“But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate…”(Albert Einstein).
"There is a Mystical Dimension which runs through all aspects of life. Eventually every human endeavor directly encounters an impenetrable Mystery, where knowledge turns into ignorance and control into wonder" (David Lane).
"Pure being has no qualities we can label" (Deepak Chopra).
"Even in ordinary life you feel the futility of words. And if you don't feel the futility of words, that shows... that you have lived very superficially" (Osho).
Beyond thought and language, beyond thinking, writing and speaking, is the non-thinkable, the unnamable, the unspeakable, the mystery. We may access it in silence, through dance, laughter, and other forms of meditation, spontaneously or through intensive meditative practice.
Limitations of Thinking and Language
Thinking and language are important for orientation and communication. But both are limited. Even healing thinking and its expression through language has limitations because it is still thinking, and thinking is always about something, it is not about that which is. How do we get from thinking about something to that which is? Imagine a sunset. You may think, write and talk a lot about it, how beautiful it is, how colourful it is, how peaceful it is, etc. or you may watch a sunset, become totally absorbed in it, dissolve in it, and be it. This is much more profound than just thinking, writing, and speaking about it, although thinking, writing, and speaking about it may be pleasant too. Another example: You may think, write, or speak about the ecstasy of an orgasm. Although pleasant and exciting, it is far from the actual experience of an orgasm. And yet another example: You may think of what you have read about mystical experience, how in a mystical experience we can transcend thought and language and become one with the universe. However, such a thought and its verbal expression is only a very pale reflection of the actual experience. Any thought and its linguistic expression is only a very pale reflection of experience. Hence, the challenge is to move from thinking, writing, and speaking to experiencing, from thinking, writing, and talking about Being to Being.
Transcendence of Thinking and Language
There are many ways to transcend thought and language. For example, if I become fully aware of my breathing, I am just breathing, I am no longer just thinking about it. Breathing in, I breathe in life, I breathe in the universe; breathing out, I let go into the universe, I die to myself; and in the little gaps between the inhalation and the exhalation and the exhalation and the inhalation, I am beyond time. Thus, in a simple breathing cycle, I can experience life, death, and eternity (which is not endless time but beyond time). Of course, I don’t think of all that while breathing, I experience all that. What I have just written about breathing is an afterthought, a conceptualization of my experience. To communicate this experience, I have to resort to thinking and language. The danger is that the linguistic formulation is mistaken for what is actually happening. There is always infinitely more than what can be said about anything.
Although breathing can be a beautiful door into the unnamable, thoughts tend to come in uninvited. And the more we want to keep them away, the more they come in. In Vipassana meditation we observe in a detached way how thoughts arise and disappear. As we learn to become more detached, more and more gaps appear between the thoughts, and eventually the gaps of thoughtless existence become longer. However, the purpose of Vipassana is not necessarily to transcend thinking, although this may happen; the purpose is to become the detached witness that observes whatever arises.
According to Osho, laughing, dancing and singing are the easiest doors to what in Zen is called no-mind, which is the transcendence of the thinking mind (Rajneesh 1984, p. 109-112). If one gets totally into laughing, laughing is the quickest way to transcend the thinking mind. One cannot totally laugh and think at the same time. Total laughter stops the thinking mind immediately. It is an instant vacation from the thinking mind. (see also Laughter Yoga).
There are many other ways of meditation that allow us to transcend thinking (see, for example, Osho 1998, 2004). However, regular practice is required. Occasionally, transcendence of thinking also happens spontaneously. But for most people such episodes are short-lived and beyond their control. When they want to turn off the thinking mind because they don’t need it or don't want it, they are unable to do it. Thus, most of us have become slaves of the thinking mind and as a result our lives have become greatly impoverished. For this reason there is increased interest in a variety of relaxation methods and meditation.
Thought and language, although useful for orientation and communication, provide only limited understanding of Being. Thus, even healing thinking has limitations, although, contrary to our common Aristotelian logic, healing thinking can at least point beyond mere thinking toward the unnamable mystery of Being. Experiencing or being the unnamable mystery may happen spontaneously or through relaxation and meditation. Besides dancing and singing, laughing appears to be a quick way to go beyond thinking.
Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shree (Osho). 1984. The Book. Series II from I to Q. Rajneesh Foundation International.
Osho. 1998. The Book of Secrets. 112 Meditatons to discover the Mystery Within. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
Osho. 2004. Meditation. The First and Last Freedom. A Practical guide to Meditation. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
Latest update on February 15, 2020.
Continue with Chapter 7 on AQAL Map by Ken Wilber Integrates the Unnamable and Namable, or return to Table of Contents of this book ms on Healing Thinking and Being.