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Tag Archives: consciousness

The practice of abstention

To abstain from putting effort into ones mind-ing is a wonderful thing. It can happen before something have grown tangible enough to be an object of letting go, before you are able to say for sure what to let go of.

There is a subtle movement of mind that awaits to be picked up and cared for. That is the habit of mind, to pick up movement from outside or inside
and “make something” out of it;
an instruction, an answer, an idea,
a question, a decision, an insight,
anything to make it real and useful.

When movement have formed to a mind-object;
a thought, a physical sensation,
a melody or even the concept of “silence”,
as soon as you consciously “know” it, there is some “thing” to let go of.

Now, if you can identify and connect with the energy of minds movement, there is the possibility of letting go of picking up. This is a delicate practice at the heart of effort vs. relaxation. I have spent many hours in meditation putting effort into letting go of something already present as a mind object. I guess that’s how the show goes for most of us.
You sit, things come up and then there’s the struggle involving effort, relaxiation, acceptance, naming, breathing, concentration and so on.

Having exhausted – enough of –  my capability to work along those lines, I have come to a place where all these concepts are words on paper. They look different but seems to come from the same place.
That place is where the energy of minds movement resides. I could not tell where that is, and anyway that’s besides the point of this post.
The point is to let that place open up.
That is where the “not- picking up” can happen.

The wierd(-est) part is of course that in a place where no thoughts or mind objects are defined or understood, there is no “you” that can “not-pick up” anything. Do you see the hillarious paradox?
Therefore, you cannot go to this place by intention alone. The intention itself keeps you stuck on the level of ready-made mind objects. If you start off with the intention of “opening up to the place where mental energy, or movement, has not yet been formed into specific mind objects“, you are already knee-deep in all those concepts.
“You” have to “open up” – whatever that means.
“You” are looking for “the place” – wherever that is.
Worst of all, you’re supposed to identify something that is without form and therefore cannot be identified as some “thing” without “form”.

The process I suggest is instead related to the acceptance of whatever will appear in your mind before it actually appears. The familiarity with an ever present mind- energy that doesn’t need to be care for.
You can read about it HERE and HERE.

That Unfolding

Someone asked me- “How do you act i everyday life after you’ve experienced the awakened state. How do others react to this“?

The seemingly cleaver reader will (like I would) wait for an answer that indicates a dualistic mind at work.
So let me begin with saying: There is no “me” that can choose to act in a certain way. Neither is there a “me” that have had the experience of “the awakened state”.
Mind games aside, here comes the answer:

It’s not that complicated really. If you are conditioned to be an actor playing a specific part in a specific play, you just play along.
The conditioning of this Me-actor  and this play happened, and continues to happen,  without me knowing it.
I did not choose that to happen. I was not aware of becoming an actor and I didn’t know the play was made up by the workings of human mind.
No one is controlling it. There is no author, no director. It just unfolds according to the given conditions.

The Director or Governing Laws of choise (God, Buddha, Brahman, Laws of the Universe, Randomness, Energy, The Divine Power etc) are themselves part of the play. They arise within the human mind.

They arise within the human mind” should also be added to the list above.
“”They arise within the human mind” should also be added to the list above.”  should also be added to the list above.
And the creating of external forces of creation thus grows ad infinitum.

Adding “And the creating of external forces of creation thus grows ad infinitum” makes the whole thing absurd.
When you realize that whatever your mind comes up with should be added to the list, there is laughter.
The play starts to become playful.

So the play is created within human mind because that is how the mind unfolds, how it works. But human mind is not all there is. Human mind is only part of what unfolds in the totality of ever ongoing creation.
Everything else is “What Is”.

What Is can only be understood by human mind.
But the understanding cannot be complete. Mind can only comprehend what happens on the staged reality created by itself. That is, the minds version of What Is.
Therefore, mind is always dealing with itself, without knowing what it does, without being mindful of itself.

The eye seeing everything but seeing itself.

