No Thoughts, But Plenty of False Beliefs

spiritual truth, spiritual nature, trees, redwoods, muir woods
Every now and again, I get a message from someone or am talking to someone in a session who has a quiet mind. Thoughts don't run constantly through it, and that, of course, is a beautiful thing.

However, there seems to be a confusion that not thinking and being in intellectual silence means that there is no ego. Oh ho, no, no, no, no. Just because the ego isn't shouting thoughts doesn't mean there aren't loads of beliefs telling you how to feel and act.

This confusion between a quiet mind and true no mind--where we are the silent observer and are free of false beliefs--is a problem. It's another way a person may decide that they're done with the spiritual path or have "achieved" something. And who is making those decisions? It's the ego, of course.

On this topic, I wanted to explore how unconscious beliefs lurk in the silent mind and how they may manifest for some of you.

Who Decides Your Emotions?

In the calm of a quiet mind, all kinds of unconscious decisions are still being made for many, many people. Maybe they aren't as apparent as when the mind is shouting things, but as I said, the ego doesn't have to actively stir up thoughts for it to be there. In fact, some people are naturally quiet in their minds, and so a quiet mind isn't really an achievement for them. It's how they are, but yet they definitely have an ego.

One of the ways that ego shows up is in emotional choices. People like to think that they decide their emotions, but they really don't. This is a humbling thing to realize. Most times someone feels happy, sad, angry, peaceful, afraid, and so forth, there's an unconscious belief telling them to feel that way. The ego is saying, "That joke is funny. Laugh." In another situation, the ego says, "Your partner is breaking up with you. Feel sad." And being completely unconscious to these messages, people comply and have no idea that they could even choose differently.

Because people are so used to accepting these unconscious beliefs that come wordlessly and thoughtlessly, they think that that's just how they feel. They also often think that other people are "making them feel" a certain way. But that's not true. By and large, our unconscious egos decide what we feel, and to go further in releasing the ego, this is an area that must be explored.

Exploring Deeper Into Quiet Beliefs

Here's a quiet belief that has infected millions of people:

"I am not enough."

This one little belief defines millions of ego selves, and it causes people to take all kinds of actions and feel all sorts of ways. It often exists without the person even knowing it is there, and so this quiet belief can define a person's whole life even if they don't think the thought, "I am not enough." It drives many people to constantly search for validation. BTW, that's a big issue with people who come to me; many just want validation, not spiritual freedom. And whenever the ego doesn't get what it wants, it gets upset.

Any time you get upset emotionally and feel physical reactions, it's time to go exploring. Go looking for the belief that is telling you to feel the way you are feeling. Don't blame the external trigger--the person or situation that may be evoking your inner response. Turn the spotlight inwards, and see what hidden belief is upset.

Healing Silent Wounds

Unearthing Beliefs and Discovering a Network of Ideas

With the example of "I am not enough," you're likely to find a network of ideas attached to that core belief. It can be quite surprising if you are resting in a beautiful quiet mind, but yet here's this huge conglomeration of beliefs. Now it's time to go deeper. Especially with a core issue like not believing and feeling that you're enough, there's a lot to unearth. Don't be too satisfied with your progress too soon either. The ego always likes to stop short. It likes to barter with how far you should investigate. Don't be deterred! Keep going through journaling, working with a spiritual teacher, working with a therapist, and using other avenues for illuminating these beliefs that define how you see life and interact with it.

In general, having a neutral third-party like a therapist can be a great way to get more perspective on beliefs that you don't realize you have. Once you do realize that you have them, it can be more than a little surprising. It will likely lead you back to humility as you realize how much you still don't know about yourself.

The end result of this inner work is that you find more freedom to just be as well as to truly know who you are. When you are no longer controlled by hidden, false beliefs, the levels of physical and emotional calm can also match the qualities of a quiet mind. The combination is breathtaking.

For some more blog post that may be of interest to you, feel free to check these out:

Spiritual Humility and Life Under God's Grindstone

The Error of Defending Your Beliefs

Letting Go of Beliefs