On a daily basis, I become more acutely aware of thought as separate from self. In fact, a mentor recently suggested, as Rumi did, that I should treat my influx of thoughts as guests in a guest house.
We can’t “turn off” our minds, for in doing so, we are in struggle. But, if you look at your thoughts as transient guests that come and go, you see them as separate from the house, the self. Sometimes there are writing works or poems that so completely capture the human element that you take them with you wherever you go. No poet better describes the concept of guest house than Rumi.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— The Guest House, Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
Set out some towels for your guests, and acknowledge them as separate but vital elements of your being.
– Your Charmed Yogi