Living and thinking. One is in the present, the other in the mind. Why both matter.
Thinking and living run on parallel tracks. The former is dictated by the mind, while the latter aligns with the present moment. Thinking relates to the past or the future and is an individual undertaking. Living is a collective endeavor involving a symbiotic relationship with nature. Thinking can be done in isolation, goes deep into the mind, and the ego can flourish if care is not taken. Living functions through the heart, it is not a solitary pursuit, and through it, the walls of individuality come down.
Thinking makes us the wave, and living in awareness makes us the ocean.
Thinking requires concentration, while living involves relaxation. Both are essential for a balanced life. Proper thinking can help bring about a positive change in the world, adding to the collective body of knowledge. Such lasting contributions may involve suffering and sacrifice on the part of an individual, but ultimately it is worth the effort, as it is for the benefit of many. Living in the present can become a form of giving back when the mind which always asks for more, is replaced with a sense of wonder and gratitude.
Fulfilling desires that crop up in the mind is an inefficient way of generating happiness. Living in constant wonder at the magnificence of existence fills us with joy with little or no individual effort.
Both thinking and living require awareness. In thinking, awareness is confined and one-pointed on the subject of interest. There is a goal towards which all mental energies are directed. In living, awareness is freer, bypassing the mind; there is no attachment to thoughts of the past or the future. Everything begins and ends in the moment. In sleep, when awareness departs, thinking and living merge into one, only to separate upon waking up.
When the effort is on holding onto awareness, thinking, and living find their harmonious balance based on each individual's natural inclinations and talents.
Living involves acceptance of everything as is, wherein there is unattached witnessing, and being in the natural and harmonious flow of existence. Living is a moment to moment phenomena for the body. Each moment lived wholly and completely makes that moment eternal. Thinking interrupts acceptance of everything as is, dividing up any given moment into segments which are isolated from one another. Both thinking and living are essential for a balanced life. In thinking there is direct interaction with thoughts which offer a sense of adventure, creativity, and the ability to be uniquely different. Living in the moment is accomplished through witnessing and involves receptivity, calmness, centeredness, and merger with the rest of existence. Witnessing involves the whole being, unlike thinking, which is predominantly mind oriented.
In thinking, awareness is camouflaged by the contents of the mind, while living in the present helps awareness rise to a purer state.
Thinking involves the accumulation of knowledge. Living and witnessing do not require any prior knowledge, which becomes a hurdle. Thinking requires a focal point. The ego assumes that role. Thinking strengthens the ego while witnessing weakens the support to the ego. The mind is very insecure about its position. As long as there is dependence on the imaginary center of the ego, the mind is very secure. It uses the ego as the root to tap into the energy of deeper awareness. Just as the filamentous conduits in the trunk of a tree that draw up water from underground sources to the leaves are invisible, the pathways through which energy enters the mind and is transformed into thoughts are not perceptible.
The mind turns energy it draws from the depths of the being into thoughts and ideas. The roots of a plant may taste bitter and may be inedible, but its fruits may be sweet and delicious. However, the roots are relatively permanent while the fruits are temporary. Once they fall off the tree or are plucked, they begin to decay. Similarly, thoughts may seem very appealing and comfortably within reach, but once we 'pluck them' through identification and declare ownership, they start to decay. Thinking involves using energy in the form of thoughts and rearranging their contents. It is a second-hand process. In pure witnessing, there isn't any expenditure of energy to rearrange the contents of the mind.
Awareness may shrink through one-sided thinking, but it grows through living and witnessing all aspects of life.
The first step towards maximizing individual potential is uncovering hidden talents which may lie under the surface of the mind. Blind thinking cannot help bring them to the surface; neither can the joy of living in the moment. But when awareness goes deep under the surface of the mind, it brings up latent energies which may manifest as unique abilities. Geologists drill and obtain core samples to study the mineral distribution underground before proceeding to undertake a large scale drilling operation. Similarly, awareness functions to provide a 'core sample' of the hidden wealth of talent. Once this is identified, the energy of thinking can be channeled to bring those innate abilities to the surface of the mind.
The distribution of mineral wealth is not uniform, some regions of the world have high concentrations of one type of mineral, and other areas may be blessed with different kinds of mineral deposits, but ultimately once these minerals are processed, millions benefit directly or indirectly. Similarly, each is blessed with a unique talent, and the individual talents of one person can benefit millions. Great inventors, such as Edison whose inventions continue to add to the progress of humankind even today, are a good example.
When awareness dives deeply into the mind, it may help bring up latent energies that manifest as unique abilities.
Thinking and living are like pen and paper. The paper does not change, but how the ink flows onto the paper determines what is written. The ink of thought is funneled into the world through concentration. Whether deeds are good or bad, both need some degree of concentration, which implies effort. When awareness is maintained, it becomes easy to identify beforehand if the outcome is likely to be beneficial or harmful.
As an unwritten rule, living in awareness takes us toward correct thoughts and actions.
The world does not change on us unannounced. We impose change on the world, for the better or the worse through how we think and live. The track of the mind is well traversed and consequently well maintained. Awareness is allowed to flow into the mind with little or no friction. The path of living with the present is rarely used. The overgrowth of the mind spills into it, making it difficult to traverse even though it may be straight and narrow. Humans want both the adventures and thrills of the mind, along with peace and happiness, which is the natural consequence of keeping awareness in the present.
Keeping part-time awareness in the present, we cannot expect full-time happiness.
As long as living and thinking don't intersect, we feel separate from the rest, and there is a struggle for happiness. When we grow in awareness and start living through it, thinking will become a useful accessory, and the merger of thinking and living will bring lasting happiness. The correct sequence of effort is awareness, following by living in the present and finally directing the power to think in the right direction.