My practice focuses on the fact that our actions do themselves, since they are only the placement/existence of a body in space in relation to other physical objects of interaction. That dynamic forms a sentence, a description, how we label things (“I am sitting on the couch watching television”). We naturally feel like our thoughts and ideas create our actions, cause them, as we intuitively sense that there is some force “I” in us that selects the various things we do. I understand this to be an illusion of mind, but that isn’t the aspect I will discuss today. Here is another funny trick our thoughts play on us that is tied up in the same misbelief.
If it were true that there is some power “I” that consciously chooses our actions, what we should do, and then somehow causes our body to move in those desired directions, activities, there is still something overlooked that reveals this assumption to be false. Thoughts can only surface in our mind, emerge spontaneously in our awareness. Even if they did consciously manipulate our body parts to do the things we want to do, there is no “we” that could ever cause the thoughts themselves to arise, appear. This is a deep feeling we have of agency, and even as embedded as I am in this work I still get tricked by its nonsense.
If it is true that via our conscious mental thought process we can make our body act for our self-purpose, how can we drum up, bring about the thoughts that would be in charge of this behavior? How, if thoughts only appear involuntarily (by themselves)? I find it utterly fascinating to sit with this query and feel how illogical is this presumption. Sit for a moment and watch how thoughts enter your mind, their actual presentation, and from where they come. From where do they come? It’s really no different than noticing the weather and questioning from where it comes. It’s a spontaneous physical occurrence, as is anything we observe. It is suddenly just apparent to our senses. Only afterward does it mentally register that we knew what it would be beforehand, and, therefore, were its causer/creator, which is why we innately assume we will know how to do this kind of thing the next time we want to figure out how to do something in our life.
I have touched upon this in other articles, but not from the angle of causing thoughts, only actions. So, again, just sit with how your thoughts come to you, and acknowledge that from your perspective, they come out of nowhere. Even if you believe a thought you had was caused by a prior thought, and “you” set all that in motion, where did the first one come from? Who is bringing them about to begin with? Can you make yourself have specific thoughts that could be responsible for generating certain actions you wish to procure? Look closely at what you call your mind to answer this question. This request is like Buddhist/Hindu teachers asking their students to look for the “I” or a meditation practice observing thoughts coming and going. But this contemplation is central to a very deep belief we have about ourself and others, that we can cause our own actions because we can manufacture our own thoughts that lead to/produce the behavior we want. I find it amazing to examine this issue only to discover that the whole belief system is based in make-believe.