Scratch That Thought

  OK, I’ve always told my kids to listen to the little voice in their heads to keep them out of trouble and on the right path etc.  Maybe that’s been bad advice.

  Last weekend I was listening to the “Speaking of Faith” radio program on NPR during which host Krista Tippitt listened to best selling author Eckhart Tolle recount a seminal experience.  While riding public transportation to his university he often was seated near a certain schizophrenic who was always engaged in animated two-part conversations with herself.

  His realization was that he was frequently, though more quietly (but not silently!), similarly engaged.  Aren’t we all? You know: “I’m a dope.  What should I do now? No, that’s never worked. He’s an idiot. She’s hot.  Get out of my way moron.  Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you were blind”…

  Furthermore, as I’ve mentioned (way )above , Julian Jaynes, one time head of the psychology department at Princeton wrote an unbelievably well wrought and erudite argument to the effect that the human preconscious mind was characterized by what we’d now classify as (mostly) auditory hallucinations. 

  And that today, while we’ve added the layer of consciousness, there is still plenty of evidence – vestigial and otherwise – of our ancestral selves.  In fact, it is exactly those vestiges that must be left behind to make way for behavior of a higher order. 

  “… athletic trainers… urge their trainees not to think so much about what they are doing. The Zen exercise of learning archery is extremely explicit on this, advising the archer not to think of himself as drawing the bow and releasing the arrow, but releasing himself from the bow and releasing the arrow, but releasing himself from the consciousness of what he is doing by letting the bow stretch itself and the arrow release itself from the fingers at the proper time.”

  Just think of the number of times you’ve gotten yourself in a stew and made it worse by continuing to stir.  Your mind takes over and you find yourself its captive.  You identify its interpretation of an event based upon sketchy sensory input.  Often later to have been found faulty or incomplete. 

  Michael A. Singer gives this advice: “The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively… If you’re hearing it talk, it’s obviously not you.  You are the one who hears the voice.  You are the one who notices that it’s talking.”

  So, uh, notice what’s going on in your head.  Wait for it to go away.

  (And write home from time to time)

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