The answer to the question is simply that I keep acting like before. I know my part and I know the play. It follows the rules of the dualistic mind.
It is about dividing, understanding, predicting, controling and achieving.
We all know the play, don’t we?
The difference now is that I know this is a play. I know my part is based on the basic premises of the play. I know these premises to be an artifact of the human mind. Nothing more, nothing less.
I also know that this knowledge, just like any knowledge the “I” can “have”, is part of the play.
It is in a sense artificial knowledge.

The concequence of this “knowing” is that I can play my part without being caught up in it, as if acting/action was all there is. When circumstances allowes for it, I can take my costume of and watch the play as a spectator. Relaxing in a comfortable seat, amused and amazed.

Just sitting
Just looking
Not acting

Gradually I have come to value this play for what it is. To become a true spectator made me uneasy for a while. I questioned the use of playing along. The acting suddenly seemed like “pretending” to be something I was not. The play seemed unreal.
Thankfully this play-aversion has lost it’s grip. The acting is not for real, nor is it un-real.
It seem like dividing What Is into play vs. reality is just another part of the play.
It seems like – since the human mind is also part of What Is – the undividable, the non-dual, can divide itself while still being whole. 

Not One
Not Two

All of this is of course not true, nor is it not-true.
This is not the way it works, still it works like this.
All of the above has unfolded within the play.
That is all there is.
That unfolding.

What Makes My Self Mine And Not Yours?

My Self is the inter-action between my physical body with all is’s reactions to the environment and that particular environment with all is’s reactions to my body.

Where is my mind?

According to the Buddhist tradition, the working basis of the path and the energy involved in the path is the mind—one’s own mind, which is working in us all the time

Fundamentally, it is that which can associate with an “other”—with any “something” that is perceived as different from the perceiver. That is the definition of mind

Mind makes the fact of perceiving something else stand for the existence of oneself. That is the mental trick that constitutes mind

It is the fact that the existence of self is questionable that motivates the trick of duality

The method for beginning to relate directly with mind, which was taught by Lord Buddha and which has been in use for the past twenty-five hundred years, is the practice of mindfulness

Mindfulness of body is connected with the earth. It is an openness that has a base, a foundation. Without this particular foundation of mindfulness, the rest of your meditation practice could be very airy-fairy—vacillating back and forth, trying this and trying that

All the above come from Trungpa’s text on The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. All seems very true and workable to me. Again it points me to the importance of basic simplicity, and where to find a solid starting point for my particular path. I find most basic questions in meditation to be jumping the gun a bit. You know most of them I guess;
– Who am I
– Who is asking the question
– Who are you
– Where do you come from
– etc
It’s not that these questions are wrong in any way, they’re brilliant, but all of them which I have read takes the actual existence as a given. If Trungpa’s on target, that “existence” has to be established by experience, as a personal fact, before I can move on. The basic question is therefore – Am I?
What does it take for me to answer Yes? Could mindful meditation of body be seen as a quest for evidence of my actual existence?
That seems redundant at first glance. Of course I exist!
Think again about Trungpa’s words; It is the fact that the existence of self is questionable that motivates the trick of duality. Maybe it isn’t so easy to answer Yes after all. If the massive and persistent perception of duality is indeed a result of our ambivalence towards our own existence, the basic answer would be – I don’t know for sure? So why is the question so hard to answer? My current thinking suggests that the problem is we’re barking up the wrong tree, and trying to find Me in my physical body won’t do it. I’m thinking parts of Me resides somewhere else, and that “somewhere” is seemingly empty. Trick is that whatever there is to find in that empty space exists only in relation to my actual physical form. Furthermore, my actual physical form exists only in relation to other physical forms.
That leaves us with a mind that can only deal with different types of form, my form and the forms outside of it. So being “mindful” would mean to establish the actual existence of these forms by bringing into awareness that there is a transmitter (other form) and also a receiver (my form). If that’s the function of it, then mindfulness “with the mind” can never discover the True Self in it’s totality since parts of the True Self is to be found in-between the various forms recognizable to the mind. Bottom line would be that by using my Mind, I can only connect with half of my True Self. The other part is untouchable so to speak. And it won’t help much to be consciously “aware” of this since “awareness” is also a function of my physical form. Only thing I can be aware of, and that’s a good one, is that finding my True Self, my Whole/Holy Self, lies beyond my minds reach. That in itself could save me some wasted time on mind-gaming. So what Trungpa says to me is;
– mindfulness of body gives you evidence of your physical form – if you experience this, then you will soon realize that everything about “you” is in relation to “other” – if you experience this, you’ll eventually find that your mind cannot deal with anything else than duality – if you experience this, you’ll stop searching for your True Self by sitting on a cushion. What then happens is an open question. Maybe you try finding your Self in others. Maybe you try to find your Self in relation to others or maybe you just go home and do some dishing.

