"Reverse bootstrapping" Shutdown of the Mind

neo's picture

Average: 4 (7 votes)

From Wikipedia:

In computing, bootstrapping ("to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps") refers to techniques that allow a simple system to load and activate a more complicated system, and this one in turn can load and activate more complicated one and so on. A common scenario is the start up process of a computer system, where a small program, such as the BIOS ("Basic Input Output System" which is statically coded on a mother-board cheap), initializes and tests hardware, peripherals and external memory devices, thus allowing loading of a larger program, such as the loader which can load and execute an operating system.

In the same way, the shutdown of a computer uses the reverse technique which can be called "reverse-bootstrapping" in which a program is terminated only if no other program needs it anymore. In such a scenario, first the high-level applications are shut down, then the services that the high-level programs use, then the I/O drivers, then the operating system and then the BIOS.

Stopping the thinking process is a hard and frustrating practice. Trying to stop all the thinking at once is almost impossible to someone who is not a trained yogi. You try to shut down one stream of thinking and then you find out (finding out in itself is a thinking) that meanwhile another stream of thinking has sneaked in and so on. We are all familiar with this scenario.

Instead it is possible to emulate the way a computer is shutting down in the reverse-bootstrapping technique.

First turn off the gross voluntary "big" thoughts, the common noisy mainstream of thinking. The thoughts which are the most evident.

After sometime, when you feel you master enough the turning off of the mainstream of gross thoughts, try to turn off streams of more subtle thoughts.

Lastly, try to turn off the controller, the "active observer", the one who, among other things, organizes and oversees this shutdown of the thinking, the "operating system" itself (the voice that says for example "now, let's stop this thinking" or "now, let's observe this sensation" or "it is enough practicing now" or "Have I really managed to stop the thinking?" etc.). Agree to give up for a certain time the controller, like in the case of the computer, you can manage now without it, all other thinking processes which this "active observer" was used to turn them on/off are now turned off. You can relinquish the fear of being out of control and turn this controller off too for some time.

Bootstrapping shutdown is almost complete now. There is only the BIOS left running. But this is sufficient for now.

Omkaradatta's picture


One thing I've found that helps is to listen fully to the surroundings - there's something about hearing that grabs full attention. After a moment, you may notice a subtle ringing sound in one/both ears, and switch your full attention to that. It may be enough to complete the "shutdown" process ;-).

P.S. for those fearing the absence of thought, you're fearing a phantom. Nothing 'happens' but (blessed) silence.


Omkaradatta | Mon, 09/01/2008 - 04:12
shira's picture

Listening without a listener

Plus, try to listen without a listener. It's easy, don't worry. Have you ever asked yourself whether a listener is required in order to listen? of course not. Witness the surrounding sounds entering your body, vibrating the body organs, entering your ear, vibrating your myringa, signals sent from the ear to the nerves system of your body carrying the message of the sounds. The nerves system which has actually never heard the sounds directly processes the second-hand signals, feel the sounds just floating in space with your body there caught in between, the sounds resonating a melody in the tree, in the stone and in your body. But do not think about it, just witness.

As to the fear, if omkaradatta's suggestion still does not ease the fear you feel, you can decide to have a certain predetermined short period of time in which you stop the thinking and see how it feels, what can happen in 1 minute, 5 minutes of not thinking? And then gradually extend the period of time.

shira | Mon, 09/01/2008 - 07:43
angel76's picture

not only for computer savvies

This is worthwhile reading not only for computer savvies because it provides a brilliant technique for stopping the thinking, inspired by how the computer works.

The computer was invented by Von Neumann with the functioning of the human brain in vision. It is overwhelming that we can now understand and remind ourselves how the mind works by analyzing how the computer works (realizing that the mind is a conditioning machine, the fact that the the mind does not receive the inputs of the senses but some completely indirect processed information that was constructed based on the inputs, that logic is shaped and limited by the language it is based on and how to shut down the thinking process).

angel76 | Fri, 01/02/2009 - 19:50
Luna's picture

how to know what depends on what?

how to know what depends on what?

Luna | Wed, 01/28/2009 - 22:12
lalo's picture

The order of triggering

First, I must admit after trying it a couple of times that this technique is very powerful.

The way to decide the order of turning off is intuitive. Play with it and you will easily notice the dependencies. Remember that in our case - thought A is dependant on thought B if A triggers B.

It's not dozens levels of thoughts, I found effective 3 levels following the post. First, there are the gross event-driven thoughts which are mainly connected with the senses that can be shut down. Then the subtler constantly-alert thoughts, the low-energy waves of thoughts that usually trigger the gross thoughts (constant thought of fear -> look behind if there is someone). And finally there is the controller, the "I" that is described in the post.

lalo | Wed, 02/04/2009 - 17:21
kulchnaui's picture

Worthwhile to read though a bit hard

Hard to understand in the beginning, especially for someone who is not a computers person but was extremely worthwhile to persist. Amazing analogy and very very helpful. Thanks!

kulchnaui | Thu, 04/22/2010 - 20:57
carlito santo's picture

Brilliant. I encountered an

Brilliant. I encountered an almost identical method a few years ago, just phrased less intuitively. It works like a charm.

carlito santo | Thu, 05/31/2012 - 11:34