One of my all-time favorite genres is human psychology. I love to read and explore how the human brain works, what makes us choose one thing over another and how we form the basis of our thinking.
While human psychology books dig deeper into the typical human brain and try to decode the meaning of everything, spiritual books simply suggest that you are beyond your mind. In fact, the mind is nothing but a tool that you should use whenever you like.
I believe that both the genres are contradictory to each other but at the same time, both the genres tell us that the human brain is a series of past memories. Without your past, you are just a soul with no thought at all.
For example: If I ask you, why is helping people good? You will give me hundreds of reasons without even thinking. Because you have been taught every little thing, what is good, what is bad, what is happy, what is sad, and the like.
In this way, you have no power of your own. You are just living a series of past incidents without even realizing it. In Osho’s book, Awareness, he talks about how we are a victim of our thinking, how we can separate our brain from our core, and how we can become aware which means living in a meditation-like position all day.
Let’s first understand why you need to go beyond your mind or what’s the problem ‘if we are our thoughts
How Brain Functions & Creates Problems
Although, there is much to say about how the brain functions but all in all, the brain’s key work is to THINK. And this thinking is the reason behind all the problems we face in our life.
Thinking simply means, you see something, you evaluate it and you judge it based on your past memories and experiences. You look at a flower and you judge it by labeling it as beautiful or not beautiful. You hear a song and you judge the voice, lyrics, or overall music. No matter if it is appreciation or condemnation, you function in your day-to-day life by judging.
You may think that I am an open-minded person and I don’t judge people like others but this very thinking is a judgment. You may not call a black person black but your mind has done its part of the evaluation. Your brain saw a skin color, registered it, and gave it a label as per the past experience.
One of the biggest problems of humans, however, is that we judge but we are not ready to accept the fact that we judge because according to the rules of society, good people don’t judge others.
Your brain doesn’t know what is good and what is bad, hence, it generates every kind of thought and feels everything, be it jealousy, greed, anger, or any other negative emotions. Whether you accept it or not, you and I both imagine taking revenge on our competitors or we imagine how we are superior to others.
Wise people admit that they do feel negative emotions whereas ignorant people try to surpass those negative emotions because they are running behind in following the rules of ‘good people.
What we don’t realize is, that the more you try to avoid certain emotions, the more they will grow. You might try to hide it, surpass it but you can never completely dissolve them. And that’s why willingly or unwillingly, you end up creating a dark side of yourself where all the negative emotions are stored waiting to come out. Perhaps, this is the reason why people say ‘everyone is wearing a mask’.
We all try to be good, happy, supportive, loving, caring, intelligent, and Godlike because this is the easy way to get accepted in society. We start thinking that jealousy is a bad emotion, we can’t be sad, and all that. What we don’t realize is ‘life isn’t a fairy tale’, and you are not a fairy or prince for that matter.
In reality, when we feel negative emotions, we start judging and condemning ourselves. Why? Because the definition of society and our dark is collapsing.
And that’s how our brain creates problems for us by judging. This is one of the ways we create problems for ourselves, the other way our brain creates the majority for us is by dwelling in the past or future.
How Humans Became Machines
If I ask you how many hours you sleep, what would be your answer? 8 hours, 10 hours, or more than that? But what if I say that you sleep all 24 hours?
Ohh, you must be thinking that I have gone nuts. But here is a fact-your definition of sleep means closing your eyes, losing consciousness, and dreaming till you open your eyes again. But the reality is, that humans are always sleeping even when their eyes are wide open, even when you are reading this article or even when you think you are not sleeping. How? Let’s understand the core of our problem.
Tell me what are you thinking right now? No, don’t tell me that you are reading this article. Tell me exactly what’s going on in the backdrop of your mind? Are you thinking about your lost past, your partner, your career, the choice you made a few days ago, or are you just worried about your future?
I can guarantee that there must be something that you are still thinking about. If you stop for a second and really give it a thought, you will realize that your mind is thinking even when you are reading this article. This is what sleeping with eyes open is all about.
When you don’t know what you are thinking when you are lost in your imaginary world when you are re-creating the past or building a fairy-like future even when you are eating, bathing, talking, or reading, you become a machine. You lose your control over your mind and you do X thing but think about Y thing. This is exactly what sleepwalking means.
Some people might say that ‘Ohh, please, I never think about the past nor do I worry about the future. I always think about my present moment’
But hey darling, sorry to break your magic land.
Osho says that “The mind is always either in the past or in the future. It cannot be in the present. It is impossible for the mind to be in the present. When you are in the present, your mind is no more-because mind means thinking. How can you think in the present? You can think about the past, it has already become a part of the memory, and the mind can work it out. You can think about the future, it is not there, and the mind can dream about it. There is no space for the mind to move in the present.”
In fact, the moment you start thinking, you are out of the present moment, you make it past. And the unfortunate reality is, that we are always thinking about something all the time. Don’t believe me? Pause and witness your life.
Osho gives a beautiful example to describe how we lose the present moment by thinking.
Example: Let’s say you are watching a sunrise. You feel the warmth and a sudden calmness as the sun rises. And you say, ‘what a beautiful sunrise’! The moment you say this, you made it a past memory. Now you have imposed something on the sun. Now, whatsoever, the sun is, to you it is a sun plus your feeling of its being beautiful. Now, the sun is far away, in between the sun and you, there is your judgment, your evaluation of its being beautiful.
