Watch your thoughts
When you are asleep in life, thoughts completely take you over. You fail to differentiate between who you really are and the thoughts that take place in your mind. You accept your thoughts as totally true and blindly react to them. For most people, their thoughts are in the background. They are a constant drone of noise that they are completely unaware of. As we awake, we realise the distinction between the thoughts of our mind and who we truly are. Our true self is peace, happiness and pure joy. It is the out-of-control mind that creates suffering, agitation and misery.
To begin this process, watch your thoughts. Be a good gardener of your mind. Be attentive to what is growing in your mind, just as a good gardener is aware of the weeds that are trying to take hold while at the same time nurturing the ﬂowers. Turn up the volume of your thoughts. Bring them to the surface. Observe them. I’m not talking about thoughts that we need to deal with a practical situation. Instead, I’m taking about the background noise in your head as you perform certain activities or routines throughout the day.
Keep an eye on repetitive thoughts. What thoughts do you repeat over and over again? How long have you been running these thoughts through your head? When do your thoughts arise most frequently? What affect do these thoughts have on your body? How do you feel when you think these thoughts? Do you reach a conclusion from these thoughts? Do they help you in any way? How much time do these thoughts take from you?
Don’t analyse your thoughts, as I don’t wish to replace one form of thought with another. I just want you to notice your thoughts, how often they occur and how you feel as a result of them. Do you feel tense? Do you feel happy? Do they distract you? When you are tense does this affect people around you? I would like you to become aware of this. By watching your thoughts without reacting to them, you learn about the nature of thought and become less of a prisoner to it.
For example, when you are talking with somebody, do you have a lot of thoughts? When you are reading a book or doing a task, does thought after thought distract you? When you go for a walk in nature, is your attention in your head or are you really seeing, hearing and feeling what is going on around you? When you are driving, do you lose track of the journey and enter the stream of mind? When you are brushing your teeth, is that all you are doing or where is your attention? When you are eating a meal, are you enjoying each mouthful or did your mind take you over soon after the ﬁrst bite? When you have breakfast, are you also reading the newspaper, the writing on the cereal box or whatever else is available? As you drink a cup of tea, are you really tasting what you are drinking, sip by sip? When you go to the toilet, are you really there at all or is your attention elsewhere?
Please do the above and, in every situation that you ﬁnd yourself in, watch how you are thinking. Are you really living life or are you solely living in your head? Are you missing what is going on around you or are you really connected? Is your mind causing you torture and draining you of energy? Do you think to reach a conclusion or are your thoughts a merry-go-round with no ﬁnality? Be honest, as you are not alone. Humans have lost the ability to control their minds. They have no idea of what is taking place in their mind. They are asleep.
Is the mind the absolute truth?
Many inﬂuences shape your life: events, TV, propaganda, literature, advertising, family, friends, parents, society, education and religion. All of these things develop and condition the programmes of your mind. In turn, this inﬂuences how you act, react, perceive and interpret. Ultimately, no attitude, behaviour, thought or opinion is truly yours.
One child grows up with a parent who constantly fears poverty. Year in and year out, he listens to his father talk about a lack of money and all of his bills, and wonder aloud about what money is coming in the future and whether he will have work in a few months. His father is afraid to spend money for fear of the future. The child listens to this from day one to when he gains independence and leaves home. His father has a poverty consciousness and chances are that it will be passed onto the child. Later in life, whenever a decision is made relating to money, the child who grows into an adult will look through his poverty consciousness. Every time he receives a bill in the post, his stomach will tense. Anytime that he goes to the bank to deal with a small issue, he will worry about it beforehand. If someone overcharges him, he will get very agitated. He will make choices solely based on money. This person will constantly fear and worry about ﬁnances. A loss of money will be a great hardship to him.
Another child lives in a household of similar means but with a father who has a comfortable attitude about money. He is careful and does not overspend. He does his work and earns a living, even though sometimes it is not easy. Things always fall into place. This father does not constantly complain about a lack of ﬁnances. If he has a tight few months, he realises that this will change. This child will grow up to be an adult who does not fear for a lack of money.
The ﬁrst child who grows into an adult will believe his viewpoint to be absolutely true. Tension, anger and arguments will arise if his partners’ behaviours differ from his. The second child will grow into an adult without such heavy opinions regarding ﬁnance and money. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is acting out of free will? Are you any different?
Our mind is shaped and conditioned by many factors over which we have no control. Many of our thoughts are shaped completely by our past, and are based on the opinions, habits, events and actions of other people. For most of us, we are living a life imposed by someone else. Do you think you are living a life free from the inﬂuences of others? Don’t accept what your mind throws up at you to be the absolute truth. We all form opinions about people, situations and events. But are these completely true or are they based on our past conditioning?
Are you always seeking the future?
