You often speak about accepting our mind/thoughts. However, we really have to control our thoughts as most of the time they are negative/obsessive…How to find a balance? I really think the acceptance in our life is very healthful, but I don’t know how to handle the negative/anxious/obsessive thoughts. I mean, we have to do something to change them. But this implies an effort and sometime is becoming tiring… I hope you understand my question…
It is a beautiful question, asked from the heart. Yes, I understand exactly what you mean. I ask myself this exactly same question so many times!
The answer is that we need to walk a tightrope. It is true we need to try to change our negative/anxious/obsessive thoughts but also, we need to accept, allow and embrace our negative/anxious/obsessive thoughts. They both, trying to change and accepting, need to happen, and they both need to give space to each other because they happen in their own and unique way.
About our thoughts: we need to understand that for them to happen, the whole universe is permitting, allowing and CREATING these thoughts. It seems that you are creating your thoughts, but that is only an illusion. If I ask you: ‘Are you creating your thoughts?’, what would be your answer? ‘Well they are in my head’ – you may say – ‘and so since my head is mine, then it must be that I am the one creating them’. Yes, the thoughts appear in your head, but you are not doing it! It is only an illusion, not different than the illusion of the Sun moving around the Earth or of the blue sky.
For example, if you were creating them, would you create negative/anxious/obsessive thoughts? Of course not!!! You will create positive/relaxed/productive thoughts! You are not creating your thoughts, the whole universe is. It is like in the great quote by Carl Sagan: ‘if you want to bake an apple pie from scratch, you have to first invent the universe.’ This is true for apple pies as well as for thoughts. Nothing is disconnected form anything else, but everything is a beautiful and ‘logical’ web of infinite causes and effects creating all and everything at every single second of existence. And our thoughts are not an exception. There are reasons why negative/anxious/obsessive thoughts are appearing in your head. May be one day you will understand why, or may be you will not, but independently of it, they have a cause, a logic, a reason.
Based on this understanding (and to truly grasp this, to make it your own and not something that somebody else is saying, may take some time) you will accept, allow and embrace the negative/anxious/obsessive thoughts that at any moment may appear in your head. Or as Rumi said much more beautifully than me:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
–The Guest House by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Now, does this means that I should sit in my sofa and just bear with my arms crossed the assault of all these thoughts? Of course not!!!
With the clear understanding that these thoughts have a right to be, based on the movement of the whole universe, allow also your desire to get rid of them as an impulse that comes from the whole universe too. Do what is in your power to understand, to unravel the riddle behind them, and to let them go, but do it without the believe that there is anything wrong with them or with you. You did not choose for these thoughts to appear, nor the thoughts decided that they enjoy being in your head. The moment that the Big-Bang happened (or whatever is that happened), in a flash, these thoughts appeared in your head. The Big-Bang did not happened billions of years ago; this moment right now, like me writing these words in my computer and you reading them, is nothing but the Big-Bang (or whatever other name we want to give it) manifesting itself in all its splendor, magnificence and mystery.
Don’t fight with those thoughts – allow them based on your understanding of the nature of reality – and, at the same time, do what you can to move away from them. Do not give up. I know you have done much in this direction, but there is also much more to be done. Keep doing, keep going, keep trying, and at the same time, keep embracing and accepting them:
– they have a right to be,
– you have a right to want to get rid of them,
– and the universe has the right to be what it needs to be.
What is happening is not personal. It has nothing to do with you. There is nothing wrong with you or me or anybody else. It is the ‘whole’ expressing itself as spring, summer, autumn and winter, as night and day, as joy and pain, as life and death. Yes, spring is pleasant, and winter is difficult, but so what. Not long ago I was 20 years old and moving was for me natural, easy and playful, now I am 55 with a half paralyzed leg, but so what. A few people experience more pleasant thoughts, however most people experience quite difficult ones, but so what. When you play poker, sometimes you get good cards and sometimes not so good, but so what; you keep playing and do the best with what you have. Actually, a good poker player enjoys winning with bad cards!
In our case winning means to become wise. And to me, wisdom IS the meaning of our life. The meaning of our lives is not to enjoy, to help other people, or to love, but to become wise. What is wisdom?
This is a definition I found in Wikipedia: Wisdom is the ability to think, feel and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.
To me, wisdom is our capacity to be happy, based on ‘the ability to think, feel and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.’ Yes, knowing how to enjoy, helping other people and loving help us significantly to be happy. However, in its essence, happiness is the state of being that is connected to – that is one – to ‘the nature of reality’. ‘Be’ the moment*, and then accept and act.
So, coming back to the very beginning, walk the tightrope of this moment: accept and do, accept and do, accept and do… and then again, accept and do. And as you accept and do, ‘be’ the extraordinary nature of this moment. Happiness is neither in the acceptance nor in the doing, but in the ‘beingness’ of this magnificent moment, that transcend both.
*This is a whole subject in itself, what I call true spirituality, one that I am not really going into detail here at all.