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?
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?
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.
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.
Newton exists within your awareness.
Where else can you say he exists for certain?
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?
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.