We live our lives like under a spell, and the spell is the fact that we are both, continuously lost in thought, and believing our thoughts.
Thought itself is not problematic, it is a very necessary and beautiful expression of our minds. We could say that thought and thinking are at the very peak of evolution (at least up to now, who knows what may come). Without this capacity to think, to remember the past, to plan for the future, to solve problems, to create associations, to describe, to give names, to understand, a practical life is impossible.
The spell is not about thinking, but about being lost in thought, about believing thought to be truth.
The spell is that instead of ‘seeing’ life as it is, we think about it; but life is prior to thought. One way to describe what life actually is, is to say that life is ‘pure experience, now’. For example, when we say the word tree, we need to understand that the word is only a name we give to a pure experience, and it is very useful in order to both communicate and distinguish it, for practical purposes, from the ‘non-tree’. But what is actually a tree? It is something indescribable, unnameable; something spectacular, beautiful, alive; something that, in reality, cannot be separated from the rest of the Universe, from what we call wind and rain and eEarth and sun and the rotations of the planets and the galaxy and the Big Bang… As Carl Sagan put it: ‘if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe’.
Because we take the word as the reality, we don’t really ‘see’ trees – or life – anymore; we see words, we see mind, we see the name and the form that the spell creates and take those as the truth.
This spell has very big consequences.
Because we don’t connect with the fullness of what is actually out there, and instead we connect only with the very superficial aspect of it – its name and form –, our life looses meaning and color, it becomes empty and grey. As a consequence, we are faced with the impossible task to regain fullness and color trough acquisition, new experiences and the need for more. This impossible task is the very essence of suffering, at the inner level, and the destruction of the world, at the outer level.
The spell is not in thinking per se, but in the incessant movement of the mind and in the belief that the meaning of life, the truth of life, can be found in thought.
The solution, the breaking of the spell, is not in not thinking – that is not the problem. What needs to be done is to create a space of silence between thoughts: I think when thinking is necessary, but I am able to stop thinking when thought is not required.
A tree, a person, an event or life itself are always much more than what I think they are.
If we could ‘see’, when we see a person a tree or anything, we would be ‘seeing’ the whole of existence. And in that ‘seeing’, that sense of fullness and satisfaction we are all looking for will finally appear.
Everybody needs more knowledge, to know more, to learn new things, to discover what is unknown; this is a hugely important aspect of being alive. But this is only one aspect of what to be truly human means.
As important as this is, we also need to learn to ‘see’ what we already think we know.
Or, as William Blake said:
‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour’.
Or Walt Whitman:
‘And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles’