Source: The Secrets Of Mindfulness | by Ervin K. Kery
Take a watch or a stopwatch, and decide that you are not going to think for a while, as long as you are able to do so! Well, how long has it taken until the first thought slipped into your mind? 5-10 seconds? Are you able to avoid thinking for minutes?
You will be astonished: you are incapable of not thinking. Thinking takes place, it happens to you. The thoughts thinks you, and it is not you who thinks it. You do not do it at will (if it depended it on your will, you could simply avoid thinking), and you are unable to suppress thinking or keep it under control.
We are proud of capable of thinking, as this is what elevates us above the animal kingdom, and our personal identity is also rooted in our thoughts to a large extent. Philosopher René Déscartes declared ”I think, therefore I am.” But is this really thinking that makes us what we are? Would we exist if we did not think?
If we devote some time to monitoring our thoughts, we soon realize that thoughts in our mind keep shifting and changing: a thought appears, then it vanishes, and is replaced by another thought, linked, associated to the previous one–that is how thoughts stream continually, without a stop. Where is this vast stream of thoughts coming from, how has that stream become the foundation of our identity?
The Unconscious Deep Programs of the Mind
When we come to this world as newborn babies, we do not have thoughts, we only have an unconsciously experienced uniform experience. From that, the world of forms and shapes gradually unfolds and, with the help of the language, we learn to categorize our experiences, to put them into conceptual pigeonholes. ”She is mother, that is a tree, and this here is a house.” The language appears, and together with it, the thoughts.
As small children we are extremely open to the outside world, we want to know all about it, we want to conquer it. But we have very little experience in connection with the world, so we apply to the adults around us: parents and teachers. The adults are pleased and willing to tell us how the world works–that is, the way they perceive the world, with their own eyes and in their own beliefs. We are fed partial, fragmented pieces and bits of information, and that is what we devour and believe without hesitation–the program of a system of beliefs.
These explanations run like some sort of a programs in the child’s mind. Children are willing to accept unconditionally what they hear from the adults, who are, in a child’s mind, authorities like a God or a sorcerer. Children believe that in this way they will be able to understand the world around them. Parents, kindergarten nurses, teachers, the priests of the congregation and later politicians–who were previously programmed by their own parents, teachers, priests and politicians in a similar manner– form ideas in the children’s minds that are presented as unquestionable truths. These ideas are fixed in the subconscious parts of our minds as a complex system of beliefs that are built upon each other as complementary elements and determine how we see the world and how we act in it.
The beliefs function as hypnotic programs in the computer of the mind, and we are hardly able to resist them. What I have already believed, what is a part of my own ideas, is something that I do not question, that is ”my own truth” and I live my life according to those truths. Our beliefs and convictions are like programs running automatically in the hardware of a computer.
These systems of beliefs that have been installed into us will then do strange things to us. As these are usually unconscious rules, they tend to largely inhibit our creativity. Our beliefs clearly determine what we should think and do and how we should think and do that. I cannot do this, I should not do that, I should not be thinking like that, and must not feel this etc.
A number of the programs are “good” and ethical, as these prevent the impulsive and aggressive outbursts of the Ego, the small ”Self” but, unfortunately, most of the programming is harmful, since these systems of beliefs make us predictable and easy to control.
The Phantom who Lives in Us and Says that it is Us
It is important to understand that during most of our life we are asleep, we live in deep narcosis. Even when our eyes are open, we are still in the dreams of our thoughts, in the imaginary world of our desires and fears, and we are no fully aware of the depths of the present moment. The pure space of Consciousness is shrouded with the clouds of more and more thoughts, the thoughts are joined with emotions, and the thoughts and emotions develop into intricate systems of beliefs which, in the end, cover up the entire space of Consciousness–keeping it in a narcosis, in the narcosis of the systems of beliefs until the end of the person’s life.
Inside the Consciousness a condensed core of thoughts is generated: the Ego, a phantom that does not even have an existence of its own. It is but a mere idea, which calls itself ”ME!” Through self-observation and meditation you are able to look beyond thoughts, in search of your thinking Self, and you are surprised to find that the voice chattering in your head is not somebody, it does not have an existence of its own, it is just a bundle of the systems of beliefs and the emotions connected to these.
Expresssions like “my religion,” “my tribe,” “my country,” “my faith,” or “my principles” indicate how deeply we identify with some sort of a system of beliefs. So much so that we do not even know who is ”I,” because we fully identify with a role, with the ideological mask we are wearing.
Waking up from the Hypnotic Dream
It is worth monitoring our thoughts. At all times and under every circumstance. Especially when we need to make a decision in an apparently important issue. We then may observe that though we make a seemingly rational decision, the decision is in fact based upon the systems of beliefs petrified in us. We cannot speak about free will and freedom when we are the captives of some dogma: it is the dogma that makes the decision. For us and instead of us!
Let us make a habit out of examining our thoughts! Let them emerge, and let us contemplate them peacefully–but keep a little distance from them. We should not believe our thoughts, we should not believe in the absolute truth of our thoughts. We must realize that they are only the ”tentacles” of the systems of beliefs that wind themselves around us and eventually strangle us. Free ourselves from the obligation of confusing our systems of beliefs with absolute truths.
Watch carefully our thoughts, derived from our beliefs, and notice that they keep us in some sort of a dazed state, a hypnosis. Once we have experienced that, we are free to wake up from a hypnosis of thousands of years.
Unleash the self-inhibiting beliefs in order to–finally!–allow Life, the Miracle emerge in us and through us.
(Excerpt from the book “The Miracle of Consciousness”)
About The Author
Ervin K. Kery attained mindfulness after a sudden crash of the ego. Since the first awakening to consciousness he is an enthusiast consciousness and mindfulness meditation researcher, spiritual writer and publisher. More about the Author here.