These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the
things I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place].
I honor the time I have taken in silence and on retreats, in particular to Vipassana Centers for a ten-day sit. I can recall meditations where I have experienced true forgiveness of another and also the awakening to the power of my own thoughts. This latter aspect pertains to today’s lesson:
“This thought about _____ does not mean anything.
It is like the things I see in this room, [on this street, and so on] (ACIM Lesson 4 4:2-3).”
Once, while at a Vipassana Center, during one of the group meditations, I began to see with utter sacred vision that space in between my thoughts. In that moment of clarity I became very aware of the choice I had. I noticed my mind had been going on and on about a certain story in my head and as I observed my body and my thoughts, an opening was created where there was a dividing line where time had stood still for a moment. In that moment I had all the time in the world and asked myself just one question, “do I want to continue down this road of thought or am I ready to come back to this moment of peace and stillness?” So, I chose the present moment where no thoughts could ever abide and the story was previously in my head left my awareness as though it were a car driven by my former self that decided to take a right turn right outside of my brain and off it went, leaving on spaciousness of the Now behind. To me, this was an awakened moment. I had a glimpse of the power of choice that is always present in each moment.
Today’s lesson encourages just that. The statement “These thoughts do not mean anything,” enables one to let go of the tape that seems to run inside her head. We make the connection that not only what we see means nothing but so is the same with our thoughts. And as my story took a right turn outside of my brain on the meditation cushion that day, we, too, take a turn on our walk today. After a few days of looking without, we now make the u-turn and go within. The first few days gave us a peek at how our thoughts laced our outer world but today’s lesson calls for the courage to witness our looming inner world as we observe our thoughts for a moment before applying today’s statement.
Vipassana Meditation teaches the meditator that all thoughts are neutral; “equanimous,” as Vipassana teacher S.N. Goenka, would say. As with most universal teachings, A Course in Miracles states the same,
“If you are already aware of unhappy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. Do not, however, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” This is why they do not mean anything (ACIM Lesson 4 1:4-6).”
Thus, today we are introduced to the meaninglessness of our thoughts as we release judgments and take a more neutral stance. We will revisit this lesson in various ways throughout the Course as we delve deeper and deeper into retraining the mind.
Although I reached a moment of pure clarity in my meditation that day, outside of the time-space continuum, old habits die-hard and it is still a process each moment to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything. We have spent many years, and lifetimes, where our mind has been the master of our domain, leaving us, it’s obedient servant. Today, we take a step towards breaking that cycle by placing the mind in its rightful place, as serving us, instead.
What a glorious day! We now begin to see the choice that we have. The mind has led us down so many rabbit holes, left us unfulfilled, confused, searching, etc., and this does not need to be the case any more. Liberation, anyone? This is the central teaching of Buddha as well, where it has been said that as He sat under the Bodhi Tree observing his thoughts, he faced fear itself and realized fear could not hurt Him, thus becoming enlightened as he realized His thoughts were meaningless. That is a rather generalized statement but central point is that the Buddha taught us that our thoughts fall into two categories: past and future, leaving us craving or averting either and both of them. Thus, true peace can only be found in the present moment, that space between any thought; the Now.
Let us be like the Buddha today under our own metaphoric Bodhi Tree. Let us sit in silence for the three or four practice periods of a minute in length for each and recognize that any thought we have means nothing, leading us back to the peace of the present moment.
In nothingness, peace and stillness lie.