Rupert Spira : Thoughts are what I call ‘objects’. Anything that has an objective quality is what I call an object. By 'object' I don’t just mean physical objects (eg glass of water). A feeling of loneliness has an objective quality to it. It’s not the taste of tea. It’s the feeling of loneliness. It has distinguishing features.
Those distinguishing features are objective. We know them. I feel lonely. The feeling of loneliness has a particular quality that is observable or feelable or knowable. The taste of tea has other particular qualities that are knowable or perceivable. So yes, thoughts are, in that sense, objects.
Questioner : So my relationship to thought can be much the same as my relationship to the world?
Rupert Spira : Yes.
Questioner : In that I can’t really control what happens in the world and I can’t control what thoughts come in, I think that there’s a tendency to identify my quality of being by the thoughts that arise.
Rupert Spira : No. Identify the quality of being just by the quality of being.
The screen doesn’t derive its qualities from the image. Your relationship to thoughts and perceptions is the same as the relationship between the screen and an image. In other words, the screen is intimately one with the image. It’s closer than close (clasps hands, fingers interlocking) to the image, but at the same time, it is completely independent of it.
That is you. You – this experience of being aware – are totally intimate with all your experience. Every experience you have - that is every so called inside feeling (points to his own chest), but also so called outside perception (points away from himself) - are this close (clasps hands) to you, totally intimate, not even intimate because there are not two things there to begin with. There isn’t a screen and an image. It’s just you, just knowing.
So in that sense, you are intimate with all experience, equally intimate. Not more intimate with this (touching to his own body), than you are with this (touching glass of water) – equally intimate with all experience.
And at the same time, you, the experiencer, simply being aware, are absolutely independent of all experience. So it’s this mixture of total intimacy (clasps hands) and total freedom (opens hands).
As we understand ourselves, so we see the world. So if we think (hands on his chest) ‘I am a finite, temporary self that shares the limits of the body’, if we think ‘I am a finite, temporary object’, then our experience will appear (one hand on his chest, other hand pointing outwards) in conformity with that belief. In other words, your experience will be a multiplicity and diversity of finite objects. You will feel that you are separate from everyone and everything, related to them through an act of knowing, feeling or perceiving. I know such and such, I love you, I see the tree.
These are the three channels – knowing, feeling and perceiving – through which the inside self, the apparent subject, is connected to the outside object, other, or world. That’s if you believe that you are a temporary, finite subject, made of a mind, living in a body.
But if you know that you are simply this unqualified, experience of being aware, then you find yourself equally pervading all experience. You cannot say ‘I am closer to my thoughts than I am to the sound of that car.’ Thoughts are made out of thinking. The sound of the car is made out of hearing. Both appear equally in me. And when I try to touch the stuff that they are made of, all I find is this empty knowing.
Questionner : I know that, but I have thoughts that are in direct contradiction to that experience.
Rupert Spira : So you have to recondition your mind as well as your body. That is part of what we do here. It’s one thing to understand that – and you obviously understand it. But just understanding it is not enough, because your mind and your body have been laboring for decades, serving for decades, the demands and the fears and the neuroses of an illusory, finite self. So just the recognition of your true nature is not enough to put an end to those habits. They come back with a vengeance, very often stronger than they were before, because the separate self feels, quite rightly, that its existence is threatened by our new understanding. It is threatened. Its days are numbered. And it’s going to do everything it can to prevent itself from disappearing. So this tidal wave of thoughts, and more importantly, feelings are going to come back and assail you and try to persuade you of the validity of the separate self.
And so much of what we do here is not just about the recognition of our true nature, it is about the realignment of our thoughts, feelings, activities, relationships and perceptions with that understanding.
So when these thoughts keep coming back, you have to be firm with them. When a thought appears on behalf of the separate self, the thought’s going to take you off down a journey of activity or relationship or whatever it is. Before the thought tells you to act, question the self on whose behalf that thought is arising. Who are you representing? Ask the thought ‘On whose behalf have you come to me?’
And if it is a thought that is based on being a temporary, finite self, then instead of following the thought, question the validity of the self on whose behalf that thought is arising. And be relentless about that. Every thought that arises on behalf of the finite self, question it rather than doing what the thought wants you to do. And eventually, you will erode this old habit of the mind rising on behalf of an illusory self. And more and more the mind will begin to rise on behalf of the qualities of the true and only self of pure awareness.
You won’t stop having thoughts, but your thoughts will be an expression of what you truly are, not what you previously imagined yourself to be. So it is not a getting rid of thoughts, it’s a liberation of our thoughts, indeed our feelings and perceptions from the tyranny of a nonexistent finite self.
Questionner : So do you ever have any thoughts that you have to say ‘no’ to?
Rupert Spira : Yes. Occasionally an old thought arises in me based on old habit of believing myself to be a finite self, and I do exactly as I’ve just suggested to you.
To begin with, when a thought rises on behalf of a finite self, it takes us maybe 20 minutes to question the ‘I’ around whom that thought revolves. And we may have to take some time to slowly walk ourselves back to find the true ‘I’ of simply aware being. That may take some time. The first time it may take 20 minutes, and then the second time 15 minutes, and then the third time 10 minutes, and as we become more practiced at this we find shortcuts – we don’t have to go every single step – plod, plod, plod – because we’ve done it before, we go quicker, we find shortcuts.
And in the end, we find that when that thought arises on behalf of the finite self, it doesn’t really require time anymore to walk ourselves back. It’s just like an instant recognition, and it falls.
Questionner : There’s often great physical resistance along with the thought.
Rupert Spira : Yes. We’ll spend a lot of time this week exploring just that because the separate self, the apparently temporary finite consciousness that is the separate self, is not just concealed in our thoughts as beliefs. More importantly, it is concealed in our body as feelings. And that in fact is the deeper root of the separate self. And in fact, long after the separate self has been flushed out of our beliefs, it remains present, hiding in our feelings. And in this approach we spend a lot of time, as you know, exploring this deeper root of the sense of separation. First if all exposing the sense of me in the body, gradually encouraging it to come up out of its hiding places, and then gradually allowing it to dissolve.”
Above transcribed from this video: