Please, carry out a simple, nonetheless astonishing experiment:
Take a watch or a stopwatch, and decide that you are not going to think for a while, as long as you are able to do so! Well, how long has it taken until the first thought slipped into your mind? 5-10 seconds? Are you able to avoid thinking for minutes?
You will be astonished: you are incapable of not thinking. Thinking takes place, it happens to you. The thoughts thinks you, and it is not you who thinks it. You do not do it at will (if it depended it on your will, you could simply avoid thinking), and you are unable to suppress thinking or keep it under control.
We are proud of capable of thinking, as this is what elevates us above the animal kingdom, and our personal identity is also rooted in our thoughts to a large extent. Philosopher René Déscartes declared ”I think, therefore I am.” But is this really thinking that makes us what we are? Would we exist if we did not think?
If we devote some time to monitoring our thoughts, we soon realize that thoughts in our mind keep shifting and changing: a thought appears, then it vanishes, and is replaced by another thought, linked, associated to the previous one–that is how thoughts stream continually, without a stop. Where is this vast stream of thoughts coming from, how has that stream become the foundation of our identity?
The Unconscious Deep Programs of the Mind
When we come to this world as newborn babies, we do not have thoughts, we only have an unconsciously experienced uniform experience. From that, the world of forms and shapes gradually unfolds and, with the help of the language, we learn to categorize our experiences, to put them into conceptual pigeonholes. ”She is mother, that is a tree, and this here is a house.” The language appears, and together with it, the thoughts.
As small children we are extremely open to the outside world, we want to know all about it, we want to conquer it. But we have very little experience in connection with the world, so we apply to the adults around us: parents and teachers. The adults are pleased and willing to tell us how the world works–that is, the way they perceive the world, with their own eyes and in their own beliefs. We are fed partial, fragmented pieces and bits of information, and that is what we devour and believe without hesitation–the program of a system of beliefs.