Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are Thoughts Just Mental Panic Attacks?

I was wondering where my mental storylines come from, which in effect is asking the same question as, "where do my thoughts come from?"

When I get into an argument with my partner, which is then followed by a lot of storytelling in my mind, I wonder who or what is making up those stories. Is it a soul? That seem ridiculous! So who the hell, what the hell, is making up all of those stories?

Where in me, or in my mind, do thoughts actually come from?

In pondering this I was reminded of how one day I was meditating at home and I started to become aware of these big gaps in my thought process. I had managed to calm my mind enough to develop, and then to notice, the spacious quality of the mind. I could see that when one thought dissolves there is this delicious gap. Usually the gap only lasts a moment, or often I am too unaware to realize that there is a gap to experience. But this one morning I was delighting in the gaps.

The more I started to become aware of how delicious the gaps were, the shorter they became. That made me want to experience them even more. I started clawing at them. Then they were gone and my mind was filled with discursive thoughts again.

I spent the next few mornings trying to get the gaps in my thinking back, but the gaps seemed completely gone. I think my hope and expectation killed them. This reminded me of a quote, which I believe was in Turning the Mind into an Ally, in which a meditation master is watching an archer in a competition and says, "his desire to win drains him of his power."

Anyway, as I experienced these gaps between thoughts, I noticed that in the gaps there is this quiet moment, quickly followed by a panic attack. I can only describe it as a panic attack, because that is really how it feels, but very brief, like a spasm or an impulse, a freak-out, a blip on a screen. There is this pulsing energy in the mind that can't handle the stillness. The next thought seems to be born out of that panic.

I wonder if the panic will ever go away. Maybe the trick is just to let the thought dissolve as soon as it is born out of the panic.

This makes me think that the storylines and thoughts we experience are born out of that "panic." There is nobody  pushing buttons and pulling levers up in the machine of my mind. It's just a moment by moment spazm that makes this whole thing work and so the wheel of confusion and samsara turns.

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