Growing up I was enthralled by the saying “I think therefore I am” ascribed to Rene Descartes the French philosopher and mathematician. What he meant was that we are human beings because we have the capacity to think. This capacity defines us as different from other living organisms in our Universe. Thought has resulted in significant change and it is well accepted that it is this unique ability that has caused the advancement of human civilization.
Thinking is constant. It is virtually impossible to stop thinking without concentrated effort and often even despite. The masters talk about thinking being like a cassette player constantly playing in our head saying things from the mundane to the profound. To the more technologically advanced thinkers out there, think of it like Spotify on loop. The masters are right, our mind is constantly flooded with thoughts about what happened, what might happen, who said, what they said and on and on. Therefore I was stunned when I read a line from the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh “I think therefore I am not”
This was the anti-thesis of everything that I had been taught. We celebrated great thinkers and people who had ideated and innovated. However, to an enquiring mind it was not hard to fathom that great ideas are the exception and the rest of your brain time is engaged in the mundane. Humans have developed the capacity to perform extra-ordinary feats. However, being able to not think, to anyone who has tried will easily qualify as one of the most difficult. Success results in a calming of the mind that has a profound impact on who you are. It starts with a simple recognition that you are thinking because the bulk of the time is spent on auto mode. You think but you don’t think that you are thinking.
You will find a profound change in you if you can practice this simple task of thinking that you are thinking. I think therefore I am not!