A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.

Chinese proverb

I used to feel that a moment free from thought had no particular value. I used to feel that thinking was a better way to spend time than not thinking. I used to wallpaper every moment with a million ruminations.

Thinking felt productive, like it was getting me somewhere, finding answers, figuring life out. A blank mind, free of thought, was a wasted moment. It was zoning out, vegging out, goofing off, being frivolous. Thought was the vehicle to wisdom, understanding, and insight.

I was bound and determined to think-my-way to happiness.

And every thought took me away from the realm of no-thought that is happiness itself.

It has also been a surprise to discover that alert no-thought is actually more intelligent than thought. The space of no-thought is the source of any intelligence that shows up in thought. The no-thought that is "upstream" of thought is the source of creativity and wisdom.

While thought can be a beautiful and powerful tool, a lot of thought is unnecessary and destructive. Who doesn't have a merciless voice of internalized self-criticism? Or, even worse, a secret voice of thought that whispers hopes of personal specialness? Self-hatred and narcissism are two sides of a coin that have one thing in common: me, me, me. Which is the point of the bulk of thought: to conjure and perpetuate this huge fiction of separate me-hood. Thought builds up an imagined sense of me that must be constantly maintained and expanded. It is exhausting. It is a parasite draining life energy.

The me-image is fragile and flimsy and insecure by nature, as any image is a frail and evanescent thing. An image (especially the self-image) has a bottomless craving for attention, for without attention, where is the image? Poof! It is gone that easily.

These days there is a treasuring of the space of no-thought, whether thoughts are present or not. In the morning when consciousness opens its eyes on a new day, it savors the glint of silence between thoughts. So many of the thoughts that arise are recognized as unimportant, or as luring conscious attention towards hooking into some new drama of suffering, stirring up a new pot of pain.  Sometimes the unnecessary suffering cooked up by thought-stories is caught early on and the drama is side-stepped, nipped in the bud.  Other times I'm swept into the waking dream of thought lock-stock-and-barrel and ride out the storm.  Either way, all the while the space of no-thought gleams with fathomless presence. Attention opens from the thoughts to the space of awareness in which the thoughts occur. Such freedom here now in this space!

Gratitude for photo of Mourning Dove available at this link:


tom sullivan said...

Nice post and writing. My favorite phrase is, "stirring up a pot of pain."

May I "corrupt" the famous Buddhist maxim thusly?

Form (including thought) is Emptiness,
Emptiness Form (including thought).

Colleen Loehr said...

Good point Tom- it's easy to fall into a dualistic trap of making thought the "bad guy." Everything is THAT, including delusion, illusion, ego, thought, suffering, the whole shebang. The rope and the non-existent snake seen in the rope are both THAT. The baby and the bathwater are both THAT. Form is emptiness- nothing need be excluded or rejected as apart from the whole. I really appreciate your openness and depth in embracing the totality. Thanks so much for your comments, and for your mind-opening blogs Tom.

tom sullivan said...

You're welcome! Of course, in "the dream of living," thought CAN be a stirring up of a pot of pain. Suzanne Foxton recently wrote how even the dog poo on the sidewalk IS IT - BUT she steered her child clear of it.

Of course, as you wrote, thinking has more going for it than dog poo - that is, unless you're a fly (which IS what you ARE - enjoy! ;-)

rose duncan said...

A very thoughtful post on, well . . . so nicely written.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Tom,
I'll have to check out what Suzanne wrote about dog poo- is that on the interview with Non-duality Magazine that I've been meaning to read?
Your comments bring to mind a post I read by Svante Odmark on his blogspot "Life As It Is" posted 6/23/10. Even though I read the post a few weeks ago, it opened some seeing that continues to see. If you have a chance check out the Svante's post- I think you'd love it. I appreciate your lightness and humor Tom- you keep me from becoming a pious nondualist (that would not be fun).

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Naomi,
I love your dot dot dot in your comment- that says a lot. You and I are both in love with language- which can be a tough lover. Thank you for your encouraging comment Naomi, it's heartening coming from a professional writer.

nothingprofound said...

Funny, the aphorism I almost used this morning was on this very topic. But another ended on the page instead. Reading posts like this makes it easy for me to understand why your comments on my blog are always so perceptive and insightful. We seem to be drawing our water from the same well.

Val said...

Hellooo! I was reading Michael Singer writing about the Tao - he was saying that the pendulum of extremes (I'm great/I'm horrible) take up a lot of energy - the Tao is the middle way - stillness. The way to stop the pendulum swing is to not feed it your energy. I've been trying to do that all day and keep coming back to the breath, the now, where no story is too loud. A bird singing. :)
Love, Val

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi n.p., I'm delighted to see you, and I also feel we seem to be drawing our well from the same water. I love your aphorism today, "A puppet whose strings got cut learned to walk all on its own." (to any one reading this comment you can find this and other great aphorisms at mydailyaphorism.blogspot)
Thank you so much for stopping by n.p., and thanks for all the fun and mind-splitting insights of your aphorisms.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hey Sister!
The pendulum is calmed by not feeding it energy- that definitely rings true. Thanks for sharing this Val, it's exactly what I needed to hear at this moment in time. Here when I'm with the breath, with the now, "no story is too loud." Ahhh...Quietness is such a treasure. Love, Colleen

Leslie said...

Hi Colleen,
Just dropping by to thank you for your recent recommendation(s) of 'Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom'...I love this book! What an amazing and heartfelt compilation. Just finished the part on Dorothy Hunt -- whew. Bracing myself for Marlies...LOL.
This -- just as it is. All of it. How sweet is THAT?!?!?

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Leslie,
So glad you're enjoying 'Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom', it is one of my all time favorites. It's a book that would be equally enjoyable and worthwhile for male readers- so I hope men won't feel excluded by the title. You mention Dorothy Hunt- I really enjoy her book "Only This" and the chapter she wrote in "The Sacred Mirror." Thanks for visiting Leslie and I hope you have a beautiful weekend.
Love, Colleen

Leslie said...

Dear Colleen,
I hope you have a beautiful weekend as well.

Mary said...

Great post Mom :) I love the picture and the message of the writing, that we all should try to steer clear of focus on our own inadiquity or superiority as it only causes stress. Thanks:)

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Mary,

It is pure delight to see you here! Thank you for your excellent comments Mary. To steer clear of FOCUSING on thoughts of inferiority or superiority is a great point. We can't control what thoughts arise, and trying to control our thoughts is exhausting and doomed to fail. But we CAN CHOOSE not to focus excessively on the thoughts that arise. We can have a light and non-sticky relationship with the thoughts by not focusing excessively on them...
Love you Mary, you have a wise soul. Mom

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