The Effortless Thought-Free State

In response to How To Stay Conscious 1 a friend wrote:

The only question I have regarding the sadhana you have posted about is about effort. Any attempt to consciously still the mind is contrary to my nature and experience. Even repeating a mantra is for a set period of time and then I just do whatever I need to do, without trying to keep that awareness with me. If it comes by itself, that is another thing. It’s one thing to believe in Advaita and another for the oneness to rise up to the surface and make itself known to me. The idea of trying to remain conscious sounds like hard work and beyond my ability. And I will always prefer to experience Consciousness as a “You”, right on the borderline between the personal and so called impersonal.

I replied:

Before we talk about this, can I ask you a question? You’ve told me that sometimes you come home from work and say, “I didn’t have a single thought all day.” On a day like that, aren’t you conscious the whole day? If you’re not conscious the whole day, and there are no thoughts, what’s your experience like?

What I’m wondering is if it’s been so many years since you experienced the normal unconscious state of the average person that you’ve forgotten it exists. Does that sound rude? If anything I think it’s a compliment.

He replied:

I’ve decided I just can’t do the kind of sadhana you describe. I think it’s because of the divide between people who think and people who don’t. I really don’t think much or enjoy it when I do. What’s it like. I was thinking about that on my walk this morning. 🙂 It’s a bit like an old empty warehouse that isn’t used much. Big windows with heavy beams of light full of spinning dust motes. Nobody in there at all but way off in a corner someone has left a little transistor radio playing. Sometimes there is a beautiful song playing, sometimes a radio preacher or a salesman, or news that nobody wants to hear. The days when I am most aware of not having any thoughts are days when I paint or wallpaper. The work is all automatic. Everything I do is computed by the body’s stored knowledge. I don’t have to give it a thought at all. At the end of the day a fair amount of work will have been done but the warehouse is still empty.

I prefer actually having nothing to do, as long as I can walk in Nature. Then I feel the emptiness as being more full of an awareness of being, love, respect, worship. That is really my preference. My personality is functional art work. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes if the creative energy is flat, I would prefer to be asleep. That’s about the best I can do, describing my experience.

I replied:

You say, “I really don’t think much or enjoy it when I do.”

If you’re not thinking, you’re way beyond anything I’ve written about so far.

When I say to people “be conscious”, I’m telling them, “stop being lost in thought.”

You’re already not lost in thought.

You say, “Nobody in there at all but way off in a corner someone has left a little transistor radio playing. Sometimes there is a beautiful song playing, sometimes a radio preacher or a salesman, or news that nobody wants to hear. The days when I am most aware of not having any thoughts are days when I paint or wallpaper. The work is all automatic. Everything I do is computed by the body’s stored knowledge. I don’t have to give it a thought at all. At the end of the day a fair amount of work will have been done but the warehouse is still empty.”

Isn’t this the so-called “effortless thought-free state”? Isn’t this what a lot of people think is the last goal of sadhana? After this there is nothing except realization.

Many people think your state is enlightenment.

Sadhana is the simulation of your state. You have the real thing.

People do sadhana to get to your state.

He replied:

No, I am seldom lost in thought and when I am they are almost always about childhood horrors carried into adulthood. Since I have taken a vow to say that prayer I mentioned every time my mind lapses into that condition, it is happening less. But calling that “realization” could not be accurate. I can understand going from a mental state where someone is bound tightly in fearful, angry, or even ordinary selfish thoughts into a more open and empty space dominated by the quiet more than by noise is a good thing. It is a sign of progress but certainly not worth the pain of the mother that bore me. 43 years ago in one of my first meditation sessions, I found myself shooting upward in space, body parts dropping away until I was just a head flying upward, then a loud pop! and there was just boundless Being that was my Self, that was Eternal, Infinite in all directions and that was Love. Being there all the time while still able to perform the actions of a human being, that I would call the beginning of Realization. When the roof is torn away from my old warehouse and the spinning motes of dust are planets and constellations of stars instead of bits of mold and human skin, that would be the beginning of Realization, as long as Love-Bliss is as much of what is known as mere conscious Being. Without the worshipful love, the eternal being is of little worth. I would rather be totally dead than be in an eternally conscious state with no Love content.

For me sadhana just means showing up and being available to and for Grace. What is real happens by itself, just as it did in your experiences. At some point having a Guru is valuable because you just agree to do what the Master says, no matter how you feel about it or what you think. You just go on doing it, accepting and believing what the teacher says.

6 thoughts on “The Effortless Thought-Free State

      1. Two slices of toast cut from the same loaf, looking at each other across a gulf of peanut butter. Some call it “authentic life”. Some call it a poor man’s breakfast. 🙂

  1. Swamiji, I have business acoesiatss in Mumbai who are very spiritual people. Would you like to connect with them? Perhaps they can bring you to some wonderful temples?

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