I also had an opportunity to explore thoughts more… just noticing thoughts as thoughts, and leave it at that, without fueling them, without getting absorbed into their content.
And seeing all the many forms and levels of thoughts…
Seeing how thoughts mirror and mimic a sensory world... taking the form of each of the sense fields, such as sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, and are really nothing beyond that. Yet, when attention goes to their content, and there is a fascination with the thoughts, they create a whole world without or independent of sensory input.
And also, the levels of thoughts.
There are the thoughts which we are most familiar with… clear, well defined, explicit
Then, the ones which are more subtle and transparent. For instance, there is a sound, and then a subtle image of a plane hovers for a while. Or a sound, and then a subtle image of a person walking on gravel. This normally happens outside of where attention goes, but is clear when attention is brought to it. It is the mind labeling experience, usually slightly outside of attention.
Then the level of thoughts where they are more like bubbles forming but not quite bursting. They are like the beginnings of burps that don’t go anywhere. A murmuring outside of what can be clearly resolved, even when attention is brought to it (this may change as it is explored further).
And then a level of thoughts and stories that form our most unquestioned, and unnoticed, beliefs. The belief in continuity, in space and time, in a separate self, and so on.
These beliefs can be mirrored at a more everyday thought level and explored there, and a great deal of valuable insights can come from it. But that, in itself, does not necessarily touch the deeper layer of stories.
As Fred, one of the teachers at the CSS retreat, said: our conscious thinking cannot create or prevent awakening. It has nothing to do with it.
There is a glimpse of this level when I do concentration/stabilization practice (for instance bringing attention to the breath). When an intention is added to it, there is sometimes a shift into a place “below” even many of the most basic stories, for instance that of continuity.
If music is playing it “falls into its own parts” and there is no sense of any continuity. There is a clear seeing of continuity of space and time as being created by a story of continuity. A story that pieces is all together creating the appearance of continuity.
(That is what Kant said too, but it is quite different – and startling at first – to directly, clearly, nakedly, see it.)
I assume this is the level where the story of I, as Joel calls it, sits as well. It is the realm of of most basic stories, the ones believed in at a level below what we usually take as beliefs. The ones our rational mind and conscious thinking cannot even touch. Our conscious thinking cannot create or prevent awakening. It has nothing to do with it.
The story of a separate self has to be released at that deep level… below the thoughts as clear and explicit, as subtle images, as little burps…Â