Thinking is what I’m thinking about. I think I have some understanding of consciousness taking the shape of sensing and perceiving but thinking is more elusive. Thinking is what I’m doing to try to understand consciousness taking the shape of thinking. Thinking is as much a part of the ‘illusion’ as sensing and perceiving. However, thinking is the only avenue I have to investigate yet the very act of investigating is dependent on a component of the illusion to comprehend the illusion. This entity that I feel myself to be is ‘constructed’ by the perceiving of a world, the sensing of a body and the thinking that names it all.

Metaphorically, I’m in a dream dreaming and all parts of the experience I’m having are an aspect of the dream including the thinking that ‘I’ appear to do within the dream. The thinking is part of the dream too. Within the dream, of which consciousness is the only substance, it’s taking the shape of thinking realizing this is all a dream.

I end up questioning whether or not ‘I’ can trust what thinking is thinking. How can any conclusion, any understanding I reach through thinking, itself an object, be any truer than any other object that appears in my experience? I’m confused (another thought) as to how thinking is identical to sensing and perceiving in that it is the shape consciousness is taking as this experiencing yet it is also the tool to lead me to clear seeing of the illusion consciousness is creating.

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But where am I the midst of all of this? Without any question whatsoever I am present. Where and what I am are far less certain.

Yesterday listening to a talk by Spira I finally saw clearly that any sensation I experience of my body and then name is always based on memory. If I rub my thumb and index fingers together with me eyes closed and experience the sensation nothing about that sensation indicates that it’s two fingers except the memory I have that tells me it’s two fingers. The sensation by itself contains no such information as a direct experience minus the reference to memory. This is astonishing to realize that what I take to be self evident isn’t. How much of this entire experience I perceive as my life is exactly the same? Some of it, most of it, all of it? I think I’m beginning to see what exactly is meant by direct seeing.

So here I appear to be in the midst of an uncomfortable situation. If I view it only and rigorously as my direct experience, my actual experience, what do I see?

First off, where am I in this body/mind that I feel is having this experience? I can’t find me anywhere. I slowly work through body parts toward the brain. At each point I can see clearly that no ‘I’ exists there to be found. I feel strongly that I’m this body/mind here having this experience but I plainly and clearly find that ‘I’ am not here in this body anywhere.

OK, then how is it that I perceive myself to be this body/mind if I clearly see that I’m not here? What evidence do I have that is leading me to this feeling? First off, I see my body when I look down. I can hear it, too. Sometimes it smells. I’ve tasted salt on my skin. Certainly I feel my own body every time I scratch an itch. Yet I know that each of these are perceptions experienced in a single, same ‘place’ of awareness. I know this. I don’t consciously maintain this awareness but usually am drawn into the appearance of a 3D world out there rather than remaining conscious of ‘in here.’ ‘In here’ isn’t quite right either as the place in awareness that the experience is being experienced is neither in nor out anywhere. It just is. It has no location that can be pointed to. I can see this as my actual, direct experience. Every perception I have of a world out there is always being experienced in the exact same placeless place of awareness. This I know for certain. A world out there is unknowable as such.

Knowing this then it must be concluded that I believe the appearance over my actual, direct experience. How is that possible? I must have learned it (Hypnotizing Maria?). If I have the capacity and ability to see clearly now what is true, and what is true or real must always be otherwise it wouldn’t be real as reality never ceases to be reality, then I must be real, too. I must be real right now but somehow I believe something else about me.

I also know my body by the sensations I describe as being my body. Headaches, stomach aches, sore muscles, heat, cold, a massage and literally an infinite number of sensations I could name are experiences which tell me I’m a physical body navigating a physical world. Yet as I mentioned above I identify each and every one of these sensations as my body from memory. Not one of them tells me of a body without reference to a memory of same. Otherwise the sensation is an amorphous experience in the midst or awareness. If I snap the bones in my arm the pain would be incredible yet still, on sensation alone although intense, it wouldn’t identify as an arm in any way apart from memory.

Here again, the only way this can be possible is that I have learned this. I couldn’t have arrived ‘here’ and known any of this. All of these sensations would have no reference point. I wouldn’t be able to distinguish one sensation from another as a body unless I had a memory to accompany each and a learning somehow, somewhere along the way that taught me what was what.

