Being before thinking or having a thoughtless mind
Thoughtless mind or the mind before thinking mind is a weird concept, a typical spooky Zen stuff.
Anything that we listen to, read and say ----all of this is thinking coming from the mind of someone regardless the source: Wikipedia, Google, the Bible, Koran, Buddhist Sutra, novels, etc. Their contents are real but are they also carrying the genuine reality?
Same thing with our own mind our thoughts and emotions: they are real but do they carry any reality? Real or genuine mind is mind before thinking. A mind before thinking is an observing mind nothing more.
“Having a thoughtless mind or a before thinking mind?” What does it mean?
It simply means an open mind that is before knowledge and opinions, before beliefs, without dogmas, without judgment , preconceived ideas and before any feeling.
This is a mind reflecting genuine reality like a perfect mirror reflecting 100% of what it is receiving. A mirror is reflecting a white rose because the rose is white.
A thinking mind is a distorting mirror reflecting things based on perception.
In Zen we call it a “Don’t know mind or beginner mind” or empty mind”.
Such mind does not mean stupidity or ignorance but simply a mind not distorted by its own accumulated thinking or by the thinking of others.
Using critical thinking is obviously essential when we have to make a decision but too much of thinking can be detrimental in creating mental traps from which is almost impossible to escape from.
These mental traps may prevent us from achieving not only clarity of mind but also inner serenity.
How to achieve a mind before thinking?
The practice of mindfulness that is simple awareness without using a discriminating, analytic and judgmental mind is putting the mind before thinking.
The use of one of our 5 senses is an excellent approach to practice mind before thinking.
Listen to the dog barking and just listen as it is, nothing more: this is a thoughtless mind.
Watch the flower and just watch it as it is, nothing more: this is keeping mind before thinking.
Taste an orange and just taste it as it is, nothing more: this is a thoughtless mind.
Feel the hot water running on your skin and hear its sound during shower as it is, nothing more: this is mind before thinking.
Feel the ground and hear your steps while walking as it is, nothing more: this is a thoughtless mind.
Watch the little white cloud moving slowly in the blue sky as it is, nothing more: this is mind before thinking.
By doing so -----and it is not very easy----- there is no thinking, no distortion, no illusion, no judgment, no decision. You are experiencing authentic reality as it is without the noise and illusion of the thinking and this is priceless.
Your mind becomes a mirror of life and not an ongoing inner voice analyzing and judging everything.
Why a thoughtless mind is priceless?
It is priceless not to make money, not to be happy and not to be smarter.
It is priceless because, when your mind is before thinking, you are experiencing three things:
Reality of life as it is, good or bad events.
You are in control of your mind rather being trapped in its grasp made of thoughts and emotions.
State of equanimity becomes possible where excessive emotional ups and downs are eliminated.
You have the choice of being the slave of a restless, emotional yoyo mind or to enjoy to more serene.
Needless to say that keeping a mind before thinking cannot be maintain all the time since we need this beautiful instrument to function in our day-to-day life. Once a while is enough to achieve serenity and awakening that is enlightenment .