People say, identifying with your thoughts is the problem. But what does that really mean? When I think, it’s not that there is thought out there that’s different from me. I am that thought.
Here is a beautiful story (by Osho from From Unconsciousness to Consciousness, Talk #19) that I came across that illustrate what this means beautifully. He talks on what it means to be to a ‘watcher’ than to be identified with thoughts
A man who has gone out of his town comes back and finds that his house is on fire. It was one of the most beautiful houses in the town, and the man loved the house. Many people were ready to give double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price, and now it is just burning before his eyes. And thousands of people have gathered, but nothing can be done.
The fire has spread so far that even if you try to put it out, nothing will be saved. So he becomes very sad. His son comes running, and whispers something in his ear: “Don’t be worried. I sold it yesterday, and at a very good price three times…. The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me.”
But the father said, “Good, if you have sold it for three times more than the original price of the house.” Then the father is also a watcher, with other watchers. Just a moment before he was not a watcher, he was identified. It is the same house, the same fire, everything is the same , but now he is not concerned. He is enjoying it just as everybody else is enjoying.
Then the second son comes running, and he says to the father, “What are you doing? You are smiling and the house is on fire?”
The father said, “Don’t you know, your brother has sold it.”
He said, “He had talked about selling it, but nothing has been settled yet, and the man is not going to purchase it now.” Again, everything changes. Tears which had disappeared, have come back to the father’s eyes, his smile is no more there, his heart is beating fast. But the watcher is gone. He is again identified.
And then the third son comes, and he says, “That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether the house is burned or not, it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.'” Again the father is a watcher. The identity is no more there. Actually nothing is changing; just the idea that “I am the owner, I am identified somehow with the house,” makes the whole difference. The next moment he feels, “I am not identified. Somebody else has purchased it, I have nothing to do with it; let the house burn.”