I won’t fool anyone by saying this is “my thinking”. Obviously it is Buddhadharma for Beginners. I just have to write it down to let my playful mind have something to juggle with. It’s all nonsense anyway. It’s all I am. Now it’s all I was.

Now I’m a new thought; if the My True Self is to be found in-between forms, namely My Form and Other Forms, and My True Self is to be regarded as an expression of Oneness, how the heck can Oneness be without the duality of different forms?
Jeeeeze, is this the paradox that leads us to the Ultimate Reality being neither Oneness, nor Duality?
This formal expression of the ongoing Big Bang needs a cup of coffee real bad.
As for Me, I’ll soon be  the joy in having just that.

The state of agency

Doing my regular lunch-meditation I had one of these frequent flashes of dots being connected. Mr. Benjamin Libet came to visit just as I was looking at my breath, or att least trying to. He said- “There’s half a second gap between you being conscious about an action and the action being done. The gap tells us that half a second before you are consciously aware that you will do the action, the part of the brain that is responsible for the carrying out of it has alredy begun the action”. Yeah, I’ve read that before and it’s a cool finding, but how’s that related to my meditation? Benny had gone so I had to figure that one out myself. This is what I came up with:

If the consciousness always is lagging behind the action, there would be an experience of having to catch up on what I’m doing. There would also be a general feeling of not being in full contact with ones body. I think we all have experienced this. So what could you do to close that gap? How do you manage to be fully present, or aware, in your body and it’s actions if your consciousness is constantly lagging and, so to speak, trying to catch up? One might say, in the rearview mirror trying to make sense of what just happened. I think this relates to Susan Blackmore’s question – Am I conscious now? and the subtle difference between being consious (which we are most of the time) and being aware of being conscious (which we practice in meditation).
Well, you could try to speed up your conscioussness. To make it faster in some way. Is this possible? I don’t know! Maybe some drugs are designed to do such a thing? My guess is that such an approach will lead to even more unexplainable behavior. Perhaps some drug will, not close the gap, but blur it in some way so that the experience of “lagging” is transformed to something else. Myself I take methylphenidate for adhd, but in regard to this idea I think that effect is more of getting better hold of past and future, not closing the gap itself. Actually, I haven’t thought about that before…hmmmm, interesting, but that’s another post. That one will be about the advantage of having adhd in meditation practice, but only if you totally let go of your difficulties with memory and planning. After all, if meditation is about Not thinking in past and/or future, you might argue that having adhd is almost like being there already. Then again, I believe most people with this type of functioning regards meditation as a practice to overcome exactly these “deficits”. Stop and save the rest you restless motorbrain.
Continued on topic: Another way is to slow down action. That was my flash. The gap being one dot and sitting still the other. What if meditation in the shamatha form of “just” calming the mind is in it’s essence a practice in closing the gap between, not consciousness, but awareness and the organism?
I sketch a diagram over consciousness-action-perception-awareness. Underneath I scribble;

Perception cannot know itself
Action cannot know itself
Consciousness cannot know itself
Awareness knows them all

Am I aware that I’m aware know?

