One of the great sages of India, Ramana Maharshi often said (in the rare moments that he spoke) that in order to realize our true nature we must turn our attention away from the constant chatter within. He explained that our minds are keeping us so occupied that we never notice the silence underneath our thoughts and therefore we believe we are these thoughts and patterns of mind. This has been misinterpreted in satsang and spiritual teachings by some believing that we must stop thinking all together, be still and live our lives without thought in order to be awake. Thinking becomes wrong and although “everything is included in consciousness”, somehow thinking is the one exception. This can cause many people to turn from discovering the deeper aspects of who we are because most people could never imagine having a quiet mind and it seems like a huge effort to “do” this. Many teachers say there is nothing to do and yet, it is often advised to actively stop our thoughts. From my experience trying this, it is quite funny to realize that the one who wants the thoughts to stop is the same one thinking! It’s a war of ego versus superego.
It is true that when the mind is quiet we can more easily feel our beingness. Yet, in the larger sense, if we are not limited to or defined by our body, our emotions or our thoughts, why do we believe we need to get rid of any of it? Just because we realize that we are something more that transcends our physical nature, does that mean we must deny the appearances? This is true for thoughts as well. The thoughts that appear in us are not us and do not define us. They are simply thoughts passing through our consciousness. The choice we have is to pick them up and believe them or not.
One advantage of not believing the thoughts that appear is that, after a while, they stop showing up. They don’t stick anymore and they don’t stir us up. Slowly something happens as a side effect of this…. we get quieter – naturally.
When our mind has slowed down, something else appears in that space. It is space itself and it expands until it consumes who we think we are and who we feel we are. Consciousness has room to be within us. We become an empty vessel which can be filled by presence.
From here, inspiring thoughts are able to reveal themselves. They arise from the stillness to offer an insight which could never have made it through all of the noise. These thoughts are from a different dimension that can be accessed more and more as we open to them. They aren’t limited to our small and repetitive way of thinking; they are beyond human, or beyond any label we place on them.
Most people have experienced that when we try hard to remember something, it just doesn’t come. Yet as soon as we give up trying, it is remembered. It is in the letting go, in the surrender, in which beauty happens. It is in the spaciousness of the quiet mind in which inspiration comes. It takes patience and trust, yet when the creative idea arises, it floods in like a tidal wave and gratitude is the only emotion that can meet it. And if we allow, it will take us to undreamt of discoveries.