The last aspect of my being as a body/mind that I’m aware of is my mind, thinking. I have a concept of a mind, a brain which is like the CPU of my existence. It is the seat of power in this body/mind. Yet I know that this is learned, a concept. My experience is of thoughts and images appearing in the same place and made of exactly the same ‘stuff’ as the experiences I have of perceptions and sensations. I never experience a brain or a thing called mind. All of these thoughts appear from and disappear to an unknown place. I think I think. I think I think original thoughts that are birthed within my mind. However, I have no idea where any idea emerges from or where it goes. I think in English. This is learned. How did I think before I had language to form ideas? Did I think or did I merely experience sensations and perceptions without any thoughts about them? How could a single thing I can name have a name if I didn’t learn that name from ‘outside?’ What is thought minus name? How can a single thought be said to exist that wasn’t learned? This leads me to ask, what about an original thought or thinker like Isaac Newton?

I would surmise that whatever thoughts he had all emerged from what he had learned.

But he produced original ideas, ideas which did not exist until he conceived of them.

So a thought appeared that seemed to have not been thought before?

Yes.

Where did it come from?

I don’t know. It appears from the mind of a being known as Newton.

It does appear that way. You cannot find an ‘I’ when you search for one inside of you, correct?

Yes, correct.

Then you would have to conclude with certainty that Newton could not locate an ‘I’ either?

Yes, I agree.

A thought appeared and a new series of thinking followed.

Yes.

It is assumed that Newton possessed some physical property as a physical being that set him apart from all the other physical beings and lead to his genius being manifest as the greatest scientist of the past half millennia.

That sounds about right.

Yet all you know at this point is that you are experiencing a series of thoughts, sensations and perceptions that inform you of what you know.

Yes.

Newton exists within your awareness.

Yes.

Where else can you say he exists for certain?

No where.

No where. You are experiencing your experience. You believe that you are the witness to that which is witnessed. Yet where is the border between you and what you experience. Where do you end and the experience begin?

This is an odd question. I don’t know how to conceive of the perspective you’re asking me to perceive.

Yet you are certain there is a you and a not you, a world, being experienced as reality?

Yes.

But each and every time you have an experience, any experience, you and the experience are inexorably linked. When you look for it you can’t find where you end and it begins. You can’t find it because it isn’t there. It’s an illusion. You experience the shape consciousness takes now and part of the experience consciousness takes is of a you experiencing a that.

You can conceive of this more easily when you contemplate the structure of a dream. There are no physical characters in a dream, no physical space, no eyes that see. There is the experience within the dream of seeing but there is no physical, 3D person there seeing a physical, 3D scene with physical, 3D eyes. The entire seeing is the shape awareness, consciousness or imagination takes as the dream not in the dream. Your dreams are a lesser form of what you call reality.

Therefore your experience of an individual known as Isaac Newton is an experience of your experiencing. The experience you are having is the shape consciousness is taking now as the experience you are having. This entire happening is built from thinking, sensing and perceiving. This is what you are always and only ever experiencing. There is no world that you can know as such. Everything that you perceive as being objective and having an existence independent of you can only be perceived via the tools of perception you have. You are seeing whatever your perceivers tell you is there. You can never experience ‘there’ as such. Therefore, ‘there’ doesn’t exist. Isaac Newton is whatever you perceive him to be. All you can say is that your thinking, sensing and perceiving of him have produced the experience of him you’re having.

Let’s go a step further. Thinking is happening. Sensing is happening. Perceiving is happening. Where are you in the midst of all this?

I’m not sure. I guess I would say, where aren’t I?

Exactly, exactly, exactly correct. ‘You’ aren’t ‘here’ thinking, sensing and perceiving a ‘there.’ You are thinking. You are sensing. You are perceiving. You have learned to be a consciousness in a mind in a body in a world. That isn’t ever your actual, direct experience. You and the experience are not two.

Who am I? Who’s thinking? Thinking is the shape I’m taking as thinking happens. I am consciousness. I am awareness. In trying to understand Advaita teaching I’ve perceived thinking as something that happens in consciousness but not something I’m doing. I’m the witness apart from the witnessed watching it unfold.

Yesterday I saw how I am not separate from anything I witness. I am the experience. I am the witness as the experience not of the experience. Therefore, when a thought happens how am ‘I’ separate from the thought? I’m not. As much as every other part of my experience is a single, unbroken scene upon a screen, thought is a part of that as well. As I am the consciousness within which all of this appears then thought is a part of that appearance, too.

