It’s clear to most people that they have a limited span of attention. When concentrating our attention on a particular subject, it’s not usually long before the mind wanders off into the past or the future for something more “interesting” to ponder.
Every student who has ever prepared for a school exam is likely familiar with this waning lack of ability to focus attention. What is not as obvious to humans is that our span of “inattention” is even less. Novice meditators often find this out very quickly as they first sit to meditate. Their minds simply refuse to cooperate as thoughts assail them almost continually. These thoughts arise in such rapid succession, and are often accompanied by correlating images, that it seems nearly impossible to recognize the pure field of stillness from which they arise.
The reason for this is not the thoughts themselves, but the fact that we have been relentlessly conditioned to give attention to these thoughts. We believe, in essence, that we are our thinking minds and thus thoughts must be “followed” regardless of how rational or irrational they are.
In fact, most people believe that their thoughts are a major part of their identity. They believe, and more importantly feel, that their thoughts are not only produced by them, but that they are essential to them. They believe if their brain became still and thought ceased, they would not be fully themselves.
This could not be further from the truth.
In fact, true peace can never be experienced until we recognize the vast, silent Still Point from which all thoughts arise. The Still Point is that which knows the thoughts that arise. When you say, “I know my thoughts,” you are correct because you are this vast self-aware Still Point. No thought has any ability to know itself, yet most people believe thoughts to be aware of themselves.
Because of this, thoughts are closely followed while the awareness that is your true self, from which they arise and are known, is completely ignored. When thought arises from the timeless Still Point, a sense of passing time accompanies them. There can be no felt sense of time without thinking.
In deep sleep, where thought is absent, time is not experienced. This is why it is completely essential to recognize the vast, peaceful field from which thought arises as being ever present and aware. This is meant to say that only the Still Point is aware.
Any sensation, thought, or image you have ever experienced was known exclusively by this vast, silent presence. When you come to see this and recognize it is what you have called “I” your entire life, you recognize you are not your thoughts, and they are certainly not essential to you. You “are” before, during, and after thoughts have come and gone.
This is the very seed of freedom from the false chains of the thinking mind. Thoughts do not need to be controlled or censored in any way, but simply allowed to rise and fall inside your vast aware-being.
An excerpt from The Still Point: The Simplicity of Spiritual Enlightenment by Kevin Krenitsky
Reprinted with permission from Waterside Productions Inc. 2022