Transparency of thoughts


I continue to explore thoughts through the practice of labeling the different sense fields: sound, sight, taste, smell, sensations and thoughts.

It is a great help in differentiating perception and thought, exploring the different interactions between them, and also how thoughts are really just another perception, mimicking the other sense fields and arising as anything else in the sense fields.

Some things I notice…

  • When I close my eyes, I notice how thoughts create images of what is in the space around this body, and of the body itself. In fact, thoughts create the whole experience of space, when the eyes are closed and also when they are open. An overlay of thoughts organize and makes sense of perception, creating a sense of space.
  • Attention is guided by thoughts in terms of sense field, location and boundary. For instance, with eyes closed or open, thoughts guide attention to any sense field, any location, and an area of any size. It can guide attention to sensations of my whole body, or the toe, or sounds from the street, or anything else.
  • Thoughts label perception, often just as an image or also with associated sounds, tastes, smells, sensations. Something arises, it is placed somewhere within the image of space, and an image guessing what it comes from is placed on top of it. For instance, there is the sound of a car from the road, it is located in relation to the space image, and an image of a car is placed there. This happens all the time, with most or nearly all sense perceptions.
  • Thoughts mimic the other sense fields: sounds, sights, taste, smell, sensations. It creates an imagined world that mirrors the world of perception, whether it is overlaid on or separate from perceptions arising here and now. In the first case, it is often not noticed. In the second case, we call it imagination or daydreaming or thinking about the past or future.
  • Thoughts create a sense of continuity. Thoughts mirror perceptions that just left, anticipate what may be about to happen, and string them all together into an appearance of continuity. There seems to be a funny mix of thoughts of past (perceptions from a while ago), present (perceptions that just left), and future (anticipation), and of perceptions arising here now, all together creating an appearance of continuity and time.
  • Through the labeling of nearly all perceptions, thoughts trigger responses and reactions. For instance, there is a thought of hunger (image/sensation), a thought of food in the fridge, and then the response of getting up to make some food and eat it. Or an image of me as man, someone else as a particular type of woman, images of a potential combination, and attraction. Or rain, me miserable in rain, and aversion. Without these thoughts, and an identification with them, none of it would happen. The whole world of attractions and aversions is created in this way, through these overlays of thoughts.
  • Thoughts create the basic organization of perception, such as extent/space and continuity/time, and also a sense of I and Other, with a particular boundary and content of each. The field of perception is filtered into Other, which is typically whatever arises as not this human self, and I, which is typically whatever is associated with this human self such as sensations, sights of this body, sounds made by this body, thoughts, and so on. Combined with this imagined I-Other boundary, there are thoughts of inside and outside, center and periphery, and so on.
  • The sense of I is anchored in whatever arises in the field of perception that falls inside of the I-Other boundary, and some of these more than other. For instance, within the sense field I notice how – for me right now – the sense of I is especially anchored in sensations in the upper neck/lower head area.
  • Thoughts also filter perception to create a sense of a doer. Something arises, and is seen as happening on its own or through the actions of someone else, of the wider world, of Other. Or it may happen within the boundary of this human self, and still for some reason be filtered as Other. Something else arises, filtered to appear within the boundary of this human self, of I, and of I as a doer, and there is a sense of this I being a doer of whatever happened.

And the interesting thing about all this is that it can be seen as it happens. Simply. Clearly. And in that way, thoughts appear transparent, and there is also a transparency in a different way in terms of how this whole sense of an I with an Other is created.

Thoughts as sense field


When I first learned the labeling practice, differentiating the six sense fields of sensation, taste, smell, sound, sight and thought, thoughts came up saying thought, that is not really a sense field, but OK, I can see it can be called that to not make it too complicated.

But the more I explore thought, the more I come to see it as a sense field, similar to the others in several ways.

The thought field is similar to the other fields in that it…

  • Is content of awareness, just like sensations, sight, etc.
  • Comes and goes on its own, lives its own life on its own schedule, as the other ones
  • Really just mimic the other fields, with visual thoughts (visualizations), auditory thoughts, and so on.

So in immediate awareness, the thought field is not so different from the other sense fields.

Yet it is also different in an important way.

Thoughts create an overlay onto the other sense fields, sometimes making it difficult to sort out what is what unless we look. This is how conglomerates are made, or gestalts taken as solid and real and “out there” in the world if not noticed as gestalts, or as simply an appearance made up of for instance sensation and thought when they are.

This is how an emotion comes to appear as real and substantial in itself, when it is really just a sensation and a story.

(Most obviously, the label, the story of which emotion it is. Then, possibly stories saying it shouldn’t be there or go away, which creates resistance which in turn makes it appear even more substantial and real. And then also, initially and often fueled throughout the process, the stories of how what is or what may be should be different, which triggered the emotion in the first place.)

And also a sense of extent, of perception spread out in space and each one appearing in a different location in space. Of continuity, a stitching together of thoughts such as memories of what was, thoughts of what is (which is really just a memory of what just was), and scenarios of what may be. Of an inside and outside, formed by an imaginary boundary which lassoes certain areas of the sense fields saying it is inside (a selection of sensations, sounds, sights, tastes and smells, which thoughts say comes from this human self, and also most or all thoughts.) Of a center and periphery, with the center located in a specific place in space. Of subject and object, with the subject often located in space at or close to the center. And finally, of an I and Other, which is created through imaginary boundaries such as inside/outside, of an overlay of center/periphery, and subject/object.

