Dying Daily #120: Thoughts Again

“Pure awareness becomes colored by our thoughts, emotions and expectations.”
Jack Kornfield

To some degree, we have this implicit understanding that we are not our thoughts.

We say things about how thoughts come to us.
A lot of people cannot be alone with their thoughts.
Some people are horrified by the thoughts they have, and worry that they might be suicidal or homicidal or both.

It’s odd how we can go from believing we are our thoughts or that we are thinking them, to feeling harassed and tormented by them, and even scared of them.

I was reading somewhere about how people in earlier times believed that thoughts literally came from outside themselves, that they were the voices of Gods and spirits and their ancestors. My strong agnosticism on things prevents me from taking a side on this, but I can see a useful thought experiment in this belief system.
If you did believe that your thoughts were generated by outside entities, would you see these entities as benevolent or malicious? Would they be seeking to harm you or help you? What sorts of things would they desire for your life?
Part of our problem in life is that we never question the motives of our thoughts, because we believe that they are us. Why would we question our own motives?

If this is the case, if you are in control of your thoughts, then stop thinking. Right now. Let your mind be blank.

Do not think of a basketball or the color red or that song from Frozen.
Don’t think about high school or that thing you have to do later that makes you anxious.
Don’t worry.
Don’t think about the ex that cheated on you or how your current partner doesn’t live up to your expectations.
How did that go?

For something that is “us”, we sure don’t have a lot of control over our thoughts.

Sure, sometimes we direct our thoughts, but for how long? There is a big difference between thinking intentionally, and the random wandering our mind seems to engage in 90% of the time.

Our thoughts are like a very sharp sword: very useful when used intentionally and with skill, very dangerous to ourselves and others when swung around mindlessly.

This will be “Thought Week” here at Dying Daily. We’ll move on to look at the inherent powerlessness of them, the dangers of opinions and expectations, and how mindfulness can help us deal with all of these things.

Try to make note of your thoughts today. See how often you are truly thinking them versus how often they are just popping up randomly and taking over the show. Observe how subtly they can steer intentional thinking into stories and rants about ourselves, situations and other people.

Check their motives.

Are they good?

Useful?

Kind?

Are they there to help you?

Notice how you can let them come and go all on their own, how you don’t have to engage them at all.

What happens when you do that?