As we step back and take a clear look at our lives through the lens of these teachings we can see that our entire life has been thought after thought after thought. There has been this seamless thread of thoughts moving through our minds constantly. If we are so fortunate that they cease for a moment, we think something is wrong and go looking for them! This was just the natural way – constant thinking.
We have been very interested in thoughts … In figuring out … In understanding. Our minds have been constantly working overtime. However, we never noticed. We ignorantly “thought” that this is normal. And, depending on how you define “normal” it was. Everyone we knew had a mind that worked this way. There was no reason to question it – until now.
Most of us have suffered – sometimes tremendously – and that pushed us onto this path. We knew we were suffering but didn’t really know how or why. We read self help books or did therapy in an attempt to figure it out. It only satisfied us momentarily. Soon we would find ourselves in similar situations suffering again. Self help books and therapy can be helpful only to a point. They are useful in cultivating the ground for the more esoteric spiritual teachings. Self help books and therapy help you get comfortable in your suffering. Spiritual teachings help you end your suffering.
How can this be? What’s the difference? It feels a lot like we suffer situations, circumstances or events. In reality we don’t. What we suffer is our thoughts about what happens and not what happens itself. So you see, as long as you remain identified as the thoughts in your mind, as long as you see thoughts as important you will eventually suffer them. Fortunately, there is more in the mind then just thoughts. What else is in the mind?
Silence is the space in which the thoughts exist. You don’t notice it because it has no form, it’s not a concept or idea … It’s just silence. Through your practice you should be becoming more aware that this silence is there. That’s the first part … Just becoming aware that thoughts AND silence exist in the mind. The more plainly you can see this the closer you are to ending your suffering. The thoughts you suffer. The silence you do not.
Through your practice you will realize that you don’t need thoughts to exist. They need you to exist but you don’t need them. When you sit in meditation, lose interest in your thoughts and at the same time become very interested in dwelling in the silence. The moment you do this you will notice a peacefulness come over you that feels like home. Relax into it. Dwell in it. Stay for as long as you can. When your attention goes wandering off, bring it back to silence. You will know you are there because it is a wonderful feeling. You won’t be able to describe it but there will be no doubt in your mind that you have realized for a moment what I am describing to you.
It may feel like you are disappearing. After all, the you that you have come to know is a concept … An idea … Ideas are in the form of thoughts. When you lose interest in the thoughts you lose interest in the storyfied version of you. That can be challenging for many. Your whole life you have been so convinced that you are this idea that you have developed of yourself. Now you are realizing that it is just a story and that you were wrong. That will be hard for some of you. Stay with it. It gets easier.
The reason that it gets easier is that the more comfortable you get in silence the better you feel. Gravity takes over an pulls you towards home. You become more willing to simply let go of the thoughts and live in the present moment. Thoughts become just tools for you to use when you need.
It will take time for you to become comfortable in silence. That is why you must practice. The more time you spend in silence, the more time you want to spend in silence.
Tom Notarianni Jr.
The Peaceful Minds Center