Tuesday, April 1, 2014
How thoughts form, part 1- the arousal of thought
This is an interesting question, because it's a complicated one. While I can't address the global issues in this post, we will perhaps get to them. In the meantime, I thought I might offer some more specific observation on thoughts and how they form.
There's a common misconception that the mind ought to be silent, or in a void, in order to receive a higher energy. Yet the whole process is much more complicated than this, and requires a great deal more precise inner observation to be understood in the right way.
First of all, we are always "within" mind; there are a number of types of mind, and one needs to discuss mind precisely according to the kind of mind one wishes to examine. The intellect has a mind; the body has a mind, and the emotions have a mind. Together, these three minds form — if they are working in unison — a fourth mind, which is what ought to be man's "real" mind. This mind, which has the potential for a thread of connection to the Divine Intellect, is nonetheless quite separate from the Mind of God, which is of an entirely different order and — although we all violate this basic principle — impossible to speak about with words.
Classical philosophy, both Greek and Indian, (See The Shape of Ancient Thought, McEvilley, chapters 18 & 19) generally omits the fact that the body has a type of mind called sensation; academic philosophers have little or no understanding of this matter, and practitioners from earlier eras delivered us teachings remarkably devoid of understanding on this essential point. Sensation is a form of intelligence, and a language. A connection to this particular mind is essential in inner work; and explaining how one forms that connection is a complicated matter. Right now, the point is to understand that without that connection — which must by turns become familiar, organic, durable, and permanent — the examination of the mind of intellect, which is the mind we are usually accustomed to completing all our outer transactions with, is impossible. This altogether indispensable element of understanding is missing from the vast majority of discourse on the matter.
An effective and permanent connection with sensation has a number of important consequences in regard to an opening to emotion, or feeling, but it is also critical to the potential for the examination of the mind of intellect. Dwelling within Being — whose fundamental cornerstone of formation is rooted and invested in sensation – we then develop a separated intelligence, an organic and living quality that is in relationship with an inner energy, and has the potential to cease identification with thought.
One cannot cease identification with thought without continuing to have thought. Thought is never extinguished or exterminated; of course, that can happen under special conditions, but it is usually given to initiates through grace in order to help them see how they are and what is necessary. In general, thought as it exists is an important component of ordinary being and, as it happens, a more developed Being which aligns itself more closely with the Divine Will. So we need thought, and we need the identification that it causes, because it functions as the tool with which outer transaction is completed, and it becomes a factor for us to struggle with in our effort to Be.
Thought is a pre-existing condition. Although it does not seem this way to you as you look around you, everything arises from thought. The universe itself arises from thought, quantum physics arises from thought, and all of the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions that are observed around you also arise from thought. That is because each one of the things that you are capable of encountering is an absolute and instantaneous manifestation of Divine Thought, which is complete, unfettered, unbounded, and without limits. All of the universe and all of the thought that creates it arise instantaneously in a single complete whole, but the awareness of it can only be iterated in time and through individual instances of Being. In a certain sense, everything is a thought, and everything has an awareness of itself, but all these awarenesses are strictly circumscribed by their level of Being.
We need not concern ourselves here with the profound and important philosophical implications of Divine Thought and its nature by level. We are only examining exactly how thought arises within us, and what is necessary in terms of inner work in order to understand this question better.
The investment in sensation allows one to get out in front of thought — that is, out in front of the external manifestation of thought, which is entirely different than its instantaneous internal arising. All thoughts arise internally in an instantaneous fashion, whole and complete, and not broken down into words. When Gurdjieff described the process of the Ominpresent Okidanokh breaking down into its constituent components, in a certain sense, he was describing the manifestation of divine thought as it converts itself from its wholeness and its inherently instantaneous nature into the iterated fragments of manifestation within the ordinary.
We are vehicles for that process. When we have a thought, it comes into us instantly and whole without words, and we become the vehicles or agents that translate it into words.
A proper connection with sensation allows us to be present as the thought arises, and see how Being converts it into a form that can be externalized. In this sense, we become separated from the thoughts and are not identified with them; and if we are sensitive and aware, we immediately become suspicious of the process, because we see that we are functioning as translators, and that there is a certain definite premeditation to the process of speaking and forming words. Under ideal circumstances, this creates a certain kind of reflexive awareness that is intimately related with the idea of self-remembering. But one must undertake this study through sensation before one reaches thought in order to understand how this functions.
Not every yogi is interested in studying this question; but many come across it, and there are fragments of it in much of the literature, as well as allusions in Jeanne de Salzmann's The Reality of Being. But the books and descriptions — including this one — are not that helpful, because the process has to be engaged in in an inner sense in order to understand it properly.