No matter which ‘part’ of the experience I ‘see’ I realize that it is all the shape consciousness is taking now. The ‘I’ that seems to function as Dylon is ‘seen’ as much as the tree over there or the car going by. Dylon does not see the car. It, including Dylon, is all ‘seen’ by me/consciousness. Dylon is thinking and seeing and that is being ‘seen’ by me which is consciousness but the seeing is the experience and there isn’t a separate witness to the experience. The seeing and the seen are a single thing. Thinking is within that seen scene.

So I sit and write and think as I write. Who am I? I’m here, I’m present yet I am nowhere I can be found. That’s amazing. I am; there is absolutely zero doubt. There is precious little after that of which I can say the same. I know that I am. I don’t know what I am. Sitting and writing and thinking are all being experienced but this ‘I’ I think I am doing these things cannot be found. I have an experience of thinking, sensing and perceiving. I know them to all be being experienced in a single place of awareness. Yet the experience of a me here and a not-me out there is powerful and persistent. The sense that there is a me here in or as this body/mind thinking is seemingly self evident. Yet I know at the same time that the experience I’m having of thoughts is happening in and made of exactly the same ‘stuff’ as the words I see on the screen before me. I’m having an experience of the experiencing of consciousness. The place of awareness where all of my experience is occurring is the actual experience that’s happening.

This is astonishing to behold each time I get close to ‘seeing’ it. The usual way that reality is perceived is all this different stuff out there existing and being apart from a solid me here as this body/mind and all of it is being experienced by a subjective brain in my head. Yet that is not my actual experience when I stop and look, really look.

My entire experience of reality is completely constructed from three things: thinking, sensing (the body) and perceiving (the world). These three things are what I’m actually experiencing now. I don’t experience a brain. I experience thinking and images seen in a placeless place that I conceive of as ‘up here’ in my head or brain. I don’t experience a body. I experience a grand set of sensations, which are all compiled faster than instantaneously, in exactly the same placeless place as my thinking and conceived into a body. I don’t experience a world out there. I experience a set of perceptions which I call seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching and compile exactly as my thinking and sensations were in exactly the same place of awareness and conceive of them as a world. My entire experience is happening in a single ‘place’ of awareness and I conceptualize a world containing a me containing a brain containing thoughts containing a consciousness. I conceptualize an experience which is exactly the opposite of my actual, direct experience. My actual, direct experience is of an ever-present consciousness within which thinking occurs which names a body which forms a world. Consciousness is not some miraculous epiphenomenon which emerged from a previously non-conscious piece of organic but dead matter devoid of a consciousness to perceive of such a thing as a consciousness of which it would have no facility to conceive save consciousness. Rather ‘matter’ emerged or formed from consciousness. Consciousness is sine qua non.

I’ve drifted into an intellectual argument. While entertaining the end result is never knowing. Trying to prove something like this feels closer to belief than knowing. Truth doesn’t need to be defended, it’s truth. It is whether anyone knows that it is or not. Once known no argument can sway what is known. An intellectual argument is an attempt to convince someone of something that neither ‘knows.’ Teaching is an effort to allow the unseen to be seen, to reveal what is.

This drifting takes me away from the seeing I seemed to be moving toward. Advaita would tell me nothing ever moves toward or away from anything. There is only One, movement is an illusion. It’s as though I was peeling back layers, watching what was emerging intently and then some shiny object grabbed my attention and I looked away and now I can’t quite remember where I was looking. There was a peace and happiness in the looking and I want to return to that place. Yet there is no place. I am that place. There isn’t anywhere to go. I’m already there. However these are just words. I’m repeating what I’ve heard, what I believe, what I think. None of it is knowing. Soon.

I notice that my entire experience is always associated with this entity I think of as Dylon. The association with and as this body is powerful. If I look closely what is my actual experience?

My entire experience is ‘happening’ in a single ‘place’ within awareness. When I lay with my eyes closed I try to picture all the things I experience in a place in front of me in awareness. This is the action of an imagined entity. Awareness doesn’t have an objective quality I can perceive. A location is a perceivable, objective quality. It is definable and has limitations. Awareness does not. Something in awareness can’t be to the left or right of awareness. There isn’t a front or a back. There’s only awareness. There’s a sense to say it’s everywhere but in fact every ‘where’ is within awareness not the other way around. When I close my eyes and attempt to picture whatever it is I’m picturing in awareness as a location I’m attempting the absurd.

