Loose ends

Greg Goode goode at DPW.COM
Thu Oct 9 12:25:33 CDT 1997

At 10:47 AM 10/9/97 +0200, Charles Wikner wrote:
>Greg Goode <goode at DPW.COM> wrote:
>> Ultimately Atma or Brahman observes thoughts.  Some teachers use a
>> teaching concept called the "witness."  This would be unidentifed,
>> impersonal consciousness, the consciousness attributed to the sage.
>> Where do the thoughts arise from?  Silence, same place they return to.
>> Why THOSE thoughts?  Vasanas.  Ultimately, it's inexplicable, like
>> what Shankara says of maya itself:  "unspeakable."
>That is the theory: we could discuss theory forever, but seems rather
>pointless.  The purpose of the questions was to actually look and
>discover for yourself, to put the teachings into practice and peel away
>the layers of ignorance. Observing thoughts etc. does imply a measure of
>detachment from them: that is a rather more useful exercise than merely
>clinging to the belief in some theory.

I agree with this!

>> In the relative level, yes.  But at a higher level, all these items
>> partake of the same reality/unreality as everything else in the
>> phenomenal world.  The "individual," its "nature," the vasanas and
>> thoughts are evanescent appearances in consciousness.

>More theory: after a time the mere repetition of theory gets tiresome.
>What have you directly observed of the nature of thought?

Because I wrote the above, and in another message asked about the kind of
thing an I-thought is, you don't need to assume that I can't or don't or
won't observe thoughts.  What do I observe?   In the following, I will use
the term "thoughts," and mean it to include all appearances -- feelings,
pains + pleasures, desires, insights, inspirations of all kinds, any
experience at all.

I observe that there is silence before a thought, then zero-or more thoughts
that follow, then more silence. All thoughts seem to come from the
same place.  Sometimes the thoughts succeed each other in a frenzy,
sometimes there is a lot of silence between them, sometimes they are very
thin, and I can see though them to what seems like peace underneath.
Also, some thoughts are more heavily laden with an *I* mixed in.
And these thoughts feel cramped, constricted, heavy, unpleasant.  There are
happening more infrequently.  Others are lighter, freer of the *I*
encumbrance.  These thoughts seem thinner, lighter, much more pleasant.
These are happening more frequently.  The silence is infinite, no divisions
to it, no end, no parts.

Some thoughts lack the *I* altogether, and there is no noticing/observing
of them till they are gone, then it seems like a memory of them is all I have
access to.  Sometimes there is a feeling of total perfection, everything
glows, everything seems perfect just as it is, seems like it can't be any
other way.  No desires, no questions, no answers, no divisions or
I could be in the subway, or reading a book, or walking and these occur.
These are happening more frequently than in the past, too.

And whether the thoughts are light or heavy is mostly unrelated to their
(Some correspondence exists, where fear and anger are more ego-heavy than
pleasureful thoughts.)

I'm taking all thoughts less seriously now than ever before.  This is what I
meant by their "thinning out," which is a term from MAHA YOGA, which also
lists vichara as one of the steps in jnana marga.

I could give a very personal example.  There is a life-threatening fearful
series of thoughts that came to me a while ago.  If I told the details,
I'm sure most people would agree how fearful they are, how deadly their
object.  This same thing happened a few years ago too.  But with better
success at oberving thoughts and not "taking delivery of them" (as
Nisargadatta says, by which I mean not taking them personally), this most
recent wave of fearful thoughts was much shorter and less unpleasant.

>> Not necessarily a decision.  True, the body/mind does one thing rather than
>> another.  Which thing it does is based on everything in the universe. The
>> "decision" comes in when there arises a thought "I" that comes to take
>> credit for the thing done.
>This is advaita theory misapplied to practical life, i.e. pure fatalism.
>It nullifies ethics and reason, and can be used to justify any action.
>This is the core of my objection to the mere denial of free will.

I agree that many times this "no free will" is used to justify all kinds of
knavish behavior:  laziness, indulgence of the passions to the extent of
hurting others, avoidance of responsibility, negligence, selfishness, etc.
So what?  Other things too have served as rationalizations for these things.
Most noticeably, devotion to a personal god.  "God told me to do it!"
You asked for my experiences above.  It really IS my experience
of no independent will.  I used to feel it.  Now I don't.  I feel various
thoughts and desires coming up.  But certainly not the experience of choosing
them, and it's getting to be less that I experience choosing what to do.  I
don't labor over past or future "choices."  Ramakrishna said something like
"even though there's no free will, act as though there is."  I think I do
I haven't been personally accused of rationalizing any of the negative
behaviors above.  But earlier in my life when I believed passionately in the
existence of free will (as per Ayn Rand's philosophy!), I was accused of
being PURPOSELY selfish, trampling over others, and all kinds of other
And to a great extent, I WAS that way!

>> That which observes everything.  Our true nature, Brahman, which even
>> the dissolution and creation of universes.  The personal or impersonal
>> "witness" is itself a concept, an arising in consciousness.
>Is that your direct experience?  How many universes have you observed?

Dissolution/creation of universes?  Not my experience, it's more theory.  But
if we are the silence, or Brahman, then we (as all one) were there even if
universes weren't there, wouldn't you agree?  It makes intellectual sense to
me, and at times it IS my direct experience of being the silent, infinite
consciousness.  Yesterday in fact, while I was looking at a page of the
Swami Anubhavananda's Panchadashi.  The experience was one of being THERE,
untouched by anything.

>Indeed, experience cannot be denied, however, I have the impression that
>that is exactly what you are doing: throwing a blanket of theory over daily
>practical experience.

Do you still think so?  Are you going to answer on your own behalf the same
questions you asked me?  If not, why not?

>I notice your studied avoidance of the personal pronoun, and you no doubt
>notice that I use it freely.

Not a trend, definitely.  Check this present message.  To paraphrase
Ramakrishna, even though you don't believe in the (ultimate) existence of
a personal "I", act as though you do.


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