5. Nothing going on, but no vacuity

It’s probably a fairly widespread experience, those annoying occasions when you sit there and re-read and re-read a paragraph because the meaning of the words just doesn’t sink in — your distracted mind is just so lost in thought. I watched Benny go through this one day, getting quite frustrated by it at first, but eventually (and thankfully) dropping the effort of trying to steer our focus back to the page.

It was a great relief. Now and then it’s good to get away from the clatter and noise of that nuisance mind, and this outside Benny, this Ben Yoskin, seems beset by crowded internal commenting all the time. Here, there, look at this, what’s that thing, I’d like to get one of those, will another coffee be too many — all those dumb thoughts always streaming along in a rambling babble all the time. Sometimes I wonder if he is more extreme in this than every other person out there.

Actually, you could say that Benny’s failure to absorb the message of those printed words was not due to being lost in thought, but from being lost in not-thought — which I intimately knew to be a promising state of mind. At that moment, on this day, his not paying attention to the here-there mind, his being beyond concern with meanings, also had a palpably physical outcome. He was sitting, but could not really feel that he was in any particular position. It may have been hot or cold, but there was no bodily sensation, or reaction, either way. He was just being there, no annoyances, no discomfort, no distractions — just being very comfortable, resting without really trying to be ‘at ease’. With no involvement with the mundane of the day-to-day, Benny also became aware that there was something really comfortable in not having to think.

This was not a vacuity, but rather an awareness that the thought process can just be dormant for a time, if one so chooses. This, he found, was really quite restful, and we felt quite at home (and yes, we wished that we had realised this earlier, and had been here already). There was no need to understand particular concepts, or take a certain viewpoint, or follow twisted paths of convoluted logic to arrive at some sort of self-justification. And even though there were distractions, demands on his attention, the usual bombardment of messages of all kinds, from all angles, sounds and visual goings on, and the physicality of the body — it all blended into an easy truce. Benny found that there was no need for a concocted attitude, or to coerce his focus through some situational recipe. There was certainly no requirement to be some kind of character or present a particular sort of person to the world.

The niggly concern was how to keep that comfortable and centred restfulness but still be able to walk around, interact, make sense to everyone else, and generally be able to return to an acceptable functionality. Still, I’d rather he didn’t worry about that right now… this was too nice.

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Chapter index and link to slogans