Bankei replied, “If you try to stop arising thoughts, the stopping mind and the stopped mind become split in two and you never have any peace of mind. Just trust that thoughts are originally nonexistent but temporarily arise and cease, conditioned by what is seen and heard, and have no real substance.”
He is saying that every meditator comes to this point: he has known a small space of thoughtlessness, so the natural conclusion seems to be that if he can stop the thought process, then he will have that open sky again. But with what are you going to stop the thought process? Even this idea of stopping the thought process is of the mind. So your mind becomes split in two: the stopper and the stopped.
Now you will never have any peace. Your own mind is continuously in struggle: one part is trying to stop it, another part is revolting against stopping. And remember, the part that is trying to stop it is very new and the part that you are trying to stop is very ancient. In this struggle, in this wrestling, you are not going to win. Your defeat can be said to be absolutely certain.
Many people have started meditation and then they stopped because finally they see this and say, “What is the point of having one simple glimpse of joy? It makes life even more terrible in comparison.” If a blind man for one second sees the light and becomes blind again, now his blindness will be intolerable. Now he knows there is light, and he is unable to see it because he has gone blind again.
A meditator has to remember not to struggle with the thoughts. If you want to win, don’t fight. That is a simple rule of thumb. If you want to win, simply don’t fight. The thoughts will be coming as usual. You just watch, hiding behind your blanket; let them come and go. Just don’t get involved with them.
The whole question is of not getting involved in any way – appreciation or condemnation, any judgment, bad or good. Don’t say anything, just remain absolutely aloof and allow the mind to move in its routine way. If you can manage…and this has been managed by thousands of buddhas, so there is not a problem. And when I say this can be managed, I am saying it on my own authority. I don’t have any other authority.
I have fought and have tortured myself with fighting and I have known the whole split that creates a constant misery and tension. Finally seeing the point that victory is impossible, I simply dropped out of the fight. I allowed the thoughts to move as they want; I am no longer interested.
And this is a miracle, that if you are not interested, thoughts start coming less. When you are utterly uninterested, they stop coming. And a state of no-thought, without any fight, is the greatest peace one has ever known. This is what we are calling the empty heart of the buddha.