A young disciple, newly initiated into the practice of meditation, poses a seemingly simple question to the Master: “Master, what should I be thinking when doing meditation? Should I think about my place in the vast universe and the technique of meditation itself, or empty my mind of all thoughts?”
The Master shakes his head gently and responds, “I cannot say, for I have never thought about it.”
Indeed, the Master’s mastery lies in his ability to transcend thought altogether and attain profound stillness through meditation.
Not Thinking & Wu Wei
Little does the disciple know that he is using a different mind. What he uses is a Small Mind, which is a thinking mind. It involves his intellectual mind, that is analytical. It is the mind that most of us use throughout the day to live our life. We assess situations, make decisions, plan for the future and so on. It is, of course, necessary and important. The Small Mind, however, is restless, distracting, and sometimes stuck.
To cultivate wisdom during meditation, we need a Big Mind. It is not thinking. You’re simply being aware. You are aware of what are around you. You are aware of what are inside you. You are aware when thoughts of the Small Mind arise.
When you are aware and not thinking, you see you thinking mind from a fresh perspective. You can think differently or even jump out of the box. It brings you the aha moments. The Big Mind is spacious and leave you feeling more at ease.
The Big Mind helps you dispel fear, trivial concerns, and other intrusive mental patterns. This allows you to embrace the world without the burden of analyzing every fleeting moment of your experiences. As we disentangle yourselves from this cycle of incessant thinking, your mind gradually relaxes, paving the way for profound insights to emerge. It is an important aspect of wu wei.
In this serene state, you establish a profound connection with the universe itself, becoming receptive to the silent language of existence.
Who can be still
until their mud settles
and the water is cleared by itself?
Can you remain tranquil until right action occurs by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfilment.
For only those who are not full are able to be used
which brings the feeling of completeness.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 14, translated by J H Mcdonald
Picture by Kevin Labianco