It never stops, that stream of words in the background. How can we continue to believe that we are the master of this mindless monologue, this maddening, murmur which recorded the instant of our birth and continues still.
For me, It seems that the ideal time for noticing this overworked, independent fact-orium is when I want to single something out of this mix and hold in the foreground until I can find an implement with a sharp point containing graphite or ink and something white and flat upon which to record this just risen treasure.
I rise to this challenge many times each day. I leave my driveway to go to the grocery store, a journey which begins by turning to the right as I leave the property. As the awareness of that fact comes into focus it is interrupted by The Almighty Stream of Fact and Fiction where I notice that a mental picture of The Miracle Mile Deli competes for attention and says to me, turn left, Lee. You will soon be having a slice of the best apple pie in the world and laughing at Frank and Sarah as they in turn are laughing at something you wrote on your blog.
Before I reach the next driveway I realize that The Miracle Mile adventure is recorded on my calendar for tomorrow evening and that I am driving in the wrong direction. Of course I could follow this new path and enjoy Miracle Mile,s Mighty Good Apple Pie and forget about the grocery store for a day or two, but that would be giving in much too easily, dontcha think?
Here’s another one; let’s say that you choose a spot anywhere on your body and discover what this one, one-thousandth of a square inch patch of dermistructure is sensing. How does it feel? Pick another. Why didn’t you notice these sensations earlier? Perhaps you are becoming aware that never in your lifetime have you been aware of this bit of knowledge. Now ask yourself what it is that you want to think of next. No? Stop thinking about these mindless tasks long enough to compose a sentence, and another and another until you have created a fifty word paragraph. Stop. Rerun that paragraph if you can. Perhaps one person in a billion can do that. So, do you still think that you control your thinking? No? But you still want as much control as possible, right?
Okay now, in the interest of learning something of value from this experiment, shall we agree that we lack perfect control over our thoughts? Does this mean that, failing perfection we should stop thinking? Of course not. So what can we do?
Did you notice that the thoughts that were dominating your consciousness were choices? Some of those choices you allowed me to make for you which means that since you allowed me to plant thoughts into your consciousness, you were in charge of selecting everything that qualified as a conscious thought to dominate your mind at any given moment. Do you agree now that you and only you are responsible for every thought that greets your awareness. Do you agree that much of what you think comes to you from others and that the rest is revived when needed, arising from a sleeping, nappy-nap part of your mind, most of which will never reach the surface.
Our brain as the part of our body in charge of staying alive, is ever alert for information which does not agree with other bits of information. The instant that this occurs, our brain seeks possible pathways to consonant memory. After all, that which we think of as our identity is the sum total of all our memories. Most of us noticed nothing terribly new in this experiment of the last few minutes; we have asked these things of ourselves before. And we have made one or more of three basic choices to wrest whatever control possible from the unseen hand of the Unexplained. We turn to God. We turn to The Group. We turn to Logic. For a handful of us none of those alternatives are attractive and we choose to numb our brains with alcohol and drugs. Some of us manufacture our own drugs. Dopamine numbs us. Acetylcholine gives us courage. Some of us have way too many conflicting thoughts and in the attempt to turn these messages off, actually turn ourselves off.
Have you ever been told that it doesn’t matter what you believe to be God. That it matters only that you understand that you are not God. Doesn’t that sound a little fishy to you? Wouldn’t such a belief bring with it many dangers, depending on the Character and Personality of God as we understand our God to be? And some of us look at the success that others appear to be experiencing and we decide to start thinking and acting in a way that mimics our new heroes and we begin to like ourselves again, perhaps even for the first time. And then one day this person whose life we are emulating begins to experience horrifying life problems and demonstrates for all to see that he possesses no power at all. This person’s life is suddenly for all intent, withering away to nothing.
There’s still a chance though. When we think about what we have done we realize that when we turned to God, we were abdicating our responsibility for WHAT to think , to God. Failing at that we made exactly the same choice when we picked a Hero to show and to tell us what to think and how to behave. And that had failed.
But what about LOGIC. So we begin to study that process we call LOGIC. We read Aristotle and Plato and Socrates. We mastered the art of syllogy (is that a word?).
One day we realize that we are becoming less concerned about WHAT to think and have adopted a practice of HOW to think. We notice also that we are becoming more and more occupied with using these skills to answer the questions that have lingered in our heads for a lifetime. We begin to spend more of our time seeking answers. We notice also that we seem to have less have time for others. We feel lonely.
We stop and take some time to think and begin to ask questions that seem to have no answers. We find ourselves one day in a group of people, all of whom are seeking the same kind of answers to the same kind of problems. The group comes together in a circle and one after another, we take turns sharing what we have experienced and perhaps what we have learned. And it becomes our turn. We had decided already to pass because there seemed to be nothing of value to say. And, after introducing our self we begin talking about the confusion we are in and what we have tried, what has worked, what has not worked, how we felt when we were afraid, how we felt when we were loving or being loved and noticing that the two feelings were identical and how sad we felt when a brother or sister gave up the struggle and left their body and their friends and their precious life.
And when the meeting breaks up we find ourselves being thanked by one person after another for saying the things that they had been afraid to say. And as we leave the room we say Thank you God, for everything. May I give you a new name? Instead of God or Boss or Gus, or Alphie, may I call you LOVE?