I vividly remember one of my first attempts at meditation. I was sitting on my bedroom floor, doing my best to empty my mind of all thought. Suddenly, an image of a Loch Ness Monster came to mind. I saw Nessie in a swimming pool, lounging comfortably on a brightly colored inflatable raft. Then, from the right side of my mind, another Loch Ness Monster jumped in the pool, making a big splash, knocking the first monster off of his float.
I was utterly dumbfounded by the ridiculousness of what had entered my mind! Little did I know this silly thought about Nessie would eventually reshape how I think about thinking.
Right after the Loch Ness pool party had passed from my mind, I was flooded with inquisitive thoughts. How and why did such an absurd image ever make it to the forefront of consciousness? Even if I had intentionally been thinking while meditating, a Loch Ness Monster would have been the last thing I would have chosen to think about. Reluctantly, I had to admit that I was not the thinker of that thought. I had no control over Nessie coming to mind. And after years of meditating on how thoughts come and go, I’ve confidently concluded that I am not the thinker or controller of thoughts…and neither are you. You don’t believe me? Right now, do not think about a Loch Ness Monster floating on an inflatable raft. You thought about him, didn’t you?
I did not think up the thought of Nessie. The thought just appeared. But where did it come from? I’ve contemplated this question quite a bit since that day. Best I can tell, thoughts come from nowhere. Sure, an event occurs in the brain that conceives thoughts, but where are thoughts before such a biological event? Similarly, you were conceived from a biological event in your mother’s womb, but where were you before the moment of conception…it’s a mystery just like the origin of thoughts.
So, if you can’t control thoughts and it’s impossible to know where thoughts come from, why continue claiming that your thoughts are yours? More importantly, why continue believing that your thoughts are you? What if thoughts just happen, impersonal images coming and going in the mind? What if they actually have nothing to do with you? What if you are not the thinker of thoughts? If you really were in control, you would certainly choose to think more advantageously.
I encourage you to seriously consider the notion that your thoughts are not yours, and certainly not who you are. Rather, thoughts are just normal goings-on of the mind that have nothing to do with you as a person. Once you see this for yourself, liberation will effortlessly unfold as you stop believing and identifying with the content of the mind. Thoughts are not your thoughts. They are just thoughts. And I’d love to know your thoughts on that…