What is thinking? It is a process of mentation. The ideas of doership and enjoyership emerge because of one’s attachment to the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. ‘I’ refers to the sense of ego and ‘mine’ refers to the sense of possession or emphasising the ego. The ego gets accentuated by connecting it to bodies, places, persons, events, or things. That in turn produces further ideas of possession or the idea of ‘mine’. For instance, a person might have one crore rupees, but it might not be sufficient for that person as there could be the desire to own more and more. It is addictive to increase the instances of references to one’s ego. In truth, all express admissions of ownership of any kind are only different degrees of narcissism.
The ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ create the biggest enemy of a certain and constant idea of oneself— desire. Desires make one to resolve and think. Resolve leads to actions that strengthen the idea of doership, the idea that one is the doer of actions. One might argue that it indeed is the case and that one does indeed perform actions. But, such a position would then completely negate the concept or possibility of one’s innate tendencies, also called samskaras. If a person is indeed the doer of actions, then it should be easy for that person to do anything without any particular bias, leaning, or even liking for anything. However, we know that this is not the case. Everyone has specific likes and dislikes. These likes and dislikes are the manifestations of our samskaras, which in turn are born out of the ideas of doership and enjoyership.
Thus, thought arises due to desires. When we think, in reality, we are dabbling with desires. The deeper we think, the stronger does our attachment to desires become. However, if we think of getting rid of desires, of going beyond the process of thinking, of transcending the mind and the senses, then that kind of thinking would take us away from desires, and would make our existing desires weaker and weaker. When one thinks of undertakings and possessions, even the possession of knowledge, one drags oneself to deeper realms of ignorance. On the other hand, if one thinks of anything other than undertakings and possessions, for instance, if one thinks of God and how to restrain the senses and the mind, then one is gradually relieved of ignorance, to that extent. So, the key to free oneself from the traps of desires is to not think of oneself as the doer and enjoyer and also to not think of undertakings and possessions.
All express admissions of ownership of any kind are only different degrees of narcissism.
Thinking for the sake of thinking and not for the sake of associating one’s ‘I’ to it, is redeeming and revealing and eventually leads to the realisation of one’s true nature, Brahman. However, there is another aspect of thinking that occupies a considerable amount of time in our lives. This is remembering from memory. When we think anything, it is stored as a memory, primarily because we associate our ‘I’ with that. Even an information that falls in a neutral class of things like general knowledge, is remembered by us, because it pertains to our knowing that information. The process of remembering things or taking out things from our memory, could be seen as thinking about thinking or rethinking thoughts. When we remember something with the association of ideas of doership and enjoyership, every time we remember such a thought, we create a fresh samskara of the action that led to the memory in the first place.
Most psychological illnesses can be traced to a traumatic experience that created a bad memory. One of the coping mechanisms of the human mind is to bury an unpleasant memory deep into the subconscious mind. However, such deepseated traumas cause psychological problems and could make a person dysfunctional, that is, that person would not be able to perform the regular activities of everyday life. So, one of the important steps in cleaning the mind is to uncover such deep-seated traumas and to understand that the memory of the trauma does not matter as that particular experience has passed and possibly would not be repeated. So, it would be wise and much better if one uncovers such trauma and lets it out, and stops thinking about it.
So, we add another chain to our bondage when we think and add yet another chain when we remember. But, thoughts have a strange way of increasing our bondage, even beyond thinking and remembering. This happens when remembering or memory takes a strange turn and we think that we are sharing our experience for the benefit of others. It is a great fallacy to think that one’s experience could be of any help to others. A person experiences something in a particular fashion because of one’s attachment to that particular thing and also because of one’s samskaras, which are always subjective and specific to a particular individual. The very fact that someone listens to another’s experience is also directed by one’s samskaras; both sharing and listening to experiences are guided by samskaras. One cannot, rather should not, generalise one’s experience and consider it to be on the same level as that of others.
Since every person has a different set of samskaras and since every person’s experience of anything will be influenced by those samskaras, it is futile to share experience. The only reason we share our experience is because we attach the idea of ‘mine’ to our experience and strengthen this idea with the thought that other people are also following our experience. This is a third chain of bondage. Thus, thinking, remembering, and sharing are nothing but three different levels of bondage or three traps into which we fall every moment of our lives. Sharing creates another problem too. It emphasises the remembering of an experience and the living of such an experience. In other words, sharing requires that we do things with the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. However, a constant emphasis on ‘I’ and ‘mine’ that would lead to an idea of ‘our’ would only increase the mire of ignorance.
The intellect, particularly the spiritual intellect, has to be awakened and sharpened at all times. An ever alert and vigilant mind can prevent one from falling into intricate traps of ignorance like needless thinking, brooding, and egotistical sharing of things. The enemies of oneself are the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ leading to the ideas of doership and enjoyership. These ideas make one’s actions to bear results in the form of samskaras or tendencies that are carried across lifetimes. So, the aim is to destroy these ideas by destroying desires through constant discernment. Hence, one cannot share experience in the true sense of the term, but can only attempt to transcend thought and memory.