When our thinking finally does go silent, a strange order appears in the universe. Suddenly, everything is where it belongs. With no thoughts about desires, or objections regarding how things ‘are,’ –the ability to witness that silence is better than being happy. It’s a graceful kind of invincibility.
To grasp this understanding is to recognize that we are a eternal souls having a temporary life experience within a biological body. That makes life itself into an amazing opportunity —it’s like a vacation for souls, and that makes the dramas of our ego feel more interesting.
We enjoy the stories in which we watch ourselves ‘win,’ ‘lose,’ and struggle. It’s exciting for the same reasons that books and movies are. Who doesn’t love a good story? And if the story is particularly involving, we can even start to believe we’re the character we’re playing. This is when we get lost in ego and we begin to suffer.
We must do some of it, but our suffering is voluntary nevertheless. If that sounds like a paradox; it does until we understand that others could live out our day and feel privileged. That demonstrates the flexibility that exists within reality. Here’s an example of someone being accidentally enlightened:
Imagine that we’ve just left jail after two decades in (it’s okay, we’re rehabilitated). We know every meal the jail makes, likely in what order. We haven’t seen any nature, or heard birdsong in ten years, and our old world didn’t include smartphones or any freedom to make even the most basic decisions. And, we have barely even been touched by another person in that same amount of time.
Now, imagine that person just going through a normal day of ours. They would order the food they wanted and it would smell great and taste fantastic. Just that would be fantastically new!
They would see and smell the trees, and the flowers like they were wonders, yet we ignore them in favour of thinking. They would hear the birds singing when most people would have no consciousness that they were being sung to at all. Even choosing where to go on a bus would be a testament to freedom.
That is what it is to have our mind go quiet. Without all of our internal chatter about how we ‘want’ things, we are left with how they are. And without the pull and tug of wanting thought, everything’s just fine. Instead of all of that busy thinking, if our mind is quiet, we’ll be busy noticing flowers and tasting our food.
To achieve this peace, we need to simply accept one thing, and that is that if we choose to engage in states of ego, then we are choosing to live in a world of emotion –one that features both winners and losers as aspects of its existence. To live an ego’s existence in duality, we simply must accept that the journey goes both up and down.
Those undulations and fluctuations in our state of being are what give life its stakes. And as they do in movies and books, stakes make it far more interesting to live the ego’s life. But if we take that life and we spend our existence thinking wishful thoughts for a world with zero conflict and an all-winner universe, then we are dooming ourselves to a lifetime of hoping for the impossible.
In the world of spirit and soul we are infinite –we live beyond the concepts of winning or losing. But what our spirit does with its existence is that it inhabits life; an ego’s life. And ego’s lives are made from extremes. So asking to avoid suffering in life is like asking a wave to have a crest and not a trough. Until we surrender that desire we cannot hope to find peace.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.