Thinking: Our Greatest Addiction

Beyond all addictions, whether it is sex, drugs, alcohol, TV or video games, the greatest addiction humanity suffers from is thinking. Most of the external addictions that we suffer from are manifestations of our addiction to thinking. In order to not think, we binge on alcohol and TV to alleviate boredom. What is boredom? The thought that we could be doing something else right now. Indeed, it is simply a thought. This is why we grow increasingly bored with things that we do repeatedly. What we are doing now is no longer enough, we begin to think that there must be something better. We believe that it is our current situation that creates the boredom. We do not see that it is our thought that actually causes the boredom. Anxiety, at the mildest form, is boredom. Go further and you have anger, jealousy, guilt, hatred and a whole spectrum of nastiness. All the result of compulsive thinking. When we begin to believe our thoughts and identify with them, we start to spin elaborate stories that victimize ourselves and others. We no longer have control over our mind and instead, our mind controls us. The role of the master and the servant becomes reversed, and therein lies humanity’s downfall.

For most of us, controlling what we think can be a difficult task. Especially since we spent majority of lives thinking. A simple way to counteract this is to acknowledge a thought when we perceive it. Once we have acknowledged its existence, drop it. We do not have to follow our thoughts. Do this enough and the mind’s grip on you will weaken, eventually operating only when you require it to.

Being Yourself

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We hear advice on being ourselves often. It is a difficult thing to disagree with, so we agree. After all, how can we be anyone but ourselves? Simple, pure wisdom. Wisdom that goes unnoticed, not because it isn’t recognized, but because we do not see ourselves. All we see are representations of ourselves, remnants and relics of the past. Institutions, governments, corporations, cultures, nations, traditions are all physical expressions of our thoughts. They represent, in one way or another, a set of ideals or beliefs that we hold dear. There is some sense of belongingness when we identify with one of these organizations. We support this cause and oppose that cause. In doing so, we define ourselves by identifying with a collective. Democrat, republican, pro-life, pro-abortion, gay, straight, man, woman. The labels are endless. The more attached we become to these labels, the less we see ourselves. Beliefs and ideas are by their nature unchanging, lifeless structures. Life, on the other hand, cares little for consistency and is in a state of perpetual change. If we conform to these ideas, if we hold ourselves to some concept and insist we are a certain way, we inevitably blend into the structure and lose sight of our undefinable essence. Like the structures, we become lifeless, static.

Being yourself can be stated simply: forget all that you know about yourself, die in each moment so that you may live in the next. If you must express yourself, do so and then be done with it. Do not remain in it. Define the structure, but do not allow it to define you. Do not try to please anyone by being someone else, not your friend, your enemy, your teacher, your parent. Do not try to be a role model. Do not try to be an expert. Above all, do not try to be yourself. Be empty so that all that is left is you. Observe how your thoughts lead you astray, how you derive pleasure from social recognition. Observe its delusion, observe how it obscures you from being yourself. To be anything but yourself is to repress life itself.

Family

Many of us feels bound to our family. We might claim it to be out of gratitude or that they are our responsibility. We believe that in order to be a filial son or a responsible mother, we must love our family unconditionally and be there for them when they need us. We oppress ourselves into a set of ideals, believing that it is the right thing to do. We misunderstand attachment and mistake it for love, turning it into an obligation. As we conform into our respective roles, we lose sight of ourselves and our relationship becomes inauthentic. There is no longer the interaction between two people, there is only the roles of mother and son. Our pain seethes underneath our façade, unleashing itself somehow upon the world. We might ooze mild constant suffering, or we might explode with great force from time to time.

Forget the ideas of parent and child. Their intent is egoistic. Do as you please, be as you will. It is in our nature to love and guide them. When they do not listen to you, you might get angry.

“Why won’t they listen? I am their mother.”

“Why won’t my father listen to me?”

“Stop causing so much trouble!”

Why are you angry? Because you cannot control them. You no longer see your child or your parent, their expression of life. You see only an extension of yourself, a representation of motherhood or childhood, ideas devoid of life. When you give up control, your intent becomes loving. Your response to their behavior no longer comes from a place of anguish, but instead comes from genuine concern for them and for others. Give but do not ask, it will only obligate them through guilt. That is not love, only a shallow representation. When they wish to leave, let them leave. If they wish to stay, let them stay. In complete acceptance, there can be no suffering.

Who Am I?

