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What are thoughts?

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by emmanuel_pil, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. emmanuel_pil

    emmanuel_pil Member

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    Hello this is my first post so let me introduce myself. I live in Brazil and I became interested in meditation because I want to better understand myself
    It was nice that I immediately felt familiar with meditation, or maybe better to say entering in the state of meditation, because I did things for myself that already were a meditation, like for example the technique of surrender your self to a higher force, having the feeling, that all belongs to a universal connection It is said that only the experience will give you an inside about the real nature of existing, so now I really want to learn to enter in a deep meditation state. The first important thing that I read about it is that I need to suppress my thoughts that form the Ego.

    So the first thing I have to analyze is, “what are thoughts”. If you ask for what is thinking on school or web, you will get the answer that this is done in the brain by more then 10,000 billion neurons that are cells that communicate with each other trough synapse, and that they work together like some sort of biologic computer, but that science doesn’t know exactly how the brain thinks
    My experience/opinion is that thoughts are communication. If you try to feel what your brain is doing while thinking, you will notice that your brain will analyze a subject, make calculations and comparisons with other similar experienced subjects and will come up with a ready understandable phrase in a language, And it appears to me that the brain waits for an answer from… myself, (Self Being?) or others and will analyze that answer again and that this way thinking flows. It is clear to me that thinking is done to make communication possible with our self or others, because it comes up with clear understandable phrases. This communication can be done in all sorts of languages. Not only auditory ones. I have worked a time with deaf people, and I realized that a born deaf person doesn’t think the way I do, but does it visually, in sign language. Can you imagine your self thinking with signs? And they reason as well or better than I do!! Who said that animals don’t think? They do it visually, not as complex as humans do, but they think!
    When we are born we receive genetically a brain ready to start working but without a specific software. This software we program our self with every day experiences influenced by genetic history. This means that nobody uses the same mechanisms, and this way some are better in mathematics and others in music. But we do finally have a clear phrase or sentence that can be understood by others analyzing this phrase in their way.

    So what will I suppress while wanting to enter a meditation stage?
    My brain will continue analyzing visualizations, sensations, and store this in memory. Otherwise we wouldn’t remember anything after meditation time.
    So what I have to suppress is not thinking, but the emergence of the result of thinking, the final phrase?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012
  2. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    Hi emmanuel,

    You already grasp the fact that the mind is a tool. One that creates the world for us to see and interpret. The eyes view the world, the ears hear the world, the skin feels the world, but none of this has any meaning but the one the mind gives it.

    What is also interesting is that when one is absorbed in the moment, or "the now" as some people call it, that there isn't very much analytical thinking done. Most creative outbursts do not come from thought, but when there seems to be a lack of it. Behavior that is natural to you comes from outside the realm of logical thinking as well, because if you think about it, it becomes self-conscious, and not so natural as long as you give these thoughts your attention.

    Thoughts by the mind are the tools that are used by you. You are what sees and listens to the thoughts, not the thoughts themselves. If you were not aware of thoughts, they just come and go. The mind, though it can be overbearing at times, is a wonderful tool that is always looking out for you.

    This is why suppression isn't what you're looking for. You're not trying to prevent anything, because there's nothing that needs to be prevented. Meditation is all about allowing everything to be as it is. You slip into this meditative state when your mind relaxes and stops giving thoughts and emotions so much attention.

    Also, you're not trying to make your mind completely silent. I don't think I can even do that. But that's fine, because it's not necessary for the mind to be completely silent. A good place to be is one where you're relaxed and your mind doesn't seem to be working as much as it usually does. It is significantly quieter. When you do slip into meditation, it will be easy to recognize.
     
  3. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Emmanuel,

    Great question and similarly fantastic response by Midnight. Perhaps an additional context to your question could be the "aim" of your practice.

    By this I mean meditation is par excellence to handle distractions because the purpose of a mantra based meditation is for the one word to simply bring your mind to peace, silence and concentration. Perhaps to even transcend what we know as thought altogether as we remain faithful and persistent on that path. And the mantra, serving this end, is like a plough that goes through your mind pushing everything else aside - "making the rough places plain".

    One of the Christian Masters whose work I study - Cassian, refers to it as "casting off and rejecting the rich and ample matter of all manner of thoughts". I just love the imagery that brings up ...:)

    It is because the mind is light and wandering, as susceptable to thoughts and images as a feather to the slightest breeze, that the mantra helps provide that stability to enter that place.

    My Teacher often reminded me that the first three aims that I should have when I begin to meditate are these: First of all, just say the mantra for the full period of my meditation. He said to me it might take a year, it might take ten years (it hasn't though). The second goal is to say my mantra and be perfectly calm in the face of all distractions that come. And the third aim is to say the mantra for the full time of my meditation with no distractions.

