In exploring each of the recommended practices from the Center for Sacred Sciences distance course, I notice how well the labeling practice fit in with the seen/seeing self-inquiry.
Through the labeling practice, I get to notice sounds as just sounds, sights as sights, smells as smells, tastes as tastes, sensations as sensations, and thoughts as thoughts.
This allows each of them to stay what they are without automatically being balled up into unexamined and undifferentiated wholes, such as that of sensations and stories, which gives the appearance of something that is not really there and thus stress.
If unexamined, there may be a sensation and then a story “pain”, or “anger”, or “hunger”, or “sadness”, each of which create drama and stress. Without this automatic connection of sensation and story, there is just clarity and sometimes action from this clarity.
In the seen/seeing inquiry (I am sure somebody has come up with a better name for it), this labeling practice becomes very useful in the first phase. It helps me notice the perceptions as they are, before any story is attached to them. And it helps me notice how each of these perceptions come and go on their own, within this timeless space and awareness.
- Noticing the impermanence of the seen
Notice the content of awareness, all that is seen: sounds, sights, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts. Are they impermanent or permanent? Is there anything permanent there? Are you the changing content, the seen, or are you the seeing of it?
- Notice the seeing
Then notice that which does not change. What is it that does not change? What is always here? What does the content, the seen, unfold within and to? Is this awakeness within time and space, or is time and space within this awakeness? Noticing what the seen arises within and do, does the seen appear to have any I in it?
- Absent of I
Is there an I in the seen? Can there be an I in the seen if all of it comes and goes on its own, even over just a few seconds?
Is there really an I in the seeing of it, in this awakeness that the seen arises within and to? Can you find where the seeing ends, and the seen begins? Are they different? Made up of the same?