Where is the Thinker?

Where is the thinker of your thoughts? If you go about searching for an answer you are presented with a bit of a problem. You may think, “Where is the thinker? Well I’m the thinker. So wait… Where am I? Well… I’m sitting here. No, that’s my body. Where is the owner of my body? Well, it maybe it’s in my head somewhere.” Following this path of thinking to its end leads to Nowhere. And yet, the beautifully paradoxical truth is, that is exactly where “you” are.

So if you are there, then where am I? Where exactly is the thinker of my thoughts? Is there some single place inside my head you can point to? Is my left eye the thinker? The right? Is it even in my brain? It is widely accepted now that certain parts of our brains perform different tasks. People with certain forms of brain damage suffer very strange affects – the loss of the ability to feel fear, the inability to detect the motion of objects, loss of the ability to speak – there are many. So when one tries to locate the “self” that is actually doing the thinking of these thoughts, it is no wonder it is nowhere to be found. “It” or “I” as we have so habitually called it, in fact, does not exist in any one particular place at all. Rather it is a collection of different thoughts happening at one time. Much the same as the way one would listen to a song. Many instruments are playing at one time but we have the ability to pick out individual instruments – the bass, the background singers, the cymbals – or we can allow ourselves to wrap them all into one and call it a song. It’s so much easier to refer to it later on. “Wow, that song is great,” is surely simpler than saying “Have you heard that wonderful compilation of bass, piano, cymbals, and guitar?”

Much the same is the way we tend to wrap up our thoughts into one “self.” And although this certainly makes it easier to refer to it later on – selfishness, myself, herself, yourself – this ease carries with it a subtle, hidden danger. When we habituate to this way of thinking we often lose sight of the individual instruments at play. We forget how astonishingly complex and amazing our minds are. Without such awe we cannot see how truly amazing each and every single living being on this planet is. Each being their own breath-takingly well orchestrated symphony of pure life force.

Please, take a moment to ask your self, “where is the thinker of these thoughts?” See where it leads. Follow the path deep into the forest of meditation. May you find there beauty, peace, and love.

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