Thinking about not-thinking

Omkaradatta's picture

Average: 2 (1 vote)

It must be one of the biggest contradictions in spirituality: We think and plan endlessly about how to end the mind, how to stop the mind.

Of course it seems hopeless, and the reason is obvious (if perhaps elusive): We're using the mind to think about dropping the mind!

Clearly this cannot work. No matter how much we use the mind this way, we are defeating our own purpose the entire time.

Just see clearly the utter futility of thinking about not-thinking... and let the mind go.

nathan's picture

Not that obvious

"Clearly this cannot work. No matter how much we use the mind this way, we are defeating our own purpose the entire time."

It is not that obvious that this cannot work. It has turned into a slogan in many spiritual environments without bothering to seriously inspect this as it sounds first not obvious and then reasonable on the surface. but if you look at it even deeper you may see that it is not that obvious.

A ship can navigate itself into trouble waters in which it will sink. The very instrument that was responsible for going there is annihilated as an instrument as a result of the going there.

A man can commit suicide.

The incense stick that is used to light other sticks burns itself by its own activity.

nathan | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:49
Omkaradatta's picture


"Itself" is itself a contradiction ;-). There is no such thing as a self-referent self, in reality.

We say "myself", as though running the two words together hides the fact that "my self" makes no sense -- a self cannot own itself.

* A ship cannot navigate itself into troubled waters... it's carried there by the water.

* A man can commit suicide, because he is not the body.

* The incense stick just burns... it does not "burn itself by its own activity".

These words like "itself," "own", etc. are artificial distinctions between subject and object that don't really exist. Ego's terms, if ya like.

Omkaradatta | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 11:47
nathan's picture

why? it's again slogans with

why? it's again slogans with no explanations. "itself", "myself" are called reflexive relations and they are valid the same as any other relation in your description is valid.

Instead of countering the essence you stick to the terminology (these are metaphors and you know this very well, i assume) + you base your thesis on belief-based assumptions.

You know very well what i meant by these metaphors, let's move on by skipping the unnecessary explanations, these are metaphors to demonstrate something, don't try to find some exception just for the sake of excluding them: ok, the body can commit a suicide and a ship with a motor navigates itself. Can we move on? :-)

I would accept a valid argument which deals with the essence and not the dictionary meaning of each word (which is irrelevant) and that does not rely on a theory (advaita).

nathan | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 12:04
Omkaradatta's picture

Reflexive relations...

... are imaginary. 'Nuf said.

"A ship with a motor navigates itself" -- you mean, the action of the propellor blade ejects water rearward, moving the ship? ;-).

What kind of 'essence' are you looking for? From here, my blogging makes perfect sense. You gave a bunch of examples saying "this does itself" and "that does itself", and I simply stated that such a view is mistaken.

"you base your thesis on belief-based assumptions."

If you believe so, why are we conversing at all? Go do something more interesting :-p. But of course, your belief that I base my thesis on belief-based assumptions is a belief based assumption.

P.S. Advaita is not a theory here, it's the truth. Because you don't see it, it's a theory to you. I don't know how else to answer but to state what (I see as) obvious.

Omkaradatta | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 12:56
abra's picture

advaita is great but it is a theory

What you say about advaita say Christians about the bible and Muslims about the Koran and Hindus about the rig veda...

When you abandoned all approaches and explanations and simply admit that you don't know and moreover you don't care - duality or non duality etc, - then you start becoming real or whatever you want to call it by words

abra | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 16:48
Phroggy's picture

To me, Advaita or any

To me, Advaita or any nondual teaching, is not the Truth and doesn't claim to be. It explicitly says the Truth cannot be spoken. It does not offer a conceptual theory that might someday be prooven. It cannot be prooven because it is not held to be ultimately True. The teachings are put into a conceptual framework that actually points away from what is, right here and now.

It's silly to put it into the category of a theory that may or may not be True. Of course it is not True. For Truth, you would need to look within instead of looking for proof or dismissing the words of others as theory. How do you know what is or isn't seen by others? Look for yourself.

Phroggy | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 18:27
Omkaradatta's picture

Advaita states...

"Be here now". "I Am". "Reality in the absence of words". "Reality is whole, undivided".

Are you alive? Is that a theory? When you love somebody, is it theoretical?

The notion that advaita is theory is nonsense. *Everything else* is theoretical. If you realize that nothing 'objective' can exist unless you're there to cognize it first, you're on the right track.

Omkaradatta | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 19:05
Phroggy's picture

Self control?

Hi Nathan
I think what's being pointed to is simpler (and more difficult to see) than that. If you look carefully, you can see that the notion of anything controlling or even influencing itself is fundamentally flawed. We assume such 'self control' is valid because we believe we can do it, and so we point to that belief as proof that it's valid. In the same way, we assume that something can observe itself, which it cannot.

For example, thinking happens, and we assume there is a thinker causing it, but the thinker is simply the spontaneous process of thinking, and there's nobody standing apart from that process to control it. We can even say God is the process of Godding, and there is no God controlling itself.

The idea of self control implies two where there is only one. I'm not even talking about some "theory" of oneness; I just mean that when we address a process we're simply referring to the process. There is no other within that process that controls the process. The body IS it's own functioning. There isn't body A that functions, and then body B that controls that functioning. Likewise, there is not mind A that thinks, and then mind B that causes, controls or influences that thinking, just the thinking happening.

This is not Advaita, theory, slogans or any other dismissive label. It's just what can be seen if one looks at what is there. It's very subtle and I'm just talking about it, not criticizing anybody.

Phroggy | Fri, 09/19/2008 - 18:15