Chiang Mai: Street-side, noodle shop, low headroom under wide umbrellas placed at an angle to create shade. I duck my head and squeeze through into this place, aware of obstructions and watching for uneven surfaces at ground level I could trip on; feet in rubber slippers appear below me, first left then right, then left… ask the noodle shop man if he has what I want, find an empty place, sit down and look around. Thai language like birdsong and traffic sounds, a bell rings, cooking pots collide, somebody’s ring tone… ‘hello?’ All kinds of noises, smells and the fragrance of jasmine with faint odour of a sewer nearby – not unpleasant. The mind has to discern which is which according to likes and dislikes. And the high-activity level of it all more or less insists on mindfulness. Head spinning around to register environmental activity; this curious reality of receiving sensory input by means of sense organs situated mostly around the head and face, has that effect of the whole head seeming to enter into an ‘outside’ world.
Attention moves from one thing to the next. Loud sounds take priority over quieter sounds, the whole sequence adjusts to allow for it, then continues as it was before. In the same way, a chain of thought waits to be completed as soon as there is a gap in the flow of other thoughts. It’s the traffic of thinking about things; the mechanism engaged in its functionality, never any peace. I find some stability in the constructed self and hold on to that – that’s what it’s there for.
Focus on a particular sound, or sensory object and logic says if that’s out ‘there’, then I must be in ‘here’ – subject-object link activated by default. The world enters through eye, ear, nose, mouth, body feeling, mind, and creates consciousness: ‘I’ am born and the ‘world’ is out there. Being a ‘self’ is a little trick I learned when I was a child, it’s not real. It only appears to be a personal experience, because if there’s a sound that’s not demanding my attention, there’s only a neutral awareness, no reaction, nobody at home; the sound is there but there’s just the receiving of it and our shared world. Sensory input enters and there’s no ‘self’ to really notice it’s there, so I imagine it just buffets around for a while like the wind from the fan above my head disturbs the papers on my table and then it’s quiet again.
Conscious awareness is the sixth sense. It knows the other five senses, and knows itself as a ‘self’ then attachment to that dissolves away; the ‘self’ aspect is gone – seeing the events without the story. Deconstruct everything, carefully disassemble it to see how it all fits together, like a mechanic breaks down a car engine into its parts. And this is such a phenomenal thing to do, putting it back together again doesn’t seem worthwhile.
‘Self-realisation can know itself within complete ignorance, so self-realisation is possible for someone who’s had no education and it can also be possible for a king. There are no preconditions to self-realisation. Self-realisation isn’t just for those who’ve undergone years of spiritual practice….’ [David Bingham, Conscious TV]
Can’t be ‘complete ignorance’, let’s call it ‘unknowing’. Just another mind state. I can look into my own ‘unknowing’ and it’s as if there’s a small seed of wisdom in there, buried deep in the layers of unknowing, that’s saying, come on, wake up! I could call it the Noble Truth of Waking Up (numbered 2a and it comes between Tanha and Nirodha). This is how it looks to me now; there’s the focus on Anatta and freedom from suffering and the Non-Duality ‘no-thing-ness’ takes on a whole different meaning.