When i was very young, in grade school, i — one day, without motive — went into a profound silence beyond thinking and had the insight that doing so was a wholly different, wonderful form of consciousness. “Form,” in the aforementioned sentence, is rather misleading because going beyond thinking is of no real form or pattern, otherwise it is just standard “thinking.” Back then i didn’t name this “meditation” or “mindfulness” or anything whatsoever because such words were — at such a young age — foreign to me. I did have the insight that this is a “very special” way of being; it continued to take place on occasion now and then for a long time. It was only later, in college, when one began seriously enquiring into the mind and into spirituality, that words for this (as inadequate as they are) began to take place.
Fortunately, when one was in high school, one became interested in hypnosis and self-hypnosis. I was wise enough to realize the dangers and limitations of self-hypnosis and saw that it tended to constrain and curb the mind, keeping it in a narrow and circumscribed area. While away at college, when attending yoga meditation events given by people from Asia — who claimed to be gurus offering special mantras — i quickly realized that this (i.e., what they were offering) involved (and was) a subtle form of self-hypnosis, which i did not wish to have anything to do with. Anything you repeat over and over again to “get spirituality” is not legitimate as far as i am concerned. Repeating a series of words, no matter how “special” they are claimed to be, is just rather mechanical and is a mesmerizing waste of time. Even repeating silence, within (and “as”) the mind, to “get spirituality,” is also likely a big waste of time. Grasping and effort never lead to true spirituality. It is like trying to catch the wind.
Thoughts are always symbolic, always fractional and piecemeal. The intelligent mind uses thoughts often, efficiently, and prudently. Thoughts, all thoughts, however, are merely tools. They are limited patterns and symbols to solve problems and to help one to function well in life. Merely remaining as the tools, accepting them as the essence of what one is (as so many do), however, would be foolish. Going beyond these tools, not merely to “get spiritual,” not to “get or attain anything,” may be a sagacious, brilliant way of functioning. Then silence is silence (not “for” something); it is beautifully what it is without ulterior motives or aspirations. Then one does not fabricate mere outer or inner symbols into what one calls “spiritual”; deception is unlikely for a mind of true insight, true silence. Thoughts, for so many of us, are like habitual repetitions… not, in actuality, so very different from what self-hypnosis entails. The wise mind goes beyond this circumscribed (hemmed in) state of unbeing.