Moving Beyond Thought
May 21, 2015 § 6 Comments
The law is a rational convention. No wonder, then, that it attracts thinkers — those among us who rely on thought and logic as our primary means of understanding and relating to the world in which we live.
In law school, we are taught to use thought and logic in our approach to the law.
But, it seems to me, thought and logic are only two of many approaches to grasping reality — approaches, not reality itself — and because reality has so many variables and is so complex, limiting ourselves to those approaches alone may not produce a complete comprehension of the truth. And isn’t grasping the truth what the law should be about?
When I ran across some passages from Eckhart Tolle’s Stillness Speaks, I found them enlightening and helpful in understanding the distinction between what we think we know, and what is real. I hope you find these passages of some use:
Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the confines of their own thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalized sense of self that is conditioned by the past.
In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. We may call it presence, awareness, the unconditioned consciousness. In the ancient teachings, it is the Christ within, or your Buddha nature.
Finding that dimension frees you and the world from the suffering you inflict on yourself and others when the mind-made “little me” is all you know and runs your life. Love, joy, creative expansion, and lasting inner peace cannot come into your life except through that unconditioned dimension of consciousness.
If you can recognize, even occasionally, the thoughts that go through your mind as simply thoughts, if you can witness your own mental-emotional reactive patterns as they happen, then that dimension is already emerging in you as the awareness in which thoughts and emotions happen – the timeless inner space in which the content of your life unfolds.
The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.
Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don’t take your thoughts too seriously.
How easy it is for people to become trapped in their conceptual prisons.
The human mind, in its desire to know, understand, and control, mistakes its opinions and viewpoints for the truth. It says: This is how it is. You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret “your life” or someone else’s life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many possible perspectives. It is no more than a bundle of thoughts. But reality is one unified whole, in which all things are interwoven, where nothing exists in and by itself. Thinking fragments reality – it cuts it up into conceptual bits and pieces.
The thinking mind is a useful and powerful tool, but it is also very limiting when it takes over your life completely, when you don’t realize that it is only a small aspect of the consciousness that you are.
Wisdom is not a product of thought. The deep knowing that is wisdom arises through the simple act of giving someone or something your full attention. Attention is primordial intelligence, consciousness itself. It dissolves the barriers created by conceptual thought, and with this comes the recognition that nothing exists in and by itself. It joins the perceiver and the perceived in a unifying field of awareness. It is the healer of separation.
When you no longer believe everything you think, you step out of thought and see clearly that the thinker is not who you are.
Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identified with the thinking mind. It means that you don’t see the other human being anymore, but only your concept of that human being. To reduce the aliveness of that other human being to a concept is already a form of violence.
Become at ease with “not knowing.” This takes you beyond the mind because the mind is always trying to conclude and interpret. It is afraid of not knowing. So, when you can be at ease with not knowing, you have already gone beyond the mind. A deeper knowing that is nonconceptual then arises out of that state.
In don’t know about you, but I find it liberating to understand that the rational approach that is so necessary to the law is not the only way to interact with the world. Indeed, it is not — and should not be — the only way to interact with the law. There are deeper ways of understanding, if we will only use them.
And I know that some pan Tolle for his eclecticism. I agree that he’s no Nietzsche, but we shouldn’t snub a valuable message because the messenger isn’t sophisticated enough.
I found these passages in the May issue of The Sun Magazine, which I commend to any of you who are seeking a deeper understanding of human nature, and not merely confirmation of your existing notions.