When the boy is small, he is waiting to grow up to be a big boy. When he is a big boy, he is waiting to change schools. When he is in primary school, he is waiting to attend secondary school. When he is in secondary school, he is waiting to get a job or attend university. When he has a job, he is waiting to get married. When he is married, he is waiting to have children. When he has children, he is waiting for the children to get older. When his children are older, he is waiting to retire. When he is retired, he has little future left so he starts to dwell on the past. When he is young, he is anxious and thinks about the future. When he is old, he is depressed and thinks about the past. Life has passed him by, and by the time he realises this, it is too late. Don’t wait for your life to change. Live it now.
Not only are we waiting for life changes, we are also seeking lifestyle choices. “Oh, life will be so much better when I achieve this, that or the other. Oh, how wonderful life will be in six months. Oh, how happy I will be in my new car. I long for the future. My car is not the latest model. My house is not as nice or big as my friends. I was happy until I saw my friend’s house, but now I am not happy. My house is not good enough.”
“I made a mistake six months ago. I cannot live happily with my problem. The problem is so big. I am putting my life on hold until the problem is solved. I will be so unhappy until then. It is the future that I want. I will be only happy in the future.” When I get a new house, life is bliss for a few weeks. When I get a new car, I am so happy for a few weeks. When I get a new wife or husband, I don’t know how I will ever have lived without this person – for a few weeks. When my problem is sorted out, it will not be long before another surfaces.
Achievement of goals brings momentary happiness. As soon as we achieve, the mind sets another goal. Like the boy growing up, the goalposts keep moving. We can never catch up using this approach. Set goals but keep your attention in the present. Don’t be concerned about the outcome. Set the outcome aside as this will only take you into the future. In any event, having your full attention on the task at hand will generate a far superior quality of work.
Work on your goal but keep your attention immersed in the present moment and move with it step by step, frame by frame. Move simultaneously with time. You cannot live in the future, nor can you live in the past. The present moment is the only time you can live in.
We come into this world with nothing. We leave this world with nothing. In India, it is common practise for parents to advise their children to remain at a certain economic or social level for quite some time before moving on again. In other words, they are told not to get caught up with the feeding frenzy of consumerism that takes place in the West. Advice like this, along with the practise of inner body awareness and meditation, has resulted in very low depression rates in India. Contrast this with the tension of man in the so-called developed world.
Is this his life?
Liam was one of the wealthiest property developers in Ireland during the economic boom. During mid-2009, an Irish bank sought to put him into bankruptcy. The Pat Kenny morning radio show mentioned that a friend told Liam that it was “only money,” to which Liam replied, “it’s not only money, it’s my life.” Is his perspective true? Yes, he spent years building his empire and it was tumbling around him. That is difﬁcult. But how is it his life?
For years, he might have invested a lot of time thinking about his life story. “Oh, what a wonderful man I am. How wealthy I am. I am worth so much money. I have big cars and property. Oh, people must think I am great. I am so clever. I must have the Midas touch.” He reduced his life to a story. Now, circumstances have changed and he can no longer live the story that he built up over the years. His lifestyle no longer coincides with his story. This is a rude awakening but it is not his life. The story is nothing more than a ﬁgment of his imagination. Of course, build up your business, make money, have a nice lifestyle. But don’t get lost in it. Don’t lose sight of the real you. Things come. Things go. Everything in life is a series of cycles.
Life is not about more money, more cars, more houses and more business. This is the human mind and not the real you. The human mind, especially the mind of the Western male, always wants more. More, more, more. Western society is not intelligent. It is stupid and reﬂects the collective mind of an idiot.
What is Your Story?
Our story is a fairytale of how we perceive ourselves. We think about our positive qualities and we think about our negative qualities. If thoughts about our positive qualities outweigh thoughts about our negative qualities, we are conﬁdent about ourselves.
If thoughts about our negative qualities outweigh our positive qualities, we lack conﬁdence. A negative story can be made up of constant thoughts about being fat or ugly or stupid, or not attractive to the opposite sex. Someone with an inferiority complex might have been told at one point how useless he is. He continues to run this thought over and over through his head. After a certain time, he acts according to this belief system that has been established. Over time, these thoughts become ﬁxed and form his personality.
A positive story might be made up of how educated I am, how smart I am, how attractive I am, how large my muscles are, what a well paid person I am, how intelligent I am. Both are stories and both are thoughts and ﬁgments of your mind. These stories are created through the repetition and reinforcement of thousands of the same thoughts. Your story is not real. Do you think it is the truth? What happens when your story changes? What happens when the attractive person gets old and wrinkled? What happens when the wealthy person goes bankrupt? Why waste so much energy creating a story that is nothing more than a ﬁgment of the imagination?
When you create a story, you tend to act from that story instead of acting from free will. Therefore, your story restricts your freedom to act spontaneously. Animals and nature do not create stories about themselves. A dog with three legs gets on with life. A fat horse is not too bothered either. An ugly crow has no problem waking up on a Monday morning. They live according to their true nature, which is absent of thought. Living your life according to the story that you have created about yourself is not living. Most people do this and effectively die at 18 years of age even though they are buried at age 80.