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The peaceful glimpse beyond thought

The dictionary meaning of glimpse is a brief view of something. A more fundamental and metaphysical meaning is a brief moment of absolute stillness.

We all have had these whether it was in mediation, journal writing, at work or during a mundane experience.

Of course, we want to extend and expand these sacred cherished moment. But my experience is that the harder you try, the fewer glimpses show up. An exception was the wise sage’s answer to the disciple’s question of how does one get more of these enlightened moments. The sage’s answer was that when the disciple puts his head under water, his desire to become enlightened has to be as strong as his desire for air.

The question is how does one get more and extend the duration of these glimpses? The simple answer is to stop thinking — much easier said than the doing. We have 200,000 to 800,000 thoughts a day. Of course, we have to use our minds for practical tasks at work, cooking and scheduling a train, bus or airplane.

Telling oneself to stop thinking does not work. I have learned a simple way to go beyond thinking from Eckhart Tolle. For sure, we all have egos (conditioned minds) that cause us to be overwhelmed by anger, fear or anxious thoughts preoccupied with the past or future.

The key is to become as watchful and alert to your thoughts as a cat watching a mouse. As one of these egoic thoughts of anger, fear or anxiety pop up, you see, feel and acknowledge it. In this very brief millisecond of conscious recognition there is no thinking, just a peaceful stillness. The mortal enemy of the ego is conscious presence. It loves and thrives on drama and conflict, and the more of it, the more the ego controls you.

I’ll share one of my most agonizing, tormented, recurring thoughts. My daughter has told me face to face and more recently a long letter that we not only stole $500,000 but also stole her daughter. We have given her proof to the contrary, but it is an effort in futility to try to reason with the ego.

We have raised our beautiful, talented and very creative granddaughter for 9 years. And yes, we have allowed the ego to raise its ugly head many times by being very angry, fearful and resentful. When looking at her picture or her name comes up in conversation, it lights up our ego.

Slowly but surely we have applied Tolle’s simple practice of very attentive watchfulness and caught ourselves as these negative mental onslaughts popped up. The thought vanished, and no not a denial. It is an instant moment of no thinking, just a peaceful stillness.

Each of us has a choice each and every moment. We can allow ourselves to fall victim to the ego’s bidding and allow very angry, pessimistic thoughts or be very attentive and watchful and allow these brief moments of sacred peacefulness of no thoughts.

Tolle was asked which of the two consciousnesses, the ego with its growing identification with drama and conflict or this consciousness of love and peace? His answer was that both are expanding exponentially.

It is up to each of us to practice being more observant and watchful and thereby tip our world toward extended periods of peace and love.

Jim Hawes, a retired Medford school teacher, has published “Ageless Child,” and is working on a new book, “Ageless Living.” Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of Inner Peace to column editor Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.