We're only human
I hope this isn't too random or too obscure.
If it is, I apologise in advance.
That means (and speaking personally) we think — constantly.
And stories, emotions and feelings emerge.
The waters are choppy at the best of times, but there's a strong inclination to avoid the crappy thoughts (or shove them down) and savour or encourage the good ones.
If that's not your experience, fine, but when I was growing up, no one explained to me that thinking was part of the human condition, how it might then operate over the course of my life and that it's a random affair, despite repeatedly being told that the apogee of life was to be (constantly) happy. And I clearly bought into this. Remember, one of the first personal development books I ever bought was "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Can you imagine it? Thinking yourself rich! It's positively chortle-worthy.
One other thing that's rarely discussed is that we live in a subject (us)/object (everything else) world — i.e. it's dualistic. Imagine, though, removing the subject just long enough to opine upon the thing that previously we took for granted.
Take something as obvious as the things we see — e.g. clouds, the moon, the sun and all things in nature. Absent us, you might argue that there's just..., err..., well..., something, but you can't evince any labels.
Do you remember my J. Krishnamurti quote from a few weeks back? He puts it quite nicely.
“The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.”
A bit esoteric or going off the woo-woo chart again?
But then again, if you've tried or experienced any form of meditation practice, at the very least, you're trying to steady and have a different relationship with your thoughts. After that, but not always — it depends on the practice — you're invited to witness your thoughts, much in the same way that you'd watch the clouds float on by and not interfere with them or become them — a form of disassociation if you will. That means things are as they are and you, the subject, drop the labelling and/or judgment.
Imagine though, if were it even possible, that you could quiet your thoughts to nothing. What then? What would that mean for your perceived world? No, I don't think you'd turn into a somnambulist and it's conjecture I know, but perhaps you'd begin to or have a very different relationship with the world. No judgment; no this or that; just everything as it is.
Finally, add into the mix the notion of free will and choice (you need to suspend your disbelief in the woozy gauze of rational thinking) asking yourself, over and over, if you actually choose your thoughts, and things begin to take on an even more mysterious (or is that enlivening?) hue. And, no, in case you're wondering, I'm not a fatalist but (and I'm ready, again, for the brickbats) my personal view is that there's no such thing as free will and choice, and if that's right it enables me to accept this moment fully or at least to the point where I'm not constantly arguing with myself.
To be clear, I've reflected overnight on the Chögyam Trungpa quote about freefalling without a parachute and there being no ground, and without wanting to go out on a limb and say I'm fully awake — I'm certainly a lot more awake in the classical spiritual sense than I was before I left legal practice in 2010 — I no longer relate to my thoughts as I once did. It's a combination of having a quieter mind, not labelling things to the degree that I used to and comprehending that I don't choose my thoughts in a way that I previously thought. I'll write about this some more (I haven't forgotten that I'm going to share a few more reflections on work) but for now, all I'm hoping to do is to invite you to consider what it means to be awake as a human being operating in a world that's constantly and shamelessly trying to persuade you of so many things — e.g. how you look, what you say, how you think and what success means.
I did think with this post about jotting down a few words on enlightenment and what that means to me, but for now, having steadied myself from the ingestion of some fairly heavy and esoteric teachings, I'll refrain from doing so. But it is something, perhaps in a podcast, I might talk about over the coming weeks.
That's it for the day then. Thanks for reading.
I'm off out with the pooch. I need to stretch my legs, get some fresh air and then wait for my daily work instructions.