    Personally I have found Lifeflow as a wonderful aid to achieving those primary aims.

    Nothing but the best...

    Olmate
     
  4. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi emmanuel,

    Great pointers from Olmate & Midnight, I would just like to add my spin....

    One of the misnomers of meditation is that we have to try to stop the thought process, but the main emphasis with meditation is to relax and let all thoughts be as they are. Do not try to add to, change, get rid of, or do anything else with these thoughts as they arise. Just notice them.
    If you notice that you are emphasizing your story, let that thought come to rest. Notice the space that is left as the thought comes to rest. Take a moment and rest as that space... and so on
    When a thought arises, notice that it appears and disappears within this same spacious awareness.
    Once a meditator realises that thoughts are not a threat to the stillness, there is no reason to push anything away, as everything is allowed to arise and fall and nothing is seen to harm the deep peace.

    Peace :)
     
  5. emmanuel_pil

    emmanuel_pil Member

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    Hi.
    Thank you all for the answers,
    I think I do understand more or less what you are talking about. About a year ago ( I didn´t read something about meditation-state yet) I didn´t remember the name of a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for years. I thought "your are getting old, and memory already is failing". But I knew that everything that is experienced is registered in memory. The access may be blocked but memory is still there. Two days later trying to remember many times a day, I still didn’t remember, so at night laying in bed an idea came up and I decided to listen to my mind as if it could speak to me the same way my thoughts are doing all the time.
    So I quieted my mind and when thoughts came up I said to them, “shut up let me concentrate and hear my mind. All became very very quiet and I don’t know for how long I waited, but suddenly in total stillness, I heard in my brain the speaking of my friend´s name. I became very exited about this, and I have used this trick more times. This must be some sort of meditation state I presume.

    So there was I, making a question, my thoughts disturbing all the time, and my mind (or who else?).
    Who made the question, and who really answered it?
     
  6. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Emmanuel,

    That is an interesting question.

    Perhaps a line of enquiry you could take to add texture to better undertand what happened to you is through a contemporary business book entitled "Presence" That text was written by Peter Senge and colleagues. It is very much a business text, but they do describe a number of techniques relating to learning organisations and leadership thinking that enter this space. I liked the way they described these spaces because as you know language can become a real obstacle to understanding these concepts due to their experiential nature.

    He describes concepts labeled "sensing", "presencing" and "realizing". Your personal experience probably falls within the presencing field.

    As I say, this book is a business context but as we are operating in the realm of the non-linear, transference of concepts to the personal sphere is not a big leap to aid in increasing understanding.

    Just a suggestion...

    Nothing but the best...

    Olmate
     
  7. emmanuel_pil

    emmanuel_pil Member

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    Hi.

    I really need some help to understand the three concepts of the “I”, which I exposed in the post above.

    In the dictionary you read that consciousness; is awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

    Mainstream scientists tell us that brain processes cause consciousness , and that they are not some extra substance or entity, but just a higher level feature of the whole system. The two crucial relationships between consciousness and the brain, then, can be summarized as follows: lower level neuronal processes in the brain cause consciousness and consciousness is simply a higher level feature of the system that is made up of the lower level neuronal elements. They show us experiments with electrodes implanted in the brains of people, sending and receiving electric pulses, whose signals seem to show that consciousness arises from the coordinated activity of the entire brain.
    Shortened, consciousness arises out of brain function
    This would be concept 1. Brain functions create thoughts, and the resulted “I” will die when our body dies.


    But there is also a university educating science through meditation. I found a nice sequence on Youtube at YouTube - The Transcending Brain
    Where, among other subjects, experiments are shown that can prevent wars using group-meditation


    Most people (mainly religious) however feel that the “I” is separated from mind and resides in the body and will survive death. This would be concept 2, the soul.
    I don’t have any religion but personally I believe in the possibility of the existence of soul, a belief obtained through studies of quantum science.

    Now if I understood well, TM comes up with a third concept of the “I”. A sort of “Extended I”, that transcends our universe . And that also consciousness does not emerge from brain activity; but brain activity emerges from consciousness. The only way to be sure of this, is experimenting a deep meditation state, beginning with suppressing the thought process and fixing your existence at the present moment, the “now”.

    I have a difficulty to grasp this. Studying the theory of relativity gave me an absolute certainty that time and space are relative subjects. Their values depend on the observers
    When you become familiar with the idea, that time, nor space, are linear, you understand that time in fact means event, a happening, something that occurs. This can happen in space, when physical objects moves from one point to another, but also when thoughts are flowing. When you take a position as observer where you slow down events to an infinite small zero point, you enter in a static frame, where nothing happens. You cant have any feelings or thoughts or observance you are in the nothing and therefore can´t have any “insight”.
    However if you say that you need to go to this point because this is a gate to another existence, then it would make sense to me again. But even in this existence with for example other dimensions or whatever not imaginable by us, you will need the signification "time". It’s simply necessary for any dynamic existence.
     
