty years.

And then, too, when you are dying your body may be old but your mind remains young. Its capacity remains yet the same. Sometimes, if you have used it rightly, it even increases with your age! -- because the more you know, the more you understand, the more you have experienced and lived, the more capable your mind becomes. When you die, everything in your body is ready to die -- except the mind. That's why in the East we say mind leaves the body and enters another womb, because it is not yet ready to die. The rebirth is of the mind.

Once you have attained the state of samadhi, no-mind, then there will be no rebirth. Then you will simply die. And with your dying, everything will be dissolved -- your body, your mind... only your witnessing soul will remain. That is beyond time and space. Then you become one with existence; then you are no more separate from it. The separation comes from the mind. But there is no way to stop it forcibly -- don't be violent. Move lovingly, with a deep reverence -- and it will start happening of its own accord. You just watch. And don't be in a hurry.

The modern mind is in much hurry. It wants instant methods for stopping the mind. Hence, drugs have appeal. Mm? -- you can force the mind to stop by using chemicals, drugs, but again you are being violent with the mechanism. It is not good. It is destructive. In this way you are not going to become a master. You may be able to stop the mind through the drugs, but then drugs will become your master -- you are not going to become the master. You have simply changed your bosses, and you have changed for the worse.

Now the drugs will hold power over you, they will possess you; without them you will be nowhere. Meditation is not an effort against the mind. It is a way of understanding the mind. It is a very loving way of witnessing the mind -- but, of course, one has to be very patient. This mind that you are carrying in your head has arisen over centuries, millennia. Your small mind carries the whole experience of humanity -- and not only of humanity: of animals, of birds, of plants, of rocks. You have passed through all those experiences.

All that has happened up to now has happened in you also. In a very small nutshell, you carry the whole experience of existence. That's what your mind is. In fact, to say it is yours is not right: it is collective; it belongs to us all. Modern psychology has been approaching it, particularly Jungian analysis has been approaching it, and they have started feeling something like a collective unconscious. Your mind is not yours -- it belongs to us all. Our bodies are very separate; our minds are not so separate.

Our bodies are clear-cutly separate; our minds overlap -- and our souls are one. Bodies separate, minds overlapping, and souls are one. I don't have a different soul and you don't have a different soul. At the very center of existence we meet and are one. That's what God is: the meeting-point of all. Between the God and the world -- 'the world' means the bodies -- is mind. Mind is a bridge: a bridge between the body and the soul, between the world and God. Don't try to destroy it! Many have tried to destroy it through Yoga. That is a misuse of Yoga.

Many have tried to destroy it through body posture, breathing -- that too brings subtle chemical changes inside. For example: if you stand on your head in shirshasan -- in the headstand -- you can destroy the mind very easily. Because when the blood rushes too much, like a flood, into the head -- when you stand on your head that's what you are trying to do.... The mind mechanism is very delicate; you are flooding it with blood. The delicate tissues will die. That's why you never come across a very intelligent yogi -- no.

Yogis are, more or less, stupid. Their bodies are healthy -- that's true -- strong, but their minds are just dead. You will not see the glimmer of intelligence. You will see a very robust body, animallike, but somehow the human has disappeared. Standing on your head, you are forcing your blood into the head through gravitation. The head needs blood, but in a very, very small quantity; and very slowly, not floodlike. Against gravitation, very little blood reaches to the head. And that, too, in a very silent way.

If too much blood is reaching into the head it is destructive. Yoga has been used to kill the mind; breathing can be used to kill the mind. There are rhythms of breath, subtle vibrations of breath, which can be very, very drastic to the delicate mind. The mind can be destroyed through them. These are old tricks. Now the latest tricks are supplied by science: LSD, marijuana, and others. More and more sophisticated drugs will be available sooner or later.
I am not in favour of stopping the mind. I am in favour of watching it.

It stops of its own accord -- and then it is beautiful When something happens without any violence it has a beauty of its own, it has a natural growth. You can force a flower and open it by force; you can pull the petals of a bud and open it by force -- but you have destroyed the beauty of the flower. Now it is almost dead. It cannot stand your violence. The petals will be hanging loose, limp, dying. When the bud opens by its own energy, when it opens of its own accord, then those petals are alive.

The mind is your flowering -- don't force it in any way. I am against all force and against all violence, and particularly violence that is directed towards yourself. Just watch -- in deep prayer, love, reverence. And see what happens! Miracles happen of their own accord. There is no need to pull and push. You ask: How to stop thinking? I say: Just watch, be alert. And drop this idea of stopping, otherwise it will stop the natural transformation of the mind. Drop this idea of stopping! Who are you to stop? At the most, enjoy.

And nothing is wrong -- even if immoral thoughts, so-called immoral thoughts, pass through your mind, let them pass; nothing is wrong. You remain detached. No harm is being done. It is just fiction; you are seeing an inner movie. Allow it its own way and it will lead you, by and by, to the state of no-mind. Watching ultimately culminates in no-mind. No-mind is not against mind: no-mind is beyond mind. No-mind does not come by killing and destroying the mind: no-mind comes when you have understood the mind so totally that thinking is no longer needed -- your understanding has replaced it.