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Submitted by Robert Colpitts on Mon, 6/25/2012, 10:22pm
Here is something that I did kind of spontaneously to tease out some “Mind-Only” understanding for myself. You will need at least 30 minutes to try this out. Take your time. It will only be useful if you spend the time it takes. If you have never meditated, then just consider this thinking, and take a break to try this out when you have 30 minutes.
Get ready for a comfortable seated meditation on a cushion or a chair. Have a candle lit and sitting on the floor or table in front of you. For a few minutes focus on your breath. Let your vision rest comfortably on the candle flame while you do this.
The first step of the exercise is to pay attention to the candle flame. First look at the most obvious thing in your field of vision, the ‘flame’ itself. It is what we would all look at first if we said, “Look at the flame.” Now, look for a location nearby the flame to find a reflection of that flame. If the candle is in clear glass, you might be able to see a reflection of that flame in the glass. You should also be able to see light patterns in the area around the candle–perhaps on the floor or wall around the candle or on the table the candle rests on. Spend a few minutes looking for some light patterns that you might also say is caused by the flame, and ask yourself which of those things is the flame, if it is possible that they are all the flame, where the idea of ‘flame’ and ‘reflection’ comes from, and if it is possible for you to see the many different light patterns without any subtle designation of ‘flame’ or ‘reflection’ or ‘light from flame’ etc. Spend some minutes contemplating this.
The next step is to squeeze your eyelids a little bit while looking at the flame. Without much pressure, you should be able to distort the light that comes from the flame so that what appears before your eye sense are shafts of thin light radiating outward from the flame. Squeeze your eyes closed until you only see shafts of light. See how far you can go before no light appears in your eye sense. When you open your eyes normally, are any of those distortions of light present?
Play around with these light distortions, but also observe them deeply. Normally our mind tosses distortions in our field of view aside. Ask yourself if the shafts of light that you saw when you squeezed your eyes appeared any less ‘real’ than the flame you see normally when you open your eyes. Does your eye sense distinguish one as ‘real’ and the other as ‘unreal’ or is it a conception in your mind? Is it possible to allow your sense of concept to rest for a moment while you play around with distorting the rays of light as you use a variety of different kinds of pressure to make the light shafts dance?
Ask yourself which version of the flame–the ‘flame,’ the ‘reflection,’ the ‘shadows,’ the ‘shafts and distortions,’–is the ‘correct’ flame. If you perceive a ‘correct’ flame, where does that perception of ‘correct’ emanate from?
Normally, our everyday mind would see the flame as the bright oval shape of light near the wick of the candle. Is that even one thing? Does it appear to be whole and permanent? Is there one image that you see that you can point to and say, “There, that is the solitary universal moment of ‘flame’?”
Now, for the rest of the mediation, you will tease out the difference between ‘perception’ and ‘cognition’ as well as determine if there is any separation between yourself and your perception. Start with the basic preconception that your eye sense does not present a ‘correct flame’ because you can change what the mind presents by opening and squeezing your eyelids. If you need to be convinced of this, squeeze your eyes again and watch the shafts of light that appear until your conceptual mind accepts them as ‘correct’ and you truly look deeply at those ‘errors.’ You will see the ‘errors’ (or shafts of light) do not appear in a subjectively different way from the ‘correct’ flame (which you already established as not one thing anyway).
Since we are more willing to accept the shafts of light as creations of the mind (we do not think that the flame shoots out in all those directions in such specific ways), assume that that shafts of light are projections created by the mind. Since those creations of mind sensually and subjectively feel exactly the same as our sensual subjective experience of the ‘flame’ proper, then the ‘flame’ proper must also be a creation of the mind. Spend a few minutes seeing if you can experience this.
Lastly, see if you can get any sense of the consciousness that ‘sees’ the sensual subjective experience that is happening. Is there something or someone there that sees? Is there a difference between the sensual presentation of mind and your experience of it? Is there a delay? A distance? Or is there no separation? Is the sensual subjective experience of being all there is, and since there is nothing more than many versions of ‘flame’ all presented in the sensual way by mind, is there a separation between you and your experience? Can you tease them apart? Or do they coexist in a non-dual way?
Thanks for trying this out. I’d love to talk to you about this.
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