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The liberation of conceptual thought

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The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/11/20 5:57 PM
Conceptual thoughts seem to obscure “no mind”, “pure manifestation”, "isness", or whatever you want to call it. It’s easy to label thoughts a problem.

But if conceptual thoughts arise naturally, causally, as they always have through dependent origination, they must be empty.  No less or more, better or worse, than any other type of manifestation. Just is.

We can simply stop labeling them a problem and be free.

What am I missing?

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/11/20 7:54 PM as a reply to punto.
In my experience, thoughts without clinging (or I should say, without much clinging) are no more of a problem that a bird flying through the sky in my visual field. Just is, as you say. In fact, it can be beautiful and liberating to see thoughts appear and fade without clinging.

But it's also my experience that thoughts can, in many instances, produce more clinging than beauty or even ice cream. Then there is the whole papañca thing. If a bird flies through the sky, that's usually the end of it. Even if I cling to it, it's still pretty much just a bird. But if I cling to a thought, it can proliferate into thousands of thoughts, each one with its own hooks for clinging.

The trick may be to keep seeing the emptiness of thoughts. I'm getting better but, at my current level of development, I doubt I see the emptiness of even 1% of my thoughts.

How about for you?

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/11/20 9:17 PM as a reply to punto.
How is a bird flying across the field of vision different from a thought arising and passing? As Martin says:

In my experience, thoughts without clinging (or I should say, without much clinging) are no more of a problem that a bird flying through the sky in my visual field.

In my opinion, the difference is one of ownership. We are convinced that thoughts arise in our "brain" or belong to "us". What if they aren't? What if they don't? What if they arise in the field of phenomena like anything else? When the mind is quiet and empty, where is it that an arising thought comes from? 

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/11/20 9:27 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Indeed. In fact, the perception of the bird is just as much something that arises in "my" brain as anything else, including thoughts.

Sometimes I see it in the conventional way, that the bird is not mine, but the thoughts are. Sometimes, I see the bird as mine, just as much as a thought. Other times, neither the bird nor the thoughts are mine. That is the most relaxing.

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/11/20 11:24 PM as a reply to Martin.
Martin:
Indeed. In fact, the perception of the bird is just as much something that arises in "my" brain as anything else, including thoughts.

Right! Or... perhaps arises in "mind" or the dharmakaya, or in "    ".

Other times, neither the bird nor the thoughts are mine.

...are there any birds or thoughts at all? emoticon

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/11/20 11:50 PM as a reply to punto.
Conceptual thoughts and any other type of manifestation, usually appear to the mind NOT EMPTY (unless you are 4th path of course).
They appear permanent (solid, constant), without suffering (or with some sense of a refuge) and with a relation to a self.

The emptiness of conceptual thoughts is hidden behind subtle sensations and flickering visualizations that happen very fast and create an idea of solidity, refuge and self when they arise, so the mind must be very fast and concentrated to "catch" them happening and see their true nature, the 3Cs in them.

To be able to do that you have to....meditate, get some concentration and use it to focus on the 3Cs.
Noting and being in a quiet and organized place (a retreat) also helps emoticon.
Also being curious helps a lot.

Do the experiment, sit in a quiet place and concentrate on the breath consistently for some time.

Then, turn the mind whats happening moment to moment, fast, trying to be in the present.
Try to "catch" sensations as they move, thoughts as they move, the observer as it moves, the feelings as they move.
They don't move, they shift, flicker, change, moment to moment they are different.

Saying "thoughts are empty" is not the same as being able to see how they arise, how they end, how they change moment to moment.

For that the mind has to be concentrated, has to be fast, has to keep digging.

For that you have to meditate.

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/12/20 9:14 AM as a reply to punto.
Much gratitude for your responses, but perhaps some further context is needed.

As a baseline, it's clear as day there's no one here; just appearances appearing naturally as they always have.  It is simply known a thought is empty and not owned and not permanent. Arising and passing is not directly experienced, just pure manifestation/appearances that are always changing.  Noticing emptinees, arising, passing, etc. is only seen by comparison and in retrospect, which invokes a sort of unnecessary temporary watcher (which too is empty, but alas...)