  8. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Let’s investigate the notion that awareness may be located inside “my body”, “my mind”, or even that there is a separate Self. But if you really look. No matter where you locate awareness, whether you say it is in your brain or in your body, location cannot be known without thought. You must have the thought, “Brain” to locate something there. Without the thought, “Brain” there is no way to locate awareness. And that is because they are not separate things.

    Body and mind are ideas appearing inseparably within awareness. And in recognizing the space in which those thoughts appear, the space is seen to have no boundary and no border. The only way to limit that space or make it divided is to turn it in to a concept. Drop the thoughts and there is only pure spacious awareness without location and without limitation.

    That is what you are. There is no “I”. Even if you feel the sensation of having a separate body once the thought “body” has dropped, notice what is really happening. There are sensations being experienced only. Maybe it is a sense of breathing or maybe it is an ache somewhere. But those are all sensations and they cannot be experienced without the basic awareness that perceives them.

    “I” is a process of indemnifying that we exist separately from everything that pervades us.



    Peace :)
     
  9. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Emmanuel,

    Implicit in this question and similar questions throughout the ages for that matter is the idea of "separation". Significant teachings of the Sages point to being at one. Meditation practice is a tool for achieving that state state of "knowing".

    Much of the work on this journey for the serious pactitioner is directed to peeling off the layers of ego and fear and scarcity and reveal our true essence, which we share with God (or whatever label one relates to).

    This journey then is one of seeking to discover the essence of who we really are.

    So in one sense it might be worth investigating the direction that this question points to, that is, even if you had a diffinitive answer, where does that lead you?

    Olmate
     
  10. emmanuel_pil

    emmanuel_pil Member

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    Hi Karmoh.
    Sometimes, when meditating, just paying attention without a specific thought there is a moment where I seem feeling to jump into a enormous space, without sound or light. Just black, nothing else. Is that what you are talking about?
    Here, I do not understand you. Who will compensate who?
     
  11. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi Emmanuel,

    Not really, when you relax or meditate thoughts will arise this is a natural process. Between those thoughts is space. As the next thought you have comes to rest naturally, simply and gently notice the non-conceptual space that is left once the thought falls away. Rest there for one moment, without labelling your experience or having to know anything at all about life. This is spacious awareness.

    What you are describing is an experience, which can happen during deep meditation. Many meditators (me included) make the mistake of labelling this experience and then seeking to replicate.


    Once you realise that spacious awareness is with you regardless of state, you don’t have to seek. :)


    Ahh! Yes, this was a tad wordy apologies :)


    Most of us have the belief that we are separately existing selves in a world of other, separately existing things. In this belief, we heavily privilege separation because that is all we see...separate existence. “I” is used by the ego to keep you separate from everything that surrounds you... and I mean everything.

    peace :)
     
  12. emmanuel_pil

    emmanuel_pil Member

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    Hi.
    Still trying to find an answer about my question, I am watching a sequence of videos on YouTube containing teachings of Adyashanti.
    Karmoh, Olmate, Midnight, or others who know him, do you agree with his ideas?
    Is this were I will find my answer?
    P.S. The sequence starts at YouTube - "Chasing Enlightenment" Adyashanti
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  13. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi, I'm not familar with his teachings, but he's popular.

    Just to confuse you some more.. ;)

    In trying to find an answer to what are thoughts, you will be caught in an endless cycle of thought, each set of thoughts will throw doubt on the previous set of thoughts and so on.To understand, what thoughts are, you need to understand where thoughts come from...

    ...If you can look and see, that thought Is inseparable from awareness. The desire to understand thought, comes from the ego and is the belief in a separate entity that must manage, control, or gets rid of what appears. If you can see through this separation, thought is seen to have no independent existence from awareness.
    Thoughts are just appearances to awareness.:confused: :)


    peace :)
     
  14. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Emmanuel,

    I am not aware of these works. The path I follow is based on Christian meditation back to the very early traditions. Within that context the practice centres on the idea that there is no part-time or partial prayer, as if the Spirit is not always alive in our heart. However, there are times – the twice daily meditation, when we make a complete turn of consciousness towards the ever present reality. With consistent practice, there comes a level of awakening when our awareness of this reality is constant throughout our moment by moment living.

    The essence of this meditation practice is simplicity, silence and stillness. Silence points to letting go of thoughts. Stillness points to letting go of desire. Simplicity points to letting go of self analysis.

    I will have a look at my reference library to see if there is any material that addresses your specific question on the origin of thoughts. The only issue is that if there is anything, it will be within this context as that is the path chosen.

    Olmate
    ____________________________________________________________

    I have just had a quick look at some of the materials ...