At some point in our lives, we may start asking this question. We would really like to know where we fit in this world. Why am I here? Where am I headed? Where should I go? What should I do? All these questions are fundamentally the same. They seek to give us purpose, to give us a direction so we may be more fulfilled. If you are confused, you are almost there. The intellectual mind cannot know us. We might say “My name is Bob. I am an architect. I have 3 children. I am a loving husband.” And so on. But these lifeless labels are not us. Who “Bob” is does not have a name. A name is simply used to identify a form. To distinguish him from the rest. This segregation is necessary in the practical, physical world. Yet its significance is inconsequential. Who is “Bob” when he loses his job and his family? What if no one knows his name anymore? Is he still Bob? No, he was never “Bob”. This all seems hopeless. Who are we then? If not a collection of ideas and beliefs?

If we look to our past, we observe memories of our experiences, our emotions and our thoughts. Are they static? No. They are constantly changing, in a perpetual flux. Sometimes we think we are really smart, other times we are disappointed in ourselves. Sometimes we do not allow ourselves to be a certain thing because we have a deep rooted belief that we are the other.

“I should not have said that.”

“I should not have done that.”

“I am this way.”

“I am that way.”

Do you recognize these thoughts? The mind wants control. It seeks to identify, analyze and separate you from the whole. We think as we know more, we become more in control and ultimately wiser. This could not be further from the truth. Our basis for understanding reality is always rooted in our present. As such, we are limited by this state. All that we can ever know is right now. So who are you? You are whatever that is now. If you are sleeping, then that’s what you are. If you are speaking, then that’s what you are. You are the action, not the actor. How does this help in finding direction, in seeking guidance? Give that up, it is a lie. You are already being guided. What led you up to this point? To read this page? You are a constant expression of life. Understand this, and your own folly will be revealed.

“Do not swim – float.”

“Why is life so difficult?”

“I wish my life was more like his…”

“If only I had what she had.”

“Why can’t I be more like him?”

How many times have you heard these words? Perhaps you heard it uttered from the words of others. Perhaps you heard it in your own thoughts. Did you sense the suffering behind these words? The struggle?

Have you ever witnessed leaves on a river? We can see much of ourselves in nature. This is because we are nature. We might have distorted ourselves through lifeless thoughts, but nature has a way of bringing us back. Nature reminds us of our senseless struggle. There is no struggle, the flower silently states.

We struggle because we want more. We think if we have more love, more money, more security, more luxuries, we would eventually cease struggling. We believe there comes a point when we would have enough and the struggle will disappear. We compare and criticize, condemn and condone. Blinded by our own thoughts, we do not see that it is the very desire for more that causes the struggle. Struggling gives us a sense of identity. If we are not working hard, it means we are not fulfilling our potential. Because we are not fulfilling our potential, we are a disappointment to both ourselves and our peers. For many of us, there is a sense that we are special, different from the rest. Whether we want to be an artist, an athlete, a doctor or even a “simple” farmer. We carry our identities so we can separate ourselves from the rest. Yet this is merely an illusion. When we engage in painting, we are painters. When we cease painting, we are no longer painters. What we call ourselves and what we think of ourselves is completely fictitious. The moment you stop to conceptualize yourself, you have already failed. To marginalize yourself into a set of characteristics is to deny your own ineffable and spontaneous nature.

We swim so strenuously because we believe there is treasure at the bottom of the river. Some of us swim to the north, some of us swim to the south. Wherever we swim, we will find no treasure. Yet the strangest thing happens when we stop seeking. We see the true treasure – the river itself.

I wrote this post in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge in wordpress. This is the link to the challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/weekly-writing-challenge-dear-abby/

On Relationships

What is a relationship? No doubt we would hear many different opinions on what a relationship is. In traditional terms, we consider ourselves to be “in a relationship” with someone else when both parties have mutually agreed that they like each other in a way that is “more than friends”. This leads us to ask the question, what constitutes friendship? We could come up with a list of things, such as “friendship is about helping one another” or “friendship is about enjoying each other’s company”. What happens then, when your friend does not help you after you have helped him? Or if you had a dispute and in that instance, did not enjoy his company? In those instances, are you both still friends?

The error we have made here is not in coming up with the wrong list of things, but attempting to define friendship or what a relationship is. When we communicate with another person, there is only the process of communication. When we label this spontaneous process, we limit it by bringing our own expectations into it. How many times have you heard stories about how someone’s husband or girlfriend was not who they made out to be? The act of “cheating” is the most prominent delusion that people in relationships suffer from. We think that because we are married or attached to another person, their actions must coincide with our expectations. We feel betrayed when our partners cheat not because their actions have explicitly caused us pain, but because they have failed our expectations. There is no pain but the pain we cause ourselves. Our compulsive need to be in control, to define and create boundaries is the reason why we fail in our relationships.

In truth, there are no relationships. There is only the process. This desire for consistency in one’s actions is an illusion that pervades our mentality. When we simply enjoy one another’s presence without expecting them to be anything, we begin to fully appreciate their essence without forcing them into our own ideals. We would be free from our possessive thoughts, our senseless jealousy, our self-imposed suffering.