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This "zone of silence" being once established, you can draw from it both for rest and for work. Then you will have not only concentration without effort, but also activity without effort. For silence is the sign of real contact with the spiritual world and this contact, in turn, always engenders the influx of forces. This is the foundation of all mysticism, all gnosis, all magic and all practical esotericism in general. For He can well be loved, but he cannot be thought.

By love he can be grasped and held, but by thought, neither grasped nor held. And therefore, though it may be good at times to think specifically of the kindness and excellence of God, and though this may be a light and a part of contemplation, all the same, in the work of contemplation itself, it must be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting. And you must step above it stoutly but deftly, with a devout and delightful stirring of love, and struggle to pierce that darkness above you; and beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love, and do not give up, whatever happens.

What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. I want to share the main features of a permanent shift that began in January, My experience, indeed my life, became noticeably different than had been before that date: behind everything I am and do now came to be a sense of silence, a bottomless emptiness, so open as to be without end.

A Vastness All Around: Awakening to Your Natural State

This silence bears a sense of spaciousness, or vastness, which extends in every direction. This silent expanse is not something I have to remember to be; it takes absolutely no effort to maintain it. It is as effortless to be this as it is to have a right hand. Though it rapidly became too normal or everyday to seem amazing or ecstatic, it is quite pleasant and peaceful. Since that day, it has been what I am: not the me that does dishes, that worries when I have to write an article, or the me that feels alone or scared or happy.

But vast silence has been the me that watches and lives and holds it all. Before that January day, behind every moment of thinking, seeing or hearing, there had always been other, fainter thoughts, odd snatches of music, hints of feelings, errands I shouldn't forget, half-formed sentences.

This is what many call the "monkey mind. Until it wasn't. With the onset of permanent silence, they just vanished.

The burbling background chatter simply disappeared. Unlike what I had expected, my mind did not become entirely silent. I had understood from my guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that in such shifts our minds would come to be without any thoughts at all. This wasn't that. I continued to think. What did stop however was the endless half-clear thoughts beneath my mind. It was as if behind the movie of my mind had been scrim behind scrim: each with a dimmer move I could barely make out. But that afternoon it was as if the light suddenly shifted so that the front scrim became opaque and I suddenly was watching just one movie, thinking only one thought at a time.

No perfect quiescence, but much more focused. Whereas before I would struggle to keep my attention where I wanted, I suddenly was able to put my consciousness on something and have it pretty much stay there. It was like getting eye glasses for the mind. Jill Bolte Taylor. It was a truly bizarre shift in perception, but without her emotional circuitry reminding me about her patterns of critical judgment, I didn't think like her anymore.

Even Gary Weber, author of Happiness Beyond Thought and the internet guru pushing "no thought" as a useful practice goal, doesn't experience the total cessation of thoughts. Here is how I described it to one Redditor:. Yeah, from what I've dug into of Gary, he specifically means a class of thought he refers to as "blah blah," which seems to be something like self-referential and mind-wandering thoughts.

He also mentions there does seem to be a period of memory consolidation during the descent into sleep that he experiences as thoughts. Almost immediately it became clear that participants were not referring to the disappearance of all thoughts. They remained fully able to use thought for problem solving and living what appeared outwardly to be a 'normal' life. The reduction seemed limited to self-related thoughts. This high percentage may suggest why someone would say all thought had fallen away.

The class of thoughts that falls out is very likely those generated by the brain's default mode network, so: mind-wandering, past and future, autobiographical, and episodic memory thoughts.

I've collected more on the plausible relationship between this network and the experience of awakenings elsewhere on the site. No thought, then, when used in the rough-and-tumble Wild West that is internet dharma, almost always means something like, "an incredible, drastic reduction in thoughts, but not a literal, complete cessation of thought," or, even closer, something like, "the new normal for this mind is mental silence, but I can use thought when needed.

The main potential pitfall is mistaking a state of placid drowsiness, of being "tuned out," as the point. This is the opposite of what you're after—you want perception to be very, very bright and alive.

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If we can remain in natural uncontrived presence, without sinking into an oblivious drowse , we disinhibit our spontaneous clarity. Stars appear in the sky, and their brilliance is reflected in the referenceless ocean of being. Let your mind be as it naturally is without trying to correct it. Now, isn't it true that all your thoughts, both subtle and gross, subside in themselves? Rest evenly and look to see if this mind doesn't remain calm in its own natural state. Default conscious experience can be likened to a house, one where thought plays the role of a load-bearing wall.

Remove it and the house collapses. The first type of stabilization is ballasting or loading, to use an electrical analogy. In electrical ballasting, you impose a large electrical load on a circuit that draws on the power resources sufficiently so that very high voltages cannot occur; the power supply lacks the capacity to produce them, given the load.

Loading in general refers to any activity that draws a large proportion of the energy of the system so that the system does not have excess free energy available. A load may also store energy, giving the system inertia that prevents a sudden slowdown or speedup. A final example of loading concerns the thinking process. You have a constant internal thinking process going on, constant internal chatter, which runs through familiar and habitual associative pathways and keeps you within your ordinary d-SoC.

You think the kinds of things that please you; you feel clever as a result of thinking them; feeling clever makes you relax; feeling relaxed makes you feel good; feeling good reminds you that you are clever; and so on. This constant thinking, thinking, thinking loads your system and is extremely important in maintaining your ordinary b-SoC. The importance of this constant loading of consciousness by thinking in maintaining and stabilizing our ordinary d-SoC cannot be overestimated. If you are unable to sit without thinking for a minute or five or thirty, you're an addict.

Sort yourself out—you don't have to abide there persistently.

