Is thinking Really Necessary?

Thinking is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. It’s the one thing that is everywhere, yet nobody seems to truly notice or talk about it. In fact, it is so pervasive and all-consuming, we don’t even realize that it’s happening. We just feel like it’s part of our reality. We are usually thinking nonstop, even when we don’t need to be. But ask yourself:
Is thinking really necessary in order to take a drink of water? To walk across the room? To put away the groceries? Or can it happen completely naturally and spontaneously, without the need for any thoughts? Do you actually need to think, “OK arm, move to that class. Good. Now lift the glass to my mouth. Good. Now drink the water, swallow.” Of course not. But what’s usually happening while we do something simple like drink water is we’re thinking of something (usually a lot of somethings) that have absolutely nothing to do with drinking water!

Try doing an experiment: Do something simple like reaching for a glass of water and taking a drink. See whether or not it is possible to do it without needing to use thinking. Go ahead. Reach for the glass of water, take a sip, and put it down. What did you notice? You may have found that it’s entirely possible to do something like taking a drink of water without thinking a single thought! Your arm just moves to the water, puts the glass to your mouth, drinks it, and puts it back on the table. It just happens, you don’t need to think about it to do it.

And this is the same for many other actions as well. Putting away groceries, taking a shower, making dinner. Instead of thinking, you can simply perform the actions while noticing what you see, hear, feel, etc. In other words, you just focus on your senses, leaving your mind and thinking completely out of the picture.

If you do this, life changes into a miracle, because you suddenly become aware of all these things that you didn’t even know were happening! The sound of the bags wrestling as you put away the groceries, the sound of your footsteps as you walk to the living room, all of the thousands of colors and textures of the various objects you see in your room, various sensations in your body, etc. A deep sense of peace and quiet starts to become apparent, no matter what you’re doing.

It also becomes like watching a movie, where the self you thought that you were is just a character, and everything that is happening is just scenes from a movie. You’re just a present awareness witnessing it all happen.

If you encounter any fear when doing this practice, it’s only because you’ve been used to living in your thoughts, and now you’re starting to live somewhere else, in your senses. It’s the same as if you were moving to a new place you’ve never been to before, and you were apprehensive because you were so used to your old home and way of life. But soon enough, you get used to it and your new home becomes normal. It’s the same with letting go of your thoughts. Just give yourself some time, and let it be gradual.

So is thinking really necessary at all? Just for a few things. Math, talking, deciding what to eat for dinner, etc. But as soon as you’re done using your thoughts for the purpose that they are actually needed, you can simply put down your mind, just like putting down a tool when you’re done using it. Because that’s what the mind is – a tool to be used by you. But if you’re thinking the other 98% of the time when it’s not necessary, then you become the tool.

Don’t be a tool, be free.

©2016 by Awakening Wisdom Light

Photo©2014 by ChristoMichelpher

CC BY 2.0

Author: Tara Praises

Tara devotee, Buddhist practitioner, music composer, and poet.

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