The gift of thought, the possibility to have thoughts in our head is quite an amazing, extraordinary thing. Thought is what allows us to create, to evolve. Without thoughts we would be like animals, in the sense that everything would remain the same, nothing would ever change. Thought is what allows us to imagine that something can be different from what it is. For example a thought is what gave us the opportunity to fly. Without thought all we would ever be able to do is walk. Once, a mind saw a bird and wondered why can’t we also fly? From that thought we can now reach the stars.
We don’t think often about it, we actually take it for granted, but to be able to have thoughts is an extraordinary gift we have been given.
But thinking also has become one of our main destructive addiction. We often think things like tobacco, alcohol or drugs are addictions—and for sure those are—but so is too much thinking. For almost any person, particularly in any large city today, it is almost impossible to have even a few seconds of silence in their head. There is no pause, no break, no stop. The mind keeps moving, keeps acting no matter what is happening around. No matter if it is useful or not.
It is very difficult for us to step away from thought, from thinking. And the most important thing is that we don’t even know that there is something else besides thinking. For most people, not thinking means emptiness, void, nothingness, a barren reality. And of course, who would like that?! But this belief in emptiness is in a way no different than the one that was around in the Middle Ages when people believed that behind the horizon was the end of the world and if you fell in it gigantic monsters would eat you. Now we know that it is not true, but it is also not true that when the mind stops there is only emptiness.
It appears that way, but this appearance is very similar to what happens when somebody that has been eating very heavy, saucy, spicy food for long time is one day offered a beautiful fresh-cut, organic salad. The person will look at the salad, not find anything in there, and then will probably ask: where is the meat?
We have been so lost in thought, for such a long time, that we are not able any more to recognize that space of being—of existing—without thought.
That open space is actually ‘home’.
Having thoughts* is like ‘being in the office’. It is wonderful to have an office were one can do one’s job, where one can take care of the practicalities of life. But we don’t want to make the office our home.
This is what actually happens to many people in our modern societies: they are turning their offices into their homes. But the consequence of that is that they live very unreal, stressful, unfulfilled lives.
But we know that our office is not our home.
Psychologically speaking, we often tend to live in the office of our minds, in our thoughts, and very rarely come ‘home’.
What is this ‘home’? ‘Home’ is nothing more than the simplicity of this present moment. It is the experience of the moment as it is. It is the connection to the moment, to this moment, exactly as it is. (If at all possible, stop here for a moment, read that sentence again, and experience the moment.)
Thought cannot see the moment. Thought can only comment on the experience of it. Thought can only refer to the past, or to the future. If I am looking at a flower, thought has the possibility to express the experience of seeing that flower. It will do it by saying things like: ‘what a beautiful flower’ or ‘what a strange color’ or ‘how big’ or ‘how strange’ or ‘how sweet’ or ‘what a nice smell’ or ‘it has not yet opened completely, but it will open soon’ etc. But all these are words that refer to the experience of seeing the flower. They are not—and they cannot be—the experience itself. The experience happens in the moment, IS the moment. The experience of actually seeing a flower, or of hearing a sound, or of touching, or of simply experiencing whatever else we happen to be experiencing, without any commentary, is one way to express what I refer to as ‘home’. The commentary on the experience (which is what a thought is able to do) is what I refer as ‘being in the office’.
This morning I left my house quite early. As I stepped into the street there was a beautiful light, with lots of clouds. It was a very pleasant temperature, a perfect spring morning. I sat in my bicycle and as I was ready to leave, a girl walked pass me. It was clear she was very much immersed in her head, worried and distracted. Of course she may have had her reasons, and we all have moments when things are difficult and we need to find solutions to problems. But what I saw in her face is what I see so often in many people. She was in her ‘office’, when she could have been ‘home’.
At any moment, if we are more aware, we have a choice. The choice to ‘be in the office’ or to ‘be home’. We have the possibility to be lost in our thoughts, or to step away even for a moment from thought and to see and experience the moment, to see and experience that we are alive in the moment, to see and experience that we exist, to see and experience that we are, to see and experience. To be.
(One more time, if at all possible, stop again, take a moment, and find that being. Find yourself, right here, right now.)
Of course we need the office; it is a very good thing that we have it, it is where we can resolve the practicalities of life. But we need to learn, to really understand that if we live our life in our ‘office’, we miss ‘home’. And ‘home’ is really the only place where we can breathe in peace, where we can rest, where we can find the meaning of our lives.
Thoughts are the practicality of life. Presence is ‘home’.
But this ‘home’ is different from our physical home because it does not have to be built. It is already here; it has always been, and it will always be. We just need to stop for a moment; stop trying to reach for the future, stop regretting the past, stop commenting, arguing or complaining about what is happening now… just stop for a moment… really stop… and there is ‘home’.
All the insanity of life is nothing but being away from ‘home’. It’s nothing but the instinct, the need, the deep desire to return‘home’, but with the erroneous belief that ‘home’ is outside, in things, in the world.
Returning ‘home’ is really what we are destined to do.
Being ‘home’ IS the meaning of our life.
…And then the rest will be added onto it…
* Here I am referring to useful thoughts. But besides those there are the useless, repetitive, purposeless thoughts. And having these thoughts is not even like been in the office. Having useless thoughts in our head is more like watching a very silly, boring, uninteresting movie for the 100th time.