Noticing as inquiry

 

When we sit and have little choice but to notice the mind, we all – inevitably – have certain insights. That’s one of the reasons regular sitting (aka meditation) has an effect.

Here are some of the things we may notice.

Any particular content of experience keeps changing. They come and go. They are visitors.

The activity of the mind seems to naturally quiet down after a while when I sit still and the content is noticed.

My mind tends to run in similar patterns, revisiting similar dynamics and themes.

Identities and roles tend to “flash up” when called for by the situation or triggered by thoughts. They appear, I can engage with them or not, and they then go away again.

When my mind beliefs certain thoughts, they have a charge. And that charge is really sensations assicated with the particular thought. That’s how my mind creates beliefs and identifications, and any thought with a charge.

Strong emotions may pass through with little identification. They appear as emotions passing through and not much else. And slight emotions may trigger a strong identification and seem more real and true as if it really means something.

There is an infinite richness of experience here. I can find any experience and emotion right in this experience, even if just as a whisper or trace.

Content of experience may be active, strong, and in movement while there is also rest and silence here. It all happens within and as silence.

Content of experience may seem anything but OK while it happens within and as what seems OK. OKness and not-OKness both happens here.

Something doesn’t come and go. I can perhaps label it awareness, or awakeness, or consciousness, although none of those labels really fit.

Any description of this is insufficient. It can’t really touch it. Not because what’s happening is so amazing (most of the time it’s very ordinary), but because reality can’t really be touched by words. Words fragment and split while reality is a seamless all-inclusive whole.

I don’t know anything for certain. Thoughts are images and words created by my mind to make sense of the world. They can be helpful for orienting and functioning, but there is no absolute or final truth in any of them. Only a charge (sensations) associated with them can make it seem that they have some final truth, and that’s just a charge – also created by the mind.

Any “me” or “I” happens as content of experience, and is created by my own mind. They are created by thoughts (images and words) combined with sensations. I cannot find any me or I outside of that.

My experience is consciousness. Any experience is consciousness. Or, at least, that’s what the mind can label it. The mind cannot know anything but consciousness since sensory experiences and thoughts happen within and as consciousness. It doesn’t know anything else. The world appears as consciousness. (And any thought about it being consciousness, or not existing etc. are just thoughts, imaginations, questions about the world.)

Thoughts are really questions about the world. Sometimes, the mind recognize them as questions. And sometimes, it tells itself they are more true or real than that. Although it doesn’t really know.

The mind tries to find safety in telling itself it knows something, even if that knowing is painful. And it does so by combining certain sensations with the thoughts. The thoughts seem more substantial, real, and true when they are associated with sensations. And the sensations seems to mean something when they are associated with the thoughts.

Of course, many of these are easier noticed through more structured or formalized inquiry, either through The Work or Living Inquiry or something similar. When they are noticed in inquiry, they are more easily noticed in regular sitting (AKA natural rest, basic meditation, just sitting, shikantaza etc.). When they are noticed in inquiry and/or natural rest, they are more easily noticed in everyday life. And when they are noticed in everyday life, they are more easily noticed through a range of situations in everyday life.

I have participated in a few circling sessions on Skype recently, and this noticing comes even more alive when shared. Sitting in silence has it’s benefits, as does sharing our noticing in real time with another or a small group of people. For me, the sharing adds something to the noticing.

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