The path to enlightenment involves an investigation or awareness of reality. The instrument we use to check out what is real is our mind. And the object of our investigation is also our mind.
What is the mind? It is defined as something that is invisible and aware. When we investigate it we find that it is made up of a “main mind”, which is basic consciousness or awareness and a whole bunch of mental functions. The mental functions include things like discriminating (the ability to tell two things apart) and emotions (like anger, jealousy, etc.)
I have been spending a great deal of time watching my mind and its movements during my everyday life for the last few months. I am absolutely appalled at what I have been discovering. First, a great deal of my thoughts are just background noise with no real purpose. These are repetitious thoughts that serve no real purpose. Maybe the thought was useful the first time I thought it, but by the tenth time it serves no purpose but mind noise. This could be a thought like, “I need to get groceries soon”.
Second, many of my emotions come out of nowhere and are based on absolute garbage. Actually it was about fifteen years ago when I realized during my daily meditation that emotions arose independent of objects. What I mean is that I would feel myself getting angry and then I would find something to be angry about. This was surprising. I’d always assumed that we got angry about something. I mean, don’t people ask, “What are you angry about?” or “What are you sad about?” Instead, I found the emotion would surface first and then I’d find something to attach it too. I’d feel angry and then I’d focus on how my housemates were never cleaning up after themselves.
I know suspect, that at least for me, the emotions were bubbling up due to traumatic and repressed situations from my horrific childhood. Since at the same time I was not remembering the situations the emotions seem completely dissociated from current happenings. However, I now realize that all emotional reactions are really based on some subconscious garbage even if there is no repressed trauma.
Two clear thought patterns that I have noticed recently are what I call “thought addiction” and “suffering over our suffering“. I’ll discuss these in my next two posts. In the meantime, just spend sometime today observing the things you think and objectively determining if the thoughts are helpful, beneficial., useless, harmful or detrimental. It is an interesting task. I’d love to hear your thoughts.