Martin LeFevre: Making a Friend of Thought
Making a Friend of Thought
The mind, as the word is usually used, means the movement of thought in the brain. But there is another meaning to the word mind--a quality of awareness and attention that transcends and silences the mind-as-thought. Can the Mind in this sense be predominant, in the brain, and in communication?
In this inquiry, I am presupposing that the reader has let go of the enslavement to belief systems, and is no longer enchained to any tradition, technique, or teacher. Belief of any sort is a deep conditioning that binds the mind, denying the direct perception of truth and the sacred. So the first step for a serious person, a person who really wants to be free, is to question and negate every authority, every belief, and every tradition within oneself.
With regard to spiritual and inward matters, there are no teachers; there is only learning and teaching, teaching and learning, in a never-ending process of negation and growth. Stay away from people who have an image of themselves as teachers.
The peddlers of particular paths have a clever expression: “there are many ways to truth.” That is false. There is no way, and there is no path to the truth. One perennially begins where one is, and negates thought simply through undivided observation to its movement. That’s all. No technique, no method, no ‘practice.’ All these are of thought and time, and negating thought and time is the true meaning of meditation. No one can teach a person how to meditate, because there is no ‘how.’ One can only experiment and question--seriously, intensely, and playfully —within oneself, without any goal or guide.
So if one has the urge to meditate, what do you do? First, do nothing, and be OK with it. Drop all inward goals, which can be very subtle. End the separate observer by catching the mind in the act of dividing itself from itself. Insight acts on the brain, and undercuts the mind-as-thought. Awakening meditation requires an intense passive watchfulness, as well as a effortless quickening of awareness, and a willingness to surrender rather than return to control when the ground beneath the conscious mind begins to dissolve.
Though thought is the impediment to clarity, wholeness, goodness, and health, the mind is not a movement in opposition to our true nature. To think and to have thoughts is part of human nature. Attending to and negating the movement of thought transcends the limitations and obstructions to being a human being. To go beyond the mind-as-thought, one has to make a friend of thought, and passionately care to understand one’s own mind, which is the mind of humankind.
It’s an exquisitely beautiful afternoon in the parkland, and despite the holiday and many people on the roads and trails, a sense of serenity pervades the ribbon of water and emerald that runs through and beyond town.
The sitting induces a meditative state quickly, with attention, negation, and emptiness deepening without effort. As often happens in the deeper states of meditation, one becomes aware of the omnipresence of death. It’s strange how death and love go together. At that moment they feel inseparable, and spill over and through one like the lightly lapping waters of the creek.
A hundred meters upstream, a sister and her younger brother are having a rollicking good time in the water. The girl leads them downstream and then up again, over a washboard section of the creek. The boy cannot contain his joy. For the better part of an hour, he periodically shouts over and over: “I’m free, I’m free!”
Taking a walk after the sitting, I pass a long line of Asian men, women, and children on bikes —about 20 in all. They are on one side of the narrow one-way park road and I am on the other, and a large SUV cannot make it through. Non-hastily, I cross over onto the cyclists’ side to let the vehicle pass, joining them at a section of three women, who had been speaking Chinese. Spontaneously, I exclaim, “It’s a procession!” They all laugh. The procession of life is everywhere —in the water, with the birds and squirrels, and with the people.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.