Our inner universe is made of the interaction between the thinker and the thought. Initially there is a thought and almost instantaneously, in response to it, a thinker is born, which assumes a position of authority. It is the judge, controller and moulder of thought.
But who is the thinker? Is the thinker separate from the thought? If we look closely, we realize that the thinker too, after all, is the product of time, knowledge and memory. It is the past, in the form of memory, which is judging, controlling or shaping thought. And what is the past? The past is the storehouse of fears, hurts, attachments and pleasures. When we observe thought with the thinker we are always observing through a past, trying to shape the present according to the past.
There is a personal and psychological memory and then there is the collective memory of the race, nation and mankind. So, not only do I have my individual hurts, fears and pleasures stored up as memory but I also have memory as mankind’s past stored up in me. So, I am a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim or an Indian or a Black or an American.
The past, whether it is personal or the collective, is shaped by the environment and therefore always a product of time. Anything which is the product of time can never be whole and complete. It shall always be limited and therefore divisive. The thinker which is made of the past and therefore a product of time is always fragmented and divisive. No matter how glorious we make out the past to be, it is always a product of time and memory. The past may come cloaked in the words of eternal or sacred or infinity but nonetheless these are dead symbols of past. All the religions of man are nothing but the product of time and memory, which become the thinker. The society lauds the thinker. A man of knowledge is a man of power and authority. Thereby this accumulative process of thinker is strengthened. But as we have seen, the thinker being the product of time and memory is never going to be complete no matter how much knowledge one accumulates. The greater strength we give to its accumulative drive, the greater is the divisiveness it breeds.
The thinker also accumulates through experiences, whether they are so called mundane or so called spiritual. Some people are driven by the search of spiritual experiences and adopt various practices like discipline, austerity and meditation. But is this activity not the same repetitive, dead and mechanical as that of a man who is trying to pursue wealth, sex or power? If we carefully look into the underlying structure of both pursuits, we find the same thinker who is judging, shaping and controlling thoughts and experiences according to a predetermined religious, spiritual or moral idea. The thinker cannot do anything to radically transform thought because it is itself the product of thought. The thinker can only modify an aspect of thought to it’s opposite. It can modify violence to it’s opposite virtue of non-violence. It can make a noisy, chattering mind silent. But is there a radical transformation if one has just modified one aspect of thought into it’s opposite? If one has successfully managed to make a chattering mind silent through various practices of meditation, chanting etc., does not that silence contain the chattering as the original movement? If one has made a virtue of non-violence out of violence does not that non-violence contain violence as it’s opposite? Is silence the opposite of chattering? Is non-violence, the opposite of violence?
So, if we have followed the argument so far, we can see that the thinker cannot bring about any radical or fundamental change in consciousness. It only brings about a modification in the contents of consciousness, nonetheless it is the same consciousness. Having seen this clearly, what is one to do?
Actually this question would not arise if one has really, deeply, fundamentally understood that the thinker is the thought. There is nothing that the thinker can do in order to know or reach truth which can never be in the field of time, thought and memory. With this understanding the thinker ceases and there comes about a state of attention. There is an effortless state of silence in which there is only the observation of “what is”, without the thinker or observer. There is no observer, observing the thoughts – there is only observation, which is attention. Since there is no thinker trying to shape or control thoughts, there is no dissipation of energy in conflict between “what is” and “what should be”. There is an “in-gathering” of energy and a borderless, purposeless, effortless and choiceless state of attention to “what is”. Here, one is no longer dictating what should be happening according to any formula of the past. Instead one is in a state of effortless learning as the “what is” reveals its contents from moment to moment, without any accumulation of knowledge.