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Friday, December 14, 2018

Meditation can be at several levels

                Thinking deeply about something – concentration (may merge, immerse) (?dharana)

                Thinking about thinking – metacognition

                Being a witness to thinking – mindfulness (Dhyana?)

                Total silence, aware of the silence - Samadhi

                A state beyond thinking and silence, not for ordinary mortals.

“Meditation is the first-person science of the mind” says Alan Wallace, in that we are observing the subjective reality of the mind itself. During meditation, objective sensory inputs and our perception of those inputs, become objects of inquiry. They form the substrate of deep-looking. At the same time, the thoughts and emotions that are generated by those perceptions become subjective experiences. The substrate for this subject-object nexus is the substrate consciousness (Thich Naht Hanh calls it Store Consciousness). Becoming aware of this substrate consciousness is meta-awareness.

Information is that which informs. What informs us is the input by sensory systems. We then interpret and modify these perceptions, codify and name them, using our thinking, memory, imaginations, bias etc. Whatever it is, Information about things is the content of the mind. When we reflect on it, it should be clear at the outset that Information about a thing is not the same as the thing. We can look deeper at what the connection is and what reality is. In deeper meditation, we learn to focus on the mental space without information. No one has seen space, atom, energy and mass. Nor has anyone seen information.

Both Buddha and Ramana ask us to reflect on the “I”. What stage am “I” at in this quest?

Who am I? On reflection, I decided to split this question into two parts.

1. Who am I? “I” am Balu, an impermanent, inter-being (as Thich Naht Hanh would define). In this sense I am a practical entity existing and interacting with the world around “me”. “I” am part of a whole. “I” interact with and depend on the whole and its contents and occupants. The whole resides in “me”, is part of me and in everything else. In this sense, "I" was there always and will be there in the future. In a more tangible form, "my" thoughts, words and actions will be the residues of this brief existence. But, who is asking that question?

2. What am “I”? “It” is a conceptual entity created by “my” mind as part of its function in dealing with the physical realities. It develops as I live and experience every moment, by owning up to each experience (saying that it is “mine”) and storing them for future reference. It also owns up to the actions of the physical body (“I did it”) in which it is generated. By repetition, it gives an impression of powers such as ownership and will which it does not have. There can be no more of “It” (Balu in “my” case) once the body and the brain (with the associated mind) are gone. 

That is where I am now.

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