This is exactly how we slip into the mind’s trap. You lose the present; you never feel anything completely until you stop thinking. In fact, this is the reason why people always want to recreate the past because when the past was present, you were thinking about something else.
Your whole being is like that only. That’s why thinking is your biggest problem. The moment you think, you have nothing original left.
So, what’s the solution?
You must have heard the best possible solution to controlling your mind is to start doing mediation, right? Because meditation helps your mind to calm down, clear it with every kind of thought, and makes you still. But here is a fact-meditation is absolutely useless. Let’s see why and what you can do if not mediation.
Why Is Meditation Useless?
What do you think meditation is? Let’s picture what meditation looks like to us- You are sitting somewhere possibly around nature, your eyes are closed, you are not thinking anything, you are free from your past and future, you are completely in the present, and you can feel the cold breeze flirting with your cheeks, you can see your breath flowing in and outside of your body, you feel the tranquility and finally achieve the peace of mind. And for that time being, you feel as if you are a modern monk. Right?
If you are anything like me, you must have pictured meditation as something like this. And guess what? This is exactly what meditation feels like after years of practice. But let’s say that you are able to attain this level of peace even if you have just thought about doing meditation.
Well, then what?
Like most people, I had a belief that meditation is enough to control the mind and uninvited emotions. The reality is, that you do meditation for half an hour or maybe one hour but what about the rest of the 23 hours?
Do you really think that after letting your mind think anything, losing control over your mind for 23 hours, and working like a machine for 23 hours, you can gain peace of mind by doing meditation for one hour?
Tell me you are kidding!
When you are allowing your mind to take the lead for 23 hours to dwell in the past or future, your mind will be drowning in all those bitter-sweet thoughts. The one hour of meditation will become more like a punishment to you because that will be the time when you are actually sitting in silence and then you realize how many thoughts actually swim in your mind. It would be more than impossible for you to close the door of past and future worries with just one hour of meditation.
And this is the reason why meditation doesn’t work for people. We expect our life will change if we sit in silence for one hour while letting our minds wander for the whole 23 hours.
What Is a Substitute of Meditation?
The best substitute for meditation is to witness. In layman’s terms, witnessing means you are watching a movie. You are just watching and witnessing everything that is happening. You don’t think about the past and future, you are just witnessing all that’s happening in the movie. You are immersed in the experience that your inner being is involved in the process of watching the movie, hence, your brain can’t wake up.
Now, how do you develop the habit of witnessing in real life because we all have the habit of always thinking about something no matter what we are up to?
The only solution is to live a life of awareness and witness yourself doing everything with full awareness without judging your actions.-Osho
For example: Try to have one meal of your day alone or rather only with yourself. Try to immerse yourself in eating. Don’t watch television while eating, don’t think about what you will do next, don’t think about anything. Try to eat your food with your hands (no spoon) just like Indians do. Feel your food as it touches your fingers, feel your food as it touches your tongue, feel your food as you chew it, and feel your food as you gulp it. This is the whole process of eating food. You follow the exact same process every single day but with your eyes closed (it has become an automatic act). Have you ever experienced food like this ever before? No need to answer, I know the answer would be similar to mine-No. Okay, so do you remember what you were thinking last week when you had your dinner? Probably, you don’t.
Can you see the pattern here? You don’t know how your life is slipping by when you are thinking about all the important things that you don’t even remember after 7 days.
This is the reason Osho suggested that we live our life with full awareness. You must be aware of what you are doing, you should let yourself immerse in the experience, and above all, you must witness yourself doing all things you do.
When you live a life like this, you will go beyond your mind and then your mind will be in your control. The life of awareness is a life worth living otherwise we are just dead inside with our system (brain) still running. When you witness everything you do without judging yourself, that’s when you live as if you are in a state of meditation for all 24 hours.
However, the problem is, you are not going to be perfect on day one because till now, you didn’t even know that you were sleepwalking. In fact, you might go crazy when you realize how you are always lost in your thoughts. You may want to live with awareness but after barely 60 seconds, your mind is back in the game and starts thinking about something else. This makes you angrier or irritated.
But the good news is the moment you catch yourself being lost in your thoughts is the moment when awareness arises inside you. Hence, instead of cursing yourself for being lost, feel happy that you have started gaining your lost consciousness.
And like everything, living with awareness and witnessing yourself will take time and practice but the results will be worth it. You will no longer be the victim of time, past, future, judgments, or any other thing. You will become the most powerful person.
What you need to remember, however, is that you shouldn’t judge yourself. If you catch yourself comparing yourself with someone else, don’t feel bad. As I said, comparison, jealousy, envy, greed, hate, or any other negative emotion is a part of being a human, it is the other side of the coin. The sooner you accept this truth and acknowledge your nature, the sooner you will be able to get rid of these feelings. Whenever these feelings come your way, close your eyes, take a deep breath and accept it. The moment you accept it, it will become harmless.
I hope this article helps you to live a life of awareness where you are the master and mind is a tool that you use as per your wish.
I would suggest you read Awareness, The Key To Living In Balance by Osho if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other kind of mental health issues.