How can we control thoughts? Can we remove thoughts from the mind?
There is no huge bank of thoughts within you. Thoughts are just going and going, one at a time, one at a time, one at a time. If you try to do anything with them, they will go faster and faster because in your mind, there is no subtraction or division, there is only addition and multiplication. Can you take away one thought forcefully? Experiment and see: For the next 10 seconds, do not think about monkeys. If you try not to think about something, only that will happen. That is the nature of the mind.
What is a thought? A thought is just a certain emanation, a certain surface fluctuation of the content that you hold in your mind. Your mind is like society's garbage bin; everybody that goes by stuffs something in your head. You have no choice as to what to receive and from whom. If you say "I don't like this person" you will receive much more from that person than from anybody else. Have you noticed this? If you say, "I don't want to have anything to do with that man," you will think about him more and more. The more you resist someone, the more he becomes a part of your consciousness.
If we look at your mind as a garbage bin, thoughts are like the smells that emanate. Do not understand this analogy as negative. A garbage bin is not useless; a garbage bin is very useful. Your house can do without a television and a telephone, but it cannot do without a garbage bin. If you use it when you want, if you open it and shut it when you want, it is a wonderful device. Without it, your whole house would become filthy. But if you decide to live in it, it is a horrible thing. Right now, that is all that has happened. There is nothing wrong with the content of your mind. It is better that you have all the filth in the world in your mind -- otherwise, you will walk into the filth and not know what is what. But now, you are constantly living in the mind, and it is such a torture for people. They don't know how to be out of it.
There are certain types of meditations where you simply sit and notice that you are "here" and your mind is out "there." There is a clear distance between you and the mind. Once there is a distance, whatever the mind says, it has no impact on you. The content does not matter. If you hear the word "Buddha," you may think in terms of Gautama the Buddha. But Gautama is not the only Buddha; that was not his second name. His name was Gautama Siddhartha, and he became a Buddha. Buddhi means "intellect," or the logical dimension of your mind. Dha means "one who is above." So, one who is above his mind is a "Buddha." One who is in his mind is a nonstop suffering human being. Once you are in the mind, your suffering is inevitable. You may watch the sunset and forget your sufferings for a moment, but then you will turn back and see your fears, anxieties and troubles are right there. Once you are in the mind, there is fear and anxiety. You may get breaks here and there, but there is no release from it.
What is keeping this thought process continuously on is that you have identified yourself with things that you are not. You have identified yourself with your body, but the body is just an accumulation of food that you have eaten. Even if you own the chair you are sitting on, after some time, you will get identified with the chair. If your neighbor's child comes and scratches the polish, it will hurt deep in your heart; it will not just be a scratch on the chair. This is because you are capable of getting identified with anyone or anything that you come in touch with. Once you are identified with someone or something that you are not, the thought process is endless. It just goes on and on. It is like you have eaten very bad food, and now you have gas in your stomach. If you try to stop it, your stomach will bloat and burst. But you cannot stop it; it keeps going. Thought is just like this. You became identified with things that you are not, starting from your body, impressions that you take in, things around you and people, ideas, philosophies, slogans, etc., and now thought is an endless process. You try to do many things, but you cannot stop it. Even if you take a stick and hit the top of your head, it won't stop.
So, what can you do? Unidentify yourself with everything that you are not. Keep your house aside, keep your education aside, keep your husband aside, keep your children aside, keep your body aside, keep your mind aside, and keep your emotions aside. Care for them, take care of them, handle them -- but don't become that. If you are not identified with anything, if you are simply here, you will see there is no room for thought at all. Once you have this awareness, you will see thought is a conscious process. If you want to think, you think, otherwise there is nothing in your head, and that is how it should be. Just the beauty of emptiness.
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