Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I have found a new extremely interesting book again: "The happiness trap", by Russ Harris. I feel that I'm not completely off track while I read it. This is what he says, filtered through my colored glasses:

Don’t try to get rid of your thoughts and beliefs, and don't try to change them. It won't work.

A belief is made of thoughts, so we can’t get rid of our beliefs because we can’t find a way to stop thinking. Not even the Zen-monks can free themselves from thinking.

Some beliefs are quite useful, though, and some are completely useless.

But how do we know if a belief is useful or not? Well, If you believe, for example, that you will wake up also tomorrow and that you will have your salary in the end of this month, it is useful thoughts. But you can sometimes clearly see that a belief or a thought is totally useless, how do you get rid of such thoughts or how do you change them? This is the point, you can’t; You will never get rid of your thoughts and you will never be able to change them, no matter how hard you try, they are involuntary. The only thing you can do is to see them for what they are, just thoughts. This is what I understand now, again. Thoughts are just thoughts, imaginations, totally out of my control, like dreams.

No one can make you change your mind. If you truly believe, deep in your heart, that the earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese, or if you believe that all the poor people in the world are poor just because they haven’t read enough self-help books on how to get rich with self affirmations, or if you believe that you are an ugly old fool, whatever crazy idea that get stuck in your head, it is not the truth, it is your thoughts. No one can change you, not even you. None of the many mind changing methods has proved to be effective in the long run. And there is no way to be completely sure if a belief is useful or not. But it is possible to understand, for those who are not too dense, that all these beliefs are just thoughts, not different from all the other thoughts in our heads.

What can I do, if you truly believe that war is good and the law of the jungle still applies, or if you believe that you are Napoleon? I can’t change your beliefs because I can’t even change my own. But a growing number of people begin to understand now, that thoughts are just thoughts and that beliefs are just beliefs. If a crazy thought fly through my head, so what? It’s just a crazy thought. All sorts of crazy thoughts fly through my head, day and night. When I wake up after a weird dream I think: “ Oh, that was a weird dream” But I don’t believe that I actually met those talking cats, or whatever. It was just a dream.

This is a kind of awakening. I am right here, right now, writing down thoughts on my computer. The kids outside my window create an incredible racket. The sun is shining. It is a wonderful day here today.

This is from Russ Harris book `The happiness trap´:
The observing self is fundamentally different from the thinking self. The observing self is aware, but does not think; it is the part of you that is responsible for focus, attention, and awareness. While it can observe or pay attention to your thoughts, it can’t produce them. Whereas the thinking self thinks about your experience, the observing self registers your experience directly.
For example, if you are playing tennis and you are truly focused, then your attention is riveted on that ball coming toward you. This is your observing self at work. You are not thinking about the ball; you are observing it.
Now suppose thoughts start popping into your head like,” I hope my grip is correct”, “I’d better make a good hit,” or Wow, that ball is moving fast!” That is your thinking self at work.

Although we understand words as “awareness,” “focus,” and “attention,” most of us in the western world have little or no concept of the observing self. As a result, there is no word for it in the English language. We only have the word “mind” which is generally used to denote both the thinking self and the observing self, without distinguishing between the two.

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