Thinking Yourself Out of Life


Thinking Yourself Out of Life 

It is only because you exist that you can generate a thought. But your thought process has become so compulsive that your focus has shifted from the existential to the psychological. This has happened to such an extent that you have begun to believe that you exist because you think! The foundations of Western philosophy actually rest on the famous axiom by the seventeenthcentury French philosopher René Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” 

It is time to restate a fundamental fact: you are, therefore you may think. This has nothing to do with any philosophy, Eastern or Western. It is a simple existential reality. 

You can “be,” and still choose to think or not think. The most beautiful moments in your life—what you might consider moments of bliss, joy, ecstasy, or utter peace—were moments when you were not thinking about anything at all. You were just being. Even without your thoughts, existence is. 

What are thoughts really? Just information that you have gathered and recycled. Are you really capable of thinking of anything other than what has been accumulated by your mind? All the human mind is doing is recycling old data. 

So I ask: Do you want to be a living being or a thinking being? Right now, ninety percent of the time, you are only thinking about life, not living it. Have you come into this world to experience life or to think about it? Your mental process is a very small happening compared to the life process, but right now it has become far more important. It is time for humanity to shift the significance to the life process once again. The need is an urgent one. Our lives depend on it. 

Once it happened…(This is almost certainly an apocryphal tale, but that doesn’t matter; it smells true.) Aristotle, the father of modern logic, the intellectual giant of ancient Greece, was walking on the beach. A glorious sunset was before him, but he had no time for such petty occurrences. He was thinking seriously about some great problem of existence. For the intellectual mind, existence is always a problem, and Aristotle was out to solve it. Lost in solemn thought, he paced up and down the beach. 

There was another man on the beach who was doing something very intensely —so intensely that after a while even Aristotle noticed him. Those who are immersed in their own psychological realities usually end up ignoring life around them. They seldom have the eyes to look at a flower, a sunset, a child, or a smiling face. And if it is an unsmiling face, they have no inclination to make it smile; they have no such small duties or minor cares in the world! They are too busy cracking the great puzzles of existence. 

But this man’s intensity was such that even Aristotle could not ignore him. On close observation he noticed that this man kept going to the ocean and returning, with great single-mindedness of purpose. Aristotle paused in his reflections to inquire, “What exactly are you up to?” 

The man said, “Please don’t disturb me, I am doing something very important.” He continued with his work with furious intensity. 

Aristotle’s curiosity was piqued. He asked again, “But what are you doing?” 

The man said, “Don’t disturb me. It is very important.” 

Aristotle said, “What is this important thing?” 

The man showed him a little hole he had dug in the sand, and said, “I am emptying the ocean into this hole.” He had a tablespoon in his hand. 

Aristotle looked at this and laughed. Now, Aristotle is the kind who can spend a whole year without a single chuckle. It takes a heart to laugh. The intellect cannot laugh; it can only dissect. 

But even Aristotle laughed at this and said, “This is ridiculous! You must be insane. Do you know how vast this ocean is? How can you ever empty this ocean into this little hole? And above all, with a tablespoon? At least if you had a bucket, you might have stood some chance! Please give this up. This is utter madness.” 

The man looked at Aristotle, threw the spoon down, and said, “My job is already done.” 

Aristotle said, “What do you mean? Forget about the ocean being empty; even the hole is not full. How is your job done?” 

The other man stood up and said, “I am trying to empty the ocean into this hole with a tablespoon. You are telling me it is madness. But what are you trying to do? Do you know how vast this existence is? It can contain a billion oceans like this and more, and you are trying to empty it into the small hole of your head—and with what? With tablespoons called thoughts! Please give it up. It’s utterly ridiculous.” 

The other man was Heraclitus, the other great Greek philosopher. In a flash, he showed Aristotle what a crippled existence he was leading by attempting to extend his logic to every aspect of life. 

If you want to know the experiential dimensions of life, you will never know them with the petty process of thought. Even if you have the brain of an Einstein, your thought process is still outclassed because thought cannot be bigger than life. Thought can only be logical, functioning between two polarities. If you want to know life in its immensity, you need something more than the intellect. 

This is the fundamental choice you have: either you learn to live with creation, or you manufacture your own creation in your head. 

Which option do you want to exercise? 

The planet is spinning on time: not a small event. All the galaxies are managing fine; the whole cosmos is doing great. But you have one nasty little thought crawling through your head, and it is a bad day! The problem is you are living in a psychological space that bears no connection with reality. And you are insecure, because it can collapse at any moment. 

In the vastness and grandeur of cosmic space, if you look at yourself in perspective, you are less than a speck of dust. But you think your thought— which is less than a speck within you—should determine the nature of existence! You have lost your perspective of life: that is the basic problem. 

You have heard of the “Buddha.” His name was Siddhartha Gautama, and he became a Buddha. But Gautama was not the only Buddha. A human being who has transcended his intellect, the discriminatory and logical dimensions of his life, is a Buddha. Human beings have invented millions of ways to suffer. For all this the manufacturing unit is just in your mind. Once you are no longer identified with your mind, you are free to experience life beyond limitations. Being a Buddha means that you have become a witness to your own intellect. 

The essence of yoga, as we have said before, is just this—to arrive at that moment where there is a clear space between you and your mind. Once this happens, a life of heightened clarity, perception, and freedom has begun. This is the birth of freedom. 


Without logical thinking, you couldn’t survive on this planet. But at the same time, too much logic is suicide. Let us say you wake up tomorrow morning and start thinking a hundred percent logically. Do not think about the sunrise, the birds in the sky, your child’s face, the flowers blooming in your garden. Just think logically. Now, you have to get up, go to the toilet, brush your teeth, eat, work, eat, work, eat, sleep. Again, tomorrow morning the same thing. For the next thirty, forty, or fifty years, you have to do the same thing. If you think a hundred percent logically, there is no reason for you to be alive! 

One day in New York City, a man was walking home, late from work. Suddenly he had a romantic idea. He went to the florist, bought a huge bunch of red roses, went home, and knocked on the door. His wife opened the door. 

She looked at him and started hollering. “Today has been a terrible day. The faucet has been leaking, the basement is flooded, the children had a food fight, and I had to clean the whole place, the dog has been sick, my mother is not well, and you have the cheek to come home drunk!” 

So if you think a hundred percent logically, there is really no possibility of life! Moments of extreme logic are moments of suicide. Only if you know when logic should be used and when it’s necessary to go beyond it, will your life be beautiful. 


You could try this simple practice. Set your tap in such a way that only five to ten drops fall per minute. See if you can observe each drop—how it forms, how it falls, how it splashes on the ground. Do this for fifteen to twenty minutes a day. You will gradually become conscious of many things around and within you that you are completely unaware of right now. This simple exercise can initiate a process of sensitization and clarity and accomplish much more than you can possibly imagine. In this simple process, you are actually exploring one limb of yoga referred to as dharana, which means “that which flows.” It is not the water we are referring to here. It is your attention, and, in turn, your consciousness. The attempt is to make your attention flow and connect with its object—in this case, water. This is not an exercise in observation or appreciation. It is an exercise in attention—in turning what is sporadic and intermittent into a flow. (In the larger scheme of things, the water and you are already one. Your individuality is only your idea.)




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