Awareness cannot perceive
Awareness cannot act
Awareness cannot think

Awareness is an observer in chains and thus, totally passive. By default we see a totally passive function/entity/object as of no use. It only comes into action if we explicitly calls for it.
-Am I conscious now, and the answer is always Yes. Then awareness is placed in the backseat again. Passivly waiting for the next assignement. When called for by consciousness, it is at your service again.

Back to the gap then. If there was no gap maybe awareness was the default and the sequence would be perception – conscious action instead of perception – action – conscious effort in making sense of what happened. I don’t have time to elaborate on this right now. We have to work out the role of mind in being one of the senses/perceptions. It’ll all be crystal clear by the weekend.

The Light of Enlightenment Explained

Given two theoretically “perfect” mirrors facing each other, the only thing reflected would be light. In the absence of friction or other interference, the light would travel infinitely and eternally. If one were able to look directly at this, one would literally just see light, as far as the eye could see. 

The above is from wiki.answers and I have not checked the scource or accuracy of this answer to the question – What does a mirror reflect facing a mirror? Given that this is a correct answer I play with the idea that this has something to say about enlightenment.

In meditation we practice looking into our minds with our minds. We have no other instrument at hand but ourselves, right. One could restate the assignment as – Trying (ooops) to have consciousness looking into itself. Now, it is proposed by J.R. Searle, and I agree on this, that consciousness is nothing but a reflection of more basic processes. It adds all available information as to “make sense of it”. In itself it is just a material based (as in the physical brain) event with the function of a mirror. It can reflect sensations like pain but also the occurence of memories and thoughts. This is not to be regarded as either “physical” or “psychological” because they are all physical as stated above. Usually we accept without hesitation the “physical” part while we seldom notice the “psychological” one. We are, so to speak, in our heads without knowing where we are.

In meditation we address this by taking the observers perspective on thoughts. Our consciousness is therby made to observe our thoughts. Cool, but immediately we ask ourselves – who then is watching the observer? If we could answer that, next question woud be – who is observing the watcher observing our thoughts and so on ad infinitum. Where does this infinite regress come to an end. Where do we end up in our search for the Ultimate Observer or the Highest Consciousness?
I have no deeper knowledge of buddhist thinking since I’ve just started to practice/learn, but maybe we could name it The True Self or Your Original Face.
Well, if consciousness has the function of reflecting physical events while being a physical event in itself, it’s easy to conclude that we’re talking about a mirror reflecting a mirror. If so, then “Enlightenment” may be a very apt description of what happens when we finally get our mind to reflect itself “In the absence of friction or other interference”. Meditation practice is, in that perspective, a way of clearing the mirror from interference so it can produce an accurate image of itself. When it does, and it can easily do that if it wasn’t for the friction/stains of exernal events, then we have, tada, infinite light.
Since I made up this Theory of Consciousness on my way home from work, there might be a bit of fine tuning left to make it waterproof and ready for the Nobel Pize. Like finding out that this is an idea as old as it is buried or that my train of thought derailed off the bat or that the wiki.answer was from a witty porn surfer filling dead time between downloads.
One thing I’ll ask my wife is how One Mind can split into Two Mirrors.

If nothing else, it was fun making it up. I’m surprised by the effect a whole weekend of meditating seem to have on my little mirror. Feels like it’s dancing on the green grass after a long cold winter in Head Quarters.

Side note: The zen story on the mirror and the bohdi tree states that ther is no mirror since all is void, but I think that is getting the concept of “void” wrong. I read in some buddhist text that “void” is referring to how things are when stripped of all our mental projections. That should read “void in relation to how we normally percieve them” and not “void in themselves” because if they were, there would be no form. And there is form, right? And therefore, everything is at the same time just as we percive them and nothing like we percive them.

Tomorrow I will explain why, contrary to common belief, being absorbed in activities like gardening and cross words are the opposite to meditation, unless you’re already awake or at least getting out of bed. When awake, every action is per definition mindful as we all know.