Rising above thought is all about liberation from thought prison.
Are you living in thought prison? Almost certainly, the answer is ‘Yes.’
How can you tell?
Are you addicted to thoughts? Are you compelled always to be thinking? Are you obsessively evaluating experiences as “good” or “bad”?
How frequently do you suffer from racing mind insomnia? Racing mind insomnia occurs when we are tired and trying to fall asleep but thoughts keep proliferating and they prevent us from falling asleep.
Before reading this post, the thought that it is possible to enjoy awareness (consciousness) without thoughts may never had occurred to you. If so, you are like the prisoner in the following sketch by Winston Churchill:
“Remember the story of the Spanish prisoner. For many years he was confined in a dungeon . . . One day it occurred to him to push the door of his cell. It was open; and it had never been locked.”
This is one of those problems that comes from the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know. Because we don’t know there’s an alternative to carrying the heavy burden of thoughts all the time, we don’t even consider the possibility that there’s a way to lighten the burden.
Once you realize that you waste much of life in thought prison, the question naturally arises, “How can I escape?”
(i) Going sideways is not an escape at all. More thought is nothing but more thought. It’s senseless to believe it’s possible to think your way out of thoughts.
(ii) Going down is trying to dull consciousness by numbing or reducing thoughts by using, for example, psychoactive drugs, alcohol, sex, television, video games, and so on doesn’t work well. While such numbing devices can help in the short run, when used beyond moderation they quickly become addictions that leave you with two problems, namely, addiction to compulsive thoughts and addiction to some habitual way to numb thoughts.
(iii) The only solution that works is to rise above thoughts to “superconsciousness.”
It’s not thoughts themselves that are the problem; rather, the problem is in our obsessive attachment to them. 20% or so of our thoughts are helpful, fresh, and original. It’s our clinging to the other 80%, which are unhelpful, stale, and obstructive, that’s the problem.
Successfully rising above thoughts is thinking when we need or want to think and, otherwise, simply enjoying awareness without any need to think.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that can work to enable us to rise above thoughts. For example, the are different kinds of meditation and yoga that work. Even when you find one that will work for you, it will require sufficient motivation to enable you to work through inevitable plateaus and sticking points.
I’ve wondered for years whether, in this age of rapidly proliferating technological aids, there might be some way to escape from thought prison, to rise above thoughts, that is easier and faster than mastering such traditional methods as zen meditation.
Others have wondered the same thing. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen: “[W]ith the aid of advanced brain-scanning technology, researchers are beginning to show that meditation directly affects the function and structure of the brain, changing it in ways that appear to increase attention span, sharpen focus, and improve memory.”
It’s impossible to enjoy an experience fully without paying full attention to it. Compulsive thoughts obstruct our paying fully attention to anything. Rising above them would be a very clever way to enhance our enjoyment of life.
I’ve recently found a promising aid. It’s free to learn about it and there’s not even any risk to trying it for yourself. Click here to watch a fascinating video.