When ‘I’ think, somehow I am inexplicably aware of me thinking. It’s as if I’m somehow looking down on me thinking as I’m thinking. The me that’s thinking is within the me that’s real(!). I recognize a problem as I say this. I’m still perceiving separation.

I know that I am. Everything after that is in question. I know that I am but I don’t know what I am. If thinking, sensing and perceiving were to go away would I cease to exist? It seems all these things are happening within me but they are not me. This speculation though does not address the notion of locality, of being a separate individual.

Doesn’t it? How do I know I’m a separate individual? I know it by believing thoughts are within my head, by believing that the sensations experienced are out there and that perceptions are those of a physical body interpreting a physical world. Are any of those my actual experience? My body must be experienced somewhere for me to be aware of it. I answer that it is perceived inside a brain. That may be true. Do I ever perceive a brain? No, but I’ve seen a brain and have understood the science demonstrating how it works and correlates to the different aspects of my perception of myself and my world.

How did I see a brain and come to understand how it works?

I watched a show or read something or both.

How did I experience that information?

It came in visually and then I thought about it.

If I say I experienced it visually and then thought about it did I experience the seeing in a different place than the thinking that followed it?

No, they were experienced in the same ‘place’ of experiencing.

So the experience I had was of the experience rather than anything outside as such, correct?

That’s correct.

Whatever I experienced was the shape of the experience within that one place of awareness. The thinking that followed was in the exact same place and made out of the exact same stuff. I’m not experiencing an out there. I’m not experiencing an in here. I’m experiencing the experience of the ‘place’ in awareness. I’m experiencing the ‘shape’ that ‘place’ forms itself into as my experience.

If I consider this more deeply I find that the ‘I’ I know myself to be is that same ‘place’ of awareness. When an experience is experienced as the ‘shape’ that ‘place’ of awareness/experience takes the ‘I’ I am is at that same ‘place’ as well. I and the experience are not two different, separate things. The experience that is ‘shaped’ and the me experiencing it are not two separate things merging. The ‘I’ that experiences and the experience that forms are a single happening. This is what is meant when it is said that there is no experience or experiencer, only experiencing.

This is the dream, again. The ‘I’ that seems to exist is as much a part of the experience as any other part of it. This is why the ‘I’ can’t be found anywhere. It isn’t a separate thing existing here as a subject/object. It and the experience are a single formulation. I don’t exist apart from the experience. The experience doesn’t exist apart from me. The experience is real, it has existence, it has being but just as a dream, it has no substance in the way substance is usually understood.

Words become less and less able to describe. Fingers pointing at the moon…

As the entity I’ve always thought myself to be walks back into the room I see my dogs and Mary. All that I just said above seems to fade into the background. Perception of my moment to moment experience has not changed. I do not experience my experience any differently. I imagined I would. Is there a misunderstanding still functioning?

‘I’ can only exist as this experience. There is no ‘I’ witnessing this experience unfold. It is a single experience as described above. If the experience is of an ‘I’ and a room full of ‘others’ then that is the shape awareness is taking as this experience. If this ‘I’ perceives it as problematic that is also the shape awareness is taking as this single experience. This ‘me’ here contemplating this upon this keyboard and within my ‘mind’ is the shape I/awareness am taking as this experience. I exist because I decided I exist. It’s just that the ‘I’ I imagine ‘me’ to be is this entire experience and not just this ‘I’ here typing.

‘I’ cannot escape this perception of a limited I because I don’t want to. I want to ride this ride. Seeing is the ride. Writing is a meditation. Joy just is. It isn’t created. Perhaps bliss is a better word. It isn’t out there in something I do or something I have. It is ever present and only seems to be missing from time to time. Not-bliss is what I’m doing. Once ‘I’ stop ‘doing’ not-bliss then bliss just is.

Aside

More and more as I’ve been investigating my own experience I repeatedly arrive at a place of understanding where my perception of the ‘I’ that I am in reality and the way all of this experience is the shape consciousness is taking is exactly my experience of what a dream is. I’ve had this sense for some time that dreams are a kind of clue I’ve left for myself; a dream is me telling me what’s really going on.

