How does our mind work?
How do we create thoughts and how do we give meaning to them?
How do we experience life?
Let me give you a simple diagram to understand how thoughts flow in the mind and how you connect them.
Each thought in your mind is shown here as a rectangle. Each is a different shape, size, and color. Different thoughts are continuously flowing in you. One may be related to pain or a painful experience. Another may be related to joy or a joyful experience. The next one may be related to joy, but you think of it as pain. It is referred to as JP on the chart – joyful experience, painful impression. Similarly you may have a thought that is related to a painful experience, but you think of it as joy. It is referred to as PJ – painful experience, joyful impression.
Generally, all your thoughts are related to something about the past or the future. You cannot have thoughts about the present. In the present moment you can have only consciousness, no thoughts. Thoughts are either related to some joyful experiences that you had in the past and want to have in the future, or painful experiences that you had in the past and don’t want to have again.
Even at the time of some serious problem, you will suddenly have a positive thought. Even in the peak of joy, you will have some unconnected negative thought. Each thought is completely independent, completely unconnected to the previous thought. That is why you are able to have a happy thought amidst sad thoughts and vice versa.
Understand that no two thoughts are logically connected. No thought is responsible for the creation of another thought. They all appear randomly, independently, and illogically.
How do you ‘unclutch’ from this random stream of thoughts?
We will be using the word ‘unclutch’ again and again. Let’s clearly define what is meant by ‘unclutch’. When we change gears while driving a car, whether we change from first to second, or second to third, or any gear for that matter, we have to pass through neutral every time. We have to completely depress the clutch, or ‘unclutch’, move through neutral, and only then we can go to the next gear, right? In the same way, we experience a neutral space between any two thoughts in our mind. That neutral space, that silence that exists between two thoughts, is peace and bliss. When we no longer grab onto thoughts and connect them to the past or future, we remain ‘unclutched’. As we remain ‘unclutched’ from our thoughts we become more aware of the neutral spaces between thoughts. The gap between the thoughts will automatically extend when we remain ‘unclutched’ from the stream of thoughts. We will dwell in the neutral space longer and experience more and more peace and bliss.
When you suddenly become aware, any thought that flows in front of you becomes your life for that moment. You start giving attention to it, either to fulfill it or to escape from it. It is like slides on a projector. Any slide that is kept in front of the projector light is seen as reality on the screen. The problem is that in your inner space, the projector light is not continuously on. When I say projector light, I mean your awareness. It just comes and goes, comes and goes – you are not fully, continuously aware.
Many times, even though your eyes are open and your body is moving, you are not aware of your existence. An example from everyday life is like when you get into your car and drive for half an hour to the office. It is only after you reach the office, park the car, and get out, do you suddenly realize, ‘Oh, I have reached the office!’ It means that in those moments of driving, the projector light was off most of the time.\
Any slide that is placed in front of the projector during moments that the projector light, your awareness, is off is not part of your life. You don’t remember it at all. When the light comes on again, when your awareness comes back again, whatever thought you have at that time becomes a part of you. Understand that this is a very subtle truth. Your life is the totality of all the thoughts you have when you are aware and unaware.
Unfortunately, many times there are thoughts, many major decisions, and life- changing incidents that happen when you are not aware. These are also part of your life, part of your biography. Unfortunately, you are not aware of these scenes, decisions, or thoughts when they come up. Without your knowledge they have contributed significantly to your life. Be very clear, every moment that passes in your life without you being aware of it, without your presence, is suffering. You will either directly or indirectly create situations for suffering. Just like when the turn indicator light in your car blinks, your consciousness blinks also. But, because of your lack of awareness, you do not know when it is on and when it is off. I read a joke the other day:
One man got into his car and started the engine. He flipped on the turn indicator and asked his son to see if the light blinked in the rear of the car.
His son shouted back, ‘Yes, it’s on…no, it’s not on…yes it’s on…no it’s off…now it’s on!’
If you just see the thought flow in front of you, suddenly you will realize, ‘Oh god, all these things are actually going on in me! I don’t have a clue where I am heading. I don’t know what is happening in me!’
You are not aware, but constantly you believe you are aware. That is the first illusion.
If you become aware continuously, you open up to reality for the first time. It might be a bit intense initially, because until now, you have spent most of your time in unawareness. Ultimately, it will lead you to experience only joy and bliss.
This is the first truth. You are not aware of all the things that are happening in front of you. You do not remember your biography as it happened. You remember it only as you want it.
Just take a simple example. Your life is filled with different kinds of incidents relating to joy, suffering, guilt, pain, and depression. You don’t look at life as it is. What do you usually do? You collect only the incidents related to suffering and create a shaft, connecting only these ideas, and you think your life is nothing but suffering. You think that your life is a long chain of suffering, a pain shaft.
Very rarely, you create a joy shaft. It is very rare that you collect joyful incidents, create a joy shaft, and feel life is joy. It is rare not only in the number of joyful shafts, but also in the quality of them. Most of the time you collect all the painful memories and incidents, and create the idea that life is only pain. The moment you believe life is continuous painful occurrences, unconsciously you try to strengthen that belief, even though consciously you try to break the pain shaft. Please understand, your belief that life is a pain shaft or a joy shaft will stay only as long as you are unconscious, not when you are aware.
If you normally enjoy lustful thoughts, then whenever lustful thoughts cross your system, you come to the awareness, ‘I exist’. If you normally enjoy violent thoughts, whenever violent thoughts come into your system, you come to life and know that you exist. This is what I call a vicious circle: you empowering negativity and negativity bringing you back to life, you empowering more negativity, and more negativity bringing to life perceived excitement.
source: Living Enlightenment