I am revisiting this classic topic.
Thoughts appear out of nowhere. They come and go and live their own life. And we are trained to take ownership over them and say to ourselves “I am thinking” and “I thought that”.
One way to explore this is to notice it as it happens. A thought comes out of nowhere. I cannot find any origin. And then there is a thought saying “I thought that” even if it’s not based in reality or my own experience. Basic meditation – allow & notice – is one way to notice this.
We can also explore this in the context of noticing what we are, and through more structured inquiries like the Living Inquiries and The Work.
In the context of what we are
When I find myself as capacity for my world, I also find myself as capacity for the thoughts that are here.
I notice thoughts come and go within what I am, and come and go out of nothing.
This, in itself, releases some or most or all of the identification with the thoughts, at least while I notice what I am.
And this also happens generally over time the more I get used to and familiar with finding myself as capacity for thoughts and my world in general.
The Work on the thought “I think”
Statement: I think.
Q1: Is it true? Yes, sometimes it seems true.
Q2: Can you know for certain it’s true? No, I cannot know for certain.
Q3: What happens when you believe “I think”?
I take my thoughts personally. I feel responsible for them. I tell myself I create them and they reflect who and what I am. I am more cautious about my thoughts. I try to control them and shepherd them in a direction I prefer and think is better. I sometimes get slightly paranoid about my thoughts. I relate to them with some tension. They feel close. I feel I need to protect them if someone threatens them and what they tell me. I more easily get absorbed into them. I tend to take myself as the thoughts. I become the viewpoint of the thoughts. It becomes an identity for me, and one I feel I need to uphold and protect.
Q4: Who would you be without the belief “I think”?
I see thoughts come and go. They live their own life. There is space around them. They happen within and as space. I am more curious about them. I observe them. I take them more as innocent questions. I am less or not identified with them. If someone or something doesn’t agree with them, I observe the two viewpoints and can explore the dynamic between them more openly. I am open to what’s valid in thoughts and how they are not valid. I am open to how they may be useful and when and how they are not.
Turnaround 1: I don’t think.
Well, they come and go on their own. “I” don’t create them or determine what they say.
The idea “I think” is a thought. I don’t know for certain if or how it’s true. Thoughts may not be what I think they are. (They probably are not.)
TA 2: Thoughts “I”.
This is a weird turnaround. If I think, then perhaps it’s also true that thoughts create the “I”? Can I find “I” outside of thoughts? Not really. It seems that a sense of “I” is created by thoughts – saying “I” did this and that, “I” exist, “I” am this human self, and so on. Without it, there is just what’s here without that particular overlay of thought. There is still what thoughts may label this human being doing things in the world and with the experiences that are here.
TA 3: You think.
If I think I think, then I think you think as well. I see you as I see me. I see your thoughts as personal to you. I see your thoughts as reflecting who and what you are. I take your thoughts about me, or your thoughts either agreeing or disagreeing with mine, personally. I create a tense relationship between your thoughts and mine, and am ready to agree or defend according to what you say or write. My world revolves around my and your thoughts and their relationship and what I feel I have to do about it.
The primary here, in this and most types of inquiry, is the noticing and resting with the noticing, and the secondary is putting it into words.
I will also explore this using Living Inquiries, and may write some notes here when I do.