“Your Brain Is Not for Thinking” is described as “a surprising lesson from neuroscience” in an article in the New York Times with the same title. Written by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, professor of psychology at Northeastern University and the author of Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain, who describes this conclusion that the brain is not for thinking as not only “surprising’ but also one that “may help to lessen your anxieties.”
A surprising lesson? You could only be surprised by this if you had failed to notice that the geniuses of the East have been explaining this very same point for well over two thousand years. Patanjali begins his Yoga Sutras with the suggestion: “Yoga is cessation of mind.” His contemporaries, Buddha, Lao Tzu, and Mahavira… and on down the ages so many have confirmed this basic truth… to those in modern times, Raman Maharishi, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, culminating in its most contemporary expression with Osho.
Imagine a professor of mathematics writing an article in the New York Times about how they found the value of the function of zero “surprising” – over 2000 years after it was first discovered!
Just a little research by that mathematician would have revealed, as Osho explains:
“Zero was first invented in India. And it was not invented for mathematical reasons but for Vedantic ones, referring to transcendental understanding.” 1
“That’s what Buddha calls attaining the zero, nothingness. Just being, without any idea of “I.” That is inexpressible, it is called bliss.” 2
If that mathematician had written, about “a surprising lesson from number theory” that “the use of a zero may help lessen your anxieties about accurate calculations,” it would be a joke of course.
When Western Psychology makes itself into a laughingstock like this, it not so funny. It is tragic, as the figures show. A mere one hundred years after Freud, we have psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists on every street corner, while our inner state only deteriorates.
Look at the money spent on this failure. 317.6 billion dollars a year in the US only for “serious mental illness,” which is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the state of mind of all the rest of us?
According to a 2010 study published by the US National Institute of Health, “the global direct and indirect economic costs of mental disorders were estimated at US$2.5 trillion” a figure “expected to double by 2030” and which “did not include costs associated with mental disorders from outside the healthcare system, such as legal costs caused by illicit drug abuse.” A different, broader analysis from the same paper puts the total at 8.5 trillion dollars.
Why are Western-trained scientists so blinkered when it comes to anything related to the inner world of humans, what Osho calls “the science of the inner.” Why would they blindly ignore all the much more profound research that has already happened over these thousands of years?
Is it just the same egotism, that “I” that Buddha describes so long ago? Arrogance? Ignorance? Their societal conditioning causing these stuck belief systems?
Or just the habit of conforming to what their professors believed.
An example from Osho:
“One of the greatest thinkers in the West, Descartes, said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Cogito ergo sum. And Descartes is the father of modern Western philosophy. ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Just the opposite has been the experience in the East. Buddha, Nagarjuna, Shankara, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, they will laugh, they will laugh tremendously when they hear Descartes’ dictum, ‘I think, therefore I am’ because they say, ‘I don’t think, therefore I am.’
When thinking ceases, only then does one know who one is. In a non-thinking state of consciousness, one realizes one’s being – not by thinking, but by non-thinking. Meditation is non-thinking; it is an effort to create a state of no-mind.” 3
“Thinking is secondary. Being is first. First you are, then you think. If you are not, then who is going to think? Thinking cannot exist in a vacuum. If somebody says, ‘I am, therefore I think,’ it is right. But to say ‘I think, therefore I am’ is simply absurd.” 4
“Descartes is not aware at all of the Eastern approach: that a moment comes when thinking can be dropped again, and still you are. That’s what happens in meditation: thinking is no more, but you are. So thinking is arbitrary, non-essential; it is not essential to ‘I am.’
“He says: ‘Cogito, ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.’ No: ‘I am, therefore I think.’ But that is only one dimension. ‘I am, therefore I feel,’ is another dimension. ‘I am, therefore I love,’ everything is preceded by ‘I am.’ That pure existence, that ‘amness’ precedes all. In meditation there will be no thinking. And those who have meditated for thousands of years, their experience has to be compared. They say, ‘When thinking ceases, then I am;’ just the opposite of Descartes – because thinking is a disturbance. And when you are engaged with thoughts, you are engaged with something objective, and you are not an object.
“When all thoughts have disappeared and you are sitting silently doing nothing, the East says, ‘For the first time you know you are – because now there is no object to distract your consciousness. Your whole consciousness is settled at the center, in the heart.’” 5
This long line of inner scientists have all agreed on this point that Osho is also making:
“Meditation is a way to come out of thinking. Once the clouds of thoughts are not there and the process of thinking ceases even for a single moment, you have a glimpse of your being.” 3
But as Osho explains:
“Modern psychology will not accept meditation because meditation will destroy its business. A man of meditation needs no psychoanalysis. The deeper his meditation goes, the saner he becomes and the further beyond the mind is his flight.
“Meditation is the greatest danger for psychoanalysis, for psychologists. They have to insist that there is nothing beyond the mind because if there is something beyond the mind, then their whole business can flop. The East has to assert itself, show that what they are doing is simply foolish.” 6
We are not holding our breaths that anyone will listen, but for the sake of a little sanity in an insane world, it is really time that science should step up to the plate and leave all this foolishness behind.
As Osho lays it out clearly:
“Science has to accept that it has been neglecting the most important part of existence: human consciousness. And once science starts moving into man’s interiority, religions will start disappearing on their own accord. They will become meaningless.
“When knowledge is available, who is going to believe?
When experience is available, who is going to read it in a Bible, in a Koran?
When you have food available to eat, I don’t think you will choose a book on cookery and read it. That you can do later on, or perhaps you may not need to do it.
“You have within you the secret key, and now it is science’s responsibility to help you to find the key.
“My religion is scientific. That’s why we don’t have any belief system. We have methods, just as science has methods. They explore objects by their methods; we explore our consciousness by our methods.
“Our methods are called meditations. They are absolutely scientific.” 7
To continue reading and see all available formats of these talks:
1. Osho, The Heartbeat of the Absolute, Talk #4 – Stillness Is a Living Wholeness
2. Osho, I Am That, Talk #16 – Emptiness Is Bliss, Bliss Is Emptiness
3. Osho, Come Follow to You, Vol. 3, Talk #2 – You Come with Trust, It Need Not Be Cultivated
4. Osho, Dancing in the Breeze, Talk #4 – Mind Is a Soul Disturbed, Soul Is a Mind Silenced
5. Osho, Take It Easy, Talk #12 – Out of Emptiness, Fullness Is Born
6. Osho, Beyond Enlightenment, Talk #24 – Eastern Psychology: The Science of the Soul
7. Osho, From Death to Deathlessness, Talk #20 – There Is a Bigger Universe Within You