Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought. ― Eckhart Tolle
Thoughts are mysterious and elusive entities which so frequently appear in our heads that they are considered to be an essential part of our identity. Moreover, we are so identified with them that many of us have completely accepted the famous quote by Descartes: I think, therefore I am.
But that is not true.
Our true nature is not determined by thoughts. In fact, they obscure it, as clouds obscure the Sun.
It’s unquestionable that the practical value of thoughts in our lives is immense. Their role in analyzing and structuring a huge stream of data flowing into our minds is indispensable. Their power of generalization and abstract contemplation, of ‘seeing the wood despite the trees,’ is also of utmost importance to us. The mankind has made great advances in science and technology, and, of course, that wouldn’t be possible without the thinking process.
Thinking is one of the essential stages of our spiritual evolution. In the first phase, conscious beings are thoughtless, enjoying the calmness of pure presence in the Now. They are partially conscious of their surroundings, but they are not conscious of themselves. Such beings are animals, for example. In the next phase, thanks to the thinking process, conscious beings are able to become self-aware and to intentionally expand their consciousness. In the final stage, they become thoughtless again, because they don’t need thoughts anymore. They don’t need to analyze or generalize, as they simply know. The subject and the object, the inner and the outer reality merge, and they don’t need any intermediary between them.
Are Thoughts Obstacles to Spiritual Enlightenment?
Therefore, if we want to achieve the final spiritual awakening and inner freedom, we should transcend thoughts. Or at least some spiritual traditions teach us so. Accordingly, the main question related to our spiritual growth could be: what to do with thoughts in our practice? Or, should they be considered as obstacles to spiritual enlightenment?
 A similar thing can be said for emotions, but they are not within the scope of this article. However, emotions can also be regarded as the ‘thoughts of our body,’ so they can be dealt with in like manner.
If we want to achieve the final spiritual awakening and inner freedom, we should transcend thoughts.
So…let’s say we are meditating. Perhaps we are simply trying to focus on our awareness. Or we are concentrating upon a candle, or praying, or doing a mantra meditation. Maybe we are trying to consciously breathe. Or doing loving-kindness meditation. No matter which kind of spiritual practice we are engaged in, we will be repeatedly and inevitably dealing with some distractive thoughts. We’ll get immersed in them, each time, until we become aware of the fact that our practice has actually been interrupted.
It seems that thoughts are obstacles to a smooth spiritual practice. Are they really? Should we be fighting them?
No matter which kind of spiritual practice we are engaged in, we will be repeatedly and inevitably dealing with some distractive thoughts.
Ways of Dealing with Thoughts in Meditation
The vast majority of meditative techniques all around the world deal with apparently distracting thoughts in these ways:
During our mindfulness practice, we are trying to consciously experience the present moment. Our mind is calm as we stay fully conscious of our breathing, of each movement of our body, of visual textures and patterns in the surrounding, of sounds, tastes, smells or anything else that is entering our senses.
However, when a thought or emotion arises, our mindfulness practice essentially breaks down. We get immersed in the thought and completely forget to be consciously present. Only when we become aware that we’ve forgotten to be mindful, then we are able to accept the thought and return to the present moment.
But is this a right approach? Thoughts are coming back again and again. Just when we think we succeeded to calm down our mind for several minutes, hours or even months, and have entered a state of deep and apparently irreversible inner peace, a surge of thoughts, emotions and other mind content rushes into our being and destroys our peace completely.
Aren’t we subtly suppressing our thoughts and emotions by simply ignoring or acknowledging them before returning to the present moment? It seems so, as everything we suppress must emerge again, sooner or later. That’s the case with thoughts and emotions, too.
We choose what goes into our minds because we have the power to elect. Points of negativity, particles of optimism, portion of suffering, a percentage of resentment, pure joy, confidence or timidity are all choices you yourself can decide.
Having a positive outlook in life not only proves beneficial to you but also to people surrounding you. When your mind is full of positive, confident thoughts, your heart does too. Imagine what the world will be like if everyone greets one another with words of encouragement, appreciation, gratitude and assurance?
There are far too many ways to unclutter your mind of unhealthy views. No single formula applies to everyone. What works on him doesn’t necessarily follow that it will work on you too. The key depends on your willingness and faith to stay on the positive and bright side. It is very vital that you are welcome to free your mind of “weeds” and fill it with “plants”. Our mind is like a garden. You have to religiously pull out the weeds, in order for the plant to grow fit and well. In the same manner, you have to free your mind of impure thoughts and only cultivate and nourish useful, pure thoughts.
How to feed your mind
Feeding of the mind begins with caring for it, and caring begins by opening it. Our minds have to be open to possibilities and way of life. We have to understand that people does not think the way we do. We have to accept that people’s behavior differs from our own. What you do or how you react in a certain situation varies from one person to another. If you always expect him to do this just because that’s what exactly you would have acted, you are frustrating yourself.
Our mind is like a garden. It has to be nourished regularly to make the soil fertile. In this case, feeding the mind can be in the form of meeting new people, reading constructive books, watching great television shows, and participating in community services.
However, there is a big question to this? Can we really control what goes into our minds? Is it really possible? I would say yes. You know the good thing about being human is that we have a free will. We can filter the trash and keep only the useful ones. It’s like watching a television. You have all the channels available – both good and bad shows. But you have the option to pick which program to watch. Zig Ziglar once said “You are what you are because of what goes into your mind.” If there is a high percentage of damaging thoughts in your mind, your actions are most likely damaging, too.
Why think positive?
There are a thousand and one reasons why you should think positive. Indulging in negative, hurtful thoughts only weakens your spirit and body. Nothing comes good out of harmful views. Imagine yourself embracing pain, resentment, jealousy, hatred, and incompetence. You are self-destructing. That is masochism. Why would you choose to be in pain when you have the choice to be happy? Why would you choose to be in misery when you have the choice to live a fulfilling and healthy life?
We may not be gods or superheroes. We are merely humans. But we have the power to choose- the freedom to welcome only pure clean thoughts so we can live a useful, nurturing and fulfilling life.
Please note that most of the articles have a "Read More" break, which is sometimes hardly visible.
It is located at the bottom of visible part of the article, on the right side.
To continue reading the article, click on that link.
This page may contain affiliate links meaning we earn a commission if you use those links.
We only recommend pages we appreciate and trust.
Check out excellent meditation courses at LiveAndDare.com. We recommend them wholeheartedly!