Are you a Thinker or a ‘Thoughter’? A thinker generates ideas through conscious contemplation. He has a certain amount of control over his thought process. But the mind of a thoughter is driven by whatever thought it receives, more or less subconsciously. He is more or less identified with his thoughts and not even aware of the thoughts which drive him. He is a helpless slave of his thoughts.
However, looking at it from a yogic perspective, there is not much difference between a thinker and a thoughter. A thinker may have a little bit of more conscious control over his thoughts than a thoughter. But he is also driven by his thoughts (maybe a little less totally or unconsciously), but still most of the time he is driven by his thoughts. To become a truly free thinker, we must acquire the ability to watch the movements of our thoughts with an inner detachment, admit the thoughts we want to have and dismiss others we don’t want to keep. In Indian yoga, this state of consciousness is called the ‘witness-self’, which can watch all the movements of our inner being—thoughts, feelings and sensations—as an aloof, detached and uninvolved witness without identifying with them. This witness is able to not only watch and understand but also has within it a power of control, to admit, accept or reject the thoughts or feelings rising within its field of awareness. When we pursue this discipline towards its deepest and highest point, we may attain a state of identity with our mental witness-self, also called Manomaya Purusha in the Vedantic thought. When we are able to attain this state of identification with the mental ‘Purusha’, we have reached the first stage of mastery over our mind.
But even this may not give a perfect mastery over our mind. To reach this higher perfection we have to progress deeper and further beyond mental Purusha and come into direct inner contact or union with our spiritual self beyond mind.
M. S. Srinivasan