A sage once said, “If you think you’re awake, you’re dreaming; if you know you’re dreaming, you’re awake”
You’re taking in the view from a hill you’ve hiked up to, and you can see for miles, across a verdant forest beneath a blue sky with puffy white clouds drifting slowly above. The mind is stunned into silence as you behold all that is before you, and before you know it a banal thought crosses your mind. A reminder, perhaps, a cliche, something irrelevant, that breaks the complete attention, the timelessness of the moment.
Were you to have remained transfixed and transported by the view for any longer, would it have made any difference? Possibly, but the only way to know is for thought to be less inclined to pipe up when there’s no need for it. As long as the default mode of the brain is “I”, “me”, “mine”, nothing is more important. Thought is taking its proper place according to its conclusion that it’s all we have to work with.
From what we now know about the brain, when one isn’t giving complete attention to a particular task, the default mode network automatically takes over. And one of the functions of this network is to remind you of who you supposedly are, your past and your future. One could say it’s the part of the brain responsible for psychological thinking…and it’s the default mode network, which means when you have nothing better to do, it’s best to dwell on your imagined identity and its hoped-for-future. Our brain operates this way because we’ve evolved from apes, wild animals who don’t do much thinking because their lives depend on complete attention - not thinking ability.
Our lives depend on complete attention, too, but complete attention to our thinking because we are the biggest threat to the health and well-being of our planet, and if we can’t make the radical change from being self-centered to having no center at all, things can only get worse. But if this change is possible, it deserves our complete attention.