Resistance to Ground, etc.


Just a quick summary of what I am exploring these days, as it happens in immediate awareness. What came out below is not very well organized…

  • The Ground, here now, is the field of awakeness, of awake emptiness and whatever arises. It is inherently free from any center and any separate self. It is just one field, beyond and embracing seeing and seen, awareness and its content, this human self and the wider world of form.
  • This Ground is is what is here now, for each of us, only absent of a sense of I and Other. Imagine the content of your awareness, and the awareness itself, as it is, only with a sense of I and Other subtracted from it.
  • When there is resistance to Ground as this field, there is an appearance of I and Other.
  • This happens when there is a belief in a story, when thoughts are taken as anything more than innocent questions, when they are seen as absolutely true.
  • A story becomes a belief when another story is added to it, saying it is true.
  • A story becomes a belief, also when it combines with a sensation. Sensation+story=belief.
  • When a sensation is combined with a story, it gives a sense of a center located at a particular place in space, specifically at the sensation, somewhere within the physical boundary of this human self.
  • This center also allows for a split of space, and a sense of I here and Other out there.
  • This split allows for placing one end of any polarity here, somewhere in this physical body, and the other end somewhere out there in the wider world.
  • This placing of ends of a polarity here and out there, is also how projections work. If, according to how I place a polarity (which in turn is decided by beliefs and identities), one end of a polarity should be out there, then when it arises, it is interpreted as out there. For instance, if I believe I shouldn’t be angry, and have an identity as someone who is not angry, then when anger arises, I have now choice but to filter it so it appears out there in the wider world, placed on appropriate targets (the ones I place it on may indeed experience and act from anger, which only makes them better projection objects).
  • Any belief automatically creates resistance… to the truths in its reversals, and what doesn’t fit the identity that goes with it.
  • The split of space allows for resistance to what is. It filters the appearance of what is allowed and not allowed into different locations of space… what is allowed appears to be in the region where there is a sense of I, and what is not allowed appears as if in another region of space. (What is allowed/not allowed is determined by beliefs.)
  • The sensation a story is combined with serves as a base for a split of space into I and Other (providing a fixed point in space to define the boundary), and also for resistance to parts of what is arising.
  • The sense of density, substance and reality of a sensation provides a sense of the same, of density, substance and reality, to the story it is associated with.
  • If a belief needs to be amplified, it can be amplified in two ways. One is to amplify the sensation it is placed on, which in turn allows for a stronger belief, a sense of more substance to the belief, and a stronger sense of split between I here and Other out there. Another is to engage in and develop supporting beliefs.
  • If a story needs to be combined with a sensation (to create a belief and a split in space), and an appropriate sensation is not available, muscles tense up to create appropriate sensations.
  • A belief also amplifies tension, because it creates a sense of I and Other, and something to protect (a truth or an identity), which in turn creates mental and physical tension.
  • Any belief creates a split in space, of something that is true here and false somewhere else, so also a sense of I and Other.

Shadows: examples, and going from demonic to gold to neutral



Shadows of random beliefs and identities…

  • arrogance > inferiority, stupidity, not knowing (even in a relative sense)
  • knowing > not knowing (in an absolute sense, seeing all stories as only having a relative truth, and a relative sense, knowing that our relative knowledge is always limited)
  • skilled > unskilled
  • human > not human (leaving out the rest of the seamless field of form, and also awakeness and emptiness)
  • separate self > no separation, and also absence of a separate self
  • good > bad, evil (seeing both out there, in the wider world, and also in here)
  • in control > out of control, and also absence of control
  • masculine > feminine (and the other way around)
  • awake > asleep (in any sense of the words, for instance seeing how the field of awakeness and form – absent of a separate self – naturally arises as both)
  • deserving > not deserving (canceling each other out, as all of the other polarities do)
  • civilized > uncivilized and also noncivilized (independent of civilization)
  • good taste > bad taste (canceling each other out)
  • healthy > disease, unhealthy, and also nonhealthy (being that which is independent of health and disease)
  • thing > no thing (void, emptiness)

All of these beliefs and identities split the field, creating a sense of a separate self here and Other out there. When the shadow is seen simultaneously with the belief and identity, we notice the inherent seamlessness of the field… in a relative sense, finding both out there and also in here, and in a more absolute sense the one field, inherently neutral, and always and already containing both.

For a while, it takes work to discover this, and it may sometimes feel like more of an intellectual exercise, seeing it more than it is deeply felt and sensed. Then, it may become more and more alive and immediate… alive in immediate awareness even without much prompting, at least most of the time. Still requiring a more thorough exploration of remaining areas.

Initially, it may all feel like a big drama. We cling onto beliefs and identities, and experience what is outside of these as scary and undesirable (even as demonic, sometimes.)

