To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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acinteyyo
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:49 pm

SDC wrote:The voice is a verbal representation of mental images which are interpretations of circumstances and thoughts on how to proceed regarding those circumstances. This is the case whether the interpretation be something in the immediate present right in front of you, memories of the past, or speculation about the future. For me this voice can only be trusted when it is in line with the dhamma however due to the nature of my common thinking that is not always the case. It is dynamic, flows with emotional state so it is easily corrupted and cannot be trusted as an end all be all of reason and goodness (accept for the arahant of course). When I am excited for whatever reason the voice is looking to take action to eliminate that excitement and this could mean doing something bad; but if I take the time to think and reason out the voice becomes more and more calm and reasonable and more in line with the dhamma.

Hope this was helpful.

Good question. :smile:

EDIT - Sarcasm/rudeness that seemed funny 10 minutes ago.
Thank you, good answer.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:53 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Well if you're talking about a voice INSIDE your head, that could just be random thoughts or it could be your conscience talking, it would probably be a good idea to follow your conscience, but not before first testing it to see if its rational, for instance if your about to steal an apple and you here a voice saying "don't do that" that would probably be a good voice to listen to. On the other hand even your conscience might not be right all the time, or it might not be your conscience but just a 'voice' so use common sense.
As a person that used to hear voices that seemed to come from Outside my head, like God, Buddha, Tibetan deities etc, ...
Thanks for your opinion. I think I'm quite sure about "voices in my head". But I want to ask you another question. On what do you base your distinction of INSIDE and OUTSIDE voice?
Last edited by acinteyyo on Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by fivebells » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:40 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
Do you verbalise thought?
Some thoughts are verbal, some are visual, some are physical or emotional. The ones with a clear origin in skillful causes and conditions are the ones to trust. If there is any doubt, the causes and conditions can be analysed in terms of dependent origination, when the mind is stable enough.

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Kamran
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by Kamran » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:48 pm

Thanissaro Bikhu has many talks on this subject.

A quick google search found this one, The Committee of the Mind:
There are many different ideas of “you” in your mind, each with its own agenda. Each of these “yous” is a members of the committee of the mind. This is why the mind is less like a single mind and more like an unruly throng of people: lots of different voices, with lots of different opinions about what you should do.

One of the purposes of meditation is to bring these dealings out into the open, so that you can bring more order to the committee
http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=953
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Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:11 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
binocular wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
Seconded.
Do you verbalise thought?
Sure. But as some others posters have mentioned, I too, tend to think of the mind as a committee - a lot of voices, and none of them in particular as solely mine, or my voice as opposed to foreign voices. Thanissaro Bhikkhu often speaks of thinking of the mind this way.
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:12 pm

fivebells wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
Do you verbalise thought?
Some thoughts are verbal, some are visual, some are physical or emotional. The ones with a clear origin in skillful causes and conditions are the ones to trust. If there is any doubt, the causes and conditions can be analysed in terms of dependent origination, when the mind is stable enough.
So, do you notice verbal thoughts?
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:33 pm

binocular wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:Do you verbalise thought?
Sure.
How do you handle it? Do you listen to its content? If yes, to what extent do you listen to its content and why. If no, why don't you listen to its content?
binocular wrote:But as some others posters have mentioned, I too, tend to think of the mind as a committee - a lot of voices, and none of them in particular as solely mine, or my voice as opposed to foreign voices. Thanissaro Bhikkhu often speaks of thinking of the mind this way.
Have you and maybe also some other posters noticed that I never mentioned "your voice"? I didn't ask whether you consider the voice within yours. But now that you mentioned it are you sure you don't consider verbalized thought nor any content of verbalized thought yours? Think about it and don't listen to yourself credulously.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Last edited by acinteyyo on Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:36 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
Arguably the purpose of practice is to make the voice more coherent.
I would disagree with that partly.
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:56 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
Arguably the purpose of practice is to make the voice more coherent.
The suttas often speak of "unifying the mind."

acinteyyo wrote:you probably know "the voice in your head" (for lack of a better term). To what extent can you trust that voice? Which purpose does it serve? What do you guys think about it in general with respect to anattā?
I think the things and stories told by "the voice within" if not observed and recognized carefully and mindfully are a main hindrance to understanding;
In one sense, since what goes on in the mind is also action, I think that the mind, the thinking can be thought of in a similar manner as we otherwise think of physical actions.
Just as one can physically walk into quicksand or off a cliff, or into an oasis, so one can engage in lines of thought that end badly, or well. There are lines of thinking that have a similar effect as walking into a pool of quicksand, for example - one is stuck, and the more one tries to get out, the more one sinks in. Or lines of thought that are like boarding a plane or train: once one boards it and it takes off/starts driving, one is stuck on it, and has to wait until it lands/stops.