A dream is an experience that happens within my mind. It has no reality outside the confines of my mind/imagination. It occurs over time, though that’s distorted from my ‘normal’ experience of time. Space appears to exist within the dream but from my awake state I know there is no space. In the dream I am always the main character but I’m not always me. I’m often a different personality than I recognize myself to be here in ‘reality.’ However, this ‘I’ that’s always present, that has no age, that’s not male or female, is equally present in my dreams. The same sense of I-ness I experience ‘here’ I experience ‘there.’ Whatever personality I possess in a particular dream it’s always ‘me’ behind-the-scenes. Within the dream there’s always a scene in space and usually other characters along with me in that scene. I don’t remember ever seeing my own body but I do see everyone else’s. The scene always has other objects but mostly I only remember being aware of other things when they ‘matter’ to the dream. Regardless of what I imagine I see within a dream there’s nothing actually ‘there’ in the way I perceive things to be ‘here’ in my waking state. There are no three dimensional, independently existing objects occupying a 3 dimensional space. There isn’t any ‘thing’ there!

This logically leads me back to see that all that I’m experiencing within the dream is the shape my consciousness or imagination or awareness is taking. I am never physically there seeing a physical scene through physical eyes. The very experience of seeing is the shape consciousness is taking as the experience I’m having. The I that is ever present, the exact same I that is present here in this ‘reality,’ is present and that which is ‘seeing’ in the dream, the witness. ‘Seeing’ is the shape of the experience and a mind turns that into a me and a not me, eyes in a me seeing a you out there. There is no me and my eyes, there is no you and out there. There is a single shape of awareness as the seer and that which is seen. This is a single scene occurring as an experience which my mind interprets as 10,000 things. Whatever I’m experiencing as the dream is the shape my consciousness is taking as a single experience.

The really incredible part of this is that it isn’t just that consciousness is creating a scene which is seen but that seeing and seen are a single thing. It isn’t creating a me that sees a that. Me and that are a single experience. In exactly the same way as my hand touching a wall is a single sensation of hand/wall experienced within consciousness rather than a hand and wall the same is true of the dream. I am not a seer seeing. Seeing is all there is. There is no seen. There is only seeing occurring and the ‘I’ that is the ever present witness is what experiences the seeing.

This still isn’t quite it, though. In saying the ‘I’ is the witness I’m still creating a subject and an object. I don’t think that’s correct. As Spira would teach, it’s a provisional understanding but once grasped must be discarded as well. Ultimately there is only a single something (here words become less and less able to describe the indescribable). ‘I’ is not the witness to a that but rather to itself. There isn’t an ‘I’ perceiving a that. Rather this ‘I’ that I know myself to be yet can’t turn around and see is inseparable from that which is experienced. I think through my mind that there is an I which perceives a that. Yet when I ‘see’ I realize that ‘I’ am the very seeing. There is no separation between this me that is seeing and that which is seen or experienced. I am the very experience I illusorily perceive to be a me and a that.

There is a placeless place of awareness where I realize all that I experience is experienced. No matter what it is I perceive to be experienced, a sound, a taste, a touch, a smell or something I see that which perceives those experiences always perceives them in the same ‘place’ of awareness. As an imagined physical entity I conceptualize that this physical presence is experiencing that physical presence in a single point in my brain. However I never actually experience any of that. ‘I’ experience thinking, sensing and perceiving. I don’t experience brain. Brain is a concept. My experience of each of these is experienced in exactly the same placeless place of awareness. I experience the presence of a body in exactly the same place as I experience ‘my’ thoughts. ‘I’ experience this keyboard in front of me in exactly the same place of awareness as I do my body and my thoughts. The entire thing is being experienced in one placeless place. My mind turns it into a me and a not me, a here and a not here.

As I contemplate and look deeper and deeper into my experience I find that I am the very experience I experience. There is not an I which perceives the experiences in that placeless place of awareness. The I that I experience is experienced in that very same placeless place. All that is ever experienced is all in that same place. The I that I perceive myself to be, the I that perceives all that I perceive to be not me is all being experienced in exactly the same ‘place.’ There is a single experience perceived. There is no distinction between the perceived and the perceiving. Perceiving is all there is.

All of this is a dream and dream is all there is. Dreamer and dream are one. Dreaming is all there is.