But this still leaves certain categories of thoughts that seem to bring the whole thing to a screeching halt.  Let's say we're trying to solve a very difficult theoretical problem at the edge of our capabilities.  The experience clicks over fully into conceptual thought, without manifestation of anything else (sights, sounds, etc.).  This is almost like a "cessation" into conceptual thought since it's only apparent the other senses shut down once they come back online.

It would be easy to label this experience as "not mindful", "not present", "unaware", or some similar such thing, but it seems the desire to fix or change the experience to be more inclusive is what invokes clinging, not the experience itself.

So, is there more vipassanic dissection required, or can I safely bask in the non-dual bliss?

Edit: In contemplation of this post.

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/12/20 9:19 AM as a reply to punto.
It would be easy to label this experience as "not mindful", "not present", "unaware", or some similar such thing, but it seems the desire to fix or change the experience to be more inclusive is what invokes clinging, not the experience itself.

I agree. Not mindful or not aware of what? Solving a difficult problem, getting deeply into a flow for that reason, doesn't violate any principle of non-duality or mindfulness. If you believe it does, please explain why, and how.

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/12/20 10:48 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Good question, on reflection I think this relates to two conditionings, neither of which really holds up:

- A misunderstanding of what others meant by "syncing up the senses" or "removing the walls between the senses."  Believe this was taken to mean being aware of all the sense doors (including thoughts) at all times.  Experentially it seems more that the senses are all occuring naturally where they are, without delay or intermediation or response or noticing, and therefore share a similar character/essence (but still different content).  Missing anything here?

- A tendency through years of habitual concentration practice to view thoughts as a problem (indeed, a quieter mind was quite helpful in bringing about certain insights).

P.S. Chris, wanted to thank you directly for some very excellent guidance about 6 months ago that helped put me on the path of exploring effortlessness and non-duality.  I've been without a teacher, and that one little nudge set off an avalanche, so to speak.  Endless gratitude!

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/12/20 1:19 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
"...are there any birds or thoughts at all? emoticon"


Well, right now there is a bird sitting on my ankle chewing on my shoelaces emoticon . Others sit on their cages either preening or singing. I suppose they are empty, even though they are well-fed. 

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/13/20 1:38 AM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
Ernest Michael Olmos:
Conceptual thoughts and any other type of manifestation, usually appear to the mind NOT EMPTY (unless you are 4th path of course).
They appear permanent (solid, constant), without suffering (or with some sense of a refuge) and with a relation to a self.

Thankfully you do not need to be 4h path to have empty transparent thoughts through which Nibbana shines through (or in normal language: they are already liberated).
It is however always a good idea to get enlightened as that helps a lot emoticon

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/13/20 9:15 AM as a reply to Ni Nurta.
This is only my experience, but when I have thoughts, there is always some kind of "link"or "anchor".

Sometimes, in some stages (AP), that "anchor" is really wide, or moving very fast, or changing a lot, or some kind of view (like a panoramic or infinite space view).
But if you don't get to attached to the AP or EQ bliss you can "feel" that sensations, thoughts, etc have an anchor, something that feels constant or semi-permanent even if it moves or changes or is really wide, panoramic, detached, etc.

When I'm very still (meditating) and my mind very fast, I can "catch" a thought before there is a visualization or sensation (and I'm sure I'm not 4th).
But at that level I usually find only pulses, vibrations and there is no separation between sensations, thoughts or visualizations.

While I had a lot of WOW experiences where the flow of thoughts "moved" in amazing ways or I was completely detached from it, I wouldn't call them non-dual. Even if you are completely detached from it, that detachment is "constant", "self" and somehow a shield against suffering.

Duality, grasping, etc are really pervasive (at least for me, not 4th).

Maybe it's me, I'm really tired of WOW experiences, cycling, etc.

