attention to thought and gone thoughts

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attention to thought and gone thoughts

Postby moniquedepique » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:19 pm

When I get absorbed in thinking, every now and then something pops into my mind. It is: "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to observe my thinking." It's something that Eckhart recommends, it's part of the teaching. Everytime I observe my thinking I notice more often than not that they are completely gone. How are you supposed to observe thoughts if they are no longer there to observe?

I realize that the question that relates to this matter is usually the other way around. People believe they are not suppose to think. But according to the teaching you watch your thoughts, let them be and see what they tell you, so you shine the light of consciousness on them. You can't do that if your thought disappears altogether, can you?

It makes it hard 'to shine a light on the thought' and that what I was thinking returns after a while.
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Re: attention to thought and gone thoughts

Postby Rob X » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:05 pm

moniquedepique wrote:When I get absorbed in thinking, every now and then something pops into my mind. It is: "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to observe my thinking." It's something that Eckhart recommends, it's part of the teaching. Everytime I observe my thinking I notice more often than not that they are completely gone. How are you supposed to observe thoughts if they are no longer there to observe?

I realize that the question that relates to this matter is usually the other way around. People believe they are not suppose to think. But according to the teaching you watch your thoughts, let them be and see what they tell you, so you shine the light of consciousness on them. You can't do that if your thought disappears altogether, can you?

It makes it hard 'to shine a light on the thought' and that what I was thinking returns after a while.


Hello Moniquedepique. Welcome to the forum.

Observing thought is about discovering and abiding in that which is not a thought. Buddhism calls this mindfulness. It’s not about seeing what thoughts can tell you. That would entail engaging in the content of the thought - which is basically more thinking. By discovering and abiding in that which is outside of thought we become less likely to be reactive when certain types of unwanted thoughts arise. If thoughts vanish when you observe them then that’s quite a good place to be. What is it that remains when thoughts disappear? Abide in that - become familiar with it. It will serve you well in difficult times.

If you really want thoughts to stick around during (what is basically) meditation then when thoughts subside just shift your focus on to watching the in and out breath for a while. I can promise you that thoughts will return with a vengeance. When the thoughts subside again come back to the breath - and so on.
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Re: attention to thought and gone thoughts

Postby moniquedepique » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:48 pm

Hello Moniquedepique. Welcome to the forum.

Thank you.

You are right it's not about what thoughts can tell you. I also agree that the vanishing of thought altogether is not a problem, but maybe I didn't aks it right.

On page 15 in The Power of Now, the question at hand is: What exactly do you mean by 'watching the thinker', I read and quote:

[...]Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old grammophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what I mean by 'watching the thinker', which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence.
[...]

So what I'm trying to say is that when I try to watch the thinker, I no longer can do what I was set out to do, since all thoughts are gone.

To use an analogy of my own: soap bubbles. Let's say each soap bubble represents an idea, a philosophy, or an over analyses on some kind of a situation. In other words: it represents a thought. If you are subjected to your thought, you're like a little entity locked inside a soap bubble. If you are the witnessing presence you are like the bubble blower, witnessing the experience, watching it's colors, watching de bubbles pop, etc.

I'm quite familiar with meditation. I hardly do that anymore because of a chronical nasal illness. I can hardly breath through my nose. But in mediation I soon noticed my thoughts, for a while it carried me away and I reminded myself again: "Oh yeah, I was supposed to watch my breath." During meditation I found a lot of opportunities to observe my thoughts. However, not anymore.

The reason I ask the question is because I do like to observe my thoughts in order to....well... to let them pop. :mrgreen:
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Re: attention to thought and gone thoughts

Postby kiki » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:18 pm

Webwander's post was spot on. MIndfully watching thoughts is a kind of "stepping back" from thinking; thoughts continue with one caveat - that which is watching begins to come to the forefront of attention. That "watcher" has always been present, otherwise you wouldn't even know that thoughts were present, but it was in the background as attention was absorbed in thought-stream.

The goal of watching thoughts is not to eliminate them, but rather, to bring about the realization that what you are is not limited to the thinking process, that you are actually the consciousness/awareness in which thoughts arise. When thoughts are gone then what remains is the foundation upon which the "mental matrix" of the thinking entity relies. In other words, what remains is the truth of what you are, the witnessing presence of aware consciousness. The untruth of what you are is that mentally created web of thoughts and ideas that's been identified with as the separate "me". That me is the fraudster that's been masquerading as you since early childhood.

So, what to do when the "bubble" pops? There's nothing to do. Simply rest in/as that consciousness that is free of everything. What you are in reality is that freedom. Why not abide there? It's like taking a journey home; once you are home the journey ends and you rest and simply enjoy that fact that you are in the comfort of home and you relax because all doing has stopped.

Eventually thoughts will return and attention will be drawn away again by those thought-stream bubbles and another journey has seemingly drawn you away from home, but when the realization comes that you have slipped back inside the bubble on another journey freedom from that bubble is at hand and a return to home follows. Doing this over and over will bring that freedom and sense of "home" more and more to the forefront of attention, and the tendency to become trapped inside "bubble world" diminishes.

The comfort and freedom of "home" will be sensed more and more even when thoughts come. At this point the experience is like being in the world of bubbles, but no longer trapped by the world of bubbles. One can indulge the world of thinking while simultaneously sensing freedom because you've become anchored in the reality of what you are, consciousness.

Edited to add:

The reason I ask the question is because I do like to observe my thoughts in order to....well... to let them pop. :mrgreen:


I enjoyed doing that too. As attention becomes more and more acute you begin to see the bubbles begin to form and they "pop" before they become full fledged bubbles.
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