2017-05-26

Thinking vs. Being

Many of us human beings are actually human doings, especially in our days. Those of us who are not enlightened spiritually, including, of course, myself, are addicting to doing, including thinking, instead of focusing on being in the present moment and enjoying it non-judgmentally.

The more I practice mindfulness, first and foremost in the form of meditation, but also in an increasing number of areas of my daily life, including davening, running, and swimming, and the more I read about mindfulness, the more keenly I realize how my mind, including my thoughts and emotions, has hijacked myself. We can realize the existence of something only when we experience its non-existence. Only after I've started to experience short-lived glimpses of non-mind, so to speak, through mindfulness, I feel even intuitively how my life has been controlled by my mind.

Except when I practice mindfulness, my mind doesn't stop working even in those contexts in which it does more harm than good, thinking and feeling, mostly negatively, about the past and the future, and judging others, again mostly unfavorably. But on the other hand, in those contexts in which I need my mind, it can't work in a focused manner.

I've known of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle for quite some time, but I haven't taken the trouble of reading it, dismissing it as yet another shallow bestseller. When I started to read it this week, I understood I was totally wrong. It's one of the most amazing books I've ever encountered in my entire life. It doesn't deal explicitly with mindfulness, but no other book I've read seems to capture the essence of mindfulness better than it.

I (and probably many other people) have been indoctrinated to think that we have to think constantly. Descartes went even so far as to say, "Cogito ergo sum ('I think, therefore I am')". But as Eckhart Tolle explains in the above mentioned book of his, nothing seems to be more distant from the truth about our thinking and being. Our thought, he says, is nothing but a part of our consciousness. Unfortunately, I can neither understand nor feel this consciousness beyond thought and the state of being without thinking. This is a new self-imposed mission in my life - to become spiritually enlightened by attaining these two states. This must be an important step in pursuing the purpose of my life - to train my soul in my physical body.