Although this is a very extreme example, are we not all victims of our thoughts. When I was twelve, I thought my parents didn’t love me. This made me feel very sad and was responsible for some silly, bad behavior. It wasn’t until sometime later that I began to see how much my parents loved me, and the sacrifices they made, not only for me, but also for my brothers and sisters. This changed everything about our relationship and my behavior.
Our thoughts are often full of judgements, fears, doubts, worries. Our minds are filled with negative voices and pictures of what could go wrong. Experiencing life through our busy thoughts is often unpleasant. Even if our thoughts are positive, if they do not reflect reality, they can and will lead to disappointment because they only portray fantasy.
There’s a funny quote that I found when I turned sixty:
"When you're 20, you care what everyone thinks; when you're 40, you stop caring what everyone thinks; when you're 60, you realize that no one was thinking about you in the first place." ~ UnknownBuilt into our thoughts is this very strong sense that they are true. We don’t question our thoughts because we assume they are who we are. But are they true? Are they really who we are? And when we believe them to be true — a part of who we are — how do they affect us? Do they lead to inappropriate and destructive behavior?
Richard Rohr, in his on-line course on the Twelve Step program called Breathing Under Water, says: "We all take our own patterns of thinking as normative, logical, and surely true, even when they do not fully compute. That is the self-destructive nature of all addiction and of the mind, in particular. We think we are our thinking, and we even take that thinking as utterly 'true,' which removes us at least two steps from reality itself."
As a young person growing up on a farm in Eastern Canada during the fifties, I saw and experienced a lot of poverty. I recall a time when I asked my parents for a bike. I was told that they couldn’t afford it. Words I heard often and they were true at the time. Now that I’m sixty plus, not rich but financially secure, I still hear that voice when buying something I don’t necessarily need: I can’t afford it.
But it’s a lie; I can afford it. When the stock market goes down, (as it has a lot over the last decade) my thoughts are: My God, I’m going broke. But it’s a lie. The money I have invested in the market is money I don’t really need. But still, when the market go down, I feel depressed as if some impending disaster is just around the corner.
Meditation and Kundalini are teaching me to stop listening to my thoughts, and the lies they tell me. Kundalini has revamped things inside so that I am learning to listen to the more subtle voice that exists at a much deeply level than the chattering mind. This inner witness and its connection with the mystery that lies beyond it are able to observe the ramblings of the mind, to pick and choose what to accept and what to reject. They enable me to see how truly good life is, how supportive and trustworthy it is when I don’t allow meaningless thoughts, and the lies they tell, to lead me in directions I never wanted to go in the first place.
Thoughts, images, voices, constructs, conditioning, beliefs are transit visitors that protrude into our lives. They arise and they fall. They are not permanent. They are not you. When we learn to observe them, and not become attached to them, we can follow them or let them go. We can build the life that we want for ourselves.