A really subtle grasping that happens is "the seeker" or the person that meditates.
You identify with dharma theory, WOW experiences, your daily meditation and interpretation of it.

It's not wrong or bad (and maybe neccesary at the beginning), but there is duality in it.

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/13/20 12:30 PM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
Ernest Michael Olmos:
This is only my experience, but when I have thoughts, there is always some kind of "link"or "anchor" ... But if you don't get to attached to the AP or EQ bliss you can "feel" that sensations, thoughts, etc have an anchor, something that feels constant or semi-permanent even if it moves or changes or is really wide, panoramic, detached, etc.
... When I'm very still (meditating) and my mind very fast, I can "catch" a thought before there is a visualization or sensation (and I'm sure I'm not 4th). But at that level I usually find only pulses, vibrations and there is no separation between sensations, thoughts or visualizations.

My practice is mainly to observe thoughts and how they are created. It's just how you describe, that 'anchor' you mention I name it with different names: an ocean beneath, a container of thoughts, Equanimity itself as the mental object observed, an underlying continuity, Space Kasina. That works not only for thoughts but as a cointainer of the POI ñanas too. 

What's different (in my pre-SE landscape) is that before a thought I may observe tactile sensations, emotions and mumbling sylables. After that, a (visual/oral) thought emerges to coalesce/glue those.   

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/13/20 2:00 PM as a reply to Pepe.
That "ocean" or container is concentration based, so it is not non-dual (by definition).

That said, having a stable, constant, permanent, concentration thing (panoramic view, container, detachment, flow, ocean, bliss) is an excellent object for doing insight practices.

The easiest of the 3Cs that "do the trick" for me is impermanence. No matter the WOW, there is always something with solidity, continuity, stableness..... I don't have words to describe it, but it is similar to concentration practices.

I don't remember so much about how my day to day experience was before what I consider my SE.
I remember the moment it happened perfectly and somewhat what changed, but only that.

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/13/20 3:24 PM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
Ernest Michael Olmos:
That "ocean" or container is concentration based, so it is not non-dual (by definition). That said, having a stable, constant, permanent, concentration thing (panoramic view, container, detachment, flow, ocean, bliss) is an excellent object for doing insight practices.
Yep, of course. Not meant that the container is non-dual. Just happy that finally one person described what I have been observing emoticon 

Ernest Michael Olmos:
The easiest of the 3Cs that "do the trick" for me is impermanence. No matter the WOW, there is always something with solidity, continuity, stableness..... I don't have words to describe it, but it is similar to concentration practices.
Thanks!

RE: The liberation of conceptual thought
Answer
7/14/20 12:28 AM as a reply to Pepe.
I just realized something about which I had not thought for a long time.
Other than who is the owner of the thought that just arose in our mind we do spend quite a lot of effort on assessing how the thoughts that we have will be perceived by other people. And we usually know quite a lot of different people and know that there is even more people with all sort of opinions about everything so generally most thoughts will be in one way or the other marked as inadequate. This can be pretty stresful and take fun out of life. There is tendency some times to rebel against it but it is not helpful and can lead to bad outcomes, like becoming bad person.

This mechanism is important but we might kinda abuse and that is never the point in any mechanisms that we have. Just like knowing that thought is yours (having general sense of self) is important and good to have but it also makes no sense to run all thoughts throught it and it only triggers this opinion generating processes even more. This is why removing perceptin of self is so liberating. There is generally less and less opinions about everything that happens in your mind.

I had this going on a lot in the past. Then this process mostly stopped as I progresses through paths and thoughts became just thoughts. It is important what the thought is about by itself and not whose thought it is or what other people including myself might think about it. And by the end of the day when I do need to know these things I will know them. My mind won't fail me in letting me know about important stuff. Just when I do not need to know I might as well don't. And maybe, just maybe, if I do not spend so much time analyzing what other people will think about things then maybe those same people which would have not so favorable opinions will be more likely to feel the same I feel about these things as I do.

I am not sure if I explained this clearly enought. If something is not clear please ask questions.