Then, as we become more familiar with this landscape, the gifts of what was left out becomes more clear. What appeared as undesirable and even demonic is now revealed as pure gold. And then, as we get even more familiar with it, the inherent neutrality in all of it becomes more and more visible.

The beliefs and their shadows cancel each other out, as identities and their shadows do, revealing the inherent neutrality of all of it… the beliefs, identities, shadows, effects, and the ground it all arises within and as.

The human self not trusting it can function well without being identified with


When the Ground of emptiness awakens to itself, it can be very odd for our human self. It is used to being identified with, and no it is suddenly not identified with anymore.

It realizes that it is just happening, just as everything else is just happening.

There are still sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts, choices, actions, relationships and everything else, but it is just happening on its own. It is all living its own life. There is lots of doing, but no doer anywhere. There is just a field of what is happening… this room, the sound of the dehumidifier, the cat walking up to connect, the chill on the fingers, tapping of the keys, thoughts arising reflected in words on the screen, getting up to get a glass of water… one field, with no part being more or less identified than anything else.

It can be disconcerting for the human self at first. Will it get by without being identified with? Isn’t being identified with, taken as an I, necessary for it to function in the world?

The rug is pulled out from under its feet, the bottom fell out, it is suspended in thin air…

But if it stays with this, it sees that not only can the human self function well without being identified with, it can even function better in relative terms. There is an absence of drama, so just clarity and simplicity… even the most engaged activities happens within a context of utter clarity and simplicity.

In a way, it is a matter of trust. Of the human self trusting it can function OK without being taken as a separate I. Sometimes, emptiness awakens to itself so clearly that all questions are blown away and the awakening is stable. Other times, and maybe more commonly, emptiness awakens to itself many times, each time followed by the human self not quite trusting the shift and going back into safe and familiar ground, and each time becoming a little more familiar with living without being identified with. Each time trusting a little more, until the shift happens in a more stable way.

There never was a separate self in the first place… only awakeness, emptiness and whatever is happening in form… the only difference is that now, this awake emptiness notices itself… and when it does, any exclusive identification with any part of this field goes out the window.

It is seen as simply a belief in the idea of a separate self, as placing a sense of I within a segment of this field and making the rest into Other. Emptiness awakening to itself cleans it all out.

Space and resistance


Again, not really anything new here but something that is coming to the foreground again…

Whenever there is resistance, there is a split of space itself.

There is a field of 3D space, with sensations, sights, sounds and so on arising within (and as) it.

And some particular sensations in the upper neck/lower head area are used as an anchor for a sense of a separate I. These sensations seem denser than the rest of the field (the rest is space & sometimes form), and there is a sense of tension there.

With this as an anchor for a sense of I, other forms in the field can be made into Other, and when they are, there is also a resistance towards these. The space is split up into I here and Other there, and there is a sense of boundary, limitation, contraction, narrowing, tension and precariousness (I don’t know if the boundary can be maintained, or what will happen if what is on the other invades this side or the other way around.)

In daily life, this is very tangible, and a very good help in noticing what is going on. As soon as the space appears as less than infinite, in any direction, or as soon as some part of the field appears as dense, I know that there is a resistance, an identification with a particular identity.

And in allowing it all, including what is on the other side of the boundary and the boundary/resistance itself, the sense of vast space again arises. There is a release of identification with just a segment of the field, and so a release of being caught up on one side of the boundary and the other side arising as Other.

Anchor for sense of separate I


This comes up daily for me…

I notice how a sense of a separate I is placed on sensations in the center of the lower head and upper neck area, serving almost as an anchor for this sense of separate I.

The experience of the rest of the body is of space, with just a few sensations here and there appearing in space, but these particular sensations appear as more dense, more substantial, as a tension, a contraction. It is almost as if there is a tensing there to allow for a better anchor for the sense of I.

And when this sense of a separate I is anchored there, the sense of (separate) Other is placed at other locations in space… on certain sensations, thoughts, images, people, situations, land/cityscapes and so on.

It is very curious, and almost comical when it is noticed.

There is a contraction in some muscles in the upper neck/lower head area, making this area appear more dense than the rest of the body (which is just space). And these serve as an anchor for a sense of a separate I, allowing other things in the field to appear as Other.

And when this is noticed, and allowed fully, it all softens. The sensations become more transparent and as space. The sense of a separate I is not anchored anywhere in space and is relaxed, or falls away. And with it falls away the sense of a separate Other as well. Now, the field as it is, without any separate I or Other, arises more as it is. As a field without the sense of a center of a separate I (placed on sensations, tensions, somewhere in this physical body.)

Spatiality of resistance


I notice a very tangible sense of spatiality of the resistance.

Resistance splits the field into I and Other in a spacial way, where the sense of I is usually somewhere in/around the human self making it into an experience of a center, and Other is somewhere out there in the periphery, in any direction (up, down, front, back, sides).

Noticing this sense of a split of space itself makes it easier to notice and recognize resistance, and is a reminder to allow even this resistance to be as it is, to simply and quietly be with the whole field as it is, as it arises, with resistance, a sense of split, and anything else.

Being with it in this way allows the field to recognize itself as a field, inherently absent of this split, this sense of I and Other, of any I in the resistance or anywhere else.