Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the weeks of June 12 & 19, 2017

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One Mind

(Levels of Oneness 3)

Our mind seems to have a news ticker running all the time, presenting the ongoing stream of our thoughts. This is totally personalized: our very own news ticker, giving opinions, running commentary and judgments, remembering and rehashing our past, planning and rehearsing our future, pondering problems, weighing issues, and just passively daydreaming. Sometimes it seems directed along a particular line, while more often it bounces around almost randomly. Very often it returns to the same territory and the same patterns again and again. It is so familiar that we consider it to be our very self, or at least the closest thing we have to our self. It sounds like me. It is my own secret voice. It defines me.

But that definition is so completely fragmented, with so many different thoughts going in so many directions, that it lacks much meaning. If our thoughts truly represent us, then what are we? A scattered mass, with no core?

Yet that does not seem right either. We do not feel scattered all the time. We can pay attention. We can be here in this moment, solidly here. So this stream of thought is not who or what we are. Even when they say "I," in that familiar and intimate way, our thoughts are not who or what we are. Our entire inner development pivots on this crucial point: I am not my thoughts. Despite decades of assuming otherwise, I am not my thoughts.

How to realize that? There are two sides to that movement. One is to see our thoughts for what they are: just thoughts, not us, and not even an expression of us. And the other is consciously to be more than our thoughts.

If we are not conscious of our thoughts, we descend into them by default. They become us. One way out is to practice thought awareness in meditation.

We begin with becoming fully aware of, in contact with our body, fully in our body. In particular, we work at sensing our whole body. Established in that basic awareness, and staying with it, we can further open our awareness to include whatever is happening in our mind.

We notice each thought come and go, and the next one come and go. We just watch them as mental processes. We do not react to, lose ourselves in, or get carried away by the thought train. And whenever we do get lost in the thoughts, we gently come back into our body. Reestablishing and keeping our base in body awareness, enables us to see our thoughts as just thoughts, just something happening in our mind, without falling under their spell.

We need not be controlled by our thoughts. We do not need to do whatever our thoughts say. We do not need to believe that our thoughts speak for us. This is a core issue. We intentionally think some of our thoughts, for example when we are pondering some problem. But the vast majority of our thoughts think themselves; they run automatically, without our participation. They are not our voice. We see that often they are just random bits floating around our mind, or emanating from some urge we do not need or wish to satisfy. Thoughts come to the foreground in a pre-programmed style of reacting to something in our past, present, or future. They are just thoughts. We can be aware of them, so they are not what is aware. They are not who we are. They do not speak for us.

After a time, the thoughts slow down. Gaps open between them. Those gaps are not to be overlooked. They are doors, openings into our mind. We enter our mind through the gaps between thoughts. We open to that stillness, to the deep waters of our mind, beneath our thoughts. On the surface, thoughts continue to come and go, while we stay in our whole mind, undisturbed, unruffled, and at peace. This is our One Mind, a sea of cognizant stillness, with thoughts and mental images on its surface. Just as waves are not separate from the ocean, thoughts are not separate from our one mind and do not disturb it. It is a whole.

What we absorb on the meditation cushion carries over into the rest of our life. The more we see that we are not our thoughts and that they do not speak for us, the less enthralled we are by the surface of our mind. We abide in our one mind, awake, aware, and at peace.

For this week, please practice opening to your One Mind.

See Also: Mind and Thought series


     

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