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Just prove you can do it. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper. And therefore, though it may be good at times to think specifically of the kindness and excellence of God, and though this may be a light and a part of contemplation, all the same, in the work of contemplation itself, it must be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting. And you must step above it stoutly but deftly, with a devout and delightful stirring of love, and struggle to pierce that darkness above you; and beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love, and do not give up, whatever happens.

What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking.

On Awakening: No-Thought

A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. I want to share the main features of a permanent shift that began in January, My experience, indeed my life, became noticeably different than had been before that date: behind everything I am and do now came to be a sense of silence, a bottomless emptiness, so open as to be without end.

This silence bears a sense of spaciousness, or vastness, which extends in every direction. This silent expanse is not something I have to remember to be; it takes absolutely no effort to maintain it. It is as effortless to be this as it is to have a right hand. Though it rapidly became too normal or everyday to seem amazing or ecstatic, it is quite pleasant and peaceful.

Since that day, it has been what I am: not the me that does dishes, that worries when I have to write an article, or the me that feels alone or scared or happy. But vast silence has been the me that watches and lives and holds it all. Before that January day, behind every moment of thinking, seeing or hearing, there had always been other, fainter thoughts, odd snatches of music, hints of feelings, errands I shouldn't forget, half-formed sentences. This is what many call the "monkey mind.

Until it wasn't. With the onset of permanent silence, they just vanished. The burbling background chatter simply disappeared. Unlike what I had expected, my mind did not become entirely silent. I had understood from my guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that in such shifts our minds would come to be without any thoughts at all. This wasn't that.

I continued to think. What did stop however was the endless half-clear thoughts beneath my mind. It was as if behind the movie of my mind had been scrim behind scrim: each with a dimmer move I could barely make out. But that afternoon it was as if the light suddenly shifted so that the front scrim became opaque and I suddenly was watching just one movie, thinking only one thought at a time.

No perfect quiescence, but much more focused. Whereas before I would struggle to keep my attention where I wanted, I suddenly was able to put my consciousness on something and have it pretty much stay there. It was like getting eye glasses for the mind. Jill Bolte Taylor. It was a truly bizarre shift in perception, but without her emotional circuitry reminding me about her patterns of critical judgment, I didn't think like her anymore. Even Gary Weber, author of Happiness Beyond Thought and the internet guru pushing "no thought" as a useful practice goal, doesn't experience the total cessation of thoughts.

Here is how I described it to one Redditor:. Yeah, from what I've dug into of Gary, he specifically means a class of thought he refers to as "blah blah," which seems to be something like self-referential and mind-wandering thoughts. He also mentions there does seem to be a period of memory consolidation during the descent into sleep that he experiences as thoughts. Almost immediately it became clear that participants were not referring to the disappearance of all thoughts. They remained fully able to use thought for problem solving and living what appeared outwardly to be a 'normal' life.

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The reduction seemed limited to self-related thoughts. This high percentage may suggest why someone would say all thought had fallen away. The class of thoughts that falls out is very likely those generated by the brain's default mode network, so: mind-wandering, past and future, autobiographical, and episodic memory thoughts. I've collected more on the plausible relationship between this network and the experience of awakenings elsewhere on the site. No thought, then, when used in the rough-and-tumble Wild West that is internet dharma, almost always means something like, "an incredible, drastic reduction in thoughts, but not a literal, complete cessation of thought," or, even closer, something like, "the new normal for this mind is mental silence, but I can use thought when needed.

The main potential pitfall is mistaking a state of placid drowsiness, of being "tuned out," as the point. This is the opposite of what you're after—you want perception to be very, very bright and alive. If we can remain in natural uncontrived presence, without sinking into an oblivious drowse , we disinhibit our spontaneous clarity. Stars appear in the sky, and their brilliance is reflected in the referenceless ocean of being. Let your mind be as it naturally is without trying to correct it. Now, isn't it true that all your thoughts, both subtle and gross, subside in themselves?

Rest evenly and look to see if this mind doesn't remain calm in its own natural state. Default conscious experience can be likened to a house, one where thought plays the role of a load-bearing wall. Remove it and the house collapses.


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The first type of stabilization is ballasting or loading, to use an electrical analogy. In electrical ballasting, you impose a large electrical load on a circuit that draws on the power resources sufficiently so that very high voltages cannot occur; the power supply lacks the capacity to produce them, given the load. Loading in general refers to any activity that draws a large proportion of the energy of the system so that the system does not have excess free energy available. A load may also store energy, giving the system inertia that prevents a sudden slowdown or speedup.

A final example of loading concerns the thinking process. You have a constant internal thinking process going on, constant internal chatter, which runs through familiar and habitual associative pathways and keeps you within your ordinary d-SoC. You think the kinds of things that please you; you feel clever as a result of thinking them; feeling clever makes you relax; feeling relaxed makes you feel good; feeling good reminds you that you are clever; and so on.

This constant thinking, thinking, thinking loads your system and is extremely important in maintaining your ordinary b-SoC. The importance of this constant loading of consciousness by thinking in maintaining and stabilizing our ordinary d-SoC cannot be overestimated. If you are unable to sit without thinking for a minute or five or thirty, you're an addict. Sort yourself out—you don't have to abide there persistently. Just prove you can do it.

Commonly Raised Objections

Now all I see is a blank piece of paper. If you have questions, perspective, doubt, or a simple longing for general camraderie, you can communicate with me directly by emailing robert at 99theses dot com. Don't hesitate. Your correspondence is personally enriching. Enter your email address and the answers will find you:. On Awakening: No-Thought Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

If your mind is not clouded with things You are happy at any time.