So, wtf is a thought cloud?
“I should mow the lawn, but I’m so tired today. Why am I always so lazy? Look at Jerry’s lawn, he takes care of his. Makes mine look like shit by comparison. Why do we even to mow our lawns? Who decided that keeping grass short was the cool thing to do? People are so dumb.” That’s a thought cloud.
If we aren’t aware of them, they can keep going throughout the day (or week, or year), and gradually cover up the whole sky. If they go on long enough, we might even forget what the clear sky looks like, or that it even exists at all.
The mind is basically one big, “About.” We don’t just think and feel, we think about things, we have feelings about things. When we’re conscious, we’re conscious of things, aware of things. If we drop the aboutness from the mind, then that’s called no-mind, the mind that doesn’t reach out and grab.
No-mind isn’t some kinda transcendent, dead state. It’s a bright, clear space that opens up within the mind and doesn’t ever seem to disappear. It’s like if someone was looking at cloudy and sky said, “Fuck, I wish the clouds would clear outta here. This is getting depressing.” Then their friend taps them on the forehead and says, “This is clear.”
What sees clouds can’t be cloudy itself. Otherwise, there’d be no awareness of clouds or clarity. If there wasn’t this so-called no-mind in mind, then life would be like two cars going at the same speed side-by-side. When you look over, you know the other car’s moving because you see the landscape moving, but the direct experience is different. The car looks still.
That’s why there’s always a part of us that’s clear, calm, bright, and understanding. If there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be aware confusion, agitation, darkness, and ignorance or their “opposites.”
So even when these thought clouds pop up, what’s clear is what’s seeing them clearly. I like calling no-mind the True Person, my errant translation of anatta and Buddha-nature.
When we’re aware that these thought clouds exist, when we can spot them in action, then that already starts to dispel them. Sustained attention to the details naturally sweeps aside the rot.
It’s just like if you’re watching a magic show, and then you see how the magician is creating an illusion. Suddenly, the trick stops having power over you. In this case, we’re the magicians, but we’re so good at what we do that we’ve fallen for our own act.
What can a thought cloud be but an illusion? It has no being of its own; it has no place.
Some might say that all thoughts, all mental objects are clouds. I disagree. Some are just vapor, it’s the buildup of vapor that turns them into clouds. “I should mow the lawn, but I’m so tired today,” is vapor. Everything else in that example, is a cloud.
I’m not in the business of denying people their thoughts, or even their clouds and storms. I’m not gonna say, “You should try to keep the sky clear!” You can if you like, or you just watch clouds, or not watch them, it’s honestly all up to you.
I’m at a point now where I don’t see people lost in confusion anymore. I see True People who just happen to be a bit forgetful of the fact that they’re True People.
All of my former delusions of being stern, of having a heavy-handed approach, are gone. I’ve also totally abandoned censoring my thoughts and experiences from myself, which is why my writing is extremely free now. I wouldn’t ordinary let myself shift into this introspective segment that has little to do with the rest of the post. But, who care? It’s not harming anyone.
As you can see, I’m full of clouds. Clouds of all shapes and sizes. They grow and shrink, they drift and weave. I don’t mind them. Just like these words, they’re not harming anyone so why should I try to dispel them?
It’s when there’s harm that we need to apply effort. Why struggle with evicting harmless things? You can if you like, sure. But I don’t. Because clarity has nothing to do with whether the sky is clear or not, and clarity is the True Person.