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TOPIC: No thoughts

No thoughts 05 Dec 2013 11:25 #17160

Gary Weber talks a lot about the benefits of having no thoughts. See: happinessbeyondthought.blogspot.com/2013...houghts-is-goal.html. But, then in his talks he usually goes on to seemingly refine this into only meaning self-referential thoughts. He says once awakened he usually has no thoughts (except when just waking up in the morning or not feeling well) but then goes on to say he has thoughts doing mathematical problems or reading, for example, but not self-referential thoughts. I know some of you know Gary. Can you clear this up for me? Is he touting no thoughts or only no self-referential thoughts?
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No thoughts 05 Dec 2013 12:29 #17161

You might have to ask him what he happens to mean. It does seem to be the case that the deeper ones practice goes, the less of some kinds of thought patterns arise: such as endlessly rehashing stuff that happened yesterday, endlessly pondering what you should do tomorrow, worrying over and over about some conversation or event, or narrating everything you do all day long. These could probably all go in the "self-referential" category.

My personal disagreement with the presentation of some teachings on "no thoughts" is that I see it as a side-effect, or fruit of practice, rather than a goal. It just happens. But reading about it as a goal seems to make a lot of people practice in a very struggling way trying to suppress thoughts or avoid thoughts, and spending a lot of time being frustrated (more thoughts), anxious (more thoughts), tense (more thoughts), etc because they can't willfully shut the darned mind up.
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No thoughts 06 Dec 2013 13:49 #17170

Jack, I've talked to Gary Weber face to face. He means no self-referential thoughts and other circular thinking. He does not mean "no thoughts at all" when he says "no thoughts" He is a very smart guy and clearly has thoughts or he'd be... dead.
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No thoughts 06 Dec 2013 14:48 #17176

What cracks me up about the "no thought" stuff is that it is taught be people who speak aloud. Speaking is thinking aloud. And actually, we learn to think quietly only after we learn first to hear others speak aloud, and then learn to speak aloud ourselves.

Contemplative practice does increase one's capacity to refrain from being absorbed into the vortex of thinking, and can also alter the content of one's thoughts - but it doesn't always lead to the same result for everyone.
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No thoughts 06 Dec 2013 15:00 #17177

Just my opinion, but part of the problem with all the "no thought" stuff is Gary Weber's way of marketing his accomplishment. I think he overstates and thus confuses. No doubt Gary is very realized and I don't doubt Gary's claims of having a very quiet mind. But even Gary will admit, after being questioned, that he does not literally have no thoughts. Once you get into the details with Gary this becomes much clearer.
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No thoughts 07 Dec 2013 14:21 #17192

To me, cutting off thought would be like cutting off hearing, tasting or any of the other senses. Cutting off background chatter is something else, a positive move.

I lead guided meditations at sangha meetings sometime. Usually it is the last sitting round for the evening after several rounds of sitting and walking meditation. I sit with a clear mind and words come out. I don't have to think. Sounds from me arise and pass away just like thoughts arise and pass away at other times during meditation.
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No thoughts 08 Dec 2013 06:25 #17227

We then have a choice. Accept all the quotes in Weber's blog above as touting no thoughts and we disagree, Or, interpreting them as meaning not no thoughts but no self-referencing thoughts.
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No thoughts 08 Dec 2013 10:16 #17239

You have that choice. But Gary Weber has made it very, very clear that you should choose "no self-referencing thoughts." Even on his blog. "NO thoughts" to Gary is a shorthand way of saying that.
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No thoughts 08 Dec 2013 11:12 #17244

I've found Gary to be accessible. If you have a question, try sending it to him. :-). As others have suggested, he is referring to the constant stream of narrative or what he terms "blah, blah". When "blah, blah" falls away, the stillness is absolutely where it's at. He has a YouTube video where he explains the "types of thoughts" to help folks catch his drift.
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No thoughts 08 Dec 2013 11:16 #17245

Nice idea, Colleayn! Gary Weber videos:

Last Edit: 08 Dec 2013 11:22 by Chris Marti.
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No thoughts 09 Dec 2013 12:00 #17294

Gary's posted a new article on his blog: The Neuroscience of Suffering...And Its End...."no thoughts"?

In his blog post, Gary references a Psychology Tomorrow article by Jeff Warren. The article talks about Gary's experiences with Judson Brewer and his FMRI studies investigating Default Mode Network activation in meditators.

In the article, Jeff writes,
"For Weber, true letting go means arriving at a state of “no-thought” where the mind is permanently stilled of any kind of “bandwidth-gobbling” inner monologue. Creative thoughts, planning thoughts – these are fine, and are, according to Weber, in fact served by completely different parts of the brain. The real suffering happens in the endless and exhausting internal monologue. Thus, he argues, working to extinguish these kinds of thoughts should be the explicit goal of practice, something he says other contemplative traditions also emphasize."
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No thoughts 09 Dec 2013 21:34 #17302

Even this doesn't really make sense to me (though I'm not a GW fan) because surely a planning thought is a self-referential thought...
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 08:29 #17306

There are different kinds of planning thoughts -- those that are the product of deliberation, that arise because we engage in a "productive" activity like deciding what to do on a vacation. The other kind is not deliberate, comes usually as a concern, a worry, anxiety, fear, about getting something "bad" or losing something "good." Gary Weber would say he's lost the second type of thinking, not the first. He would also say (I think) that the first type of planning thought is not self-referential in the same way that the second kind is.
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 11:06 #17312

every3rdthought wrote:
Even this doesn't really make sense to me (though I'm not a GW fan) because surely a planning thought is a self-referential thought...

My limited understanding is that a planning thought that we are embedded in is a self-referential thought. For example, we are planning a vacation with the attached emotion that we will be unhappy if we don't get to go. A planning thought we are not embedded in is not a self-referential thought. We haven't attached an emotion that we will be unhappy if we can't go. It's as if we were planning a vacation for an office mate not ourselves.
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 12:12 #17313

I'm also curious about the comment, "[the different types of thoughts are] according to Weber, in fact served by completely different parts of the brain."

My guess is that Gary would refer to FMRI studies showing the different brain networks responsible for his classifications of self-referential vs. non-self-referential thoughts.

Based on the video Chris posted below, I imagine that various brain centers can "contribute" to whether a thought contains self-referential elements. So, if the brain structure responsible for I, me, mine in time is activated, then it contributes it's component, while other may or may not. There's also likely an element of the degree of activation, so more or less contribution may be possible. Again, this is my attempt at thinking this through a bit.
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 14:45 #17317

If you Google this phrase:

"default mode network"

All will be revealed ;-)
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 15:42 #17319

I'm still a bit dubious about this distinction. For example, if you're planning any action that you will take in the future, it inevitably has to refer back to you as a self, whether or not it's anxious or causes emotion or whatever. If that's true, seems like it'd be more straightforward to say, 'I no longer have thoughts that as thoughts cause suffering' or similar. But as I said, I'm not a GW fan.
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 15:53 #17321

@rowan - maybe he's just making it all up :evil:
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No thoughts 10 Dec 2013 18:53 #17326

Rowan, in any educational situation (I believe this is how Gary Weber perceives himself in this regard) there is a detailed, fully disclosed and accurate description of the thing. Then there's the story that actually makes it across the gulf of communication.

:P
Last Edit: 10 Dec 2013 18:55 by Chris Marti.
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