Lets say you look out of the window and a car drives buy, you look at it. Can you control the thought that arises?
Can you decide wether a thought "Nice car!" pops up or maybe another thought "I have to hurry up! I am late!"?
Try this simple exercise: Think about a number between 1 and 10. Try to see how the number arises. Did you choose which number should show up? Was there an entity "thinker" that decided or controlled the outcome? Repeat this a few times...
It seems like I should have some control over the thought that arises when a car drives by, but I can't find that control in my direct experience.
The first number I though of was 3. Then I had the thought "I'm going to think of 5", and so I did. It doesn't seem that I had any control over the number 3 or the number 5. It's like I can think about what number I'm going to pick, but the number that shows up on those thoughts just appears.
When sad thoughts come up based on past experiences they continue for a while and suddenly "you" are aware of this process, you catch yourself, and try to think about something else, right? So you seem to have control... But do you?
How does this work? How do you suddenly become aware of these sad thoughts? Is there an entity there that directs the flow of thoughts or is there simply a new thought arising "Ah! I am caught in sad thoughts! Lets think something else!"... Now, whats next? What is the next thought that shows up? Do you decide if you think about the funny movie from last night, ice cream or the upcoming holiday?
I become aware that a sad thought arises. The next thought (ice cream, a movie) just shows up. Then I think oh, I don't want to think about that, I want to think about getting a new car, and I start thinking about a new car. It's THAT thought that makes it seem as though I have some control. But here's something that just occurred to me Alex - If I have no control over my thoughts, how is this working, this thing that you and I are doing? Didn't I decide to get on the forum, decide to ask for a guide, make the decision to come back day after day and look at these questions? It seems to me that I am annihilating (maybe not the right word) thought with thought. Nothing wrong with that, just seems... um... crazy.
Can you please describe this "me" in more detail? Where is it? How is it experienced? What tells you that it is a "me"?
No, sorry, apparently I can't describe this me in more detail. All I have is some vague 'thinker of thoughts, doer of deeds, holder of memories'. Seems to be quite slippery. And it is all thought. Not a damn thing that doesn't live wholly in thought.
How does "remembering" work? Is there a "you" that remembers? Do you access a memory database and choose which thing you should remember right now?
When you went into the shower, did "you" remember to do the exercise or was there suddenly a thought saying "Now! Lets listen to the water and see what this is all about."?
It does seem a bit like a database. I just now thought 'ok, remember something' and 2 or 3 thoughts came up right away, and after each of them the thought 'not that'. Like this:
no, not that
yesterday at work
no, not that
yes, think about the dog
There were images that came with the words. The mountain meadow I was in last weekend, my desk at work, a picture of both dogs in my head, even though I was thinking about the black one, really.