That is so dumb. What’s for dinner? Gosh, it seems like we’re always eating. How about sex for dinner? That would spice things up a little. I need some water. Oh, what’s that in my glass? Gotta pay the bills today. Work is going to suck this afternoon. Yesterday was so much better. Oh yeah, so what to do about dinner? Maybe I’ll make some potat—Jim has been such an ass lately. Why can’t he just—Note to self: I still have to clip my nails. I’ll do that when I get home. Didn’t I hear my phone beep? Maybe Suzy messaged me back. I like her, but she’s been kinda mean lately. Time to find a new job. Other people can be happy with their work, so why can’t I? Well, it’ll come eventually. Oh, look at those trees. But this window. It’s so dirty. Dirty like a homeless man. Time to get out the window cleaner. I’m sort of in the mood to have beans with dinner.Yikes!
What I would like to express to you, today, is that you are not your thoughts. You need not believe the majority of what goes through your mind. You need not attach to the thought stream you believe to be “who I am.” You don’t have to focus on it, follow it, agree or disagree with it, act on it—nothing.
There are people out there—yes, these are human beings just like everyone else—who have no attachment to thought whatsoever. There are people who shift from the rock-bottom of complete identification with their thoughts and a hatred of everything, to absolute detachment from their thoughts and a deep love for that same everything. There are people who begin and end at any two points between those two extremes. This can only be so if we are not our thoughts.
Think about it… If we were our thoughts, we wouldn’t have the voluntary (free will) ability to change (unless acted upon by an external force). For our thoughts would define exactly who and what we are.
Seen another way: If what we truly are is the thoughts we think, how would we ever know that there is something other than what we think in any given moment, if in any given moment we are fully identified with, if in fact we are, exactly what we are thinking?
For many people, even though we see others change and know that we ourselves change, we often neglect the possibility that with voluntary effort we, too, can change considerably; or we rationalize foolishly that others are somehow different or that certain aspects of life are “just the way it is for us.” Thus, thoughts like…
Maybe I don’t have to think this way,
Maybe I could think differently,
Maybe these thoughts I’m having are not okay.
Maybe my imbalanced reality is being created by my imbalanced thoughts,
Maybe my excessive, unchecked thinking is unhealthy,
Maybe I don’t have to attach to these thoughts at all,
Maybe these thoughts are completely impersonal and have nothing to do with me, Maybe there is, in fact, a different way,
Maybe it really is true that if I change my thinking I can change my life
…aren’t even entertained.
But that's why I'm here—to help till the mind soil and plant a seed or two.
Because we all know that we can change—be it our hobbies, our political party, our preferred style of music, our hair color, our religion, or whatever—it doesn’t matter. And we can only do this if we are something beyond anything we might believe to be “who I am.”
It might be suggested that this “something” is the ego; that if the mind is having the thoughts, then the ego is what we are because the ego is what performs the attaching; it is the ego that determines which thoughts to judge as “who I am” and “who I am not.”
This would be wrong, however, because as thought attachment shifts, “who I am” shifts. As we change the beliefs we subscribe to, our ego simply attaches to a new, alternate set of thoughts by which it creates a new self-identity.
In actuality, the ego is the very thing attaching to, or identifying with, an otherwise innocuous thought stream. The ego is the very thing defining "who I am," even though "who I am" is subject to change in any given moment.
So there must be something else, a thoughtless and neutral something else, that observes the thought stream without ever engaging in it; a something else that allows for the recognition of change without attachment to it—a witness, an “is-ness”.
I wonder what percentage individuals even realize, without external suggestion, that there is a space (or can be a space) between their thoughts? Quite frankly, I have no idea. Yet I would imagine it to be a very small number.
Why? (I’m glad you asked…) Because the majority of us are completely identified with our thoughts. We’ve wholly bought into the belief that, "I think, therefore I am," and so thinking must be a co-requisite to survival. This creates in us the perception that there is only thought; and thus, the only times we are "consciously aware" is when we are attaching to our thoughts as though they are truly "who I am."
And so the inner space goes all but unnoticed.
The still, present-moment awareness—the unchangeable that underlies whatever we think to be “who I am”—the eternal watcher, the witness—goes all but unnoticed.
A great sage once said: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, yet whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
False identity exists because we believe that the thought attachment which creates the “who I am” is simply verifying an absolute truth.
This is the world’s biggest lie.*
Instead, it is only when we allow ourselves to begin dying to the “who I am,” it is only when we begin detaching from thought and acknowledging our inner space, that we can really begin to learn who and what we truly are.
*This may be a false statement. Paulo Coelho may have been closer to the truth in The Alchemist when he said that the world’s biggest lie is that at some point in our lives we lose control of what is happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.