”Can you allow your mind to be quiet? Isn’t it difficult, because the mind seems to be like a monkey, jumping up and down and jabbering all the time. […] An enormous number of people devote their lives to keeping their minds busy, and feel extremely uncomfortable with silence.
When you’re alone, nobody is saying anything; there’s nothing to do. There’s this… this worry. This lack of distraction: ‘I’m left alone with myself, and I want to get away from myself, I’m always wanting to get away from myself, that’s why I go to the movies, that’s why I read mystery stories, that’s why I go after girls,’ or anything that you do or get drunk or whatever. ‘I don’t want to be with myself. I feel… queer.’ So, why do you want to run away from yourself? What’s so bad about it? Why do you want to forget this? Because you are addicted to thoughts. It’s a drug, a dangerous one.
Compulsive thinking, going on and on and on and on all the time. It’s a habit. So, there’s a difficulty about stopping that activity. And you really have to stop it if you want to be sane. Because if I talk all the time, I don’t hear what anyone else has to say, and I’ll end up in the situation of having nothing to talk about but my own talking. In exactly the same way: If I think all the time, I won’t have anything to think about except thoughts. So, in order to have something to think about, there are times when you simply must stop thinking.
Well, how do you do that? The first rule is: don’t try to. Because, if you do… you will be like someone trying to make rough water smooth with a flat iron. And all that will do is stir it up. So, in the same way as a muddy, turbulent pool quiets itself when left alone, you have to know how to leave your mind alone. It will quiet itself.”
– Alan Watts