A book has three essential parts: The white pages, the ink and letters on the pages, and the content and meaning of the words.
And that’s how it is with images and thoughts – mental field activity – as well.
There is ink and letters – the images and thoughts themselves, as images and thoughts. It’s what I notice when I label images images, and thoughts thoughts. An image comes up, it’s labeled image. A thought comes up, it’s labeled thought.
There is a content to these images and thoughts, they have a meaning. An image is of a bird. A thought says it’s a magpie, and it’s standing at the doorstep looking in.
And it’s all happening on and as a white page. Images and thoughts happen as awareness, it’s the play of awareness taking a temporary form as an image or a thought. It’s “substance” or “material” is awareness itself.
So when there is an image or a thought here, the experience of it may be quite different depending on where attention goes.
(a) If attention goes to the content of the story, that’s what’s in the foreground. If attention is absorbed into the content of the story, and the story is taken as true, what it tells me will seem quite real, substantial and solid. And if the content is recognized as an innocent question about the world, as an image or thought and not reflecting any absolute or final truth, this content can be very helpful in a practical and pragmatic, sense as an aid to orient and navigate in the world.
(b) If attention goes to the image as an image, or the thought as a thought, for instance through labeling, then that’s what’s in the foreground. The image here is recognized as an image. The thought that’s here is recognized as a thought. Attention is freed from being absorbed into the content of the image or the thought, although there is awareness of this content.
(c) If attention goes to it all as awareness itself, as the play of awareness, then that’s what’s in the foreground. It’s all happening within and as what I am. And this includes any images or thoughts about a me as this human self, and an I as an observer or doer. A variation of this is bringing attention to the image that’s here, or the thought that’s here, as also love.
Again, this is perhaps most effectively explored through various forms of inquiry, investigating what’s here now in immediacy.