Freedom from The Thinking Machine – Lection 2 18. November 2019 Allgemein We are entering more deeply into the first cycle of seven articles, which is wholly dedicated to the understanding of the mind. In the introduction, I presented the key-insight to inner freedom – that we should externalize the mind rather than internalize it. Now let’s take another step and start focusing on what I term “the thinking machine” in order to understand it once and for all. It’s not about losing your mind Sometimes people promote the idea that because our mind creates so much struggle, it would be better to “lose” it. They say: Simply lose your “head” and get rid of all the trouble. In a way, this approach is understandable. It is just like when you have a horrible headache and you would simply wish to have no head – since without a head, how can you have a headache? Similarly, without a mind, you can no longer have the problem of thinking. However, this is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t, and you shouldn’t, lose the mind altogether. Moreover, it is also impossible to lose the mind, even if you really wanted to. To understand why, it is important to differentiate between two parts of our mind: the one you should get rid of and the one you should preserve. The part of your mind which you should preserve contains at least two aspects. First of all, it includes the element of creative thinking – the thinking that helps you to come up with new ideas, visions and solutions. For instance, with my creative thinking I am creating this article. Second, it includes your intelligent thinking: the thinking that helps you to interpret and understand reality in a constructive way; make right judgement; tell reality from illusion, and understand higher realities and insights. There is also the third aspect, which is silence – an aspect which we will explore in the third and last cycle of this series. These elements of the mind must not disappear. You actually really need them and you should also cultivate them as much as possible. Without them, you become completely confused, obscured, and disoriented, lacking the right tools for navigating the complexity of your life. The only part that should disappear – or, at least, become completely harmless – is what I call the “thinking machine.” The thinking machine is actually a tiny part of the mind, but when it feels like the main part, it can cause a lot of trouble. Meet the thinking machine The thinking machine needs no introducing. We all know it very well: it is the unnecessary, unhelpful, repetitive, and completely unintelligent thinking – the type that takes you nowhere. But it is actually worse than that. More than just a pointless thinking, the thinking machine is also harmful. This type of useless thinking keeps you away from the beauty of life, your true presence, the here and now, the state of wakefulness and mindfulness, and the ability to appreciate and to be available for life. Noenetheless, there seems to be something good about the thinking machine: it keeps you company. It pretends to be your best friend. It talks to you all day long and you respond to it, just like good friends do. And so, with it, it never gets boring. With it, you can think about your past and future. You have so much to consider: what worries or scares you, what fills you with hope, and all that you pray for. You can also recall what somebody told you and wonder why he told you that, and what you could have answered, and what perhaps you would tell him when you meet… The thinking machine is absolutely not needed. When you need the good parts of your mind – the intelligent thinking and the creative thinking – you can activate them at will. On the other hand, you really don’t need to have an endless stream of thinking that at the end of the day says absolutely nothing. We can therefore say that the thinking machine is the bad mind and the wrong kind of friend. With it, you are never really here; it is like constant day dreaming. The thing is that you cannot stop this bad part of the mind. Whatever you do, any type of intervention will only complicate matters. People always try to stop their mind. Sometimes, for a very short while, they actually manage to do that. But very soon it will return to be active. That is because the thinking machine, by its very nature, never stops. The good news is that as far as you are concerned, the thinking machine doesn’t have to stop. Remember the key-insight: the thinking machine is not yours, so you actually don’t need to stop it. You don’t even have to silence it. All you need is to understand it very deeply and be free from it. You just need to look at it as you would look at a certain machine, learning the parts that it is composed of and understanding why it works the way it works. The thinking machine is a part of the mind that got out of hand. It is simply a malfunction in the mind, like a device that started with good intentions and good purpose, but has slowly become overactive, doing things that are not asked for at all. The engine that drives the thinking machine What does the thinking machine try to do for you that is really not needed? If you take a look at what it does all day long, you will quickly see for yourself. The thinking machine keeps pointing out for you problems, difficulties and things that are missing and wrong in your life. In this sense, it is really like a bad type of friend, who keeps whispering in your ear what could have been done and what you could do to make things happier, better, and more controllable. But why exactly does it do that? The reason is simple: The thinking machine started in the very primitive regions of your brain. When, many generations ago, our primitive thought began to function, its role was clear. Your brain functioned as the protector of the organism, the protector of your body and mind. It always made sure that everything was under control, that everything was safe, and that there was no danger ahead; no predators and no enemies. It started memorizing all those places, people, animals and situations, and stored all the memories of possible dangers so it can warn you when needed. It calculated all the right moves and the ways to avoid the wrong moves. It did all that for your very own survival. Basically, it all started with really good intentions: the brain is just trying to save you from making the wrong moves. So what is the problem, if it has such great intentions? The problem is that now it warns you constantly for absolutely no good reason. It has entered a loop, a bad habit, and because it warns you constantly, it creates in you an undercurrent of existential tension. If you look deeply into the source of all your thinking, you will find the sense that something might be wrong. It is as if there is always a need to be alarmed, even if nothing really happens – and mostly, nothing actually happens. Just think of all the moments when you were worried for no good reason – how much energy you could have saved! Intellectually, we all know that nowadays there are very few real dangers. That is why 99.99% of your thoughts are completely unnecessary and unhelpful. The thinking machine is driven by instinct and a very primitive drive. Initially good, now it is just driving you crazy. Its primordial programming was to send signals of dangers when there were real problems, but now it just creates a feeling that there is always some problem, even when you can’t even think of one. This is why we can also call it a “problem-consciousness.” Change your brain’s signals Just as the thinking machine wrongly signals that there is a problem, you can send a signal back to your brain to calm it down. Your brain constantly sends you signals, telling you that there is always something to worry about; always something missing, and always something that needs fixing. It keeps showing you only imperfections. Now you need to send a signal back to your brain. This can be done with closed eyes or even with your eyes open. It can also be done while entering meditation, as soon as the thinking machine begins to distract your mind from delving into the practice. Send a command to the brain, telling it the following: “Everything is all right. I am completely safe. There is no danger. You can relax.” Do it confidently and observe what happens. Think of the brain and the thinking machine that springs from it as a servant that tries constantly to help its master. It feels that it is in charge of protecting you, but it tries so hard that eventually it does misservice to you. That is why you need to return to this servant and tell it: “You don’t need to try so hard. My condition is actually far from dangerous. I don’t need to walk on my toes to keep away from danger.“ Disbelieving this part that keeps telling you that there is always some problem is a major step towards the silent mind. These problems are just a mirage. They appear to be specific and nuanced, as if they were certain relevant problems that you really need to worry about. However, now that you understand why the thinking machine works in this way, you can realize that beneath and behind its constant alarm signals, deep down you don’t have problems – only situations that can be easily faced and effortlessly responded to. 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