Mind is not a thing. It is a process of minding, thinking. Its basic nature is to fragment the consciousness.
Mind is a like a crowd of politicians giving many self contradictory speeches at the same time. This crowd in the mind is not a fixed crowd but a changing crowd.
Thought is an acquired process. It is not our innate nature. That is why there are no thoughts in deep sleep state. Thoughts of belonging to a family, race, nationality, religion, profession, caste, creed, cult etc are just utilitarian in nature.
Mind is a byproduct of upbringing, conditioning, education, culture. Basically mind is an acquisition of habits and identifying with them and then think we are that stuff.
If mind is in a state of thinking, consciousness in it becomes opaque, non-transparent,
just like on a cloudy day, you cannot see the blue sky. When the clouds are not, you can see the sky. If we carefully observe we will come to know that when one thought passes and before another thought is yet to come there is an interval. That is the sky of consciousness.
In that interval, in that gap you can feel the natural state of our witnessing consciousness. But for many thoughts are so speedy that they cannot feel the gap between one thought and the another.
In Self-inquiry thought process is slowed down and we begin to feel the gaps. So in Self-inquiry there is a fight for our innate nature of witnessing consciousness against our mental habits. Self-inquiry helps us to put aside the mental habits. It helps us that which is natural to us, real “I’.
Thinking belongs to the mind and witnessing is our innate nature.
So we cannot do both simultaneously. Thinking must cease for the witnessing consciousness to be. Only through witnessing we reach the reality.
Self-inquiry cannot have a fixed path for investigation.It is just like driving a car in a busy city during rush hour and we have to find the gaps to drive the car. Similarly in Self-inquiry we have to be alert to find the gaps between thoughts and in the interval between when mind changes from one mode to another during transitional state. Only then “being” can happen through witnessing.
We cannot both sit and run with our legs at same time. Similarly we cannot think and witness at same time simultaneously.
That is the art of Self-inquiry. We don’t run after our thoughts but we sit safely in the source of being which is our Self.