Thoughts might be the problem. Or perhaps trying to find thoughts with meaning. Awakening, falling back to sleep. There is a lot of activity in the brain, the ego chattering as it divides the world into smaller and smaller pieces, each with its own label. What are we doing? What are we?
When we start to pay attention to what is going on in our thinking, we slowly settle into a new role: the observer. The observer isn’t the one thinking – it’s not where the thoughts arise.
Thoughts are funny. They remind me sometimes of trout. Do you know what I’m talking about? Sometimes, when the light hits the deep pools of the river just right, you can see the trout at the bottom. They are like shadows down there. When you catch one, it shines and glistens in your hand, very beautiful. But they’re hard to hold. You slip them back into the river and they disappear. Then you catch another one.
You can fish that way a long time. You can grab your thoughts, too. The observer gets up and forgets to watch and becomes identified with a thought. Did I remember to turn the stove off before I left? Would Jesus have condoned the work I do? What does it mean to be enlightened?
The thoughts don’t go anywhere. They kill time and waste the body. We look up and we don’t any more now than we did five minutes ago, or five years ago. We still don’t feel inner peace. We still aren’t visited by angels. The world is still a thorn. Our sides are still bloody.
What if we consider our thoughts as having no meaning? Effluva produced by an over-worked organ? We don’t get worked up because our bowels keep producing. Why should the brain be so special? Who decided?
Thoughts come, thoughts go. What if one day, instead of seeing trout, we see the pool instead? And then not just that, but the river and the surrounding woods? Wouldn’t this be a helpful blurring? All of it connected? Is that just another thought? If it is, is it a useful one? Is there such a thing?
I keep trying to find one thought I would hold, one thought that has enough meaning and beauty . . . it doesn’t happen. Thirty, forty years and it hasn’t happened. The brain keeps going, but something else goes, too. Some awareness, some willingness.
Below our thoughts is another current. And maybe a current below that one. We can sink through these currents. Mind is porous, fluid. We can sink down to some quiet, some stillness. There is something comforting in this. Something familiar where you never thought there could be.