To what extent can you trust that voice?
Trust that voice for what purpose?

Which purpose does it serve?
It's a verbalization of thought processes; once verbalized, it's easier for many people to make sense of them and use them.

What do you guys think about it in general with respect to anattā?
That voice is not the self. But since we ordinarily tend to think of it as one voice, it's easy to identify with it, thinking that it is "my voice".
There is also a popular warning against "talking to yourself" and that only mentally ill people do that, or that having more than one voice in one's head is a sign of schizophrenia.

I think the things and stories told by "the voice within" if not observed and recognized carefully and mindfully are a main hindrance to understanding;
I tink that much like one can move furniture around in a room, bring in new or discard old etc., so one can do with thoughts. Although in general in Western culture, we aren't used to think of the mind this way. There are some new approaches on psychotheraphy that do propose this, but IMO, they lack the connection to and contextualization with a bigger picture that Buddhism provides, but psychotheraphy lacks (because it has to be religiously and spiritually neutral).
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:57 pm

acinteyyo wrote:I didn't ask the questions in order to gain something for myself in the first place.
So you are trying to give us a lecture?
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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by IanAnd » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:00 pm

acinteyyo wrote:
IanAnd wrote:But the way you word the question adds another dimension to the mix. You ask, prudently yet almost stealthily, "to what extent. . ." To which one can only reply, "To the extent that one knows oneself and the world he lives in."
I have chosen every word and the phrasing of the questions for a particular reason. Would you please be so kind to elaborate on your understanding of "knows" in your answer? Which I find very well phrased btw.
I tend to take a very practical, pragmatic view of things in relation to this physical body and its relationship to a physical world. The word "knows" is meant in the conventional sense. In the same way that one can look at one's hand and KNOW that one has five fingers! There is no mental or physical doubt in such an observation. It is viewed as a matter of indisputable fact. The same would apply to objects (or subjects) within the mental sphere. For instance, if I have taken as the subject of observation the study of the law, I have made the subject of law the object of my observation and mental evaluation. See? (This has nothing to do with the question you asked; it's only a clarification of the terms "subject" and "object" and how I meant their use.)
acinteyyo wrote:
IanAnd wrote:From my own perspective and considerable experience, trusting in voices can be a double edged sword, sometimes with pleasant outcomes and other times not so pleasant. How much discernment does one have to be able to confirm one way or the other the validity of the intuitional inspiration? I suppose it all depends upon who the viewer is and what objective is being anticipated, to the extent that an objective is being anticipated. Is the viewer grasping at anticipations, or is he letting come what may and being content with that.
I looked for a better term as I've used in my initial post. Maybe "voices" alone is to vague. I also mean "verbalized thought", a special kind of discursive thinking.
Ah. Now you've clarified your intent even further, and exposed a possible misunderstanding of your intended thought. A "verbalized thought" is not the same (in my way of perceiving what you meant to say) as "the voice in your head." The latter term, without further clarification, seems (to me, at least) to suggest an unsought communication occurring in the mind (such as an intuition or, more darkly, a perceived "other" speaking to one in the form of a thought placed in the mind, kind of in the same realm as someone having heard "voices in their head" and perceiving it as having some special significance, perhaps alluding to a deluded state of mind). Without further clarification, I took you to mean asking about an unsolicited "voice in your head." Shame on you for not being clearer in your intention. You can see how this might influence the way in which one may reply to your question.

This puts

"To what extent can you trust that voice? Which purpose does it serve? What do you guys think about it in general with respect to anattā?"

in a whole different light.

You seem to be attempting to learn if people here equate "the voice in your head" with a substantial "self." This is where my participation in your little experiment ends. Good luck with that.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:43 pm

binocular wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:I didn't ask the questions in order to gain something for myself in the first place.
So you are trying to give us a lecture?
No. As I already said:
acinteyyo wrote:I wanted to establish a base for discussion on this matter with this particular thread.

