I enjoyed reading these two excerpts, one from Osho and one from Eckhart Tolle, describing the nature of the mind and how it distracts us.
Osho is using examples from a time that was before the internet, while Tolle refers to distractions created by our new, online existence.
The message is strikingly similar:
Your mind is continuously creating distractions. Just watch your mind, and you will understand what Buddha is saying. It never allows you to sit silently even for a few moments. If you sit silently it says, ‘Why not listen to the radio? The newspaper must have come, the mail may have arrived. Why not go to the movie? Why not watch TV?’ If you are in the shop your mind says, ‘Go home, rest – you are tired.’ If you are at home your mind says, ‘What you are doing here, wasting your time? Go to the shop – you could have earned something!’
The mind never allows you to be where you are, it never allows you to see things as they are. It is always taking you somewhere else, either into the past or into the future; it never allows you to be in the present.
Either it drags you into memories – which are nothing but footprints on the sands of time – or it drags you into the future: great projections, great expectations, desires, goals . . . And you become so much involved with them – as if they have some reality! And the reality is slipping out of your hands while you are engaged in all these trips into the past, into the future.
The mind never allows you and will never allow you to see that which is; it always takes you to that which is not. One of the names of Buddha is Tathagata – one who lives in suchness, one who has become free from all the distractions of the mind. And the miracle is that the mind consists only of distraction, so once you are free of all distractions there is no mind left. In the present, there is no mind. In the present, there is only consciousness, awareness, watchfulness.
Live in the world, but not through the mind. Don’t let the past or the future stand between you and reality.
And if you can manage the state of no-mind even for a few moments – that’s what meditation is all about – you will be surprised: suddenly you are in rhythm with existence. You will know what Buddha calls ‘aes dhammo sanantano’ – the eternal law.
PEOPLE are in the grip of the stream of thinking, it pulls you along, — amplified these days by digital gadgets.
So, the grip of compulsive thinking, with one thing after another, arises in your mind — and you identify with everything that comes into your mind. Amplified, as I said, by the digital stuff which wants your attention: Ah, this is important…another email coming in. A text message…it must be important. Somebody just posted something on Facebook…and you see a photo of a dinner plate. And of course then you have to reply and say, “Cool!”, “Cool, that’s great!” — and that absorbs all the attention.
Attention is continuously being absorbed. It was bad enough before the digital things, but now it gets amplified — and most stuff is in your mind. Stuff and more stuff. And you’re drowning in stuff. And I’m not meaning physical stuff. Some people also drown in physical stuff, but you’re drowning in mental stuff.
One thought after another. One text message after another. One Facebook post after another One unpleasant memory or anxious thought after another One complaint after another about other people — what they failed to do and should have done (but didn’t do). So there’s no end to the stuff.
And you’re missing the present moment. Continuously your attention is absorbed by useless and compulsive thinking. And imagine living like that for 10, 20, 30, 40, years. — what that does to your state of consciousness and you as a person. What kind of person does that state of consciousness produce? Anxious, angry — whatever the material state. Continuously dissatisfied. Continuously, desperately, needing the next thing — which is never enough.
So, this is what we are getting out of. I just wanted to show you a little illustration of a ‘normal’ state…