Thinking about the Way is correct; thinking about things is error. The Way is inherent in us; when you think about the Way inherent within us, thinking itself is the Way…Thinking is a door of entry into the Way, whereas thoughts are roots of obstruction of the Way.
“I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum. As noted before, Descartes had this much right. If he’d stopped with his Meditations at this point in his philosophizing, who could argue with him?
Thinking, in the Taoist (and Cartesian) sense of consciousness without thoughts, is the root of who we are. Prior to a thought is…something. Undefined, murky, elusive, yet marvelously aware.
The Great Way is formless; the Universe is the Way with form…There is nothing in the world but one mind. Stirring thoughts create all objects. If thoughts are not produced, objects are spontaneously gone. When you thoroughly examine stirring thoughts, thoughts too are empty and silent. So we know there is nothing lost when deluded and nothing gained when enlightened, because the true mind not dwelling on anything neither increases nor decreases.
I spend some meditation time every day looking into a well. A deep well. Could even be a bottomless well. Not only that, very possibly it has no sides either. Can’t be sure. Haven’t plumbed its depths yet, nor its circumference.
Closing my eyes, darkness. Stopping thoughts (even for a moment), emptiness. And yet, there’s a thinking-rope that connects it all: the depths, the thoughts, the awareness.
Out of the dark pool of consciousness comes a thought. It jumps into a bucket of cognition and is raised to the surface, where I peruse it. Bucket after bucket, thought after thought, attention stays concentrated on what emerges from the mysterious dark pool.
Our real nature is spiritual and most subtle; when thoughts stir it flies off, invisible. If you want to stabilize it, you must look into the source…Just let there be uncovered openness above the stabilized mind and groundless vastness below the stabilized mind. Old habits dissolve, new habits are not created; not bound or obstructed by anything, you get out of the net of the world.
Not so easy to do as to say, though. That uncovered openness and groundless vastness is so damn unsettling. I’m used to occupying myself with a discrete job: hauling up the buckets, then lowering them again to pick up another interesting thought.
When I try to slippery slide my way straight down the thinking rope, I get close to the formless pool. Dipping my toe in feels good. Further submerged, even better. But sinking totally below the surface…difficult to do. Some part of me keeps getting caught on a rising thought bucket. Up I go again.
Better remind myself of the Taoist diving instructions.
As soon as you notice a thought arise, immediately extinguish it; arrest thoughts as they arise, in order to make your mind peaceful and quiet.
Next, even though you may not obviously have any obsessions, still floating, wandering, random thoughts are also to be extinguished.
Work diligently day and night, never giving up for a moment; but only extinguish the stirring mind, do not extinguish the shining mind.
Disappear into the empty mind; do not disappear into the possessive mind.
Do not dwell on any thing and the mind will be stable.
This method is mysterious, with benefits that are very profound. Unless you already have affinity for the Way and have undivided faith in it, you cannot really appreciate it.
Religion asks us to have faith in something. Taoist faith, mystical faith, spiritual faith—this is faith in nothing. Which could turn out to be everything. But until all the somethings go, the nothing that could be everything hides around the thing-corner.
Views of person and self are certainly thoughts, but so are views of attachment to religion, and these must be eliminated too.
…Noncontrivance means not musing or mulling. Though you may act in the midst of love, desire, anger, accumulation, gain, and loss, be always uncontrived.
Even when involved in things, be always unconcerned.
If you concentrate totally, moreover, clarify your mind and purify your will, nourish your energy and make your spirit complete, you will drift into the land of freedom and enter the village of nothing-whatsoever.
…It is all a matter of making space the place you store your mind, using abstruse silence as the place you rest your spirit.
There’s plenty of room in the cosmos’ maxi-storage center. They say it’s easy to find. Just scoot straight down the thinking rope. When you reach the end, let go. And do what comes naturally.
In quiet sitting, whether or not there is a specific process, you should not cling to form…This is called drawing a snake with legs on it; you will bring trouble on yourself.
When we look into the source of this problem, we find it can be attributed to one’s own fixation, inflexibility, and habituation to biased views.
…Practicing the Way is cultivating and nurturing the Way of nature, the natural course.
Sounds easy. Just erase those legs on the snake.