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Thought and Direct Experience Are Different, But Not Separate

| Nirmala | Awareness

Thought and Direct Experience Are Different, But Not Separate

Published on
06 February 2016

Q: I think I have found a way to get myself into the Now (present moment).  Let me know if you think I'm on the right track. The only props I use are a table and my finger. Here's what I do:

I put my finger on a table and think the following thought 10 times(in a row) while I watch  my finger touch the table.  "My finger is touching the table" I then remove my finger for a minute before repeating. The 2nd time I repeat the same process but go into consciously knowing that after the 10th repetition of the thought "my finger is touching the table" that I will drop the thought and just experience the feeling of finger/table touching (no thought just feeling).

I feel like this allows me to discern between the thought of touching the table and the actual feeling/experience of finger and table touching.   It helps me clarify one as a thought and one as experiencing.  I feel like this practice helps me experience conscious being and experience conscious thought while understanding the differences.  It also helps me see who is experiencing the differences.

Let me know if you think I'm on the right track. Your advice is much appreciated.

A: That sounds like a very effective way to build a clear sense of discrimination between direct experience and the virtual reality created by the mind. I used to hold up a physical object in satsang, like a water bottle. Then I would hold up my other hand with nothing in it and suggest that I was holding a pineapple. After comparing the two, I would ask people which category their problems were in: "Are they like the water bottle or like the pineapple?" Distinguishing thoughts from the rest of reality can be very freeing as most of our so-called problems are just thoughts, as are all of our identifications.

I would also invite you to get even more curious about who or what is present in both experiences. Thoughts are real experiences...of thought! Eventually, you can discover that while experiences of thought and direct experience of reality are very different, they are not actually separate. It is like the fingers of your hand. They are all different, but they are not separate. The place where thoughts and experiences are connected is in spacious awareness itself, which contains all of reality. And that spacious awareness or aware space is what you truly are.