Lately, when I’m not too engrossed in day to day affairs the following thought has been gripping my mind.
Why there is always something running in the mind?
For couple of decades now I’ve been hearing and reading about mind and how its tricks and lures keep us entangled in the earthly life. They have been telling that mind always needs something to chew on etc. Nevertheless, for my mind it was the above questions this time 🙂
In order to find answers, I tried to observe the generation of thoughts in my mind. I tried to trace the root of thought trains that arose in my mind at different times of the day. I didn’t set any timetable for this thought chasing exercise, it’s just that the above questions have been bothering me much, and they would spring up at random times often in the middle of a running thought train. Exactly then I’d try to unfold the stack of my interrupted run of thought train. It was like debugging a program by injecting a breakpoint into it in-flight. When the breakpoint is hit then I examine the stack — all the way to its bottom.
In all these thought debugging exercises I do not know if I’ve reached the absolute bottom of the stack i.e. the seed thought which put the program into running state. I could only manage to identify the triggering desire for a given thought train. Almost always the trigger has been a desire for some kind of joy or pleasure. Now, in this exploration I also noticed that the concept of joy or pleasure is sometimes equivalent to preventing/avoiding/eliminating pain or fear of some kind whether existing or perceived in the future.
For instance, I’ve observed a negative thought train where my mind was contemplating ways to make a colleague realize for his/her unkind behavior. How did mind arrive at this point of contemplation involving that colleague? It’s ego had felt hurt by the colleague’s behavior and now it desired for the pleasure of asserting some kind of supremacy. At another instance I have caught my mind drifting in a thought train about some technology innovation. Here too, unfolding the stack of thoughts revealed that it started with a similar desire for joy of some worldly attainment.
So it seems that at the root of all thought is a desire. Desire is always for some kind of sensory or mental joy. Even this pursuit for solving the mystery of thoughts and mind and finding the self is driven by a desire of joy.
I feel it is necessary to have difficult times in one’s life. Taken in the right spirit, these times have a profound spiritual impact and serve as a vehicle to makes us better human beings. All my learnings about ethics, morals, virtues and so on get tested only in such times. Mind just likes to feel good about the bookish learning that it has gained about leading a virtuous life and about practicing the faculty of discrimination between good and bad etc. Difficult times serve as the testbed to try out this learning. I can safely say that there is huge difference in knowing the theory and in practicing it. It’s very difficult. I often think that Lord doesn’t have any other way to ensure that we are worthy of becoming Him except by trying us in His parameters (what are those?!). He is all in all, omnipotent. Now someone like me with so many weaknesses of flesh and mind, how would One ensure that I’m worthy? Looks like the algorithm defined for the likes of me is to: first impart the theoretical knowledge, then continue to throw at me the difficult situations until the theory has been transformed into wisdom. It is like we test a product in repeated QA test cycles to ensure that the product is worthy of the market. The higher the quality the more stringent tests it needs to pass. This often reminds me of a particular show on Discovery where they showed how the high end cars go through crash tests and so on. Until they are confident enough about the quality of car‘s safety devices to keep the passengers safe, they keep on crashing the car in tests! So the only way out for the poor car from the crash testing is: to PASS THE TEST!! Failure is not an option for a car that dreams of being the Safest Carrier.
A state during which my consciousness of my physical surroundings is suspended. Depending upon my experiences that I have during the state of sleep I may enjoy it or be discomforted. Often I’m not discomforted. Often the feeling — of either enjoyment or discomfort — is most intense when I’m about to wake up from the sleep. Often the sleep is most enjoyable when I’m about to wake up in the morning. My eyes are not comfortable with the brightness of the light around when I’m in the process of waking up. The light at times is unbearable to the eyes forcing me to open them slowly towards some relatively dimly lit surroundings.
Has anyone ever died of insomnia? Probably it’s the fear of dying that kills and not the lack of sleep.