I cannot observe thoughts arising from any location or from any sensation. I cannot find any location where thoughts are arising - and I checked - behind my left eye? No. Behind my right eye? No. A little lower? Where is this place? It kind of sounds funny when I look at it that way. They just appear. There is a thought that they are appearing in my head somewhere, but I am not able to find the spot. No location found, no actual correlation with the sensation of pressure or energy in my head.
You did a nice looking.
It's like checking for a monster under the bed. I'm looking and not seeing anything. Checking again and again and still - NOTHING. I cannot find an actual location where thoughts come. I cannot find a thinker (a mini-me) in my head or anywhere else. "I" cannot find where "I" am producing thoughts at all. Thoughts are happening. Sensations are.
Great! Just keep looking, especially when it ‘seems like’ or ‘feels like’ as if there were a me (or a mini-me :)
Now let’s go back to investigating thoughts. Here is an exercise which points out the difference between direct experience and content of thought.
There are two types of thoughts:
(1) Verbal thought with words “Here is cup”
(2) Visual thought of a ‘cup’
So I invite you to do this exercise:
Think of a cup. Get a very clear picture in your mind. See clearly the size, shape, colour and volume of the cup. Notice whether it is decorated or plain. Notice whether it has a handle. Notice whether it is heavy or fragile. Do you have a clear picture?
Now, can you physically grasp that visual thought of a cup?
Can you pour tea into it?
Can you drink from it?
Is there a ‘real’ cup or just a visual thought of a cup?
Is there an appearing visual thought?
Is the content of the visual thought (the cup) ‘real’?
Both verbal and visual thoughts are real only as arising thoughts (as ‘containers’), their ‘presence’ cannot be denied. However, their contents, what are they about are not ‘real’, they are just fantasies. Can you see this?
Thoughts can be looked at in 2 different ways:
- seeing the CONTENT of a thought, what is a thought ABOUT
- and only seeing the thought itself (as phenomenon taking place), as a ‘CONTAINER’
When a thought is seen only as a container, and the content of a thought (what it’s about) is being ignored, is what we call the actual experience of a thought. Do you see the difference?
Thoughts as arising thoughts (the containers) are ‘real’, but their contents (what they are ABOUT) are not. Like when you think about E.T. There is an arising thought, it cannot be denied, but its content “E.T.” is not real. Sometimes thoughts point to something tangible, like chair, however a thought about a chair is not a chair.
A thought about a chair is just a mental concept with an arising visual thought of a ‘chair’ but that thought is not ‘real’. However, as an arising thought is there, it is ‘real’, but not its content (what it’s about).
Certain sensations can be felt in the body that is labelled such and such emotion, like ‘cheerful’. However, ‘cheerful’ is just a mental label / thought on the felt sensation. So the felt sensation is ‘real’, the arising mental label, simply as arising label is ‘real’, but its content ‘cheerful’ is just an idea. Can you see this?
Over the course of the next day or so, I'd like you to notice the content of thoughts. Whenever there is an arising verbal or visual thought, check whether its content (what it’s about) is really happening, or the content is just pure imagination.
Let me know how it goes.