How does a thought appear true?
It’s one of the things I have explored, and it’s been especially helpful to use different variations of Buddhist inquiry. When the mind holds something as true, how does it show up in the sense fields, and in particular sensations and thoughts? How do sensations and thoughts combine?
What I find is that when we hold a thought as true, the mind finds sensations to associate with the thought. The sensations lend a sense of solidity and substance to the thought, and that makes it seem more true.
It also seems that the mind tenses certain muscles to create sensations that can serve this purpose. The specific muscles and areas of the body correspond to specific thoughts, and vary some from thought to thought. (Although there are some general patterns across people, and each person seem to have some favored patterns.)
If the mind wants to hold a certain thought as true over time, which often happens, then that creates chronic tension in the corresponding area of the body.
This goes the other way as well. The thought that’s associated with certain sensations somewhere in the body gives a sense of meaning to these thoughts. If we ask what these sensations mean, the mind can typically and relatively easily come up with the answer.
When this dynamic is not noticed, or noticed only superficially, the gestalt created by the thought-sensation combination seem true and real. And we don’t really know why although we can always rationalize it and come up with a series of reasons within thought.
When we explore this dynamic in more detail, we get a peak behind the curtain. We get to see how the magic is created. And this has several effects.
Even if the thought feels true, we somewhere know what’s going on. There is a bit less certainty that the thought is absolutely true. We may hold it a little lighter.
To the extent we have explored the thought – and associated and underlying thoughts – the glue binding the thoughts and sensations together is a little more pliable and softer. There is a little more space between the sensations and thoughts.
And this makes it easier to relate to the thought more intentionally and not react to it as if it’s true. There is a little more space to relate to it differently than what we would have in the past.
Why is this important?
This gluing together of thoughts and sensations is at the center of emotional issues and identifications, so these types of explorations help with both emotional healing and awakening.