Thinking Stop

There’s a tendency in movies lately that resembles the videogame format, in which the protagonist dies over and over, but not until he’s acquired useful information that will help him the next time around. I’m thinking specifically of two entertaining movies, Source Code and Edge of Tomorrow, though I’m sure there are many others in the genre as well.

The problem with this type of story is that it imagines that we will finally become good at life when we manage to remember the correct thing to do at each moment, like in a videogame. Go through the door on the left, not in the center. Duck down here. Don’t touch the booby trap. Step only on the black spaces. Etc.

This is the highest survival strategy our minds can come up with: memorization. Ten bullet points on how to get people to like you. Which car gets the best gas mileage? What’s the best way to pay less taxes? Where can I get the best deal on air travel?

Or think of Dear Abby, with her myriad rules of etiquette. You’re supposed to act like this in this particular situation. Avoid doing that.

But all of us must remember, somehow, that we have access to a higher, innate, intuitive intelligence, a way of always knowing exactly what to do because it’s awake and alive and in the present moment. It just doesn’t make sense that we have to be thinking every moment of our lives, does it? How long must this struggle go on? It just doesn’t feel natural. Personally, I don’t want to live that way. There’s no peace in it, no rest.

People often ask me how I learned to speak Italian so well. “I got tired of having to think for 10 minutes of everything I was going to say,” I tell them. “I hunkered down for three years and got good enough so that I didn’t have to think anymore. The words just came naturally.”

It’s the same on the spiritual path. Hunker down and get it over with. Then live free.

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