Descartes had it wrong when he said “I think, therefore I am.”
Our thoughts are not what define us and make us who we are. They come and go like the wind and over time through practice we learn how they operate and how insubstantial they really are.
When we get caught up in our thinking minds, we’re separating ourselves from our lives and each other.
The moment I create a story about what is happening around me rather than simply experiencing it directly, I’m caught in a dualistic situation with a “me” over here and a “you” over there and this horrendous gap between us that needs to be filled with ideas and concepts and assumptions. These various kinds of thoughts usually lead to conflict and misunderstandings which only serve to perpetuate a cycle of delusion and unhappiness that causes suffering for ourselves and others.
The Buddha was very clear that all things are interdependent, interconnected, and interrelated. No one being or thing exists independently of all other beings or things.
In Opening the Hand of Thought, there’s this wonderful analogy about Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker” and how his hunched forward, contorted posture is one that encourages “chasing after illusions.”
This kind of pose is perfectly well suited for a toilet seat, but it’s not a posture that ought to be maintained throughout the rest of the day.
By contrast, the posture we assume when we meditate in a chair or cushion reflects our inherently upright and clear nature. Breathing happens more easily, the spine is open and long, and it encourages us to be immersed in the reality of our situation as opposed to our ideas about it.
It’s a posture we can always assume regardless of where we find ourselves--in fact I notice that when I’m wrapped up in thought or worry, my body is more tense and my shoulders are falling forward and inward. By simply straightening myself up into a posture that more closely resembles the one I assume during formal practice, an immediate mental shift takes place and it drastically improves the quality of my thoughts and mood.
Give it a try.
Give it a try.