SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the distinction between mechanics and content of thought? Can you share a personal story of a time when focusing on the mechanics instead of content helped you make progress? What is a good test to know when the content is ripe for the picking?
I think that my thoughts often get in the way of my life, just as Thich Nhat Hanh said in Being Peace how, in Buddhism, knowledge is regarded as an obstacle to understanding. I can see in my own life how the content of my thoughts is an obstacle to just being.
I quit drinking in 1990, which in many ways was the beginning of me waking up. In 2004, I started vipassana meditation and deeply focusing on art, meditation and 'thoughts', even when not in formal meditation.
The sentiment of this post is nice and I agree with it, to a degree. But I know, from LOTS of therapy, group support and spiritual groups, that some people will use spiritual 'axioms' and principles as a way to avoid spending time and paying attention to another person, which I feel is detrimental to people's feelings of self worth. If the time out to watch the breath is truly to help the person, fine. But if it's used as an excuse to quiet the person, I disagree. I am a firm believer in the power of listening. And the 'guru' who is compassionate enough to listen with an open heart is helping. I know a lot of people probably thought of me as 'high maintenance' because I talked all the time and it seemed like nothing was sinking in - believe me, it was. Stream entry happened in 2016 - and I am forever grateful to the people who listened to the narrative I was so attached to...THAT was part of my waking up....reflecting on the sacrifice so many people gave, listening to me.
Structure of Thought: Thought has created the center as permanent entity and it attributes its origin and truth to itself. It also attributes perception as perceiver and feelings to it like me and mine executive hold everything together; if center falls apart then my world is also falls apart (my world is my experiences, knowledge). If there is total perception then thought has no place and perception is action in Now.
The self cannot act. So when I say “I sleep” or “I grow” or “I breathe” I need to be aware of the incoherence inherent in language which makes me believe that the self grows or sleeps or breathes.
Thoughts and thinking the same but different. A thought rises and gives
way to Choice . Do I choose to engage this thought or let it drift by.
Thinking is the content , dwelling on something which has the ability
to move one out of the presence of now and into the realms
of our conditioning behaviours is never very useful. Thus awareness is essential for choice.
Awarenece is cultivated through a regular practice of meditation.
I believe the mechanics and content of thought have very different qualities. Is practice to discern these different qualities? Observing the quality of mechanics has an immediate release of pressure and attachment. This can become a joyful practice, this awareness, even filled with humor! . . (the cosmic laugh?) Challenge is to stay in faith and intention . . which requires constant, but not obsessive practice. As our generous wisdom teacher RD has said above, it is a delicate situation. But doesn't it build on itself with attention?
The article is the reminder for being captured by thoughts. When I am captured by thought the authomatic reactions are arizing and overwhelming me... Dis-identification process is not easy.
Meditation is not always helping when the amigdala is in action... What does help me?
The Work of Byron Katie - see www.thework.com.
We created the board game - the W Game - and using it for the Awareness Group weekly. I can work in the Group on the suggested belief (doing preventive work) or the situation & thought which is bothering me... every time I play - using 4 simple questions and turn arounds - I am awakening = dis-identificating from the thought (every time it looks like a surprise!) Then during day-to-day life it becomes easy and easy to wake up to reality - dis-identificating.
When I identify myself with my thoughts, I become my thoughts. Thoughts create feelings and emotions and actions and my character. If I do not dis-identify myself with the mental and emotional world I create in my mind, I get trapped by my self-created trappings causing ups and downs of mental and emotional states. It is up to me to free myself from my from the bondage I have created or to remain stuck with it.
One of the ways of reducing or working through my suffering is the practice of mindfulness.I have found practicing mindfulness very beneficial to me. Breathing in and out keeps me grounded , steadfast and composed.It creates space in me to let my thoughts come and go like waves and makes my mind quiet and clear. This is the mechanics I use to work on myself.
When I do not apply mindfulness, I resort to habitual and conditioned patterns of reacting to the contents of my thoughts which perpetuate and strengthen the cycle of my suffering. I run a mental commentary of finding fault either with myself or with others. What I have been learning from my mindfulness practice is what Baba Ramdass calls dis-identifying my self with from the contents of my thoughts. I let the thoughts come and go as I breathe in and out.Such mindfulness practice helps me to respond rather than to react. Practicing mindfulness consistently helps me to relate to myself and to others with freshness, empathy and compassion.
May we find time to practice mindfulness for walking of the wholesome path.
Jagdish P dave
You can go to a so called psychotherapist who gives poor advice, and you can go to a so called spiritual leader who gives poor advice. Ram Dass sure has his anti therapist biases. My suggestion is consult with others, listen to self. The language I prefer is focus on process rather than focus on mechanics -- what they each are referring to is probably much the same. The point is to get back to healthy process, engage in healthy mechanics of living, be in the present, let go of content/problems/agendas, and trust that good will happen. Focus on problem content tends to reinforce it and gets me spinning my wheels going no where. Dong the right action, as the eight fold path suggests, and not occupying myself with trying to control outcome, works best. I am happiest and the most good happens when I live that way. When I am solidly grounded in healthy process and mechanics, the content issue falls into place and sort of takes care of itself and is ripe for the picking.[Hide Full Comment]
I find this passage very nuanced but very revealing at the same time. Ramdass seems to suggest that we need to study the both the content of thought and its mechanics, but we need to be skillful about which to do when. I am still wrestling with this in my own meditation practice and I do find that "extricating awareness from though", as Ramdass puts it, is key to understanding. For the most part, focusing on content keeps you in an endless web of thoughts, without resolution. For example, if one finds that a set of thoughts are creating fear response in oneself, it is because there is awareness that these thoughts are creating fear. For me, this is the mechanics of thought. If one goes about solving the "problem", that is focusing on the content.
It's also interesting that Ramdass suggests that focusing on the breath helps in extricating awareness from thought, but is still a thought.
Realizing thoughts are just thoughts and they do not need to define me or even be "reality" is freeing. Thoughts change even within a day as our feelings change and evolve: whether those feelings are about ourselves or others. Reflecting on this for myself: I noticed today that my thoughts are jumbled and tangled today, partly due perhaps to a slight cold and feeling a little under the weather. I noticed that I was judging myself about things more harshly today. In recognizing these are just thoughts and not trying to "fix them" or deeply analyze, but knowing "this too shall pass" I am able to sit in breath and rather focus on that breath, in and out and relax. I've also been introduced recently to EFT, tapping and wow, it also helps with realizing thoughts are simply thoughts and they are not permanent. I hope these thoughts are clear ;) <3