“You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.”
Morpheus to Neo in the Matrix.
What’s felt is the difference between what you think (conceive) and what you perceive directly through your senses. Access to perceived reality improves when conceptual thought is minimal. The stress caused by the misinterpretation of reality, which originates from language’s use of concepts, diminishes the more one pays attention. Attention and thought are incompatible with one another. Consider that paying attention is the active ingredient in all mindfulness practices.
Many come to mindfulness attention practices because of the stress of having too many intrusive thoughts. None need to have “bad” content to cause problems but ones that do are all the more onerous. All can be bothersome simply by being too many, intense, distracting, or unruly. Attention strengthening practices help minimize all problems related to intrusive thought and improper conceptualization, like stress, low performance, depression, anxiety, bad judgment, meager empathy, and poor reality testing. Enlightenment, the understanding of and ability to live in the world as it is, as perceived before the effects of language have had their distortive influence, comes with practice.
Language is pervasive, useful, and yet flawed. Two main faults lie in its overly rigid categorizations and inability to describe anything as specific and unique. For example, where’s the beginning and ending of the color of the racial group called “white?” Also, a person or lamp or red color cannot be described other than by categorization. Yet, each is unique and specific, not a category. Continual attentiveness combats the misuse of rational, conceptual thought and the problems caused by it.
Humans process percepts as units of information as well as concepts. Braking a car to a stop does not use “thinking.” No one becomes stupid when not engaged in thought. But, when thought cannot be put down, the negative effects of stress, low performance, depression, anxiety, bad judgment, meager empathy, and poor reality testing all increase. When attentive power has been developed through mindfulness practice, mental clarity prevails and thought can be set aside enough to minimize these problems.