I wanted to take a slight detour from the realm of subtle dreaming (what we do at night) and talk briefly about the dreams we live during the day. Both of these worlds are created from the raw material of pure thought.
What are thoughts? We obviously have them, but what exactly are they? Where do they come from? What are they made out of? Where do they take place? And when they are finished, where do they go?
It is possible that we have never actually asked these questions. Thought seems so obvious that we can easily take it for granted. If we have a bad thought, we tighten up, get sad or angry, and react–either towards ourselves or someone else. If we feel the thought was good, we get giddy with excitement or try to find more of . . . well, whatever that was!
What is most interesting about thought is how easily we get trapped in a circular wheel of creation and dissolution–thought appears, dissolves, appears, dissolves, appears, and dissolves, and often we perpetuate this cycle–especially if the thoughts are negative. In some ways, we are addicted to these patterns (even though they hurt), and they end up determining how we act and react in the world.
There is of course another way to be, and in general, it involves appreciating our thoughts as they are, without putting too much stock in them. This may seem difficult, but with practice, it is something that can be understood as simply as drinking a glass of water. The glass is there, and the water is there, so we drink it. It’s not a big deal. In the same way, a thought is there, a feeling is there, and that is fine. No need to do anything at all.
Even if the thoughts are numerous, swirling, and confining, there is always a sense of knowing the thoughts. Once we get a sense of knowing the thoughts, it is easy to see that the thoughts are not us: they are an object in our consciousness. Similar to sensory phenomena, thoughts and emotions are mental phenomena that appear within the arena of awareness.
For us, this means there is always an opportunity to simply know the thought, instead of believing the thought. We see the thought as it is, and not as some true reality with actual semantic content. We stop trying to figure thoughts out, and just let them be. In this way we can loosen our hold on them, and relax. As we relax, the thoughts will relax, too.