To observe thoughts without judgement or criticism, only with the presence of love and compassion, is to become aware of the truth that thoughts have no power over the way we feel, unless we allow them to have that power through reaction and ego-identification.
Of course no one would consciously want to give their thoughts the power to cause them suffering, that is why it is unconscious behavior. When one brings their awareness to the fact that thoughts do not have the power to cause them suffering unless they react to them, they then become conscious of it, and it is then no longer an unconscious pattern.
Some get as far as becoming aware of the thoughts that arise, but then lose this awareness by falling into unconscious reactivity; such as convincing themselves of “I should not be thinking this, I am wrong for thinking this” or truly believing that the thought has something to do with who they are (ego-identification), thus inducing emotions such as sadness, anger, regret, or fear.
The thoughts that we tend to react to the most are usually linked to a negative false belief system that we have recurrently convinced ourselves to be true (even if it is far from what is true), which then becomes ingrained within our mental structure. This false belief then influences unconscious cyclical patterns of thinking that we assume we have no control over, but we do.
When we begin to sit with these thoughts and look into why they arise, instead of fighting against, resisting, and trying to avoid them, we can then bring our awareness to the root cause of why these thoughts make us feel the way they do, and make the shift from unconsciousness to consciousness.
The ongoing cycle of suffering and violence can never be broken with more suffering and violence.
It is no surprise that violence brings nothing but suffering into this world; whether it be through war and abuse of power, or violence within our own homes. My mom always used to tell me, “hurt people hurt people,” a line which has stuck with me to this day.
When someone hurts us, our immediate reaction is usually to hurt the other person back in defense (although really one is just defending a mental construct that they identify with within their own mind, but that’s besides the point). This relates closely to the principle of the Law of Retaliation, or “an eye for an eye.” But like Mahatma Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Now this is not to say that we should take violence from others, but rather learn how to become nonreactive towards it. When we come from a place of non-reactivity, from a place of inner peace, we then hold the power to break the cycle of violence and suffering instead of contributing to it. We then become the impact for positive change just by living in that state of mind.
If we all came from a place of peace and love, to promote progress instead of the “us” versus “them” mentality, we could achieve great things in this world, beautiful things. If we focused on building and bringing each other up instead of attacking and pulling each other down, so much unnecessary suffering could be avoided, and there would be no limit to the things that we could create in this world, as well as the experiences we could create in our own lives.
So from the words of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” (click here to view the video)