Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Remember: you can't forget.

Another knot for the mind:

In trying not to get lost in thought or day-dreams we create a frustration born of an enforced duality. Sitting in meditation we attempt to remain as a mere witness, passive yet detached, but this apparently 'more spiritual' state/experience is unfortunately lost every time we become unintentionally absorbed in thought/thinking. This absorption happens so easily and naturally that we cannot see it happen. Only afterwards when the thought has passed do we realise that we were absorbed in thinking and our detached witness state, lost.

Being lost in thought is the meditators bete-noir.

But what is actually happening here? What does it mean to be 'lost in thought'?

It seems obvious that in trying to maintain a detached witness state we are in fact enforcing a dualism onto experience. Actually becoming absorbed in thought and loosing that dichotomy between subject (witness) and thought (object) we are effortlessly lost in a real unity where the observing and separate I is 'lost' in thinking. The I becomes merged with thought. Subject and object flow effortlessly into one.

Thinking itself seems to happen spontaneously and yet so does the apparent act of 'seeing' or 'witnessing' a thought, and the act of being 'lost in thought'. One minute you are contemplating a thought/memory, the next you are 'lost' in a day-dream. This all seems to happen quite naturally and easily.

In attempting to maintain the witness state through practice we try to control our thinking as (we have been told), thoughts distract us and we loose ourselves in the realm of illusion. And yet the idea that the witness state is better than thought/thinking also lies within the realms of illusion.

What is thought but awareness/consciousness appearing as a fleeting mental form or ephemera. Thoughts themselves are awareness, just as the witness state is. Absorption in thought and forgetting the witness state - day-dreaming - is awareness too.

Now, how can awareness loose awareness? If both witness and thought are awareness appearing as witness and thought, then there can be no such thing as 'forgetting'.

The important point is that there is in fact no-one who can 'forget' the witness or become 'absorbed' in thought. The whole process is happening without reference to an 'I'. Only a separate individual could loose its awareness and become 'lost in thought', which is experienced as 'other', separate and troublesome: a distraction from the pure empty witness we have read so much about.

Only a separate 'I' can try to maintain this lofty witness state and it therefore takes on certain 'spiritual' practices and rituals/repetitions in order to do so.

The illusion of an 'I' attempts to extinguish the illusion of separate thoughts which block the experience of the true unpolluted witness. Take away the notion of an 'I' and all we have is awareness: awareness watching itself (as apparent subject and object)and awareness 'forgetting' itself by absorption into itself. There is only 'remembering' and 'forgetting' to an apparent individual. Really, there is no individual and therefore no-one who can control the movement of awareness and the forms it takes.

Awareness is easy. It is natural, effortless and spontaneous knowing. It is what you are. But whenever you 'remember' that you are apparently an individual separate ego you believe in your fragmentation and therefore experience a fragmented version of reality which is always pure, deep and whole.


benjamin said...

Nicely put :)
There is this verse of the Bhagavadgītā which goes:
prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
ahaṃkāravimūḍhātmā kartāham iti manyate 3.27

It says: "all deeds are done by the forces of Nature, he whose self is confused with the idea of self-appropriation think he is the actor."

But then what is this longing we feel to be with the Source permanently? And are those 'teachers' which tell they are permanently detached or permanently 'no-one' never engrossed in thoughts or action? If the continuous awareness of the All in all things isn't possible, what is the longing calling for?
And if the next morning, when waking up, memory leads summons self-identification rather than realisation of the self-as-awareness, then this 'awakening' is completely dependent on the forces of Nature.
Everything is depending on Nature, even the so-called 'realisation'. Then, what is left to the Self?

Mike said...

Hi Ben!

I think the quotation you have used is perfect. It also points out the mystery that if all is nature with no individual actor, then how (and why) does one body-mind 'wake-up' and another doesn't.

As there is only nature then I feel anything we appear to do to move towards 'source' is again only ever nature naturing, and although we may claim such actions, they are never ours.

This mystery reminds me of a phrase from the katha upanishad which says 'To his chosen Atman reveals his glory'. God chooses you, you cannot choose God.

The other thing you mention is teachers being engrossed in thought and action. Well, there is no reason why they shouldn't be, but I think the more you realise that this is it, right here right now, then the habit of putting all your energy into your mind, into thinking, slowly dies down.

Its the minds purpose to keep its job as the centre of attention, and the way it does this existentially is by asking unanswerable questions. Once you begin to rest in this, then your attention moves away from being hypnotised by thinking and moves into the general experience of being, which is already oneness, but through the lens of the mind you have habitually seen it as two-ness.

So there's no problem with thinking but its emphasis and importance dies down, and then space opens up where being flowers where only dry thoughts were before.

This may take time I suppose, for myself, the habit of interpreting myself as an individual is still there, but now the falsity of that concept has been exposed, what seems more incredible is that being was able to deny all the evidence for so long, and clung (unthinkingly) to the notion of being a limited individual person.