When the mind is cloudless
We see all worries as needless
The mind has two parts. There is a foreground where thoughts move, creating experiences. The space in which this movement occurs is the background. Worries live in the foreground. When our perception of the mind includes the space in which thoughts move, we move towards a worry-free state.
The mind is synonymous with thoughts. We are not accustomed to a mind without thoughts. It is an empty void in which we feel lost. Therefore, we build the foundation of our lives on our thoughts — an unpredictable and continually shifting ground. No experience is permanent, whether happy or unhappy.
Experiences can generate happiness, a sense of security, and fulfillment. It is natural for us to identify with such sources of joy, and we cling onto these thoughts. The higher the level of happiness we derive from any experience, the stronger is the identification.
Through identification, we develop an attachment to thought-forms that bring us joy. Along with this, there is also an aversion to thoughts that bring us misery. There is an ongoing fight with such thoughts. Worry and fear are the consequences of attachment or aversion to thoughts — we worry about losing happiness and fear a life of misery.
We encircle ourselves with a dense ‘cloud cover’ of thoughts. Happy and unhappy experiences are mixed in together. To let go of our thoughts is difficult. At the same time, holding onto them is tedious. There is nowhere to run or hide. We go deeper into the world of thoughts hoping for an escape. This pattern repeats, and the mind enslaves us.
While our attention is on thoughts in the foreground, we forget the empty, still, and changeless background. By lifting the ‘cloud cover’ of thoughts, we can perceive the stage on which all the drama of the mind plays out. For this, we will have to broaden our ‘inner vision.’
Every thought and experience has a beginning and an end. We may not have control over their production, but we prevent the dissolution of thoughts and influence their natural course through attachment and identification. Once they leave the conscious mind, we nudge them towards the memory bank. The energy of thoughts cannot be imprisoned or trapped in one place. It creates inner restlessness, as those thoughts seek their freedom.
When our awareness is not just on thoughts but also space that plays host to them, it starts the process of restoring the internal balance. In the night sky, stars are not crowded in one place, while the rest of the space is empty. Heavenly bodies are sprinkled all over. We can see the space around each one.
Similarly, when we witness at the mind from a distance, as if an observer, we see no just the thought-forms but also the space that surrounds each one. The further away we go from the mind through such witnessing, thought-forms appear smaller while space around them seems larger. Distant stars are interesting objects to study, but our day to day lives don’t depend on them. Likewise, when we distance ourselves from the mind, thought-forms have less of an influence on us. Eventually, all worries may also disappear.
When we can perceive the mind as a whole — its changing and changeless aspects — we realize that worries are unnecessary.