The nature of thought, a.k.a. the ego....

The last section of instructions in the Mahamudra lineage prayer says, "The essence of thought is Dharmakaya it is taught. They are nothing whatsoever and yet they arise." For me, it is so easy to hear only half of this, "They are nothing whatsoever", while completely ignoring the back end of the statement, "Yet they arise." I wear myself out trying to overcome thought, as if it were some thing to be overcome through intense effort. In the process of trying to obliterate thought the mind only appears more and more chaotic, just absolutely overrun with thought. The ammunition used in this war on thought is in fact thought itself. So, the chatter in the dome of my skull, just between my ears doubles, moving further & further away from any flicker of serenity into a disastrous civil war. So with all that said, what does it mean to say "thought is nothing at all, yet it arises?" It seems to be an irreconcilable contradiction to say that some-thing is no-thing yet it is! However, as G.K. Chesterton once remarked, "Contradiction is usually truth standing on it's head in order to get attention." Resolving this apparent contradiction is far simpler than it may seem. In fact, we need not worry about solving this problem, all we need to do is give it the appropriate amount of attention, and truth will reveal itself. So let us look into this question of thought. The way in which we normally experience thought is as though it were the voice of our very being. Thought is seen by most people as the expression of their most intimate fear, hopes, likes, and dislikes. It seems to be the expression of who we are. In this respect it is as if the "self" were some talking head or political pundit from one of the news programs lodged in our skull forever voicing it’s opinions on the environment around us. So, thought seems to be very solid, because it seems to originate from some solid point, some central figure known as the self. In fact, under the assumption that the self is a type of Alpha and Omega a beginning and end, thought is solid; it is the official voice of this central figure. In other words, when self is perceived as some solid cause thought will be perceived as a valid effect of this cause. So, we must question not the nature of thought, but the solidity of self, the figure which seems to own or produce thought. If we take the time to look further into this notion of self we will discover that "I" is not a beginning or a cause at all, but an end of sorts. It is a product or result which does not seem to ever actually come to a resting place or end. The notion of self is an end which is never finished. The self which we cling to so dearly is little more than a concept, which is formed by the patterns of the past. All of the various experiences from the past are recorded and come together to form the memory. The memory then moves and this movement is known as thought. Over time this movement is conditioned by likes & dislikes or success and failure, and as a result begins to form a pattern. Before long this pattern becomes more & more distinct, and then is given the label self. However, this pattern never ceases forming so the concept of self is in a constant state of becoming and/or dying. (just depends on how you want to look at it I guess) The point being made here is that the self is not some solid entity apart from life, which owns a certain group of experiences. It is nothing more than empty space. "I" is much like the "eye" of a hurricane, which is not some solid thing, but is nothing more than centralized space outlined by the pattern of movement around it's perimeter. The ego is the space that the patterns of thought outline. This "eye" contracts & expands contingent upon the pattern of thought. "I" is not the beginning, it is more like an illusory product established out of association with it‘s surroundings. However, this is not at all how it is experienced in day to day life. Normally we have a little rumbling in the tummy, and we think "I am hungry". We experience this as though our commentary were the experience. It seems as if "am hungry" originated from the "I", and as a result "I" is seen as some solid entity, with an equally solid voice, thought. We see it almost as if hungry is what I is doing. This fact is evident by our rules of grammar. We need a subject, object, and verb in order to form a complete sentence. So in order to fabricate completion there needs to be an "I", an "other", and interaction between the two. In truth, "I" is just the first of three words in a sequence. It is not some entity which is hungry, but a word which is at the moment being defined by the last two words in the sentence, "am hungry". The "I" is not some solid thing, but a relative concept being defined by something else. This is clear, because just as soon as we eat we will cease to be hungry, and will immediately become something else. The whole thing is an inbred process of self recognition, thought recognizing itself so to speak. All of this is relatively (relative to quantum mechanics!) simple to understand. The concept of self nor it's voice are solid things. In actual fact, thought is not the voice of self. "I" is just a word like any other, which is mistakenly defined as the owner of all the other words. They are all empty words, lacking any solidity. With all this said the fact remains that they still arise. So if they are nothing why do they still arise? They just do! The brain records information, this is the memory. This memory moves about which is known as thought. This movement, which is thought, forms a kind of pattern which thought then labels with the pronoun "I", and subsequently labeling everything else as "other than". However, upon seeing this for what it is it's illusory nature is recognized, and the understanding that there is no-one which owns or is responsible for this process emerges. This is why meditation is completely effortless. Any attempt to control or suppress this movement is in fact just another channel or pattern in the movement, but it is still movement. Furthermore, any attempt to consciously accept this process is yet another channel of movement, and as a result is still confused energy. So thoughts arise from no-where or from no-one. Thought abides no-where nor represents any one. Finally, thought proceeds no where nor does it form some solid entity or centralized resting place. This movement just goes on unobstructed regardless of whether we accept it or reject, because it is owned or overseen by no-one. It is nothing at all yet it arises. So, meditation is the practice of absolutely nothing whatsoever. Enlightenment is not much more than the realization that there is no realizer. And happiness consists in neither accepting nor rejecting, but in simply being no-thing at all!

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