It is easy enough to get something at an intellectual level, or even to have an immediate glimpse of it.
I can play around with ideas, and make sense of something that way. And I can have a real taste of something as well. There is nothing to it.
But to get really familiar with it, to see how it plays itself out in my life, with clarity, precision and detail, as it happens, that is something quite different.
That is where practice comes in. Looking, exploring, investigating, trying something out, over and over, here and now. Peeling off layers. See more. Seeing it now. Unraveling the knots.
A story is just a story, and my stories about the world filters how it appears to me. That one is pretty easy to get, intellectually, and even to find if I look. I can play around with it as an idea, and even make it look as if I get it beyond what is real to me.
The sense of I and Other, of center and periphery, also comes from a story. It is not inherent in the world as it is. That one too is pretty easy to get intellectually, and also to glimpse through headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or choiceless awareness practice. And as before, I can play around with the idea of it, and make it look as if I get it beyond what is true for me in my own immediate experience.
And of course, I can play with any number of models, and continue to refine them beyond what I did before, without any of it being real in immediate experience. The ideas are real to me, and I filter the world through these ideas making them appear even more real, but that is all the reality that is in it. Ideas are primary and taken as real.
It is quite different to investigate for myself, in my own immediate experience, and then to allow the thoughts to follow and reflect what is alive in immediate experience, independent of stories.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to notice when I am in the grips of ideas: Attention is absorbed into ideas. I go around putting situations and people into boxes, and it seems like an important thing to do. There is a sense of drama, stress, resistance, discomfort, or something being off. There is a sense of having to defend or protect anything, including stories and identities. There is a sense of a split, and of being right or wrong, superior or inferior. There is a sense of I here and Other out there, a sense of center and periphery, or an inside and outside.
When I notice this, I can take it as a reminder to look at what is going on. What belief or identity do I hold onto? What happens when I hold onto it? Who would I be without it? What is the grain of truth in its reversals?