WITNESSING is not a mental activity; thinking is a mental activity. Rather, it would be better to say that thinking is mind. When the mind is not, when the mind is absent, when the mind has disappeared, only then do you have witnessing. It is something behind the mind.
Zen Buddhism uses mind in two ways: the ordinary mind means thinking; then Mind with a capital “M” means the Mind behind thinking. Consciousness is behind the mind; consciousness comes through the mind. If mind is in a state of thinking, it becomes opaque, non-transparent, just like a clouded sky – you cannot see the sky. When the clouds are not, you can see the sky. When thinking is not there, then you can feel the witnessing. It is the pure sky behind.
So when I said that you cannot do two things, I meant either you can think or you can witness. If you are thinking, then you lose witnessing. Then the mind becomes a cloud on your consciousness. If you are witnessing, you cannot think simultaneously; then the mind is not there. Thinking is an acquired process; witnessing is your nature. So when I say that you cannot do both or mind cannot do both, I don’t mean that mind is the faculty to witness. Mind is the faculty to think, mind is for “minding”.
Really, many problems are created just by language. There is nothing like mind. There is only a Process, not a thing. It is better to call it minding than mind. It is a process of continuous thought, one thought being followed by another. Only in the gaps, only in the intervals between two thoughts, can you have something of the witnessing nature. But thoughts are so speedy that you cannot even feel the gap. If you begin to witness your thoughts, then the thought process is slowed down and then you begin to feel gaps. One thought passes, another has not come yet, and there is an interval. In that interval you have witnessing. And thoughts cannot exist without gaps; otherwise they will begin to overlap each other. They cannot exist! Just like my fingers are there – with gaps in between.
If your thought process is slowed down – and any method of meditation is nothing but a slowing down of the thought process – if the thought process is slowed down, you begin to feel the gaps. Through these gaps is witnessing. Thought is mind; a thoughtless consciousness is witnessing. Thought is acquired from the outside; witnessing is inside. Consciousness is born with you: thought is acquired, cultivated. So you can have a Hindu thought, you can have a Mohammedan thought, you can have a Christian thought, but you cannot have a Christian soul, you cannot have a Hindu soul. Soul is just soul – consciousness is consciousness.
Minds have types. You have a particular mind. That particular mind is your upbringing, conditioning, education, culture. Mind means whatsoever has been put into you from the outside, and witnessing means whatsoever has not been put from the outside but is your inside – intrinsically, naturally. It is your nature. Mind is a by-product, a habit. Witnessing, consciousness, awareness, whatsoever you call it, is your nature. But you can acquire so many habits, and the nature can go just underneath. You can forget it completely. So, really, religion is a fight for nature against habits. It is to uncover that which is natural – the original, the real you.
So remember the first thing: witnessing and thinking are different states. Thinking belongs to your mind; witnessing belongs to your nature. And you cannot do both simultaneously. Mind must cease for your consciousness to be; thought must cease for your real nature to be. So a thinker is one thing, and an Enlightened person is totally different.
A Buddha is not a thinker. Hegel or Kant are thinkers. They use their minds to reach particular conclusions. Buddha is not using his mind to reach any conclusions. Buddha is not using his mind at all. He is really a no-mind. He has stopped using mind. He is using himself, not the mind, to reach any conclusions. So with the mind you can reach conclusions, but all conclusions will be hypothetical, theoretical, because one thought can beget another thought. But thought cannot beget reality, thought cannot beget Truth.
Through witnessing you reach reality – not conclusions, not theories, but direct, immediate facts.
For example, I am saying something to you. You can think about it – then you have missed the point. You can think about it, what witnessing is, what mind is – you can think about it. This is one way, this is the mind’s way. But you can experiment with it and not think. And by “experiment” is meant that you have to know how to stop the mind and feel the witnessing. Then again you reach to something, but then it is not a conclusion; it is not something achieved through the thought process. Then it is something you realize.
Someone was asking Aurobindo, “Do you believe in God?”
Aurobindo said, “No, I don’t believe in God at all.” The questioner was perplexed because he had come a long way just because he thought Aurobindo was capable of showing him the path towards God. And now Aurobindo says, “I don’t believe.”
He couldn’t believe his ears, so he asked again. He said, “I am perplexed. I have come a long way just to ask you how to achieve God. And if you don’t believe, then the problem, the question, doesn’t arise.”
Aurobindo said, “Who says that the question doesn’t arise? I don’t believe because I know that God is. But that is not my belief; that is not a conclusion reached by thought. It is not my belief. I know! That is my knowing.”
Mind can, at the most, believe. It can never know. It can believe either that there is God or there is no God, but both are beliefs. God. These both are beliefs. Both have reached to these conclusions through “minding”, through thinking. They have thought, they have tried to probe logically, and then they have come to certain conclusions.
A Buddha is not a believer – HE KNOWS! And when I say he knows, knowing is possible only in one way. It is not through mind. It is through throwing mind completely. It is difficult to conceive because we have to conceive through the mind; that is the difficulty. I have to talk to you through the medium of the mind, and you have to listen to me through the medium of the mind. So when I say it is not to be achieved through mind, your mind takes it – but it is inconceivable for the mind. It can even create a theory about it. You may begin to believe that the Truth cannot be achieved through mind.
If you begin to believe, you are in mind again. You can say, “I am not convinced. I don’t believe that there is anything beyond the mind.” Then again you are within the mind.
You can never go beyond the mind if you go on using it. You have to take a jump, and meditation means that jump. That’s why meditation is illogical, irrational. And it cannot be made logical; it cannot be reduced to reason. You have to experience it. If you experience, only then do you know.
So try this: don’t think about it, try – try to be a witness to your own thoughts. Sit down, relaxed, close your eyes, let your thoughts run just like on a screen pictures run. See them, look at them, make them your objects. One thought arises: look at it deeply. Don’t think about it, just look at it. If you begin to think about it then you are not a witness – you have fallen in the trap.
There is a horn outside; a thought arises – some car is passing; or a dog barks or something happens. Don’t think about it; just look at the thought. The thought has arisen, taken form. Now it is before you. Soon it will pass. Another thought will replace it. Go on looking at this thought process. Even for a single moment, if you are capable of looking at this thought process without thinking about it, you will have gained something in witnessing and you will have known something in witnessing.
This is a taste, a different taste than thinking – totally different. But one has to experiment with it.
This is an excerpt from the post Witnessing is Not a Mental Activity which is from The Ultimate Alchemy, V.1, Chapter 16
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