But maybe someone is giving me a lecture where I benefit from or maybe someone benefits from things I said. You'll never know if you don't ask...

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:14 pm

IanAnd wrote:I tend to take a very practical, pragmatic view of things in relation to this physical body and its relationship to a physical world. The word "knows" is meant in the conventional sense. In the same way that one can look at one's hand and KNOW that one has five fingers! There is no mental or physical doubt in such an observation. It is viewed as a matter of indisputable fact. The same would apply to objects (or subjects) within the mental sphere. For instance, if I have taken as the subject of observation the study of the law, I have made the subject of law the object of my observation and mental evaluation. See? (This has nothing to do with the question you asked; it's only a clarification of the terms "subject" and "object" and how I meant their use.)
Thanks. I assumed you meant it that way.
IanAnd wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:I looked for a better term as I've used in my initial post. Maybe "voices" alone is to vague. I also mean "verbalized thought", a special kind of discursive thinking.
Ah. Now you've clarified your intent even further, and exposed a possible misunderstanding of your intended thought. A "verbalized thought" is not the same (in my way of perceiving what you meant to say) as "the voice in your head." The latter term, without further clarification, seems (to me, at least) to suggest an unsought communication occurring in the mind (such as an intuition or, more darkly, a perceived "other" speaking to one in the form of a thought placed in the mind, kind of in the same realm as someone having heard "voices in their head" and perceiving it as having some special significance, perhaps alluding to a deluded state of mind). Without further clarification, I took you to mean asking about an unsolicited "voice in your head." Shame on you for not being clearer in your intention. You can see how this might influence the way in which one may reply to your question.
:lol: As you probably know english isn't my native-language. I try to be as precise as I can but there will always be a lack of a better term :D
IanAnd wrote:You seem to be attempting to learn if people here equate "the voice in your head" with a substantial "self." This is where my participation in your little experiment ends. Good luck with that.
Actually I'm not so much interested whether people here equate "the voice in your head" with a substantial "self" or not but it wouldn't be true if I'd say it is of no importance at all. I'm also interested in how others see it and how they regard these thoughts. I'm also trying to compare the experience of others with my own experience, similarities, differences... Finally I'll be happy with wherever this thread is going to go.

There is now another thing I want to add. I noticed that what I actually do (physically as well as mentally) and what I want or don't want to do according to the different verbalized thoughts I observe has very little in common. It seems that thought doesn't really lead to action but rather it is just an explanation or some kind of illustration of what happens. Like mere reflection of phenomena with little influence on what happens but huge influence on what is perceived as "what happens".

I'm also interested what you guys think about that.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by acinteyyo » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:48 pm

binocular wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
fivebells wrote:Which voice in the head? There is no one coherent voice.
Arguably the purpose of practice is to make the voice more coherent.
The suttas often speak of "unifying the mind."
I agree with "unifying the mind" but I don't think it means "unifying the content of the mind".
binocular wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:To what extent can you trust that voice?
Trust that voice for what purpose?
For example, sometimes I realize the thought "I could eat something" then I notice that I'm reaching for some fruits and eat them.
What kind of role plays the thought here?
binocular wrote:
Which purpose does it serve?
It's a verbalization of thought processes; once verbalized, it's easier for many people to make sense of them and use them.
Don't you need to have some kind of confidence or trust in the verbalization of a thought process to be able to use it?
binocular wrote:
What do you guys think about it in general with respect to anattā?
That voice is not the self. But since we ordinarily tend to think of it as one voice, it's easy to identify with it, thinking that it is "my voice".
There is also a popular warning against "talking to yourself" and that only mentally ill people do that, or that having more than one voice in one's head is a sign of schizophrenia.
There are times when I'm talking a lot to myself. For example even while I'm writing this sentence and the whole answer to your post up to this point I'm mentally speaking what I am writing down. Actually I'm not able to read anything and in the same time understand it without saying it mentally.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: To what extent can you trust the voice within?

Post by reflection » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:56 pm

If I'm mindful I can see every thought is created by some underlying reason. The thought can tell you something about this underlying reason, but it is better to see it directly. So I choose to trust the mindfulness, and not to trust the thoughts. By not putting value into thoughts, the mind also becomes much more still and at ease, which in term makes mindfulness easier. My most valuable experiences on the path were when the mind was still like this.

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