Thought is Not The Enemy - It is a Most Faithful Servant

By Unmani Hyde

thoughts-as-enemy


One of the reasons that people tend to come to the spiritual path is to try to deal with their thinking, which seems to cause so much suffering. Most spiritual seekers are trying very hard to stop thinking, or to try to become the ‘witness’ of thoughts, or to change their thoughts from negative ones to positive ones. Thought is believed to be disturbing and to cause anxiety and suffering. But this is all based in a misunderstanding of the nature of thought.

The nature of thought is to try to protect this body and to fight for survival in any way that it can. It is innocently trying to help explain things in order to try to provide relaxation and to ease discomfort. It works overtime trying to become whatever we believe we need to be in order to survive in this world. Thought strategises and manipulates as much as is needed in order to do it’s job in this way. These strategies were learnt at a young age as a result of various traumas or disappointments which perhaps felt like a matter of life or death at the time. They are innocently repeated again and again now that we are older, at any hint of a similar situation. Thought is such a good protector!

Of course a lot of present situations do not always require such protection strategies, and often we would love to live in a more unprotected way. With our adult common sense we can see that these situations are not always a matter of life and death, and yet these thought mechanisms still might play out because this is the only way thought knows to deal with this kind of situation. As we get to know these mechanisms, their strategic methods, and also the physical sensations and flavours that accompany them, we can start to recognise them as old loyal friends who have always been there to offer their services when necessary. They are welcome to continue to do their job, but instead of all the attention going on how important thought is being assumed to be, we can feel what is going on physically and can acknowledge that this body is dealing with what it perceives to be a threat.

When we identify ourselves as what we think, then thought is given a lot of importance. It is believed to actually mean everything it says. As we start to see that who I really am is aware of thought, and therefore not thought, we can see that every single thought, although only innocently trying to help, simultaneously never means anything about ‘me’. This is the freedom to really see and continue to explore the nature of thought without it meaning anything. Even if thought is accompanied by uncomfortable feelings and sensations, these too do not mean anything about ‘me’. Everything can be fully felt and experienced just as it is, without the added drama of a thought meaning. This is no escape from feeling, and certainly may not suddenly make everything better or more comfortable, but it does reduce the extra layer of dramatization on top of every feeling that refers it back to an imaginary ‘me’.

On the spiritual path, as we are trying to deal with or control our thinking, we overlook that the one who says that the thinking is disturbing, is also a thought. This thought has taken a special superior (spiritually worthy) position looking down at all the other thoughts. But if we see that this too is another very helpful thought, then we are really left with no way, or need to deal with thoughts at all. All that is left is gratitude and compassion for thought, and at the same time seeing that thought really does not know how to respond spontaneously to a present situation. Life itself is lived freely despite the chatter of the thinking. Thought can never disturb who you really are, because it is simply not that important.

There is no need to make thought out to be the enemy, because that in itself gives it much more importance than is reality. You are already aware of thought, just as you are aware of every experience. It has no more or less value than anything else that happens. It is already so welcome here, simply because it is here. Although the body sometimes does, who you really are never really needs the protection services of thought. You are always open and free, only playing at being limited and protected. Seeing this nature of thought as a faithful servant, there is more and more lived experience of this openness that unravels naturally by itself, in its own time.

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