    At first glance the references indicate the following:

    1. Encourage examination of the "basic" mind - but hasten to add not to analyse, just examine with a curious mindset;

    2. Suggests that the basic mind is "unborn" and that there is no history to comprehend or beginning to point to.

    3. There is much commentary on its activities but also an instruction to examine the "nature of unborn awareness".

    4. There is a suggestion that once this examination is undertaken that there is nothing there. However what is present is "awareness".

    5. The instruction is then to merge with the observer and see possibility from infinity.

    6. There is also a commentary of consciousness - visual consciousness, hearing consciousness, smelling consciousness, taste consciousness, touch consciousness, mind consciousness, nuisance mind consciousness (sin nature) and resting consciousness (in union).

    In writing this summary, I have omitted all references to Christ, Trinity and God. My experience is that these terms engage "filters" in some. I hope therefore my attempted interpretation has not corrupted the messages too much - but likely, in this interpretation. I am not sure if that helps.

    Olmate
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
  15. Kauil

    Kauil Member

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    Is the human body a channel to awareness, to consciousness, mistaking itself fror a separate entity?
     
  16. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    I've always wondered...

    Science consistently believes that the "self" is contained within the brain because that is where they monitor brain activity when we do different things, yet it's also found that some actions of the body actually start before the activity in the brain, which has opened up the question of whether the brain is controlling or not.

    What science fails to explore, is whether the brain is really just an interface between the physical body and the true Self, because they seem unable to perceive that there could be something beyond,or outside the brain.

    However, quantum physics is also leading them to reconsider things, such as the principle that a quantum particle exists in two(multiple?) states/places until it is observed, and the observation causes it to act differently (called the "collapsing of the wave"). Even quantum computers are based on this theory that all the particles in it exist in all states until the answer is observed; leading to the supposition that all particles are everything until the mind gets in the way.

    So, you certainly could say that the human body acts as a channel, if we take the brain to be an interface rather than the core controller (a bit like looking at the brain as the memory bus on a computer rather than the CPU - sorry guys, I'm a computer geek at heart :eek: (but not in true Self!))

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  17. emmanuel_pil

    emmanuel_pil Member

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    Hi, just for the question mark.
    Particle may appear in multiple different location with the probability of this place given in a wave function. It doesn´t actually exist before observing.
     
  18. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Hi Emmanuel,
    The question mark wasn't because I didn't know, it's because it depends on the context of the experiment. e.g. a quantum particle can be seen as being in two places at once and observing the state of one, automatically determines the state of the other without any delay in communication between the two (faster than light communication indeed!). Alternatively, as you say, it can be looked at as being in multiple different locations as per the multiple universe theory, and the observation collapses the wave function to determine which of the infinite universes exist at the present moment. In theory, it does exist AND it doesn't exist at the same time.

    :)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  19. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Gidday Emmanual, I feel that human thoughts are just a way of expressing energy, or creating through a unique pattern. So when they cease or are removed, all thats left is always the same. As soon as something arises it has a source.

    Which is the meditation style of 'Who is thinking that thought?' Leading to, 'I am... who am I?' Over and over until it becomes crystal clear that I am the creator, the witness of the creation, the being of it, but not that.

    That changes, I doesnt. Which is the style of 'not that, not that, not that' meditation.

    Which all is sincere, persistent inquiry.

    However there is a large school of thought, that has decided that it's not enough, that whatever is our true Reality (also labelled by the same school of thought as Omniscient, Omnipotent, all loving) is suddenly incapable of answering, understanding or won't pay attention to mere sincere inquiry.

    So, what has more energy or importance, a thought about God, a thought about killing, a flea, the sun, space, black holes, specks of dust, pollution, flowers? Whats left when all are removed, whats the truth behind them all?

    If I don't think, and you don't think, whats the difference?
     
  20. Uplift

    Uplift Guest

    Gidday Emmanual, I feel that human thoughts are just a way of expressing energy, or creating through a unique pattern. So when they cease or are removed, all thats left is always the same. As soon as something arises it has a source.

    Which is the meditation style of 'Who is thinking that thought?' Leading to, 'I am... who am I?' Over and over until it becomes crystal clear that I am the creator, the witness of the creation, the being of it, but not that.

    That changes, I dont. Which is the style of 'not that, not that, not that' meditation.

    Which all is sincere, persistent inquiry.

    However there is a large school of thought, that has decided that it's not enough, that whatever is our true Reality (also labelled by the same school of thought as Omniscient, Omnipotent, all loving) is suddenly helpless, incapable of answering, understanding or won't pay attention to mere sincere inquiry.

    So, what has more energy or importance, a thought about God, a thought about killing, a flea, the sun, space, black holes, specks of dust, pollution, flowers? Whats left when all are removed, whats the truth behind them all?

    If I don't think, and you don't think, whats the difference?
     

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