A Mind Capable of Not Thinking

On achieving a quiet mind, from British philosopher Alan Watts:

One cannot act creatively, except on the basis of stillness. Of having a mind that is capable from time to time of stopping thinking. And so this practice of sitting may seem very difficult at first, because if you sit in the Buddhist way, it makes your legs ache. Most Westerners start to fidget; they find it very boring to sit for a long time, but the reason they find it boring is that they're still thinking. If you weren't thinking, you wouldn't notice the passage of time, and as a matter of fact, far from being boring, the world when looked at without chatter becomes amazingly interesting. The most ordinary sights and sounds and smells, the texture of shadows on the floor in front of you. All these things, without being named, and saying 'that's a shadow, that's red, that's brown, that's somebody's foot.' When you don't name things anymore, you start seeing them.

To turn off the mind and observe things without naming them — to really observe them. To smell the roses instead of analyzing them: I aspire to the level of mind control which I hear enables such present moment living.

Oh, silent meditation retreat, where art thou?


Here's my post on self-consciousness and one on the art of self-overhearing. Thanks to Colin Marshall for the pointer.

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