Thoughts crowd in. It's as if we can never escape from them. They are our constant companions, oftentimes our inescapable tormentors. Even as we sleep we are thinking for the brain has its processing work to do - work that will sometimes linger as half-remembered dreams that slip away as each new day begins. If all of the thoughts you have ever had were linked together like a Christmas paper chain, it would reach beyond the furthest edge of our universe.
Sometimes our private thoughts appear to retreat. When we are totally immersed in an entertainment. When were are enjoying a good book. When we are blind drunk or under the influence of recreational drugs. When we are playing sport with enthusiasm. When we are in the throes of passion - what the French call "le petit mort". The little death when thoughts disappear as in "le grand mort" - the big death that lasts forever.
But most of the time our thoughts are like the parrot that sits permanently on the pirate's shoulder, squawking away incessantly. "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!" Sometimes I'd like to grab that damned parrot and throttle it - "Leave me be! Give me some space you overgrown budgie!"
Our thoughts seem to switch fluidly from remembering distant events to very recent events. We speculate about the future. We make plans. We review what we have said or done. We review what other human beings have said or done. We consider world events. We worry about friends and families. Random images and scenes flash upon the screens in our minds and snatches of conversations seem to echo in the hallways. We fantasise. We laugh inwardly at absurdities and smile in recollection of the good things that have happened. On and on. So much thinking.
Yes. Thoughts crowd in upon us. Perhaps true Buddhist monks have got it right. In quiet meditation, washing away all private thought. Finding serenity. Seeking oneness with Nature. No longer beholden to these endless thoughts. Now excuse me while I go out to find some saffron robes and get my head shaved. But I won't be able to sit cross legged for hours like this fellow...